We all had fallen into the bottomless pit of procrastination; I know I had, more than once… and I’d bet that you had too.
When it happens, we tend to think of it as just one unique way to avoid something; but if we were to get a magnifying glass and look closely, we would see that there are actually different reasons why we tend to get into procrastination mode.
Before we can work on getting rid of or circumventing our delaying habits, we need to understand where they’re coming from.
Let’s look through that glass and see the main reasons we fall into procrastination, and also some simple ways to overcome them:
1. Feeling Overwhelmed
There are times when you’re faced with the complexity of a task at hand, and you think “there is no way I can get this done by x time… let’s channel-surf for a while instead”…
Surely you’re familiar with this kind of Overwhelm-procrastination, which is the urge to avoid tasks that are just too big that you don’t know how to tackle them; you don’t find a way into it, so you put it off for as long as you possibly can, and find all kinds of excuses.
One easy way to overcome this feeling is to break big goals into small, concrete steps (often called “chunks”) you can work on right away.
There are times when we avoid taking action just because taking that next step requires us to push ourselves into the unknown territory of “the Next Level”. Setting a higher year income, getting into a new market, writing your new chapter, or submitting the book to a publisher… we put these things off because they are Uncertainty incarnated… The Unknown, and we tend to assume the worst.
In this kind of situation, we go into survival mode; something that must have been helpful to the average caveman back in prehistoric times, but it is not for our own state of mind or achievement.
In this case, the best remedy against fear is faith, trust, confidence, and resolution. There is nothing to worry about, what doesn’t go well becomes a learning experience.
Again, tiny first steps are the best way to start; remember: you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take one step at the time.
3. Lack of Incentive
We, humans, are wired to instinctively seek comfort. In order to motivate us out of the couch, we need a clear benefit –that or a big mean dog chasing our butts into discomfort. In other words, if we don’t think going to the gym is bringing us a tangible value, we won’t do it… why change things when we’re so comfy, right?
If we want to get results when there is no sense of urgency, we have to be able to visualize the potential pain that inaction will bring to us. Pain is a bigger motivator than pleasure, but we also have to envision the rewards of actually taking action.
This way, we have the stick and the carrot that will make us move and keep us moving.
Let’s say you want to lose some weight; it’s much easier to stay watching television and eating ice-cream than it is to face the reality that, if we keep this behavior, in a year or less we might look like the giant rock ball that chased Indiana Jones at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
That image alone might be enough to get you to the gym.
Next time you’re faced with a project you just can’t seem to tackle, no matter how many times you write on your planner or put it on your to-do list; you need to figure out exactly why you’re avoiding it.
You need to see things clear first in order to lean the ladder against the right wall.
That way, every step we climb is getting closer to the right place.
When you get there, you will feel really, really good.
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