Oh, good ol’ procrastination. The thing that kills so many dreams and goals from getting accomplished. You know you need to get shit done if you want to be successful, but you just can’t seem to find the motivation. Sound familiar? It’s an all too common trait for many of us.
So what is procrastination? It is:
The action of delaying or postponing something.
Basically, it’s not doing the things you tell yourself that you are going to do. But don’t go calling yourself a procrastinator. it’s not who you are, but just what you are doing. Being a “procrastinator” is just a story you are telling yourself. It is something that can change. It doesn’t define you. Just because you may be in the act of procrastinating, it is far from your identity. And since it is not your identity it is something that is malleable. You can learn how to stop procrastinating.
Why do you procrastinate?
You procrastinate because it’s your brain’s way of trying to protect you. The brain is wired to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and reduce effort. So when you are avoiding doing something, it’s because your brain is thinking that it’s easier to just procrastinate and to not even get started. The task that you are avoiding is creating some kind of feeling that you are blatantly trying to avoid because it’s creating discomfort for you. Are you trying to avoid shame? Self-doubt? Boredom? Overwhelm? Discomfort? Rejection? Fear? Uncertainty?
Common ways that procrastination shows up
You want perfectionism.
You want everything to be perfect. You want it to be “the right time”. Or you want to make sure that you have “all the information” or that you know “exactly HOW to do something first.” You are afraid that you aren’t ready yet or that you aren’t enough. While many may think that perfectionism is a trait that creates high standards, it actually does quite the opposite. Perfectionistic tendencies are synonymous with people that are scared. And this fear tends to lead to procrastination which will halt any forward movement towards success.
You are overwhelmed + indecisive.
I like to call this the “I don’t know” syndrome. Basically, it means that you don’t have a plan for yourself. You are waiting for the world to show up and tell you how it’s done. It creates a victim mentality where you are at the whim of the world + people around you to create the how for you. This is not a good place to put yourself. If you don’t create a plan for yourself, you won’t create action and you will ultimately remain stuck.
You lack interest.
Sometimes the task at hand to get you to your goals literally just bores you to tears. It’s that whole “seek pleasure” part of the motivational triad that your brain is always reverting to. Unfortunately, though, there’s just going to be times when tasks just aren’t going to appeal to you, but that’s just part of life.
So how can you conquer procrastination?
Here are my tips to conquer your procrastination.
Examine the why.
Getting to the root cause of why you are procrastinating will help you tremendously. Thinking about something specific that you have been avoiding doing. Why are you avoiding it? Are you protecting yourself from failure? Embarrassment? Responsibility? Rejection? Overwhelm? If you are dealing with the “I don’t know” syndrome, something I like to ask myself is, “If I did know, what would I do?” You’ll be surprised that you probably do have an idea of how you could accomplish something, but there’s a feeling deep down inside of you that you are trying to avoid so it’s easier to just stay in indecision.
Create the new why.
Now that you’ve learned why you are standing in your way of getting shit done, it’s time for you to think about your why for accomplishing the tasks you are avoiding. Ask yourself,
– Why do I want to achieve my goal?
– Why will I do it no matter what?
– Who will I be accountable to?
From there you have to figure are what are the new feelings you need and want to feel in order to get the work done? Committed? Excited? Empowered? Disciplined? Willing?
When you plan things ahead of time, you use your prefrontal brain. This is the part of your brain that deals with complex behaviors and greatly contributes to personal development. When you use this part of your brain instead of the primitive part (where you are just trying to survive), you can start to rewire your brain. When you aren’t planning your tasks ahead of time, your brain is always going to want to choose what’s easy – aka, deciding to watch Netflix instead of creating your project proposal. What does planning ahead look like?
– Brainstorming all the tasks that you have to do
– Figure out what all the obstacles are that are keeping you from doing your tasks + turn it into a strategy or skill you can develop. Ex – you can’t focus when you have interruptions? Schedule time for yourself to be alone with your most difficult tasks so you don’t fall prey to interruptions.
– Determine how much time it will take to do each task.
– Schedule all your tasks on the calendar with time frames + do what’s on your calendar.
Be okay with B- work.
For the perfectionists out there, sometimes you have to just allow yourself to put out the B- work because putting it out there is better than not putting it out there. If you are aiming for A+ work, you may find you just keep trying to refine it. It’s better to put something out there, + then grow + improve as you move forward.
Allow for discomfort + be kind to yourself.
Discomfort is the currency of your dreams. We, humans, want to avoid it at all costs most of the time, but it’s what is going to propel you forward. It’s not going to be easy. Know that even as you start taking these steps to eliminate procrastination, you’re likely going to fail, and that’s okay. Instead of judging yourself, take a moment to get curious to ask yourself what worked? What didn’t work? And what can I do differently next time? Some of my favorite thoughts to think when I’m struggling are, “It’s going to suck and that’s okay.” + “It’s all part of the process. It’s happening exactly how it’s supposed to. You’ve got this!
Are you ready to learn more about how you can kick your procrastination to the curb so you can create the success that you desire in your life?
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