Many people wear the label of procrastinator. They talk about never being able to start or complete a project. They blame their procrastination as the reason projects are stalled or incomplete. I find procrastination to be more of a symptom than a cause. It is more of a by-product experience than a personality trait. This is because procrastination is caused by two things, the What-If’s and Apathy.
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The What-If’s take three different forms: Undeserving, Inability, and Uncommitted. The Undeserving What-If appears in thoughts like: “Because I did X in the past, I do not deserve this goodness now,” “Others do not have X, so I am pompous/self-centered/greedy in wanting X,” and “I am broken/bad/unworthy and so this project is out of my reach.” Inability What-If’s begin with “I am” or “I am not.” I am not smart, beautiful, educated, experienced, or focused enough to do this project. I am stupid, undisciplined, scattered, or overwhelmed so I cannot start this project. The final What-If is Uncommitted. This is where one does not start a project because it appears overwhelming or one questions if the result is what they want.
The other culprit behind procrastination is Apathy. Again, this is less of a character trait and more of a result of something else. Apathy appears when our hearts are not in it. The project is not something we want to do; it is not a driving passion, or we are just doing it to please another. It is difficult to joyously and actively engage in a project when we just don’t “feel” it.
So what can be done to overcome the What-If’s and Apathy behind procrastination? What-If’s are based in limiting beliefs and a pursuit of perfectionism. There is a feeling of impending disaster, and inability so why bother? To overcome the What-If’s it is first important to identify the underlying belief. Why don’t you deserve to have the success from the project? Why do you believe you are not smart enough to complete it? Why do you fear it may not be resolved correctly? By becoming aware of and naming the limiting belief behind the What-If, it can now be addressed directly and dissolved. Find the flaw in your limiting belief logic. Is it really true? Can you come up with three personal experiences or experiences of those around you that show this logic to be false? A great resource for dissolving limiting beliefs is Loving What Is by Byron Katie.
Apathy, on the other hand, is based on being off-course. There is a lack of passion. This is where one should take the time to truly identify why they want to complete the project. Look at the over-riding goal or desire. Taking care of accounting for my company can be a chore. It is easily something I can procrastinate about. However, what helps me is to see the completion of my accounting tasks not as an end to itself, but as a cog in keeping my business afloat. My business, my purpose to help others, is something I can be passionate about. By linking the mundane and uninteresting tasks of my business to my passion, helps me to complete them on time.
Next time you find yourself procrastinating, instead of berating yourself do a little investigation. What What-if’s are in your way? Identify and release them. Look for ways to tie the project to something you are passionate about to give you the energy and focus to make it happen. Procrastination can be overcome. Start today!
Question: What are your best tips to avoid procrastination?
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