Procrastination has an ugly ring to it. We hear the word and we immediately think FAILURE. But what if procrastination isn’t actually all bad?? What if your procrastination may just be telling you something??
Procrastination can simply be summed up as “putting something off”. Basically point blank avoiding doing something you have set out to do, or know you need to do.
Having worked with a number of clients who have confessed to being skilled procrastinators I have come up with 2 leading causes of procrastination…
It can be fueled by two things…
The first reason for procrastination is the obvious one…fear of failure.
Having had a bad experience with feelings associated with failure, we learn to protect ourselves by simply not allowing ourselves to enter into a space where we can possibly ‘fail’ again.
Simple example: You were in Grade 7 – you studied hard for a test and you didn’t get the results you were hoping for. This scared you. You subconsciously decided that the reason for the surfacing of these ‘hard emotions’ was due to one thing and one thing only. Time & Effort. If you hadn’t put in so much time and effort into studying, then doing badly in your test wouldn’t have upset you so much. And so just like that, little you decide this is a reality you will now live by. Forever. Protect me first, i.e – leave things for the last minute, never put in your all, that way if you do well in something, it’ll be due to luck and if you don’t do well who cares anyway because you didn’t exactly try THAT hard.
This form of procrastination is common and with effort is easy to overcome. Working with clients, I have seen how me holding them accountable has pushed them to actually start doing their best, and when they succeed they feel GOOD about it (better than ever before) and when they don’t, I’m there to help them process it and slowly but surely our brains shift from being scared to fail, to seeing it as a learning curve and not something to prevent you from working hard in life.
The second reason for procrastination is an interesting one and it’s what I call, being true to me.
This is for those of you who feel that you are not a natural procrastinator but in a certain area of your life; you are struggling to make things happen.
STOP. Right there!!!
Your procrastination may just be telling you something about yourself. It’s easier to see the little obstacles, like time and money that may be holting this ‘area of your life’ but if you are willing to dig a little deeper you may just find that the reason you are ‘avoiding’ this thing, is because it was NEVER meant for you in the first place! Our minds have a way of telling us when we are doing something that goes against the direction our lives should be heading in…
Simple example: I recently decided to launch a new coaching package…but before I launched it, I knew I had to put together an E-book and plan it all out. The thing was, every time I sat down to do it, nothing came to mind. I ended up just ignoring it and never got round to actually putting it together. Now, being someone who doesn’t naturally procrastinate – I knew something was up. So I asked myself some questions and ended up with a simple answer – I don’t want to run this program/ offer this package. It’s not what I’m passionate about and that’s ultimately why I am not getting to it.
Step 1: I encourage you to take some time this week to write a list of the areas or things in your life that you have been ‘putting off’.
Step 2: Then ask yourself these two questions:
1. Why am I really putting this ‘thing’ off?
2. Is it still something I want to do/achieve?
Step 3: Based on these two answers, you’ll quickly be able to discern as to whether your procrastination is “fear-based” or “passions-based”.
If it’s fear-based, then it’s best to break down the ‘goal’ into smaller more manageable steps, that way you won’t be putting as much at risk every time you take a step forward. As you gradually start moving forward, you are likely to find that your fear of failure will become more and more distant!!
If your reasoning happens to be passion-based, then you simply need to re-look at why you decided to do this ‘goal/thing’ and what you could replace it with or somehow realign it, to match your passions and your life vision.