The One Thing All Successful Learners Do to Fight Procrastination

It’s anything but passive

What was your new year resolution back in January?

If you’re like most people, not only you didn’t follow through, you don’t even remember what it was!

Committing to doing something for a whole year is completely unrealistic and terribly unappealing for your motivation.

Back in 2018, my resolution was to fail more than I’ve ever failed before. While this may sound stupid, the idea was more along the lines of:

“I never lose. I either win or learn.” — Nelson Mandela

2018 turned out the be the year I thrived the most in my life. By far! In 2018 alone, I learned over 30 new skills, started two businesses, became a successful writer (started my “career” as a writer in January of that same year), lived in 3 countries on 3 different continents, and started making money online.

That’s all possible for you as well, provided you stop procrastinating. The “me” from the past was a master procrastinator, resorting to playing video games instead of doing the things I said I wanted to do. Most of that procrastination is gone.

I run a skill development program where people want to learn up to a whopping 263 skills! On average, members of the program want to learn 12 skills. The sad news is that only a select few will learn the 12 skills they say they want to learn.

When you say you want to learn something, how deep do you go into your thinking? Can you easily answer the following questions:

  • Why do I want to learn this skill?

  • What does it take for me to learn this skill?

  • How will I learn this skill?

  • Where will I practice this skill?

  • When will I practice this skill?

If you can’t answer these simple questions, you won’t follow through. I guarantee it. Yet, this isn’t what will make you stop procrastinating.

This will:

Give yourself an assignment

What will you do once you have learned what you planned on learning? Here’s what I often do: I write about it. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Write an article about what you learn;

  • Share your learnings on a podcast;

  • Record a video explaining your top tips learning the skill;

  • Submit your project on a public platform (Github, DeviantArt, Pinterest, etc.);

  • Get yourself a freelance gig;

  • Get accepted on Upwork for freelancing;

  • Do a presentation (at work/at home, etc.);

  • Teach it to someone around you;

  • and more!

Assignments are both concrete and actionable. It’s something you know you’ll be able to do once you’ve finished your learning project.

When you give yourself an assignment to complete by the end of your learning project, the stakes are higher. Especially if you tell or involve someone with your assignment.

If I tell you: “At the end of my learning how to sketch using a pencil, I’m going to teach what my top tips.”, how likely am I to follow through?

Pretty likely, right?

The stakes are high. You want to learn how to sketch, but don’t have the time right now to learn from scratch. And because I care for you, I want to make sure to record my best moments so it saves you time.

When you give yourself the assignment of writing a public article, you force yourself to think deeper about your process. How can you organize what you’ve learned in a way that’s helpful to others? It’s not all about you anymore. You’re doing it for the greater good! Who doesn’t want to be involved in something bigger than themselves?

Top learners give themselves assignments all the time, whether they realize it or not. It gives extra meaning to what they do. It gives them motivation and keeps them accountable.

So, the next time you say you want to learn something, don’t forget to answer the why, what, how, where, and when questions. Following that, give yourself an assignment for when you finish your learning project. Make the stakes higher by involving others in it.

If you truly believe in your assignment (you should), you’ll be unstoppable. Even if the process is hard and tedious and results are slow to come in, at least you’ll have a sense of direction.

Start doing this and you’re on your way to stop procrastinating when it comes to learning!

You can do this!