If there is one thing that can really damage a person’s sense of self, cause unnecessary stress, and lead to constant feelings of misery and guilt, it is the habit of procrastination.
Self-sabotage comes in many shapes and sizes but procrastination is by far the most common.
Are you a procrastinator? Are you always putting things off until tomorrow? How does that make you feel? Good about yourself and your life? I guess not. Here is how to change.
Procrastination is always a symptom of a deeper issue.
No matter how dysfunctional our behaviour seems on the surface, underneath we all only ever do things because we get something positive out of it.
Ask yourself what the real reasons are for your procrastination. What is it that you are trying to avoid or gain from not starting or completing certain tasks?
Here are some common underlying causes:
1. Fear of the outcome
Are you frightened of failing? Or, maybe you are subconsciously frightened of succeeding. After all it is not always easy to deal with the consequences of success. The fear of rejection, the fear of other people’s opinions or even the fear of making a fool of ourselves can stop us taking action.
2. Helplessness in the Face of Complexity
Does the task in hand feel too difficult? It is easy to get overwhelmed and end up feeling inadequate, incapable and unresourceful. In this case it can be easier to simply avoid the task in hand.
Some tasks get imposed on us, and this can cause us to feel resentful or even powerless. Are you choosing to assert personal control over such tasks by simply choosing not to do them?
4. Lack of motivation
Let’s face it. Some of the things we have to do are just plain dull and boring. It takes a lot of effort to get motivated. Avoidance can seem the best option.
5. Lack of focus
Modern life is full of endless distractions and if we are not particularly focused and self-disciplined it is easy to while away our precious time on everything but the task in hand.
6. Not knowing where or how to start
Some tasks are simply huge and it is easy to feel daunted by the size of the job in hand. It’s easier to just keep putting the task off until a later date simply because we just don’t know where to begin.
Do you set your standards so high that you either don’t finish tasks in a reasonable amount of time, or have such unrealistic expectations that they prevent you from even starting?
Procrastination is ultimately a showdown between two things: desire and fear.
If the desire to do something is greater than the fear of doing it then it will get done.
If the fear of something is greater than the desire to do it then it won’t get done.
Invest in Some Self-Reflection
If you are prone to putting things off then invest in some self-reflection time. Ask yourself the following questions:
Q: What prevents me from starting/completing this task?
Q: What am I afraid of? (Be honest with yourself.)
Q: What do I gain from not completing this task?
Q: What do I lose by not completing this task?
Q: What would I gain by completing this task?
Q: How will I feel when this task is done and dusted?
This sort of self-knowledge is empowering. As Carl G. Jung said:
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
When we do things unconsciously with little awareness, we can feel confused, frustrated and powerless. It is as if someone other than our conscious mind is calling the shots. However when we gain some understanding of why we are behaving in a certain way we can begin to:
a) disarm the fear by seeing through it, and
b) start to regain a degree of control and power over our inner and outer life.
Simple Strategies for Dealing with Procrastination
Split tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Focus on one small task at a time.
Set clear time-based goals with regard to each small task.
Take regular breaks between each small task.
Connect with the feeling of achievement as each small task is completed.
Give yourself a reward every time you complete a task.
Make yourself accountable by telling people you are going to complete a task by a certain time.
Ask for help, advice, support and information when a task feels too complex. Or, better still; delegate certain or all parts of the task to others with greater expertise in the relevant area.
If a particular strategy is not working then try doing things in a different way.
Be realistic about what you can achieve, the quality of what you are producing and the time scales that you set yourself.
Use journaling as a therapeutic tool to identify and process your feelings about any given task and your tendency to procrastinate.
Keep a diary of accomplishments that you can refer to whenever you need a self-esteem boost.
Ensure that as far as possible you only agree to do those things in life that are truly aligned with your passion.
- Use affirmations to positively change your underlying beliefs.
Glenn Harrold’s hypnotherapy recording “Overcome Procrastination” uses the following affirmations:
I love to get things done
I enjoy finalising projects
I overcome challenges easily
I am motivated and inspired
I completely believe in myself
- Get professional support and help through a life coach who can help you to identify and work through limiting beliefs and blocks.
Getting things done within a relevant timescale has many benefits:
your stress levels are reduced,
your focus and personal productivity increase,
you accomplish more in your life,
your self-esteem soars, and
- you feel good about yourself and your life.
If you would like some help in understanding and overcoming procrastination then check out my holistic life coaching page and give me a call. I can help.