Alongside comparison, procrastination is another a killer of joy. In fact, procrastination can leave us feeling paralysed by inaction at times.
So, what is procrastination?
‘Procrastination is the act of putting something off or delaying something that needs to be done’
Well yes, it is when it comes to doing the mundane things that we don’t really want to do -but that have to be done. We eventually we just grit our teeth and get on with it. Because, there is generally a consequence of not doing them! We either get a reminder or something can’t happen until we’ve done it.
But it isn’t quite so simple when we are trying to do something that we WANT to do. Quite often, procrastination pops up when we are doing something for ourselves. And this is the area that I want to focus on.
There is often no rhyme or reason as to why and when procrastination shows up. We would expect it to follow a period of time where something has gone wrong or where we have failed, wouldn’t we? But procrastination often follows very quickly on the heels of having achieved something wonderful. Either way, the feeling is the same.
Because a full blown bout of procrastination prevents us from :
• Making decisions
• Moving forward
• Trusting ourselves
• Believing in ourselves
It also sabotages our ideas and leaves us feeling lost and struggling with direction.
There are generally signs to look out for that procrastination is starting to set in and take hold :
we skirt around the very thing that we know that we REALLY want to be doing. Our passion.
we make a start and then have a little ponder, do a bit of this and that and then listen to some of our mind chatter.
we may pop the news on and check Social Media and the weather forecast simultaneously 😉 (the weather forecast is my sign - by the way)
and still not content, we take in a few opinions and before we know it, we've talked ourselves out of love with the plan a little bit.
we struggle to focus on what is in front of us and feel that we should be doing something else.
we start listening to our Limiting Beliefs.
In fact, all of this happens so quickly, that we wonder what on earth has happened to dampen our passion and enthusiasm.
And then we feel unable to do anything. Our mind is all over the show and we feel stuck in inaction. And that, as you know, is an incredibly draining feeling.
So why do we do it?
Some of the reasons may be that :
we focus on the future outcome and scare ourselves
we may have unrealistic perfectionist tendencies
we lack confidence in our abilities
we worry about what other people think
we are self-critical about our abilities
we beat ourselves up for not being ‘better’, ‘quicker’ or more efficient at what we are doing
we worry that something may go wrong or that we will fail
So, what we can do to help ourselves?
First of all, you need to be really clear about the reason that you are doing something.
If procrastination is stepping into the way of you achieving what you want to do, it’s really useful to be clear about why achieving it is important to you. In order to fully lean into what you are doing, you need to be clear about your personal vision. Or knowing your ‘why’. In order to fully embrace what you are doing, you need to be clear on the difference that it is going to make to you and your life as a whole.
Don’t focus on the outcome (just don’t!)
Whenever you are trying to achieve something, you need to break it down into manageable steps. And it is on these steps that you need to focus. Not the next one or the one after that.
Looking too far ahead is when we invite procrastination in. Because we start to scare ourselves with what we are trying to do (especially if we are doing a bit of a step out of the old comfort zone!). And our mind will wander off and we lose focus on what is in front of us.
Know that you are doing the right thing for you (and no one else)
When you are feeling self-doubt, you may start to look outside of yourself for answers. You may listen to opinions and start to compare yourself with what others that are doing (seemingly effortlessly!) And when you compare, you will always come away feeling less than. Comparing yourself to others or inviting in judge and jury when you are feeling self-doubt is not for now. You will undoubtedly be feeling hyper-sensitive and your mind will focus on all of the things that you don't want to hear.
Don’t beat yourself up (because you will!)
The easiest and quickest way to get back on track is to be kind to yourself. If you are really finding it hard to get back on track, every little bit of achievement is worthy of celebration. Getting cross with yourself will make you feel worse and delay your progress even more.
Set a timer
It may sound daft but if you are really struggling, do really tiny bits and walk away. Each time you go back, you can acknowledge that you are still moving forward. And all those little bits add up. Done is always better than perfect.
Equally, if you find yourself spending too much time on something, park it – stretch your legs and do something different. You will always go back with fresh eyes and perspective. This is really important because taking a break when we are under duress runs counter to our need to get things done. Don’t fall into the trap. Take the break.
Check your thoughts
I always encourage clients to try and notice and jot down their thought patterns if they are struggling to break out of the cycle of procrastination. If we can acknowledge our thoughts and feelings, it goes some way towards helping us to understand what is causing us to be stuck. And do question those thoughts – because if you’ve addressed my first point above, you will know EXACTLY why it is important to you to achieve this. You may well find that some of your thoughts are old Limiting Beliefs that aren’t actually serving you in what you are trying to do now.
And, most importantly your time is very precious and you want to use it doing the things that you love. Procrastination is a terrible drain on your time and energy.
If you found this post helpful, you may also find this post useful too - What is our mindset?
If this post has resonated with you and you feel that you are being held back by some of the thoughts, emotions or feelings that I discuss, I invite you to book a call with me to discuss whether coaching could help you to move forward.
My name is Nicky Kentisbeer and I am a Mindset & Confidence Coach. I support women to work on their mindset and develop the confidence that they need to move beyond the challenges that are keeping them stuck, towards a place that they would much rather be. I do this based on the belief that we have within us the most incredible resources and capabilities to find our own solutions - irrespective of our background or starting point. There is no barrier to entry.
Maybe you have a feeling of being stuck, going round in circles or living the same day over and over? Or, are you finding that the way you approach problems and challenges always gives you the same result? And it’s not the one that you want. The feeling of being stuck is incredibly disempowering because it brings about feelings of indecision, procrastination, overthinking and fear which in turn can affect our self-belief and confidence. And if you stop to think about it, you may find that you fear success as much as you do failure. Sometimes staying stuck may feel like a safer place to be when the alternative means change and stepping outside of your comfort zone? There is nothing unusual here as we do all have a tendency to stand in our own way at times. This may happen because you have lost sight of how resourceful you are. You may also allow old beliefs and stories to inform your response to what is going on for you currently. Yet, much of this narrative is historical and it is no longer relevant to your life now and the choices that you make. As your coach, I can support you to understand and address the things that may be holding you back from achieving your goals. Through 1-to-1 coaching sessions, we will explore what it is that you want and the steps that you need to take to get started. I will ask lots of questions! Questions that you may not have asked of yourself. It is through these questions that I invite you to look at things in different ways, from a different perspective and access your own solutions accordingly. I will invite you to look at old beliefs and the stories that you may be telling yourself about your abilities. I do not teach nor tell you how things should be done. And there is no judgement. If this resonates with you, I invite you to book a free 30-minute call with me to discuss whether coaching would be the right approach for you to start turning your ideas and aspirations into action.