How to stop procrastination? Through action. Procrastination is the child of endless excuses of why something cannot be done. I’m sure, if prompted one could come up with a whole list of reasons “why not something won’t succeed“ or “why it’s not worth doing”. The remedy: it’s the active doing that will ‘break the spell’ of procrastination.
What causes procrastination?
There could be a number of reasons why someone would be numbed from pursuing their purpose. At the top of my head:
Fear: fear of failure, fear of success,
Not feeling worthy
Action. What comes to mind is the sounding of the word “action” on a film set. All preparation is complete and it’s time for all the players (actors, director, camera personnel and all the myriad of roles of personnel on a film set) to come together and record everything that has been up to that point. And this analogy serves another point: that particular scene could be “take 1” and it’s a wrap. Most likely, it will take many more until all contributors are happy with the scene. So too, it will take practise and a few attempts before you feel your end product (your product or service delivers customer value that directly addresses their pain point) is where you intend it to be. Fear of failure, self-doubt and fear in general was discussed in the last post in this series, so let´s look at a few other procrastination partners.
Perfectionism is an interesting ´ism in itself, as it implies there is a perfect representation for everything and everyone. What this little habit or belief instils is that nothing is ever good enough unless it´s perfect. Perfect is a relative term: it changes and depends on each person and their perspective. Perfect is never static, it is for ever changing, as we grow and change ourselves. So when we get fixated with something is only worth doing when it is perfect, is the continues proverbial „carrot on the stick“ that will forever be illusive and never attainable. That spells: P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N. The companion to perfectionism is also the feeling of: nothing is ever good enough, because ultimately nothing is ever perfect. Or perfect could be that one time experience that we framed as perfect in our minds, but never to be repeated again. And so the perfectionist´s journey is a continuous search for that perfect ´thing’ or ´someone’ or ´experience´: searching, but never finding. Given perfectionism can produce action for the search, but it will ultimately lead in depression when the perfect ´ism is almost never in reach.
Not feeling worthy
Not feeling worthy could be likened to lack of self-worth. If we carry a feeling, even subconscious that we are not worthy of the thing(s) we desire most, then we will not be able to give ourselves that experience or even see it when it presents itself. Self-worth is believing you are worthy of something. And you certainly are. Many people carry, in varying degrees, feelings of not being worthy of for example a loving partner, financial abundance or independent income or believing in themselves and what they have to offer. Putting the psychology sofa chat aside, it is worth getting a hold of this pattern that just like the self-doubt CD, if we aim to succeed as change makers and hero´s in our personal and social entrepreneurial journey.
Underestimating or overestimating yourself both carry with them either a sense of „not good enough“ or a tendency for ego games (maintaining a self-image that is necessary to survive). As with the coin, either side is not the true answer. The answer is the middle road, the silver lining, the point of balance and humility. A tendency to underestimate ourselves is often due to a sense of failure through experienced challenges or listening to others that may deflate our sense of self. Here‘s the thing: challenges and how we approach them, even if we felt we didn´t come out a winner, can still hold the silver lining within it by the „how“ we choose to look at them.
„Challenges create strength“, not necessarily by the challenge itself, but either by how we approach it or by viewing the results from it, as an experience to learn and grow from. For example: a challenge may be a loss of something: job, partner or house. The experience may be challenging at first, and bring about all the usual thoughts of loss, sadness, depression and grief. To succeed beyond success, or walk on the silver lining path, we can look at these situations as opportunities. Opportunities to learn about ourselves and where we may be out of balance in our lives and ultimately this self-observation will lead to choices that are more in line with our purpose and values.
Action: Breaking the spell of procrastination
If we buy into our fears and all the procrastination partners we´ve discussed here, what we will find is a loop. We will continually move from stage 1 (this is my current reality and I am uncomfortable with it) to stage 2 (something must change) and then stage 3 (the change instils fear) and then back to stage 1. The cycle is broken through action. Actively pursuing our purpose and the greater driver to overcome fear and its partners, to break the chains that keep us locked in the current status quo. Until we actively become self-aware of our ´isms and actively work with them in conjunction with the thrust of the purpose we aim to experience, we will remain in the loop. A prisoner of our own experience: „what you resist persists“.
In the journey of the hero, this internal cycle will continue unless the hero becomes proficient at the internal game. Facing the internal and external challenges will ultimately create the path where the experiences he encounters can be either side of the coin, or the silver lining that is the balance point: the path of least resistance. What this truly teaches us through the experience is trust. Trust in our own heroic self. Trust that when we choose to look at the challenge, a solution will reveal itself when we face all the fear and procrastination partners. Trust becomes the greatest tool for the hero and social entrepreneur in fulfilling their purpose.
Tips to stop procrastination
- If you´re feeling stuck, find out the cause (active self-awareness). Is there a self-image your attempting to protect, if you did ´x´ then you would be perceived as ´y´. What other people think of you is not your business, what you think of yourself is your business. Let go of ego games and grab a slice of humble pie.
- Are you willing to change: where you are now and where you want to be? Loosen up on your ideas about yourself and your life.
- If you feel your purpose or your objective is too big, which is causing the procrastination, look at the small steps that can get you there. Every step counts, even if it seems small in comparison to what you would like to achieve, it all adds up. Start now, and take action, one step at a time.