Beat Procrastination

May 21, 2018

 

 

I used to hate the P-word: Procrastination. 

I hated it because I thought it meant that I'm lazy, incompetent and a fraud. What I didn't realise back then was that procrastination actually originates from fear or other confrontational emotions such as lack of self esteem, perfectionism, doomsday thinking or other types of personal, familial or social conditioning. Basically, some time in my life I accepted a fact that I, in some way, simply was not good enough. 

This kind of thinking keeps us locked up in the cycle of fear of not being good enough and the inevitable self fulfilling prophecy. We live the experience of not being good enough because we keep seeing the mistakes we keep making whether others see them or not. 

We procrastinate, because it's safer to do nothing than to take a risk and fail. We procrastinate because we compare our (not even started) project to something that someone has spent years creating. We procrastinate because we need to see immediate results and don't have patience to pace ourselves. We procrastinate because we are not sure what it means about us if we succeed or fail. Maybe others will be jealous and I will be kicked out of the tribe. Maybe I'll fail and I will be ridiculed. The options are endless and we most often procrastinate because the "unknown factor". 

Let's take a moment to celebrate the "unknown factor". Remember when you were a child, your parents taught you about the dangers of fire, flood water or strangers. It was implied to you that you don't know the bad things that can happen if you play with fire, dive head first into floodwater or speak to strangers. You were taught, though conditioning, that the unknown is something to be afraid about. Did you ever hear the saying "stick to what you know"? If you never challenge these beliefs (safely of course), you will always think that the unknown is something to be afraid of. 

 

If we try to push ourselves to do things when we're not ready, the amount of unknown factors becomes a threat that we begin to rebel against. That's why pushing a procrastinator is a bad idea: remember, they feel like their whole identity is being threatened and they will use their preferred coping mechanisms to either defend themselves or attack you. 

 

The key to beating procrastination therefore is not to push through, but to take time to understand why the "unknown factor" is stressing you out. The second step is to commit to taking small action toward the goal, ie instead of trying to complete the whole website today, why don't you get an egg timer and work on it for 15 minutes today and another 15 minutes tomorrow. 

By pacing yourself you give your emotions an opportunity to keep up with your business advancements and if your emotions have a chance to keep up with what you are doing, they are unlikely to hijack your project and lead you back into the procrastination cycle. 

We now need to realise that we are not children anymore. We can learn new things and we don't have to stick to what we know. Sticking to what you know is a sure way to stop you from advancing on your way to your goals.

Instead of letting procrastination of the "unknown factor" define who you are, take some steps to break the pattern of your procrastination cycle: 

1. Make sure to select realistic goals.

2. Be aware of the feelings of doubt as they come up. You can go as far as to write them in a journal a they surface, and then keep reminding yourself that the thoughts and feelings are there only to help you stay out of harm's way.

3. Commit to taking some action, even if it's 15 minutes now. 

4. Reflect back to the work that you just did. Look to affirm that you both took action and you progressed toward your larger goal. 

5. Reward yourself when you hit a milestone. 

 

Remember, that the choices you make are yours to make. No-one else should have power over your choices. When presented with a choice of taking action or procrastination, remember that your life's work is important and think of all the people who will be missing out on the benefits of your work if you choose to not take action in this moment. Start now. You're worth it!

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