Procrastination: The Second Step is the Hardest


"Oh yeah, I got this," accompanied by a fist pump. Remember that first Monday in January, and your goal? Now, it's the beginning of February, the second month, and you need to show you mean it, that you will stick with it. Show yourself you're more than just talk.

Some people say admitting you have a problem is the first step, and that it's the hardest. Not true. I've been admitting mine for years; it's easy.

So far so good this year. I faced French bureaucracy wearing Groucho Marx eyebrows and a Trump hairdo. Now, all around me are the tools of my trade: my camera, a new external hard drive because the temperamental electricity in this medieval house fried the last one, Skillshare classes queued up, travel plans to Basque country and Paris arranged, and appointments entered into calendars. Pat self on back.

Write a To Do list, including That Thing I Need To Do. Look at it. Twiddle pencil. This is hard! Growth and change do not come easy. Let me digress. Really, I prefer to digress, than doing what I need to do.

I take heart by looking around me, here in rural France where life moves slowly. Change does not happen overnight.

For instance, along the Dordogne River, are two medieval chateaus facing each other, Beynac and Castelnaud. Each took centuries to build, and remain in excellent condition. Here's the thing, the inhabitants on one side, hated the inhabitants on the other. I'm not advocating hostility, by any means, but rather, keeping the fire in your belly as you slog through building the change you want. At Beynac, they kept their enemy's banner hanging in the dining room -- talk about fire in the belly. At Castelnaud, they invested in the latest and greatest advances in defensive architecture.


  • Keep images to remind you of your goal. Look at them all the time.
  • Invest in tools, techniques, and the support you need to make this happen.

Spend twenty minutes trying to remember who wrote the hilarious essay about procrastination, oh yes, it is Robert Benchley. You must read this.

Look at To-Do List. When mind wanders:

Break tasks down in smaller chunks. This works whether you are trying to quit something, or start something -- lower your expectations, and achieve your goals!

Be anti-social. Turn them all off, your devices that is. All the way off. No sounds, no sneak peeks. There are even apps to help you. Your friends will be there when you come back.

Look at clock. Oh No! Yes, you really did waste that last half hour. Now, devote just ONE half hour to The Thing You Need To Do.

See you later, after you share this with your distractible friends, and
Take that Second Step, Do That Thing You Need To Do.
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Emily Conyngham now lives in France, after a nine-month fling with the country turned into true love. As a photographer and writer, she shares her joie de vivre in images and words.

Come along with Emily at her blog, Under France, on her facebook page, Otherwise Travel, and for visual inspiration @cemilygo on Instagram.

In this countryside where the days are regulated by church bells, seasons are celebrated by local market produce, and years roll into centuries, there's always something interesting going on.