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How To Stop Procrastinating

When I first launched my coaching business, I planned out all of my projected revenue and expenses, but I missed a big one. It's one that I see leaders in corporate overlook all the time, too. This expense is stalling. The not doing, not acting. Procrastinating. Why don’t I (or my clients!) act on things needed for my career or business? Most of the time, it’s not because the skills are lacking, it’s because my confidence is lacking. I am just plain scared of failure or looking stupid. I buy into all my doubts and “but first I need to…” Stalling becomes a fancy way that we avoid uncertainty. Ambiguity just feels so darn scary. I mean, what if we took action and made the wrong decision? What if we fail? What would people think? This is why, at the end of each of my client coaching sessions, I ask, “What is yours to do?” Sometimes I hear answers that sound like taking action, but what's really happening is sneaky stalling. Our mind tricks us into believing we are taking action because it feels like we are busy, but these actions are not truly productive in moving closer to our goals. (See the sneaky stallers + tips below!) I often used the excuse that I was holding back and waiting for clarity on the right thing to do. But what I was really hoping for was certainty—certainty that a future outcome would successful or that my choice would 110 percent be the right one. 🔥 Here's the thing. Stalling is expensive. It keeps us from getting into action, making important career asks, getting valuable project feedback or even making a change that could benefit us. All this stalling and procrastinating is costly to your peace, your potential and your paycheck. Read below to get ideas to get into action - even while you feel doubt.

A chart with tips to stop procrastinating
Get into productive action


I am one of the many people who is inspired by the leadership lessons in Ted Lasso, and my favorite quote from season three is from the great Dr. Sharon Fieldstone: “Doubt can only be removed by action.” Doubt is a normal, healthy human emotion. It's normal to feel doubt any time you stretch your comfort zone. If you wait until you feel completely confident or certain, you will wait forever. The key to success is learning to act while also feeling doubtful. Here's how to get into action while also feeling doubtful and uncertain:

  • Notice it: Where is your stalling becoming an issue for you?

    • Notice and name the emotions that arise with compassion. These are normal.

  • Own it: What unique talents do I need to use here?

    • Claiming and naming our talents is the antidote to imposter feelings - it gives us a boost of confidence by finding clarity in what we can offer and taking the right next step.

  • Reframe it: In this process, one of my favorite reframes is “This uncomfortable fear feeling is what growth feels like — I’m stretching my comfort zone.”

    • This normalizes the experience. Healthy people feel doubt when they stretch toward their goals.

  • Act on it: I can boost my peace, potential and paycheck by taking my smallest, bravest next step of….

    • What next step can I take that feels so small I can't fail?

And in my own words, I always remind myself and my clients: "Confidence is a side effect of taking action." What will you stop procrastinating on today? What is possible?

Kelli Thompson is a women's leadership coach, speaker and author who helps women advance to the rooms where decisions are made. She offers 1-1 private coaching and is the founder of the Clarity & Confidence Women's Leadership program (online group training for corporate women leaders). She is the author of Closing The Confidence Gap: Boost Your Peace, Your Potential & Your Paycheck.

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