I personally don’t like the word and I know exactly why .. because at one time I became so good at it I was doing more procrastinating than anything else!
If I had an assignment to finish I would do anything but! I would walk the dogs (for the fourth time that day, even though they normally only get walked twice or three times at the most); make a cup of tea, get up and walk around the room, even go and sit on the loo! And in between all this, I would be bobbing in and out of Facebook at such a frenzied rate that my laptop screen would be freezing every few seconds. And hanging out of the fridge like I hadn’t eaten for a fortnight! But why? Why couldn’t I just sit down and do the damned assignment?
I had to find out and soon, because procrastination was fast becoming a way of life and at 43, there was still so much I wanted to achieve and do. So off I went to find out why we procrastinators do what we do and how we can stop it!
I was amazed to discover that fear was behind the main reason people put things off and then never end up doing them, or they start some things and never finish them, quickly moving on to something else.
Fear of failing is one reason and can sometimes be traced back to a decision we made years before where we failed and maybe experienced criticism that hurt so deeply, we decided that in order not to experience that level of pain we would never take a chance of achieving anything or taking a risk again.
Fear of success is also a reason why people procrastinate. For example you may have excelled as a child at school, but been bullied or called a geek for your studious nature that led you to be at the top of your class. So you learn’t to see success as something that people look down on you for, to be ashamed of, or something that others didn’t appreciate in you.
Fear of being different is another biggy! Because as humans we tend to feel more comfortable in groups, where we can feel we belong and can console each other. Where we can also encourage others to join us at a lower level, helping to make us feel less inadequate about the fact we are not striving to reach our full potential. The old saying “Whoever you spend time with, you slowly become like” is such a true saying and sadly can keep us at a level that feels safe but so restrictive. Resulting long term in lowering of self-esteem and confidence
Fear of leaving what we call our comfort zone is also a key issue as we develop our skills in procrastination. It’s funny really because I think if most people were to ask themselves how comfortable they were in their comfort zone, they would reply, “not at all”! In fact they may go on to say they are bored (which I believe comes from staying too long in the comfort zone and not experiencing a variety of emotions). But they still stick with it, because it’s safe, what they know and even if it isn’t that satisfying they are positive of the feelings they will get from it, good or bad. And there’s safety in that.
So now we know a little bit about why we procrastinate day after day, even when we know it doesn’t serve us…what can we do about it?
Let’s firstly play a little game, imagine I said to you “From this day forward you will know exactly what is going to happen, the outcome of everything you do and how you are going to feel about it!” Now initially you might welcome this certainty in your life and how safe it would feel, especially when it came to matters of the heart and your finances, which are both issues that at times can throw us into a state of non-function. But how long would you really last before you became bored with knowing exactly what was going to happen? I reckon a couple of days, tops! And you would be screaming out for some action, something to throw you off balance and present you with a challenge you could get your teeth into. So how comfortable and rewarding is the comfort zone? Is the fear of stepping out of it realistic and rewarding when there is so much to be gained by trying to better yourself and experience new things?
And remember this, in order to succeed you must fail first. Every successful and famous person has a long story of how many times they tried before they finally made it, but they never gave up! And to succeed gives us the greatest pleasure and privileges, it allows us to share our talents with the world, to help others and to enjoy luxuries and freedom.
So ask yourself now – have your fears got a place in your future, or do they deserve to stay in the past?
If they deserve to stay in the past, then read on .. this is for YOU!
5 WAYS TO OVERCOME PROCRASTINATION
1 Be aware of what you are telling yourself! Because what you tell yourself, tends to become your reality and what you practise. Are you giving yourself excuses like .. I will do it tomorrow, I have plenty of time.
In your awareness of how you speak to yourself, you are able to change it. Try swapping your words for more positive, encouraging ones. “I can do this”, “this can be done now”, “I always feel better when I finish things”.
2 Create realistic goals. When you overwhelm yourself, you end up not doing anything and then you shame yourself, by verbally affirming what you haven’t achieved. Get clear about what needs to be done and plan a timescale, pop it in your diary or even better on a wall calendar where you can see it clearly, then steadily work towards your goals. Planning to have healthy breaks in order to feel refreshed and able to continue is also a good idea as it keeps you creative.
3 Give yourself rewards for your achievements, these should generally be positive ones and if you can stick to healthy ones even better. Time with friends, gifts to yourself, and speaking of your achievements, helps you to be proud of yourself and helps to support your endeavours.
4 Get an accountability partner, a friend, or even a coach, to help you make a plan, work alongside you and guide you, to make sure you are supporting your work in a healthy way and not punishing yourself if you slip off your path.
5 Get rid of the need to be perfect. Many of us, through society pressures and comparing ourselves to others, fear starting things because it may not be perfect or up to the standard of someone else. When we embrace the fact that we all express ourselves differently and uniquely we come to accept that we can never be anyone else, only ourselves and that we are perfect being so.
I believe one of the things we should be aware of when procrastinating is that we don’t lose our passion and love for the work we are doing simply by avoiding it due to failure. Wouldn’t that be the greatest shame? When something we love and want to be good at and want to share with others is lost in fear. I feel we would be denying others access to our authentic expression by doing this and so procrastination becomes more than just about us.
At the end of the day we owe it to the outside world to share our work and our thoughts. And we must remember – in work we create, we express, we grow, we connect and we bring to the world things that we just couldn’t live without.
Imagine if we didn’t have electricity, medicines, planes, surf boards .. how would our life be, if the inventors and creators of such things were to have procrastinated and never shown us what was in their hearts?!