I have many many dreams and many more goals to achieve
Plans are made too, I’m ready I believe
But I’m waiting for the stars to align, for that perfect time,
Coz if I get started now, that would be a crime
In January I was to start, but you know how things were this year
I won’t be able to devote the time I wish is what I really fear
But next year I won’t let anything stand in my way
Coz 1st jan is a brand new year, and a brand new day
Do you think like this, put things off and away?
Do you procrastinate and wait for that perfect day?
Don’t leave it off for later, what you can do today,
Procrastination can be lethal, a heavy price to pay
I wrote this poem in frustration.
There are things I wanted to do, dreams, goals, plans all in place but I was just not able to begin. I believed I had trouble starting. But the reality, which I discovered later, was that procrastination had become a habit and that began affecting my self-esteem.
And I know I’m not alone. Procrastination seems to be a universal problem. Everyone seem to struggle with at one point or the other. We have issues to get started on what we want to do, what we think are important us, things we dream about. Then why do we put them off?
To my understanding and of course, referenced by psychological journals, we tend to procrastinate to avoid something. It could be boredom, anxiety, or fear. Or a combination of all of these unpleasant emotions. And sometimes because we are addicted to a distraction.
Procrastination is a coping mechanism to help us avoid all these strong emotions. If we ignore these tasks at this moment, put them off until later, our mood improves instantly.
There’s nothing wrong with that. We need to do what we feel at that moment.
The problem is when it happens day after day, year after year and eventually, procrastination becomes a habit. And that has long term implications.
We could lose out on opportunities. We could damage our reputation. We may harm relationships, and worse end up hurting our self-esteem. Procrastination makes us our worst enemy.
Digging deeper into why we do what we do, I realized that often we lack awareness.
So here are 5 things you can do to overcome procrastination.
1. Notice the resistance –
What are you avoiding?
Why are you avoiding it?
If the task is filling you with anxiety then look for the root cause. Oftentimes this points out to poor time management or unrealistic expectations.
Sometimes it can also be casual behavior. You could be procrastinating on tasks without deadlines or the deadline is a long way off and you believe you have plenty of time.
Another reason could be perfectionism. And this comes out many times during my coaching conversations. I’m a perfectionist. I need time to do this task perfectly.
One other reason could be distractions. This is when you desperately want to do something but your distraction has a greater pull of your attention.
Being aware of your resistance is very important to move ahead in the right direction. Next
2. Be aware of outcomes –
What’s at stake here?
What will happen if you continue to delay and avoid it?
Is it truly worth it?
Looking ahead at what your procrastination can cause you, in terms of damage.. can help you get started.
So make a list of the tasks you’re avoiding and what is at stake. If money is your motivation then add how much money is putting this task away is costing you.
This exercise is powerful.
3. Plan an action –
Now that you know why you’re avoiding, how can you overcome them?
If your root cause is time management, unrealistic expectations then rework on your goals.
If it is distractions, then create strategies to disconnect.
If it is boredom or you don’t enjoy doing the task, then you can delegate it to someone else
You get the drift. Plan an action based on what’s making you procrastinate. Then you plan a
Reward for action –
Incentives are super powerful to harness our motivation. So use them. It can be as simple as an hour extra on social media or Netflix. Or maybe an extra bowl of ice-cream. Whatever works for you.
Being mindful can help us stay consistent in all these 4 steps. When you’re mindful, you will recognise the resistance. When distractions arise, mindfulness can remind you of the cost, the plan you made and the reward that’s waiting for you.
Remember, true change can happen with non-judgemental approach and self-compassion.
Self-compassion is key because when we’re able to be gentle with ourselves in the midst of shame, we’re more likely to reach out, connect and experience empathy.Brene Brown
So … are you procrastinating on something right now?
It’s time to put some to action