Tackle Procrastination by Rephrasing Your Intentions

Friday Lola - Courtesy of Lola
Friday Lola - Courtesy of Lola

Have you ever wondered why so many good intentions remain just that – intentions? They nag at our minds, absorbing our attention; yet they never translate to reality. The frustrating–and highly unsatisfactory–consequence is Procrastination (with a capital P).  

There’s no quick fix to this conundrum. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is a way to increase the chances of following through on our intentions. And it’s pretty simple: we just have to pay more attention to how we phrase them. 

Provided you're still reading, take a moment to consider the following four sentences:

  • “I ought to exercise more regularly.”
  • “I need to exercise more regularly.”
  • “I should exercise more regularly.”
  • “I shall exercise more regularly.”

Basically the same statement, except for choice of (modal) verb. So, does that minor difference really matter? I'd say it does. Why? Because having intentions that start with “I ought to”, “I need to” or “I should" tend to fool us into believing we're being proactive - when, in fact, all we're having is a thought that tugs and nags at us, yet fails to trigger a sense of obligation to take action. Instead, we delay, and delay further, until we end up facing the dreaded "P" word.  That's when our "good" intentions backfire on us.  

By contrast, when we use “shall” to word an intention, we are telling our brains we mean serious business that requires taking action. In so doing, we are upping our chances of honouring our commitment to self.  

As ever, the proof is in the pudding. So, next time a worthy intention starts brewing in your head, consider wording it with “shall” rather than “ought to”, “need to” or “should”.  I'd love to hear if it works for you.  

Enough said, except to wish you a happy Friday!  

Till next time.

Mila (with Lola on lap)