Who doesn't procrastinate from time to time? Most of us are guilty of putting off tasks like filing our taxes, cleaning the closets, calling the doctor for a check-up, or even sending out a monthly newsletter … like me ; ).
It can become more of a problem when it comes to things like deciding whether to stay or leave a relationship, changing careers, getting back into shape, or paying our bills? These are decisions that have more serious consequences when avoided or ignored. If you find yourself putting things off most of the time and have difficulty taking action regardless of the consequences, then you probably are a chronic procrastinator.
Philosopher William James once wrote, “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an unfulfilled goal.”
Of course there are always reasons to put things off. We are too busy, too tired, too
late, too stressed. It is too risky. We are too young, too old, too poor, too bored. Sometimes the reasons are valid, but most of the time they are just excuses to hide the underlying reasons that sabotage our best intentions. Look over these unconscious fears and see if they could be contributing to your procrastination.
- Fear of failure
- Fear of success
- Believing you don’t deserve it
- Not knowing how to get started
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Fear of loss
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of change
- Fear of consequences
- Feeling stuck
- Fear of taking action
As you can see, there are many reasons to procrastinate. Almost as many reasons as why not to procrastinate. If you are tired of carrying this load on your back and feel ready to make a change, you need to face what resistance has been stopping you from being successful in this area. Once you recognize and release whatever it may be, then you can start taking back control of your life and making progress. Of course, you can also decide to put this off as well. That’s fine, but you need to realize that everything has a consequence. Even deciding to do nothing is making a decision and there are consequences to this as well.
There are many costs associated with procrastination. These costs go beyond the loss of money, relationships, credibility, career, and even physical health. These costs also affect our self-esteem, our self- pride, our feelings of success or failure, our shame, our guilt and blame. These self-destructive feelings can lead to panic disorders as well as major depression. Another significant consequence is what it teaches our children and we all know. Regardless of what we say, it is what we do and the way we live our lives that have the most profound effect on the choices our children will make in their lives.
The decision to start taking back control over your life starts with baby steps. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming or exhausting. Just make that decision and get started! Don’t wait until the mole turns into a mountain. Take a step today! You will feel proud and empowered and isn’t that how we really want to live our lives?
Here are some strategies for overcoming procrastination.
1. Write down your goals. Studies have shown that people who write down a goal have a 95% better chance of achieving it than just thinking about it.
2. Make it realistic. I will exercise 20 minutes, 3 times a week is realistic, and not I will lose 30 lbs in 3 weeks.
3. Set a deadline. A date and time when you will start the action and book into your schedule.
4. Break the goal into small pieces. You don’t have to clean up the whole basement today. Set the timer for 15 minutes and clean up one corner.
5. Set up a reward system. An afternoon of filing your papers will give you a reward of going to see a movie.
6. Create accountability. Enlist a support team; a friend, partner, or neighbour who will call you daily and go with you for your walks.
Just take one step at a time and before you know it, you will be teaching others how to stop procrastination and start feeling proud, empowered and successful.
Montreal psychotherapist, Rhonda Rabow, has been involved in couple and individual therapy in the Montreal area for over twenty years. One of her specialties is offering short-term counselling with long-term results. Rhonda has a solution-focused approach. Her Montreal therapy sessions do more than offer compassion, empathy and active listening. Rhonda is a strong advocate for empowering her clients. To help them achieve this goal, she offers concrete tools and strategies that enable her clients to better manage their lives and cope with any further challenges they may experience in their lives.