Why do We Procrastinate?

ProcrastinationI was way more organized when I went into the office each day. I was way more motivated when adversity was looking me in the face. I was way more excited about my freedom when I felt it was threatened. Now, things aren’t so tough, and honestly, I am less likely to do things to move forward. What is that about? Is it because my back is not up against the wall? Is it the same kind of game we play when we know we must get something done but we wait until the very last day to do it? What is this procrastination phenomena we live in? What is it that motivates us to take real action? What has to be at risk for us to take things seriously? I meet with a life coach once a week and it’s not until 2 days before we are scheduled to meet again that I actually start working on my goals. I’ve had ample time to get everything done but I chose not to take advantage of it. Now, one can argue that as long as it’s done then that is all that truly matters. Yes that is the case in some instances. As long as you register your car before your birthday there is no penalty, even if it is the day before. As long as you do laundry before you are out of panties there’s no harm done. But when does using this tactic fail you. How about preparing for a final. Instead of taking a few days each week to thoroughly engage yourself in the material, you wait two days before to learn 4 months’ worth of knowledge. What about hosting a party. Instead of having music, food, venue, and invitations squared away 2 weeks before the big day, you wait until the week of to work out details.

I interviewed a psychotherapist and she told me the one thing she has learned the most about following a field based on passion and stepping into the world of entrepreneurship was the ART of DISCIPLINE. She had NO IDEA the amount of discipline it would take to be successful. There were days, weeks even, when she made very little progress if any at all.  I relate to this all too well, as does anyone who has ever not been in the mood to do something even though they knew they should.

According to an article published by Oregon State University, there are 6 reasons why we procrastinate:

  1. Skill Deficit- When we lack the skills to complete a specific task, it is only natural to avoid it instead of facing the challenge.

How to overcome: Find what part of the skill is causing you a problem and tackle it. If you don’t know the skill at all, put it on your list of things to learn and start growing your skill set.

  1. Lack of Interest- Some things are just plain boring but it does not make it less important.

How to overcome: Attach your uneventful task to something you already do. This allows you to make a habit of doing a mundane yet necessary activity (like brushing your teeth or taking your vitamin).

  1. Lack of Motivation- It is common for us to feel that if we are “not in the mood” to do something, then it should not get done until we are.

How to overcome: What people misunderstand is that starting the task is actually the real motivator. Many couples that are on a drought and blame it on not being in the mood actually find that once they start having sex, despite their initial feelings, are glad they did. Motivation comes once the task has begun.

  1. Fear of failure- It is a scary thought to believe that after we put our hopes and dreams on the line and give it all we’ve got, there is still a possibility things can blow-up in our face. It is much safer to continue what we are doing or have done in the past, because at least it’s clear we can’t fail at that.

How to overcome: Throw perfectionism and society’s standards out the window. You will never be perfect and your life will never look like a cool hip-hop video- ACCEPT THAT & EMBRACE THAT. Now allow you and the life you live to develop into something even better.

  1. Fear of Success- Once you do one great thing, that thought “What’s next?!” plays in the background. It is easy to get wrapped up in topping your latest and greatest. We all do it. Your next boyfriend is going to be finer, flyer and surpass whats-his-name with flying colors.

How to overcome: But if you are always looking for the next best thing or fear you may never reach it, it stifles you from being present and open to all that surrounds you. The present is what sparks authenticity and creativity. It is in those moments the next best thing will find you.

  1. Rebellion and Resistance- When certain tasks or circumstances are imposed on us by others, sometimes it is difficult to get on that “do-good” train and get it done, simply because it was impressed by someone that was not you!

How to overcome: Keep in mind that whomever you are resisting actually has more power over you at the time. Your rebellious attitude is a reaction of someone else which keeps them in the driver seat, not you. Take back control. Determine what you want and do just that.

 

There are a lot of reasons why we procrastinate but there are just as many reasons not to. Your life will happen whether you are in the driver seat or relaxing in the back. It’s all on you.