Procrastination Is The Enemy of All Achievement
“Procrastination is the enemy of all achievement.”
Why do some people procrastinate?
Why put off picking up the phone and make a sales call? Why put off exercising when people know it will improve their health? Why not clean up the garage where they can find everything with ease instead of falling over junk they should have got rid of years ago.
Most people suffer from procrastination because they don’t believe they will enjoy doing what they know they should be doing. Also because they think they will fail, face rejection, or something else again. Therefore they procrastinate!
What is Procrastination?
Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.”
Procrastination is the action of delaying or putting off a task you know you should be doing. It’s also putting things off until the last minute or past a deadline. You could say, “If it wasn’t for the last minute nothing would get done.”
The reality is that everyone puts things off from time to time.
It doesn’t matter how organized you are or how good you are at time management, no doubt you have found yourself fretting away the hours on Facebook, binge-watching a Netflix show, or shopping online and not buying. A little procrastination never hurts anyone, or does it?
Whether you put off a college assignment, delay that project at work, ignore those household chores, procrastination can have a major impact on your life, and your results.
Why do People Procrastinate?
We often assume that it won’t take long to complete a task we know we should be doing, therefore we put off doing it. Some people think you need to be inspired or motivated to complete a task. They think I’ll do it went the time is right – but the time is never right. They come up with excuses to justify their behavior.
Research tells us that often procrastination is a lack of confidence, low self-esteem, anxiety, fear, lack of structure, or lack of motivation. Research also tells us that sometimes it’s fatigue, the complexity of a task or that we are easily distracted that cause us to procrastinate.
Procrastination also involves a degree of self-deception. They think they perform better under pressure. Therefore they convince themselves that it is better to do things at the last minute. This becomes a habit and changing that habit will take up too much time and energy, it’s easier to procrastinate. However, research tells us something different.
Fundamentally we procrastinate because we don’t believe we will enjoy the task even though procrastination is driven by a variety of thoughts and feelings.
Here are 13 common reasons for procrastination.
13 Common Reasons for Procrastination
- Not wanting to do something
- Not caring if something gets done or not
- Not caring when something gets done
- Not feeling in the mood to do it
- Forming a habit of waiting until the last minute
- Believing that you work better under pressure
- Thinking that you can finish it at the last minute
- Lacking the initiative to get started
- Blaming sickness or poor health
- Waiting for the right moment
- Delaying one task in favor of working on another
- Not knowing what needs to be done
- Not knowing how to do something
The Consequences of Procrastination
While procrastination may relieve the pressure in the moment, the long-term effects are worth considering.
Procrastination is known to have an effect on a person’s emotional, physical, and mental health. Those who routinely procrastinate deliver less than desirable results in college, at work, and in their personal life. It’s known to jeopardize personal and professional relationships.
Imagine the team member at work who doesn’t pull their weight, others get resentful. Imagine the partner who puts off doing chores around the house – this leads to tension. Imagine the person at work who doesn’t deliver projects on time – they risk their job.
Putting off health checks, failing to exercise puts your health at risk. The stress of doing something at the last minute drives stress levels up. All this can lead to a higher risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Procrastination and avoidance behavior are also common symptoms of depression. People with depression often struggle to plan ahead, lose confidence in themselves and their ability to follow through. They end up adopting “what’s the point” thinking.
The danger with procrastination is, some people become such chronic procrastinators, they fail to achieve anything of significance in their lives. Professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago and author Joseph Ferrari suggests that around 20% of Americans are chronic procrastinators.
It is when procrastination becomes chronic that it tends to have a serious effect on our lives. Chronic procrastination can affect mental health, financial well-being, social and professional standing in the community.
To successfully reach your goals, you must develop the ability to recognize procrastination for what it is, and act before the habit strips away opportunities or damages your business, career, and relationships.
Symptoms of Procrastination
You would think that procrastination would make your life easier. Instead, it usually adds stress, disorganization and often leads to a failure to achieve your goals. Some common symptoms of procrastination include:
You avoid starting a task or project by distracting yourself by doing something you like doing, watching TV, playing video games, talking on the phone. You might complete parts of a task or project you like and avoid the parts you don’t like.
Pretending that procrastination is not actually procrastination and that what you have to do is more important.
You avoid making difficult decisions and become paralyzed having to decide between alternative choices.
Simply being too lazy to do what you should be doing. You act by ignoring a task or project and assume it will go away.
Rewarding yourself by doing something you would rather do, than do what you should be doing. You are so busy with unimportant things that it is hard to get important work done.
Pretending that the task at hand is not important therefore it’s an excuse not to start. You deceive yourself into believing that a mediocre performance or lesser standards are acceptable. “Near enough is good enough”.
You tell yourself that repeated or minor delays are harmless – deadlines don’t matter do they?
Not taking the task seriously and making a joke about procrastinating to justify not taking action.
Claiming that the task set isn’t fair. Telling yourself you work better under pressure by leaving the task to the last minute (like cramming before an exam.) You might blame others for the circumstances you are in so you don’t have to take any responsibility for your own behavior
Lack of Commitment
You make big plans but rarely carry them out. You dramatize your commitment to goals, a task or project then don’t do anything about it.
Everyone procrastinates a little. It’s natural. It’s when chronic procrastination takes over that it becomes detrimental to growing a business, growing ourselves, achieving our goals.
Motivation and Procrastination
We are only motivated by two things. Pain or gain. It’s not until we experience massive pain we take action. It’s not until we see the potential for massive gain that we take action.
When you have a powerful and compelling vision for the future, this is more likely to motivate you rather than goals. Goals need to be tied to something bigger. Your vision for the future.
Small goals should be followed by medium goals which should be followed by long-term goals – all of which should be aligned to your vision for the future. The vision is what ultimately motivates you to take action – not the goal itself.
A little like trying to run a marathon. Becoming a lifetime runner to keep fit and healthy is the vision. Running a marathon is a long-term goal. Running 10 miles is the medium-term goal. Running a mile is a short-term goal.
You can’t expect to start by running 10 miles on day one. If this was your expectation – you would procrastinate. It would be too hard therefore you put it off. You think about the effort. You think about the pain. You would rather do something you enjoy like watching TV or eating chocolate. Therefore you procrastinate.
Do What You Can
Instead of thinking about running a marathon, think about what you could do instead. Then you know you could manage to run 100 meters. So you do. Then you get to 200 meters. Then 500 meters. Every run you make, it becomes easier. Nailing these little, manageable, short-term goals that eventually dovetail into long-term goals is something you can do – easily. Therefore you don’t procrastinate. As it becomes easier – you become more motivated. Before long you stop procrastinating and can run a mile. The 5 – then 10 and so on.
This is how you break the procrastination habit. Small steps lead to bigger steps where it becomes easier.
Procrastination as a Habit
Sometimes procrastination is just a habit. A lazy habit because you can’t be bothered. You can’t be bothered because you have no short-term, long-term goal or a vision. You don’t believe you can be any different. So – you stay in your comfort zone.
That’s why people with a coach do so much better. Coaches help them clarify their vision for the future, define their goals and keep them accountable for taking on the tasks they think they won’t enjoy.
If you lack the confidence to learn something new – there’s a case for hiring a consultant, coach, advisor, or expert. Otherwise, in order to grow yourself or a business, you may just need to bite the bullet and take the first step. Take action – even if it’s a small step.
Learning to lead, learning to run a business is no easy task. It takes time and education to transform yourself into the leader you want to be. It all starts with learning how to hire and manage people. It is your communication and people skills that separate the wheat from the chaff.
To find out how you stack up as a leader. You never know what others see that you don’t see yourself. This kind of feedback is not always negative, perhaps you have great attributes and talents you weren’t even aware of.
Learn to Thrive Not Just Survive
80% of business owners do little more than just survive. They often make less than in full paid employment. They can’t take sick leave, they usually work longer hours and take less vacations.
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