Procrastination and The Law of Diminishing Intent

We all have those times in our life.  We read something transformative, hear someone’s inspirational story, or even have a great idea that just ‘pops’ into our head.

Then, suddenly, we get excited. We feel the thrill of possibility. As we imagine how great it will be.

We rush home, tell a loved one and then go to bed dreaming of a better tomorrow.

Then the days and weeks go by, and all those great thoughts and feelings start to fade into the background of good intentions.

The term describing this process was coined by Jim Rohn and is called – the law of diminishing intent.


diminishing intentIn a nutshell –  diminishing intent is the human ability to lose interest on something, if not acted upon quickly.

We fall prey to it every time we allow procrastination or apathy to set in. Over time, our inaction quickly robs us of these intentions. All our great ideas and wonderful plans fade away with the passing of time.

It’s kind of like compound interest on a credit card.  The longer we take to pay off a credit card the more interest we pay on our own interest! Our bill never goes away if we only pay the amount on our statement.

One difference between a credit card (in which we purchase too much) and diminishing intention is we don’t  purchase anything at all.  We basically never act on any or our ideas.

When we cease to act, the ‘compounding interest on time’ works in reverse. Instead of taking a long time to fade away, our ideas and enthusiasm disappears quickly.

John C Maxwell puts it this way: “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater odds that you will never actually do it.”

It’s hard to find success when we allow procrastination to be our default setting.

I believe the reason for diminishing intent is the difficulty we mere mortals have of holding onto the inspirational thoughts and emotions when we first become inspired.

Over time, we naturally get caught up in the everyday stress of life, and our great intentions quickly diminish.

 How can we stop procrastination?

To me, another word for diminishing intention is procrastination. It’s probably the worst habit to feed, if you truly want to transform your life.

We all know how difficult it is to function if we live under the guilt of rushed projects, a missed deadline and poorly thought-out projects.

However, nothing is more transformative than turning in a masterful project, reaching a difficult goal or building a healthier life.  Yet none of these can be done if our habit is to wait until the last minute, or when we’re under the pressure of a deadline.

My habit is to start immediately the day I am given a project, or have an idea I want to jump on.  This way I have more time to mull things over, plan, do research and start acting on whatever it is I need to do in the future.

Here is a short list of simple ideas I call – the habit of Unprocrastination.

  • Find a procrastination buddy and keep each other accountable.
  • Write everything you need to do in your journal, calendar or organizer – especially in the beginning.
  • Start your organization by setting some simple goals and plans to deal with the biggest pressures in your life. Most of these will not go away on their own, so stop procrastinating and deal with it!
  • Brainstorm as many ideas as you can that will help eliminate your ‘procrastinative ways’.
  • Every time you have a great idea, write it down and spend a few minutes planning your ideas. Make sure you do this either that day or the very next morning, to eliminate the chance of diminishing intent.
  • Instead of waiting for a deadline to near, try starting that project the day you are given a deadline.
  • When you have a good idea, goal or deadline, try these things – make some notes, purchase a book on the subject, do a quick internet search, run it by trusted friends, search for professional advice, read a pertinent blog or any other way to help find some good ideas to get that project done.


In the end, procrastination always intends to do it later and rarely does. But if you want to transform your life and defeat the law of diminishing intent… STOP WAITING AND DO IT NOW!