Procrastination is a common challenge that many people face. Often, procrastinators do not consider the underlying reason for their conscious postponements. They put it off. They may not consider that they have a fear of failure, or lack motivation, or feel overwhelmed. Yet, they push the deadline and eventually concede that the task must be handled – though it’s not a reflection of their best work. However, overcoming procrastination requires effort and a willingness to change habits and mindset especially if you want to be good at sales.
Being good at sales requires a measure of willpower
Essentially, willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals. That’s according to the American Psychological Association (APA) in an article on the science of self-control. With more self-control anyone can focus on customer needs, become a better problem solver, develop resilience and persistence and, in essence, be good at sales. Nevertheless, the lack of willpower has consistently been cited as the most significant barrier to change in APA’s Stress in America Survey. Research suggests that willpower can be learned and strengthened with practice. Additionally, willpower researcher, Roy Baumeister, Ph.D., describes three necessary components for achieving objectives:
- Establish the motivation for change and set clear goals
- Monitor your behavior toward that goal
- Muster the self-control to stay on task
Put off procrastination by understanding its cause
Identifying the underlying causes of why you procrastinate can help you address them directly. Typically, psychologists cite the reasons behind procrastination as:
- Fear of failure
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling overwhelmed
When you understand yourself well enough to know how your brain works, you may be able to determine your personal reasons for stalling. That’s the advice from Brian Ahern of influencepeople, who recommends sharing your deadlines with a boss or coworker to help keep you on track. Remember, becoming good at sales takes time and practice. And, in this case, self-reflection of how your brain reacts to pressures and deadlines.
Overcoming procrastination requires self-discipline and self-awareness
Being mindful of your thoughts and actions and noticing when you start to delay is the best time to redirect your focus. Additionally, developing self-discipline by holding yourself accountable and sticking to your commitments will help you be good at sales and increase your credibility. These thoughts from Brian Ahern accompany his advice to set a timetable as you create a plan for your tasks.
Furthermore, time management techniques, such as time blocking can help you work in focused bursts with designated breaks in between. Another tip is to break tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. This technique rewards you with a sense of accomplishment as you complete each stage.
Justify delayed gratification using the "hot-and-cool" system
Psychologist, Walter Mischel, Ph.D., developed the “marshmallow test” where children who waited patiently received more treats if they delayed having one in the short-term. This led to a framework to explain humans' ability to delay gratification called the “hot-and-cool” system.
The cool system is cognitive and reflective in nature. It incorporates sensations, feeling, actions, and goals. It rationalizes not eating the single treat when waiting can bring even more treats. Meanwhile, the hot system is reflexive and emotional. It ignores long-term implications. It’s the devil on your shoulder saying “Go ahead, eat that marshmallow – NOW!"
Willpower fails when impulsive actions override the cool system. Some people are more susceptible to hot triggers and the research shows these emotional responses may influence their behavior throughout life. Consequently, the triggers of emotion can cause us to procrastinate and to delay taking those actions that would make us good at sales.
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