Every “How To Be Punctual” article comes down to two words:
You know how to plan. When you were six years old, you learned how to pack a lunch and set out your clothes. Now, despite double-checking Waze and scheduling time in between meetings, you’re chronically late. It’s not a lack of the right “lifehack” but the presence of a negative, underlying belief that prevents you from putting those tips into action. Your mind has engaged in a conscious vs. subconscious tug of war: no matter your logical side’s good intentions, they’ll never out match your innermost desires.
That’s right: There’s a part of you that likes to be late.
It’s okay. You know it’s a problem. If it weren’t, you wouldn’t apologize when you are late, offering traffic jams and coffee shop lines as scapegoats. Awareness is the first step to change. The fact that you’re reading this means you’re already halfway there.
These four questions are going to teach your brain to associate pain to tardiness and pleasure to punctuality. Better late than never? Let’s try “never late again.”
1. Get Real.
What’s the real reason you haven’t been on time in the past?
There was traffic. Okay, okay. Occasionally Murphy’s Law comes to order, the universe conspires against you and nothing besides a flying car could get you there on time. But when tardiness is a continuous problem, it is more likely that you have a negative association to promptness. Maybe you’re afraid that abiding by a schedule will cause you to miss out on other opportunities. Or that you’ll be forced to sit alone at a restaurant, texting random acquaintances just to “check in” if you show up first. If you’re stuck, think back to a time when you weren’t late. What happened? When did things change?
2. Admit The Benefit
What are you getting out of being late? Getting out of? I hate it, it’s rude. True. Deep down, some rebellious creature inside you is shouting, “Screw Bob and his desire to meet for eggs-bennie at exactly 11:15 on Sunday! I live by my own rules!” Whether it’s defiance, ego, or something else, think deep.
3. Cost Analysis
What will it cost you if you don’t change?
Look at the all areas of your life. What will cost you if you’re late over the next year? Or over the next 5 or 10 years? Will it create strained relationships? Financial loss? What about your self-esteem? Yes, it’s scary, but that’s the point. Right now, you can show up late to tomorrow’s meeting because the consequences of one day of tardiness are (most likely) minor.
But add them up. Think about the long-term effects so your brain can assimilate a concrete image of the aggregate consequences. Through this process, you’ll learn to associate pain to the negative habit. First, define the enemy. Then you can beat it.
4. Change Now
What will your life look like if you no longer had this habit?
Once again, think about all areas of your life; your relationships, work, finances, self-image, etc. How much less stressful would your life be if you were always on time? If you were no longer “that friend who’s always late?” Visualize it. The more effort you put in to visualizing your punctual life, the better your results will be.
That’s it! If you don’t feel like you’re getting the results you need, learn from guru Tony Robbins: Repeat the exercise and focus on creating emotional intensity.
Originally published at medium.com