A lot of us procrastinate the things we really want to do in favor of the things that people tell us are important. It’s only later in life that we come to realize that the thing that matters most is our happiness. And by that time, we’ve already wasted quite a few years by putting off doing the things that will make us happy.

The first thing you need to do, if you want to stop procrastinating, is determine exactly what will make you happy. Is there a goal or a dream that you’ve always had, without being able to put it into practice? Your goals might be related to career, creativity, travel, friends and family etc.

If you have goals like this, that you never decided to pursue, you need to first clarify what they are and then start pursuing them. Here are a few things that people tend to put off:

1. Creative Goals

Creativity is scary to many people. We think that we’re going to have to give up our entire lives and start living like penniless artists, if we want to be creative.

But this doesn’t have to be true. Sure, there have been penniless artists in the history of art. But there have also been several successful, wealthy ones. Monet was a rich man by the time of his death. Dickens wasn’t doing too badly for himself either.

So forget about the myth of the penniless artist. You don’t have to give up your job to be creative. You can start by being creative in your spare time. Renovate your kitchen and your cabinets. Take an art class. Set up a studio in your home. Decorate your home or garden. Or just sit down and write one page of that novel that’s been sizzling inside your head.

When you take baby steps towards your creative goals, they stop looking so scary and you can get a lot done in the long run.

2. Taking Time Out for Yourself

This is yet another thing that people procrastinate a lot. We’ll take some time out for ourselves at the end of the week, we say. But when the end of the week comes, there are chores to be done. Plus, we might feel so tired from the work week that we end up staying in bed half the day. So you never get a chance to pamper yourself a little bit.

It’s important to take time out, whenever you can, to give yourself a little treat. Just make sure to keep your treats healthy yet relaxing. Book a massage at a spa. Buy a book by your favorite author and read it along with a cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop. Go for that movie that you want to see, which no one else seems to want to watch with you. If you feel like you’re anxious and need to speak to someone, book an appointment with a therapist.

3. Travel

We’ll travel when we’re rich and famous, we say. Maybe we even hope to have a home in an exotic location, where we’ll spend a lot of time. Until then, we stick to our daily grind, only taking time off when it’s possible.

One of the main excuses that prevents people from traveling is the lack of funds. But you don’t have to travel to faraway, exotic locations. You can travel somewhere close by. If there’s a seaside resort a few hours away from you or a rock formation that many people go to see, why not check those out first?

Once you’ve travelled a little bit to places that are close to you, you’ll build up your courage to go further. And who knows, that house in an exotic location may not be that far in the distant future.

4. Health

Procrastinating dealing with health issues is a dangerous thing. You can’t keep ignoring that pain in your hip or that stiffness in your back. If you have chronic issues such as these, you need to get them checked out by a doctor. And then, make sure that you take the recommended medications or perform the exercises your doctor recommends.

You have to be vigilant about your health if you want to stay in good shape until the end of your life. This will help you to do all the other things that you want to do—pursuing a creative career, traveling, spending time with friends and family etc.

Health is such a delicate thing that even something simple like a cold can prevent you from living well and doing well. So make sure you get regular checkups, even if nothing seems to be going wrong at the moment. Prevention is better than cure.

5. Happiness vs. Success

At the end of their lives, you often hear people regretting that they spent too much time chasing success. They spent too much time working and not enough time with their friends and family. They got so caught up in climbing the corporate ladder that they never made time for anything else. They constantly worry about their retirement and don't spend enough time actually planning for retirement.

But have you ever heard anyone regretting that they spent too much time trying to be happy? That never happens. Because everyone that made their own happiness a priority never regretted it in the end.

So you need to make sure that everything you do is geared towards making you happier. And if you have certain fixtures in your life that are constantly making you unhappy, you need to take the steps necessary to get rid of them and replace them with something that will contribute to your happiness.