And that it is, an epidemic of great proportions. Procrastination, which leads to self-loathing, frustration, surrender. And it’s worldwide. The dictionary meaning – delay or postpone action, to put off doing something.
One of the biggest distinctions for participants of the the recent Distinctive Leadership ‘Goal Setting’ workshop was the need to take action to ensure they achieve their goals. Now taking action may sound obvious and easy to you but it’s clearly not, otherwise, more people would be taking action. So why don’t people do the things they know they need to do? Why do we procrastinate? Why do we beat ourselves up for not doing what we should be doing? Why do we make it hard for ourselves?
I’ll make this very clear right now:
Procrastination is not supporting your Personal Brand in any way whatsoever. Period!
As humans, we will do more to avoid pain, than to create pleasure. Think about that. We will do more to avoid pain, commonly known as pushing through the comfort zone barriers, than to feel pleasure, achieve goals. Now if you have set some challenging goals, you will more than likely need to push the boundaries of your comfort zone. Perform tasks that may be foreign or scary to you, therefore painful. So you will choose to stay within your comfort zone as it feels good, warm and safe. There is a whole psychology around procrastination, which is a learnt behaviour and one that can be changed. If you choose to.
There are many ways that people procrastinate. But let’s have a look at some of the ways that you may be procrastinating together with some things you can do to enhance your chances of taking action:
- Make a decision
there are many ways that people choose to procrastinate and not making a decision is common. The best excuse I hear is people putting it down to their zodiac star sign! Nice excuse! And the astrologers will back you up, however, how is that assisting you to create the life that you want? Not making decisions absolves procrastinator of responsibility. If you make a decision you will need to actually do something, accept that you are in control rather than having others make it for you, therefore having someone to blame. Make a decision! I appreciate that it is not easy, it may be fearful and may not feel comfortable, however, at least you can move forward. Try making small decisions to start off with, train yourself by making smaller decisions, in a timely manner, moving onto bigger ones. In no time, you’ll have the confidence in yourself to make the big decisions quickly. Weigh up the cost of not making the decision, will you lose an opportunity, affect your health, be a poor role model as a leader, parent, partner, increase the opportunity for self sabotage? Procrastination destroys teamwork and destroys relationships. As a non-decision maker, you cannot be relied upon. If the cost is greater than the gain, you know which way you need to go…and now!
- Get your thrills some other way
people will wait to the very last minute to do something as they get a euphoric rush from the last minute pressure environment. The thrill seeker, who is almost daring themselves to fail, but won’t! I used to be in this category! Man the pressure I would put myself under, but come through fighting, landing on the top steps punching the air like Rocky in the first Rocky movie! All for what? A thrill? To think of the time I wasted looking at my to do list, the brain space I had utilized and wasted having the task on my mind, knowing I had to do it, continually frustrating myself by not doing it. My mind was already busy with the task, so I might as well have done it allowing some space for proactive thinking rather than the pressure cooker environment, not good for my health! I believed I work best under pressure, a self-justification for procrastination. It was a lie! As a remedy to this, avoid distractions and know that you will not feel like doing this more tomorrow. Seize the Day! Do it today and allow time to progress even further tomorrow. Ride a rollercoaster, jump out of a plane, and bungee jump as a celebration that you have done it. Saving it till the last minute creates a rushed job, limited thinking and mistakes. Being under pressure very rarely makes you more creative, you may get creative in cutting corners, rather than delivering quality.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway
Procrastinators avoid! And they avoid due to fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability. It is an easy justification, and unfortunately socially acceptable, to be lazy! Madness! There will always be fear in your life. Always. Fear will never go away. In her book, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”, Susan Jeffers explains how we can embrace fear in our lives and move forward, confidently. Again, the more you do it the better you will get at it. You can choose to see fear as a positive, that you are growing as an individual rather than shrinking or staying the same. My question to you is what do you think of yourself for procrastinating? I can guarantee it’s worse than anyone else will be thinking of you. People admire those who ask for help. People genuinely want to help people, why don’t you give them an opportunity then pass it on. Learn, do, teach (learn something new, do it yourself and then teach others), a great way to contribute back.
These are just some of the ways that people choose to procrastinate, and the most common. So if you are reading through this and shout out, “that’s me!” try the alternative and see if it helps. Distinguish yourself from the masses, as a very high proportion of our society is procrastinators. Procrastination is not a symptom of poor time management or planning, rather poor self-discipline. So choose to identify yourself in another way, I am a man or woman of action and believe it. You will create more efficient and effective outcomes.
“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.” – Don Marquis