Ok, everyone knows that change is rarely easy but it is often necessary. If you find yourself in one of those seasons of life where change is needed but “things keep getting in the way” or you’re “too busy,” then we need to discuss what is holding you back. We need to talk about procrastination. And since I know that your time is precious, we will only use five minutes or less to discuss this demon and how to overcome it. We’ll try to make this as easy and painless as possible by stating the symptoms and immediately giving you an answer to each one.
Remember, your mind is a labyrinth of rationalizations and temptations. To overcome this problem you will need to be able to identify when you’re procrastinating or are about to procrastinate. Prevention is the first step in overcoming, and you can’t do that if you don’t realize what’s going on inside your mind. So, stay vigilant!
So, how do you know when you are (or are about to) procrastinate? And what are the answers?
- Fear is probably the biggest contributor to procrastination. If you’re honest with yourself, you’re not doing that “thing,” because you are afraid of something. Whether it’s failure, pain, loss, facing your limitations, or having to admit something about yourself, your fear is personal. It’s real. And it has convinced you that doing nothing is safer than attempting the new thing.
- Answer: Challenge that fear with action, not with thought. Forget making a pros/cons list. Go and do. Enact a plan of action. This will often show you that the outcomes were not as bad as you had envisioned them to be inside your head. Plus, it will give you data to work from when you encounter the next problem.
- You believe you will fail.
- Answer: Get over it! Of course you’re going to fail. That’s how success works. You give it your best. You don’t succeed. You learn. You tweak. You give it your best again. Yes, I get it. Nothing is worse than the realization that you gave it your best and failed. But in those moments of pain, don’t forget that failure is a necessary ingredient for success. It’s kind of like the eggs of life. Without them, you never get cake. You only get glue.
- You confuse complacency for contentment. For now, you’re okay with the way things are. We can coast along “just a little bit longer…Where’s the harm in that?” and “No conflict means no problems.” Right?
- Answer: Wrong! If you look at the people in this world who contribute to society, their homes, their communities, or their work, they all have one characteristic in common: they are all discontent. That doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk or depressed all the time. Life can be awesome, but it will never get better if you’re content with how things are. Look for solutions to life’s problems and never stop improving. Stop acting like you just took a long drag on a bong, so that you could escape life’s stressors and pain for a while.
- Stay in the Now. This goes along with contentment, but it’s just another form of denial. As long as you look at the now, you never have to consider the future. All you have to do is maintain the status quo.
- Answer: Take time and consider what the consequences for inaction will be in the future. Right now things are cool. We’re okay. Nothing bad has happened. But in the future, inaction causes a gradual death to occur to those things you hold dear, whether it is relationships, money, work, or spiritual growth. Poverty in any (or all) of these areas will pounce on you like a bandit when you only look at the now.
- Keep telling yourself and others this one thing: “I’m trying.”
- Answer: Let’s be real. No, you’re not. You need to accept responsibility for your part in the problem and enact a solution that actively pursues a solution. The phrase “I’m trying” is just something we say to make ourselves feel better about consistently doing nothing. It’s like the movie Inception. It’s a dream within a dream. If you were really trying, you wouldn’t need to tell this to your self or to me, because you’d be too busy doing. Think about it. The phrase “I’m trying” is just a polite way of telling someone, “Leave. Me. Alone!” It’s notj proof of action at all.
So, there you have it. Five minute therapy for procrastination. Now, stop thinking about what you just read and go do something.