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"Just Do It!"

By ClientWise | September 18, 2009

Gary Gilmore was a villainous murderer who was executed by a firing squad in Utah in 1977. At the very end, when asked for any last words, he responded, “Let’s do it.”

11 years later, Dan Wieden, co-founder of the ad agency Wieden & Kennedy tweaked Gary Gilmore’s last words into one of most famous ad slogans of all-time, Nike’s “Just Do It.” (The genesis of this ad copy is explored in an acclaimed documentary by Doug Pray, entitled ( “Art & Copy.”)

Inadvertently, procrastinators everywhere have since adopted Gary Gilmore’s final utterance as their call-to-action.

Procrastination is the gap between intention and action. All of us procrastinate at times, not all of us are chronic procrastinators however. Not surprisingly, the ranks of procrastinators are growing. 30 years ago, just 5% of the US population was deemed to be procrastinators. Today, the number is closer to 20-25%. (One wonders if the growth of the internet might be a contributing factor. A recent study caluculated that 50% of the time that people are online is actually “procrastination time”.)

If nothing else, the subject of procrastination seems to be an industry all by itself. When one googles “procrastination”, 3.7 million entries pop up. Checking out Amazon.com, one finds 33,879 books on the subject (See here). Apparently, this is a condition that afflicts many of us.

Recent research studies indicate that procrastination might be the outcome of a battle between impulsivness, and the lure of future rewards. This can even be reflected in “The Procrastination Equation” where:

(The-liklihood-that-one-will-procrastinate) = E x V/I x D, where (E) is a person’s expectancy for succeeding at a given task, (V) is the value of a task, (I) is impulsiveness, and (D) is a person’s need for immediate gratification. Got that?

These thoughts, and more, are contained in two good articles in the most recent, Psychology Today.

For financial advisors, the temptation to procrastinate is omnipresent. Two primary enablers to procrastination are: Distraction and Uncertainty, both of whom are frequent guests in the world of the financial advisor. Reducing distractions is a straightforward enough activity, but never very easy. Shutting down email, timeblocking, selectively isolating oneself from extraneous distractions make complete sense (hypothetically) in order to maintain one’s focus. However, how do you respond to one of your best clients who wonders why you haven’t returned their “urgent” email of one hour ago?

As coaches, we have observed that changing the deep-seated patterns like procrastination often require getting to the heart of where these habits reside…which calls for a high-degree of self awareness. Procrastinators who attempt to change old behaviors on a superficial basis, without a readiness to explore and change, are fated towards failure. The good news is that, once recognized, procrastination can be controlled by using the skills of emotional intelligence and self-management.

Stay tuned. This is a topic that we will explore again. In the meantime, if you have thoughts, resources, books, etc. that have helped you slay the procrastination beast, please share them with us.

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”…Will Rogers

By Chris Holman


Topics: Procrastination

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