What in the world is procrastination? It is the putting off or delaying doing things or taking care of things that you or someone else has determined are important to your living your life as you would like over time. In other words, one procrastinates when they choose behaviors or avoids actions that are easier or more comfortable than exerting the effort to do what supports one’s long-term values and goals. It may be more fun to travel, but if the house note does not get paid, one might find themselves without a roof over their head.
Think about those things you value or are priorities to you. Then note that there are some of those that are more important than others. It helps to know what those are and in what order they are for you (these may change from time to time or for brief periods of time for a variety of reasons). It may be that early in your career your desire to pay living expenses was more important than putting money aside for retirement. On the other hand, you may have determined putting money aside for retirement was more important than living in the nicest place you could afford. In any case, the more you are aware of your values/ goals and priorities, the better decisions you will likely make.
A principle that I have noticed is that we are always giving up something to get something. If we put out the effort to go to the gym we are giving up time and effort in order to receive the physical benefit. If we are going to have savings, we have to put off/ avoid buying some of what we might otherwise want. If we want something to last, we have to care of it and that takes effort, time, money, etc. I think you get the picture.
This does not have to be a difficult topic, because we are all motivated by something. On a given day, I may elect to rest and find that a high priority, but if I elect to rest every day, I am not going to be able to sustain other things in my life that I would consider a higher priority over time – like keeping a job, helping a child with homework, helping a neighbor, planning for desired events, etc. What often gets in our way is:
- Belief that the effort is not worth the benefit;
- Belief that we are not competent as the expectation is too perfectionistic;
- Belief that we cannot ask for help as that would reveal our incompetence;
- Belief that certain tasks “should” not be, “must” not be as difficult as they are;
- Belief that we have procrastinated so long that it is “too” hard and “too” late to change; and
- Belief that we deserve to live in comfort/ the effort is “too” great.
Procrastination can rob you of great joy and satisfaction in life.
There are many strategies that I am sure you can find online for beating procrastination, but until you address the beliefs that block you from taking action, none will likely work.
- You are motivated for something. Become aware of what that is and connect cognitively and emotionally with the benefits of those goals and desires.
- Determine what needs to be done to realize your goal or desire (ask for help, research, plan, etc.).
- You are as competent as you are. None of us know how to do it all. You can become more competent. It is not too late or too hard to start.
- Things are as hard as they are, but the effort is worth it once you have determined that a certain thing, activity or pursuit is of value or meaningful for you.
- TAKE ACTION!! GET STARTED!! ENJOY THE PROCESS GIVING YOURSELF CREDIT EACH STEP OF THE WAY!! OVERCOME BARRIERS VS. ALLOWING THEM TO DISCOURAGE YOU TO INACTION!!