If the belief that “I can, that it’s worth it, that I’m prepared to try and deserve the results” would overcome procrastination, why am I still (not) doing it?
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You’ve all heard the one about the chaps that got together and formed a procrastination club haven’t you? That’s right; they just haven’t got around to having their first meeting yet.
How big a role do you allow procrastination to play in your life and work?
I’m sure we have all been guilty of this form of this delaying, frittering, oscillating at some stage when internally we knew something had to be done and we somehow just never managed to get it going or finished, right? Somehow we let or even create obstacles to get in the way. Often to our detriment and sometimes even sabotaging our success? How do we do that?
Behavior Patterns, Strategies and Procrastination
Strategies are how we structure and organize our thoughts and our behaviour patterns to accomplish a task. Think about how you brush your teeth. You do it the same way every time, don’t you? That’s a strategy. Just try brushing them with your other hand to see how well entrenched this pattern has become for you.
Patterns are how we have learned by repetition (with good results) and perfected to play them out.
Procrastination and Beliefs
To do a task we need to believe that we can do it. We wouldn’t commit to it if we didn’t. We need to believe it is worth doing. We need to be prepared to put in the necessary preparation and practice and also need to believe that we deserve its results.
In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) we learn that in our minds we have developed preferences to be motivated by wanting to feel good about achieving something or whether we are motivated by not wanting to experience the consequences of not doing something. We discussed in my blog: Moving Away versus Moving Towards (the glass half empty versus the glass half full cliché).
And so we have a strategies that have developed into behaviour patterns for almost everything we do, usually without being consciously aware of it.
A common theme in procrastination is that we don’t do something or even sabotage something we really needed or wanted to do, because there is a secondary gain in play. Not having a go prevents failure. That’s a secondary gain; one where the feared pain of change is perceived to be greater than the pain of staying the same.
We have often spoken about our “left brain mind chatter” and how strong an influence that can have on us. This is a central theme in my book “Life Learnings of a Life Coach“. Under the covers, all the above is going on most of the time – unconsciously. So if our conditioning has us more cautious (because we have been “burned”) it will serve strategies that will protect us from “having a go” because we could fail or humiliate ourselves etc. Or for example, when someone uses tears of emotion, it could be a strategy that as a child, they learned that it was a good way to get attention, and have developed it into a proven strategy they still use today. I know it sounds somewhat callous, but we don’t “feel “sad, we run a strategy and “do” sad. It is a behaviour pattern; a strategy that serves a “secondary gain” – getting attention, or “holding others hostage” etc.
Am I touching some chords here? Don’t feel judged if I am. This is remarkably common for most people.
Hopefully this has given you some insights into what could be at play when we procrastinate thus allowing you to create some new strategies to help overcome it. I used to be very good at procrastination and albeit that I have learned to get on top of it, still wrestle with it from time to time – because I’m human.
So let’s look back at a few key words in our discussion on procrastination and perhaps find some pointers we can apply when next we catch ourselves frittering or delaying the start of what we know we be “should” doing. (By the way, I have learned to avoid the word “Should” because it carries a guilt implication and have replaced it with “could” instead. You know I often ask: “what if you could?” don’t you?)
- We said we need to believe we can do a task. Do you? Is the goal maybe too intimidating? Maybe you could break it down into smaller, more achievable, more believable tasks or steps? That way you gain momentum from the enthusiasm the achievement of each step generates.
- We said we need to believe that it was worth doing. (Refer The Price and the Prize) Is the result maybe not motivating or inspiring enough to “get you off the couch”?
- We said we need to believe we deserve doing it and allowing ourselves to accept and enjoy the results (the prize). This is so important and can unconsciously derail the best laid plans of mice and…. In the “Law of Attraction” it is suggested you need to:
a) define what you want,
b) put it out there that you want it, and
c) allow it to manifest.
It goes on to explain a bunch of stuff around your positive thought vibes allowing that to manifest or your negative thought vibes preventing it. You can read about is at “The Blue Honda“
- We said we need to believe we were willing to put in the preparation and the work (the price). Are you? This question often depends on how you deal with the first three above.
Have you noticed that every point includes the word belief? Why not have a read of my blog: Beliefs to remind us of the power of our beliefs?
Also, my recent blog Goal Procrastination? The Roles of Need or Want, I add a further dimension the awareness of which can make a big difference between getting into it or allowing procrastination to prevail.
There are also a number of other questions I like to ask at the point where someone acknowledges that they are procrastinating:
a) What are you afraid of?
b) What are you waiting for?
So you see that there are numerous underlying aspects to procrastination. Remember Henry Ford’s statement: “whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re dead right”? I have found that when you are able to decidedly address that belief for yourself, that you are on your way to overcome procrastination.
If you find you are still not able to “shake it” why not engage the services of a good coach? I know you will be so glad you did. And if you have come to that conclusion – don’t dwell on it and procrastinate – call them. Do it now. You can email me at