The first step to transforming something is to acknowledge it.
Do you have piles of paper surrounding your desk? Do you have boxes of things to go through in the attic, inside closets, in the corner of your office that need to be organized? Are your computer files a disorganized jumble of files and emails full of ideas that you will never find again? Do you have many plans and ideas that you just never get to? Does the idea of getting organized make you uncomfortable and a little bit nervous?
Then yup, you’re a procrastinator.
Look. Every human being does it in one area of life or another. Whether it’s getting work done, doing household chores, or going to the gym (like me). Side note, wouldn’t it be great if we procrastinated about eating that delicious chocolate brownie as much as we do about going to the gym?
Anyhow, the point is : everyone has something they put off and avoid.
The next step to transforming this is understanding the reasons why.
The fact is, when you procrastinate on certain things, you’re getting some sort of payoff for the behavior. You’re avoiding the pain of doing the task right now. Maybe you realize that it may cause you pain later, but you put that out of your mind. What you’re concerned with right now is avoiding the pain now. Pain felt later is not real yet, right?
Here are the 10 reasons I’ve found that you procrastinate. See if you can identify yourself in any of these.
- Fear of Failure. This is the most obvious reason people procrastinate. The fear that you won’t succeed is so deep that you’d rather not try at all. Your mind tells you that you’re can’t fail at something you didn’t do. Many people who fear failure have perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism is often just a cover and an excuse for not ever finishing anything due to the fear of failure.
- Fear of Success. Believe it or not, some people procrastinate due to a fear of success, the inverse of fear of failure. If you have an innate feeling that you don’t deserve success and lack confidence in your ability to continue being successful, you will procrastinate. Once you are on top, it’s harder to stay on top, so why get to the top at all? Fear of being able to repeat success can block you from ever experiencing success in the first place.
- Addiction to the Rush. This is something that often happens to college students, entrepreneurs or people who work with deadlines. They wait until the last minute and the extra adrenaline that is produced makes them feel good. They get addicted to the adrenaline and seek reasons to flood their body with it again, and again. Adrenaline junkies often believe they do better work at the last minute, which could not be further from the truth. Sure, you’re motivated, but is the quality of the work truly your best? If you perform at a high level at the last minute, imagine how well you would do with a real plan of action?
- Lack of Interest. Face it, some things you put off because you simply don’t like to do it. Cleaning the toilet, matching socks and spin class come to mind. How about that expense report? Yea, it’s boring. So you procrastinate because you simply don’t want to do it to begin with. You wait until the very last moment to do it, maybe you’re even late with it, or don’t do it at all. This can be a real problem in the workplace and at home.
- You Need Training. Some people procrastinate because they really aren’t sure how to do something. They need someone to train them how to do it right. It doesn’t matter if it’s household organizing, work-related tasks, or something else entirely — if you tend to procrastinate about something, ask yourself if you are procrastinating because you don’t know how to do it.
- You Don’t Like to Say No. A lot of disorganized procrastinators tend to also be very passive aggressive. By putting off doing things you’ve committed to do, it’s your way of saying no without saying no. If you’re a person who doesn’t like to say no, because you want to be known as someone who is nice, then you put off doing what you’ve agreed to do — I’ll be the one to call you out here, you are passive aggressive, not nice.
- You’re Overwhelmed. It’s not uncommon to start putting things off when you simply get in over your head. Due to poor organizational ability, you simply bit off more than you could chew. Plus, you lack the training to chunk together actionable steps to beat the feeling of overwhelm. When overwhelmed, it seems easier to just ignore anything that needs to be done.
- You’re a Dreamer & a Talker. Many people who are otherwise great people tend to love to talk about doing, rather than actually doing. The problem with this is that if you never follow up with doing what you’re talking about, you’ll never achieve success. You’ll always just be a talker and a dreamer. Spending time making vision boards on Pinterest feels productive, but if you don’t back that up with some action, you’re not productive. You’re all talk and no action.
- Inability to Visualize Success. Some procrastinators have serious problems with creating a picture in their minds of future success. You let your past inform your future too much. You just cannot see yourself being successful at anything, so you put off trying and put off doing your best because you just can’t see yourself beyond where you are right now.
- You aren’t connected to the impact. If you don’t have a clear vision or intention for yourself it can be difficult to clearly picture the impact that organizing and completing tasks will have in your life and your world. Having a strategy for your life allows you to more easily prioritize and understand how everything fits together to move you toward your vision for your life making you far less likely to put tasks off. If you often ask yourself, what’s the point? about tasks this might be you.
The next step, now that you’ve inquired into why you procrastinate, is to begin transforming the habit.
Pick one of these reasons and define a new conversation or action you will engage with when you notice this old pattern coming to the surface.