Have you ever:
- Decided to do something and then did every other task you can possibly imagine first?
- Had a deadline and then done everything humanly possible to delay it until the very last minute?
- Felt like there is never enough time/money/energy/correct weather/right outfit so that you can go out and get what you want in life?
If you answered yes or maybe to any of these, then you are a procrastinator.
Why do we procrastinate?
Often we procrastinate because we’re feeling insecure, anxious or concerned about failing. It’s often an unconscious decision and can be summed up in one simple sentence:
Our FEAR of feeling unsafe causes us to procrastinate.
This makes perfect sense when you think about it.
Imagine for a moment that a very hungry grizzly bear is chasing you. Your life is in immediate danger. Your desire for safety overrides all other emotions and thoughts. You do whatever is necessary to save your own life. This is the primary human response to fear, where we either freeze, flee or fight to live.
Unfortunately our brain cannot distinguish between:
1. The real fear of being eaten by a hungry bear and
2. The imagined Fear of being uncomfortable in a situation or task.
Our body reacts the same way in both instances. We either freeze, flee or fight to live another day. You can think of procrastination as the safe tree you climb to get away from gnashing Grizzly teeth.
No-one likes living this way and nor should they.
Here are 3 simple solutions that are scientifically proven to STOP procrastination in its tracks. I’ve nicknamed this process “Lets Go To W.A.R”:
Recognise that procrastination is a way of “fleeing the fear scene”, as you endeavour to feel safe by delaying the inevitable. Acknowledge that the more you procrastinate, the more unsafe and unsure you will feel. You’ve experienced it all before but now is the time to take a stand and own it.
Begin by naming WHAT it is you are afraid of.
Procrastination holds you back from achieving what you want in life. Naming the fear allows you to start managing this crippling impact.
Here are a few fears that my coaching and counselling clients have identified:
- I’m afraid of failing/succeeding.
- I’m not worthy of it.
- I’m unlovable and don’t deserve it.
- I’m a fake and will get caught out.
- I’m not good enough.
- I’m useless, so why bother?
Once you have named you fear, give yourself permission to procrastinate for a set period of time. You’ll instinctively know the right amount of time. Set the alarm and procrastinate your brains out.
Gifting yourself this time allows your mind and body time to get used to the idea of NOT procrastinating. Once that timer goes off and you’ve named your fear, it’s time to shame it into submission by taking a few small, simple baby steps.
2. ACTION Steps
Ideally, each step should take no more than 2-5 minutes to complete. It’s hard to procrastinate over something that takes 2 minutes to finish.
AND naming the FEAR is one action you needed to do, so you are already on your way to a life without procrastination.
Some examples of simple actions are:
- I will work for 10 mins on this task, take a minute to chill and then go again.
- I will break this task into itty bitty parts and start the first one now.
- I will have a 2 min dance party for one song to get myself out of the doldrums.
3. REWARD yourself
Set yourself some awesome rewards like a new phone, dinner out, fresh blend of tea or holiday. The reward can be as extravagant or as simple as you like. Have some fun with this and make the prize something you really want.
Try to feel uncomfortable if you don’t achieve it. It’s amazing how motivated we can become when we want the latest release of our favourite phone. Use this motivational drive to your advantage.
The rule is: No action, no reward.
We tell kids this all the time: “Eat your vegetables and then you can have dessert.” It’s not as hard as you think. It just takes practice.
One Last Tip:
The 3 steps above really do work. The only thing that can and will stop you is yourself. If you feel you can’t go it alone then grab some support. Making yourself accountable to a friend, coach, mentor or family member is a great way to get extra cheerleading support when the going gets tough.
In summary, the three “Lets Go To W.A.R”: steps that work are:
- WHAT – Understand that FEAR drives procrastination and identify it by giving it a name.
- ACTION – Create super small steps that take 2-5 minutes to complete.
- REWARD – Motivate yourself by creating rewards you don’t want to miss out on.
I understand how easy and also how tough beating procrastination can be. As a recovering perfectionist and procrastinator myself, I appreciate how badly it affects lives. Don’t let it creep into your finances, career, relationships and take over your life as it did mine. Go to W.A.R and tame procrastination once and for all.
If you’d like support in overcoming procrastination, then book a time with me here: www.toni-maree.as.me