“If you can see it, you can believe it. If you can believe it, you can achieve it.”
~ Arnold Swarzenegger (paraphrased)
Many factors can cause you to put off tasks or events, otherwise known as procrastination. The primary cause is often because we avoid what we see as discomfort. This may be due to an inability to envision success, or it might be because you fear how it’ll look to others. Most of the time, it’s simply due to not wanting to do that task.
You can overcome procrastination when you understand what’s causing it to creep up in your life.
Poorly crafted goals–Goal setting is a skill. If you’re not good at setting formal goals (hello!), it’s time to take a step back and work on those skills. Well-crafted goals start with the big goal or result. For instance, saving $1,000,000 so you can retire early. 😊This larger goal will guide the steps you’ll take starting today that will lead you to your result. Your larger goal will make it easier to say yes or no to anything that comes up. Ask yourself one question: Does this activity move me closer to my goal? If the answer is yes, then go for it. If the answer is no, then it might be in your best interest to step away from that activity.
Unable to see your success – Use a system like the SMART or SMARTER goal setting method to establish your goals. (For more information on setting SMART and SMARTER goals, see my here and here.) With this method, you’ll be able to see what success looks like. It starts with the result you’re attempting to achieve and breaks it down into smaller daily tasks and benchmarks that show you where you are, where you want to go, and what you need to do to get there.
Chasing perfectionism – Perfectionism does not exist. No matter how much you plan. It is possible to have your “stuff” so together others think you’re perfect, but accept that you will never achieve perfection. It isn’t a realistic expectation, and it doesn’t fit in with the SMART(ER) goal-setting process.
Fear of failure or criticism – Procrastination often happens simply because you’re worried about what others will think or not succeeding. Failure isn’t pleasant, but it has nothing to do with who you are. You aren’t a bad person. Any critiques you receive from others may be helpful, but it’s up to you to decide what you’re going to receive and what you’re going to ignore. You also get to decide how those critiques will affect you.
Lack of Knowledge – The best way to end this form of procrastination is to learn more. If you don’t have the resources to learn more, delegate it, automate it, or outsource it.
You dislike a task – Sometimes the issue is that you just dislike performing a specific task (task aversion). To deal with task aversion, outsource, delegate, or automate the task. If you’re working for an employer, it may not be easy to do either of these things. Schedule these tasks so you do them according to established deadlines and not how you feel about it.
Physical or Mental Illness – If you have an illness like chronic pain or high stress, it’s difficult to stick to your plan. No matter how well thought out they may be. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, seek professional help.
To end procrastination, learn how to develop goals that provide you the ability to envision success as you track and measure the results of your actions. Give yourself enough room to get it all done in a reasonable amount of time. Finally, do the daily tasks, and you will get where you want to go.
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Patricia “Pat” Bumpass is a ghostwriter, self-care advocate, author, and parent coach. She encourages and empowers women and parents with special needs kids to love themselves. Pat is North Carolina “born and bred” and loves coffee — hot or iced. You will often hear her say, “Twertles make me happy.” 🙂
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