How to overcome procrastination
We all do it.
We all have things that we say we are going to do and then.....don't do them.
We all put things off to the last minute.
And worst of all, we then JUDGE ourselves for procrastinating, we mentally beat ourselves up and we wonder why everyone else seems to be able to just get shit done and we don't.
Now, I know you've tried the typical techniques to try to force yourself to get stuff done...you know like dragging a dog on a lead to a place he/she just doesn't want to go and then we try to encourage it with doggy treats. We try to encourage ourselves with a glass of wine as a reward, or we try to drag ourselves along asserting that we just need to be "more self-disciplined".
And let me guess, it rarely works, right?
And neither does judging yourself either. When was the last time being hard on yourself for not taking action was the thing that really spurred you into life?
So let me explain how the human mind works when it comes to motivation.
First of all, you are not broken. You do not have a problem. You do not need fixing, and you do not need coercing.
The truth is this:
Our motivation to do things is determined by the way the thing we need to do occurs to us.
Please slow down and read that statement again.
If you're not taking action on doing something, it's because of the way that action or outcome is occurring to you, i.e.:
It's your thoughts or beliefs about that action or outcome that will determine your behaviour.
I'm going to give you some examples:
- A friend of mine was procrastinating on booking lessons for his DJ course. But when it comes to booking gig tickets, he's straight on it. Therefore he doesn't have a problem with taking action, it's just that his thoughts about his DJ course are something like "I'm not sure if I'm good enough", which leads to inaction, whereas his thoughts about gigs are "That'll be fun!", which leads to action.
- A client who dislikes his job is procrastinating on applying for new ones. He has seen some jobs but not applied for many of them. He did however apply for an entrepreneurial apprenticeship. Again, he doesn't have a problem taking action, because he's demonstrated that he has done so. However the jobs he's not applying for don't OCCUR to him as interesting, so he procrastinates on applying. The ones he finds interesting he applies to, the problem is he's not finding many that are interesting! So he doesn't have a procrastination problem - he's just looking in the wrong place, a place that demotivates him.
- Another friend of mine rarely takes action when there are no deadlines and no consequences. But when someone else is involved, for example if he has to attend a meeting or deliver on a deadline, he gets it done. The way work OCCURS for him when someone else is involved is that it MUST be done because he doesn't want to let people down, therefore he does what he needs to.
Therefore the solution to our procrastination does not exist within doggy treats or self-discipline. It lies within our self-awareness.
If you're not taking action on doing something, there is an internal reason as to why. And the internal reason might be one of the following:
- Lack of important consequence:
There might be a lack of important consequences by NOT taking the action, or at least, no consequences that don't seem drastic enough (for example, I've got an expired Oyster card on my table that I'm procrastinating on getting a refund for. Why? Because the consequence of not doing it is that I don't get my £5 back. And right now, that's not a big deal to me! ---> Inaction )
Being afraid of what will happen if you take the action. Fear of failure, fear of having to put yourself out-there, fear of rejection, fear of hard-work...?
Not believing in yourself to achieve the outcome associated with the action - so why bother
- Lack of desire or interest
Not really wanting the thing you're supposed to be doing in the first place!
- Not knowing how to / lack of clear outcome
"Find an amazing job I will love for the rest of my life" is not a goal that's going to leave you motivated. You will procrastinate because the goal is OCCURRING to you as too vague and too big.
Therefore if you want to overcome your procrastination you need to figure out what your thoughts and beliefs are towards that particular behaviour or outcome.
Get a pen and paper, and spend time contemplating the action or outcome. Write down all your TRUE, deep down thoughts and beliefs about it and see what comes up. The reason for your procrastination will become evident.
Then you can either work on changing your thoughts and beliefs (for example my aspiring-DJ friend has now booked his advanced DJ course after I helped him to think that he IS good enough), OR you can change your actions (ie. you stop trying to do things you just don't want to do!)
With love x