First of all… everyone procrastinates… we put things off because we don’t want to do them or because we have too many other things on our plates. Putting things off –big or small—is part of being human. But, perhaps you may know that your procrastination is a problem. You suspect that you could be better off by doing it less. This habit may have been following you all your life and you’ve had it. You may think you are a hopeless procrastinator… but take heart… no one is beyond help. The fact that you procrastinate does not mean that you are inherently lazy or inefficient. It is not an untamable beast. It is a habit that has some specific origin and it is a habit that you can overcome.
Some of the reasons that people procrastinate include the following:
- Because we are afraid
Fear of failure… (Duh)… if you are scared that a something isn’t going to turn out well, or if you think it might turn out badly… you may avoid working on it in order to avoid feeling the fear.
Fear of success… So what happens if things go well, you finish something and it turns out successful… Can you live up to it? Can you do it again? Was it a fluke? Sometimes procrastinators fear that if they start working at their full capacity, they will turn into workaholics. Since some folks procrastinate compulsively, they envision themselves locked into a habit they do automatically without thinking.
Fear of losing autonomy: Some folks delay doing things as a matter of control… they aren’t like the “doers” who do things because they are “pawns”. You can’t “make” me do this. I am my own person.” Procrastinating helps them feel more in control of situations in which they believe that other people have authority.
Fear of being alone… Some people procrastinate because they want to feel constantly connected to other people. You may procrastinate until you are in such a bind that someone has to come and rescue you. Procrastination ensures that other people will be involved in your life. You may put off something because you don’t want to be alone and many of your “to does” are a solitary activity. In its worst form, procrastination itself can become a companion, constantly reminding you of all that you have to do.
Fear of attachment… Rather than fearing separation, some people procrastinate in order to create a barrier between themselves and others. They may delay in order to create chaos in their lives, believing that the chaos will keep other people away.
Whether these fears appear in our conscious or subconscious minds, they paralyze us and keep us from taking action, until discomfort and anxiety overwhelms us and forces us to either 1. Get the work done or 2. Give up.
- Another thing to think about is procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand. Perfectionists tend to procrastinate because they expect so much of themselves, and they are scared about whether or not they can meet those high standards. Perfectionists sometimes think that it is better to give a half-hearted effort and matintain the belief that they could have done much better than to give a full effort and risk being mediocre. Procrastination pretty much guarantees failure, but it helps perfectionists maintain their belief that could have excelled if they had tried harder. Another pitfall for perfectionists is that they tend to ignore progress toward a goal. As long as the “do” is incomplete, they feel as though they aren’t getting anywhere, rather than recognize that each thing they have completed moves them closer to a finished product.
- Because we don’t like what we are doing…
- Because we’re too busy
- Because it works… unfortunately, procrastination helps reinforce itself. When we avoid doing something we dread by doing something we enjoy (TX, reading, hanging out with friends, basket weaving, staring into space, etc.) we escape the dreaded task. Given such a choice, it is no wonder than that many of us choose to procrastinate. Then, if we finally do the “do” and it turns out ok, we feel all the more compelled to procrastinate the next time around.
So, there…. Above are some of the whys… Did you identify with any of them? All of them? A couple of them?… tomorrow I will attempt to write about some of the “what to do-s about it” Until, then let’s all go have a cup of hot steaming coffee together.