Perhaps you are like most of my clients and feel that procrastination is a major issue in your life. As a life coach I research a variety of topics for clients, but I am also always engaged in my own personal development. Procrastination is one area that I have done a LOT of research on, so you can guess that I may have experienced its effects personally. (Winks.) In fact, I will admit that I didn’t even want to start researching this topic. Worse than that, my research was actually an elaborate ploy to avoid doing something even more unpleasant! I finally did and would like to share a few ideas I have learned about the topic.
Let’s be clear, though. Why we put stuff off is a HUGE subject. In this brief article we only have time for a small piece. While some people can make some gains in this area with new knowledge, it takes most people a lot of reflection and strong feedback to make the significant leaps they need. This is because procrastination represents some major negative core beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world. It’s not about trying a few new tips and moving on.
Here are some of the top reasons you may be putting things off:
- The fears of failure, of looking foolish, of being rejected, of being disappointed.
- The fear of success. Sounds strange, right? But deep down, some of us want to avoid the expectations and the life readjustments that come with success.
- This is a big one for many people.
- Feeling overwhelmed. Past feelings get triggered from a time that we were unsuccessful with something similar, or we may feel that the task is beyond our current skill set
Try exploring some of these ideas:
Idea #1 – If you’re feeling fear
Gay Hendricks, in his book The Big Leap describes what happens when we’re afraid. “…most of us have a tendency to try to get rid of the feeling. We think we can get rid of it by denying or ignoring it, and we use holding our breath as a physical tool of denial. It never works, though, because the less breath you feed your fear, the bigger your fear gets.”
So breathe into the fear. Feel it fully, acknowledge it and then breathe. Release the adrenaline rush until the fear runs off, whimpering, leaving only excitement.
Once the immediate fear or anxiety state wanes, spend time journaling, discussing or meditating on the limiting beliefs that were triggered by the situation. Through conscious attention to those beliefs, we can lessen their hold on us.
Begin a process of mindful work to eliminate those beliefs and to replace them with beliefs that better serve you. This process benefits greatly from having a professional sounding board or mirror to reflect back your patterns and beliefs, as well as to offer strategies for better results in your life.
Idea #2 – If you’re a perfectionist
Cut yourself some slack. Forgive yourself for past (perceived) failures. Practice working for speed and completion. Motor through that to-do list. Most important of all, frequently ask yourself, “Is it good ENOUGH?” and be ready to move on.
Idea #3 – If you’re not feeling up to the task
- Recall a time when you were successful doing a similar task. Focus on your growth and the positive outcomes that you have created or a time that you were “in the zone”.
- Make the larger task doable. Break it into its most basic pieces. Some people like start with the hardest tasks first while others like to warm up with the easier ones.
- Get support to learn what you do not yet know. (Note: the ‘Yet’ part is a key component to changing your mindset. You CAN do it. You just haven’t learned HOW, yet.)
Whatever your reasons for procrastinating, do these four things: Breathe. Do one thing now. Get support. Then let me know how it goes!