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What Will Smith Can Teach You About Beating Procrastination

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Will Smith

There are many ways you can overcome procrastination. From a writer’s and educator’s perspective, there are many angles you can use to demonstrate this. In this post I want to show you how Will Smith, one of my favorite actors, shares his wisdom on overcoming procrastination.

Watch the video below before you read the rest of the post.


If you can’t see the video, click here to watch it.

One thing you might have noticed is that he never uses the word procrastination. But after watching the video, do you get the impression he procrastinates? No.

He has a vision and is so motivated that he doesn’t even think about procrastinating. That word doesn’t exist in his vocabulary. He just gets to work.

We can give you practical tips like solar flaring or the Pomodoro Technique to address the issue of putting things off, but being intrinsically motivated is one of the best ways to overcome procrastination and to make it a thing of the past. It’s a viable long-term solution that you definitely want to work on.

Below are some of Will Smith’s quotes in the video (I have paraphrased them) with my own commentary that will help you get so motivated that procrastination doesn’t become an issue ever again.

Belief

This is what I believe, and I’m willing to die for it. And that’s all I need to know.

One of the cornerstones of motivation is knowing what you want, and then be willing to put in the effort to go get it. If you have a task with no purpose behind it, you’re very likely to procrastinate on it.

Take for example the task of designing your blog. With no purpose behind it, you’re not willing to put in the time and effort to design your blog. Now what if you had the purpose of being the best blog in your industry. Would you then still procrastinate? You could, but it’s less likely because now you have a purpose.

If the purpose is worthwhile to you, you will get it done. Believe in something and everything around that will get completed.

No backup plan

You have to believe. There is no reason to have a plan B, because it distracts you from plan A.

When you are in a do or die situation, you will get things done. Imagine you’re on your last $100 in your bank account, rent is due in four days and you have no job. What do you think will happen?

You will hustle.

Now this might be an extreme example but it gets the point across. When you really have no other (perceived) options, you will dive right into it. In today’s world that’s much more challenging because we are surrounded by options. You could this, you could do that, you do anything you want. This abundance of choice paralyzes you and prevents you from taking action.

Pick one thing and stick to it. If you have options, start eliminating and get to the last option. Then get to work and stay focused (see next quote).

Focus

It takes a obsessive focus with of all your heart and creativity to get success.

Jumping ship too often is a huge time waster because switching projects has a huge opportunity cost to it. You have to start from scratch again and fight that uphill battle that every new project has. It’s sucks energy and time and before you reach the finish line you’re already switching to another opportunity.

Don’t.

Whatever you decide to work on, stick to the end. Fight that procrastination whenever you feel like you’re about to quit on a project. You will rationalize all these things why it’s a good idea to switch but you have to overcome that and recognize that if you’re a serial project switcher, there is something off.

Start a project. Finish a project.

Simplify

We make things more complex than it has to be. We’re looking for something complex because we think it can’t be that easy.

Oftentimes the road to completion is the simplest road. Simplify your projects and tasks to get started. Break them down into smaller chunks to make it easy for you. One of the big reasons we procrastinate is because we think we have this huge project in front of us and we get overwhelmed by its complexity.

If you are in this situation, what you want to do is break down the project. You’re procrastinating on starting a blog? Instead of thinking the thousands of things you have to do, lay down the major milestones that you need to have a blog up a running. Let’s see…you need web hosting, WordPress, a domain name and some content. Filling in the rest is easy from this point.

Break stuff down into smaller pieces. Then you’ll see it’s not that difficult. It’s actually quite easy.

Use fear

I am motivated by fear. I hate being scared to do something.

This is the dark side of productivity – using fear to propel yourself forward. Tony Robbins is infamous for saying we either move away from pain or towards pleasure. It’s either-or. From personal experience, pain is a stronger motivator to take action than pleasure is.

Using fear to your advantage is difficult but it can be very powerful. Think of the consequences of your inaction. Would that raise fear in you?

What if you didn’t take out the trash and you knew your spouse would get really upset with you. Would that propel you to take action?

It’s this fear that you can use to your advantage and the publishable PG-13 version is to think of the negative consequences (ask me in person if you want to the juicy stuff). Visualize what would happen if you didn’t do it and think about that.

One step at a time

Don’t say to yourself that you’re going to make the greatest wall ever made. Set one brick at a time as perfectly as you can. Do that every day, and soon you will have a wall.

Getting started can be tough at times and a surefire way to prevent yourself from getting started is to set very high expectations upfront. What will happen in your brain is that it wants prevent yourself from failure (pain) which results you not getting started. Instead, know the roadmap of what needs to happen and do it one thing at a time.

Literally, one task at a time. Want to write a book? Write one page a day. Want to lose weight? Start walking every day for 15 minutes. All these little things will add up to your major outcome.

Just start doing one thing at a time. No matter how big or small – just one thing.

Work ethic

Have a sickening work ethic. You don’t have to be talented to excel as long as you put time in your craft to be the best.

When I first heard this, the first thing that popped up was the 10,000 hour rule that I read in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The basic idea is that anyone can be the best as long as they put in at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice into their skill. You want to be the best programmer? Code at least for 10,000 hours. Want to be the best chef? Cook for at least 10,000 hours. In other words, put in the time.

It takes a lot of effort and work ethic to get 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Be willing to put in the time and you will get where you want to be.

Dreams

You got a dream, you got to protect it. You want something, go get it. Period.

This is one of my favorite quotes of The Pursuit of Happiness. The quote says it all.

Stay Motivated

Staying motivated over a period of time can be challenging. In today’s world with so much information coming your way it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of what you are aiming for. As part of your morning ritual have a routine that helps you get motivated by for example reviewing your goals and having motivation pages set up.

Before you start you day, be motivated and procrastination doesn’t become that big of an issue. For more content on overcoming procrastination, check out our page here.

Photo by Walmart Stores.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Haim July 24, 2012 at 7:03AM

He’s quite inspiring…The guy just got it right.

Reply

Thanh Pham July 25, 2012 at 2:42AM

I agree Haim. It’s funny seeing him in this light when you see him all the time on Fresh Prince of Bell Air.

Reply

Randy July 30, 2012 at 12:06AM

Will Smith is the man. I like the part about “no backup plan”. The trojans used to burn their boats when they arrived for war. When you know that there is no backup plan you are more likely to give plan A. everything you’ve got.

Reply

Jim Hutchinson August 8, 2012 at 8:29AM

Will Smith is right in saying “We make things more complex than it has to be.” There are some things that require complexity, but most people look too deep into them from the beginning, instead of seeking the basic, most natural solutions.

Reply

Gabe Lee July 23, 2013 at 11:24PM

So much wisdom comes from his mouth.

Reply

Thanh Pham July 24, 2013 at 12:02AM

Ain’t that the truth!
Thanh Pham recently posted…Working From Cafes and Coffee Shops

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Joel Andrade () March 18, 2014 at 8:33PM

You have done amazing job. Thank you for that

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