Procrastination - a belief that hold us back
Whenever it comes to discussing the action steps that need to be taken to bring my clients closer to achieving their goals, they commit wholeheartedly to writing these steps down. When I then ask what might prevent them from actually completing these actions steps there is a moment of silent, forehead frowns and the initial “No, I will get these action steps done” and then a hesitant, “Well, maybe….”. A bit more prodding and two things normally come out – lack of time and procrastination. The next question I ask is “What can be done in advance to make sure these things don’t stop you from doing your action steps”. The answers range from drawing up a list of tasks to do, prioritising the tasks and better time management. However, there’s always a tint of embarrassment when the word “procrastination” comes up and often clients (I do it too and everyone I know does it) will vehemently deny that they allow procrastination to get in the way of completing something successfully.
Procrastination could be described as putting off something out of carelessness or laziness. It could be the avoidance, delaying or postponing unnecessarily of doing something. This explains why we feel embarrassed about admitting to procrastinating – we know we are avoiding doing something out of our own free will!
This brings me to my next question, “What limiting belief are you holding onto that makes you procrastinate?” A limiting belief is a belief you carry that does not serve you in any positive way. So, now we start to unpack what drives us to procrastinate. Is it a fear of failure? A fear of success (believe it or not, but many people fear being successful because of the unknowns it could bring with it)? A fear of being embarrassed? A fear of being ashamed? A fear of being ridiculed?
As you explore deeper, consider the thoughts you have about yourself when you procrastinate – do you feel you are not worthy of achieving your goal or whatever it is you are procrastinating? Do you think you are not good enough to put yourself out there? If your low self-esteem is the problem here, causing you to procrastinate, take a step back and allow yourself to write up a list of all the wonderful things about you – I promise that you will have loads of special and unique things about yourself that you can write down. As you describe all these wonderful things about yourself, tap into the feelings that come from thinking about your strengths and positive traits – visualise, really feel into these feelings. Now, imagine yourself using all your strengths and positive traits to push you beyond the procrastination and imagine how good you will feel accomplishing the goal.
Discover your own potential by making a list of all the achievements you have had in your life. It can be the day you got your learners/drivers licence, getting a college certificate/diploma/degree. How about the day you learnt to make a really good curry or painted a picture you were pleased with? Maybe it was a project proposal you wrote and submitted and then your company was awarded the tender – this is a huge achievement and it should make you feel so good. As you make a list of all your achievements, tap into the feelings you had when you made these achievements. Somewhere, somehow in your life you have accomplished many things and forgotten about them. Tap into them again and remember them. Draw on those feelings. Now, visualise yourself achieving the next task that you are procrastinating on and let those feelings of achievement give you the courage to move beyond procrastination.
It is always a good idea to imagine the “pain” you will experience if you let procrastination get the better of you. I do this with my clients all the time, “Imagine what it will feel like if you don’t achieve your goal”. The look and horror on their faces at the thought of not actually achieving the exciting, thrilling goal they have written down confirms the “pain” they will feel if they don’t get their goal. I ask them to describe their feelings if they continue to procrastinate – disappointment, frustration, no confidence, low self-esteem, sadness, self-disgust, loneliness. The list goes on. I ask them, “Do you want to continue feeling these things?” and their shudders are enough to tell me (and them) that they do not want to continue going down the path of procrastination.
Procrastination is a limiting belief that we do not need in our lives. It serves no purpose beyond delaying our dreams to reach a vision we have for ourselves. Procrastination shows that we are being careless or lazy about our life and what we deserve for ourselves. To postpone or delay needlessly, delays and often stops us from feeling pleasure and instead with are giving ourselves permission to be disrespectful to our SELF and our TRUTH.
So, whenever you find yourself procrastinating, do yourself a favour and step back. Be honest with yourself, do the simple exercises above and then move on beyond, knowing that you do deserve the very best for your SELF.