Is procrastination as bad as you think it is? Does it help you or cause you problems? That depends.
Sometimes procrastination can help:
Do you find yourself procrastinating often? Do you make your deadlines? Do you find when you have lots of time to get something done, you have trouble making progress toward it? Sometimes procrastination isn’t a sign of dysfunction; sometimes it’s the right behavior to suit your personality. If you have always been a procrastinator and you seem to always get the job done just under the wire, this is likely the way you function best.
Some people struggle to maintain focus without the stress of a looming deadline. They sit down to do the work with plenty of time but make no progress; alternatively, with a deadline in sight, the work flows out of them effortlessly. If this is you, procrastination works for you. Accept that about yourself. You procrastinate for a reason.
Sometimes procrastination causes problems for you:
Do you find yourself procrastinating a lot? Do you miss your deadlines? Have you lost your passion for the project? Is procrastination a new behavior for you? Then you may want to ask yourself the following:
- Do you want to do it? Sometimes we are being coerced into doing something we really don’t want to do by an outside force like a boss, spouse or parent, perhaps, or we’re pressuring ourselves. If you feel you are being forced to do something you don’t want to do, it may be time to learn how to say “no.” It is a simple word that can be extremely hard to say. Life is too short to spend it succumbing to other people’s ideas of what you should do or talking yourself into doing things you don’t want to do.
- What is your reason? If you find you do want to do whatever you are procrastinating about, when was the last time you reflected on your reason for doing it? Sometimes we lose sight of our “why.” Our “why” is typically bigger than ourselves and serves others in some way. Why is doing this important to you? I was talking with a father who was procrastinating on driving his daughter four hours away to get some kayaks she purchased. He had a truck and didn’t want to do it, but when he connected to his why, he realized that he wanted a closer relationship with his daughter, so he really did want to do this for her. Getting in touch with your true purpose can help procrastination melt away.
- Do you have competing wants? Sometimes there are tradeoffs to what you want; achieving your goals might bring a change you don’t necessarily want. It is great when you are aware of these conflicting wants. Unfortunately, though, the fear of what you don’t want to change is often subconscious, leading to what is called self-sabotage.
Let’s say you want to write a book. You want to finish this book so badly. You can imagine it; you see yourself signing books in front of a row of shelves housing your book. However, just as you get in the home stretch, something seems to hold you back from moving forward. You can’t quite pinpoint it and it makes no sense because you are highly motivated to get the book done. After working with a coach who can help you unpack the root of your self-sabotage, you realize your fear is being found out as a fraud who doesn’t really know what she’s talking about. In this case, you want to maintain your reputation and write the book; you are conceiving these as mutually exclusive.
Once you become aware of the two competing wants, the solution is to find a way to have both. If you can’t figure out how to have both, then you will need to choose, but you’ll be choosing with full awareness rather than allowing your subconscious sabotage derail your important goals.
I hope this has helped dissipate the mystery of procrastination and that you move full steam ahead toward the goals you have set for yourself.