You know the feeling……….it’s like that old pair of shoes that you continue to hang onto……they don’t do anything for you, but you just can’t seem to let go…..they’re familiar to you….they are a “known” factor…..they’re what you’ve worn for such a long time…..
So it is with procrastination. We try and try, but despite our best efforts, we just continue to do it. We put things off to the last minute, deal with the stresses that are involved, sometimes miss deadlines, sometimes disappoint others, and then promise ourselves we’ll do better next time around. We say to ourselves that something has to give…..and yet…….the next time rolls around and (put on your shocked face here) we repeat the exact same self-defeating behavior! In short, we experience……….Groundhog Day!
So how do we stop the process of procrastination? The first step is to realize why we’re doing it. Everyone is unique and people procrastinate for different reasons. Some of those reasons are task related (external) and some of those reasons are more within our own psyches (internal). When a person procrastinates due to a task specific reason – that reason goes away when the task is complete. However, when someone procrastinates due to an internal reason, that behavior is tougher to deal with. It requires much more effort to conquer. Sometimes, it may even require counseling or coaching.
Some of the most common and tougher reasons behind the behavior of procrastination are:
- Fear of Failure
- Fear of Success
- Tendency to Cram
- Tendency to Become Overcommitted
The best way to conquer procrastination is to be honest with yourself about why you’re doing it. Once you discover the mindset behind the behavior, then you can begin to change that self-defeating mindset, which in turn will then change that problem behavior. Simply put, behavior follows a change of heart and mind. If hearts and minds don’t change, the behavior change may still happen, but will not be sustainable.
Let me share an example with you. I don’t live to exercise. I don’t daydream about it. Really. I don’t wake up daily and go, “OH THANK GOODNESS….I GET TO EXERCISE AGAIN TODAY!!!” It’s just NOT who I am. Guess what? I’m ok with admitting that to you. Having said that to you, I will also tell you that, in fact, I exercise regularly. I have finally conquered the behavior of putting it off or ignoring it completely. I did this, though, when I took a dose of my own medicine.
I realized that I needed to change my mind about why I thought it was something I should accomplish. For me, doing it because “they” say it’s good for you, wasn’t reason enough. First of all, who are “they,” anyway? Does anyone ever really know that esoteric group of people to whom people endlessly refer? I think not. So if I do something, or adopt a behavior simply because a group of people I can’t identify say it’s a good idea, then it probably doesn’t mean as much to me and I most likely won’t sustain that behavior long-term or integrate it as part of my daily routine. I needed to do two things…understand and identify with the value of the actual health benefits of doing that behavior (exercise) or change my paradigm about why I think that behavior brings value to my life.
After really thinking about exercise, I surprisingly found that just the obvious health benefits alone weren’t enough to convince me to do it. After all, I’m well-read and have an open dialogue with a great physician. I trust her when she tells me that exercise will have a great impact on my overall well-being by increasing positive endorphins and increasing my metabolism, etc. The trouble is, however, that I’ve known these things all along….and yet……..I still haven’t acted by changing my behavior.
I began to realize that I had to find another perceived value….something that I could identify with that really and truly mattered to me. Then I remembered the scriptures that tell us that our bodies are not our own. In fact, the Bible tells us that our bodies were purchased for a high price and that because of that they are not our own. Further, scripture tells us that our bodies are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of the living God dwells within us.
I realized that by not taking care of my body, I am in direct opposition to my own fundamental belief system and the example that I want to set as a Christian involved in an active walk with Christ. If I believe the Bible, which I do, ….then why would I not take care of my physical being? I realized that I needed to make a change, and that reason tapped into my own internal value system. Because of that internal consequence search and a freshly identified value, I have been able to make a sustainable change in my life. Guess what? “They” were right, too. I feel better, I sleep better, I’ve lost weight, and I have more energy. Who knew? “They” did. I just had to find my way to the same conclusion by finding my own perspective on why exercising was important as a regular part of my lifestyle. YOU can do it, too, ….whatever “it” is that you’re procrastinating about doing.