Procrastination is one of those insidious bad habits that affect all of us at one time or another. Putting things off can cause you heavy-duty problems in lots of areas of your life if you don’t get a handle on it. You could lose your job if you put off doing what your boss asks you to do. You could lose your house if you put off paying your mortgage on time. You could anger your spouse if you put off doing those household chores that are clearly your responsibility. You are risking major dental work if you put off having regular dental checkups. Being a chronic procrastinator can cost you dearly in the game of responsible adulthood. In fact, procrastination is thought of as an immature quality, one that you don’t want to be used to describe you.
There are two types of procrastination. Sometimes the procrastinator is just lazy. Perhaps their parents spoiled and indulged them when they were young and they just can’t bring themselves to do things like get a job, buy their own car, get their own apartment, etc. We all know (or are related to) someone who falls into this category—why do anything of substance if you can find someone else to do it for you? This article is not targeted to these folks. Only a life-threatening situation such as being penniless or homeless will stimulate the lazy person to change. I don’t intend to cover that here.
The rest of us fall into the second category. There is usually a reason behind our procrastination. We’re pretty intelligent creatures and we don’t put things off unless there is absolutely a good reason. The trick is to find out the hidden reason for putting things off and learn how to deal with it. If you are a chronic or occasional procrastinator and you are NOT a lazy person, I would say that there is a common thread of issues running through the various things that you put off doing. It will help you immensely to identify that common thread as it is most likely causing you problems in other areas of your life. Sometimes it is the fear of what will happen if we actually proceed with what we have put off for so long.
As an example, I once had a consultant working for me on a client project who was charged with writing the training materials for our technical installation. He had assured me during his job interview that he had developed training materials in his last job. On the project I encouraged him to put the training template together early on and fill in the various training procedures by working with the developers as system functionality was developed. That way if there were any issues along the way we could resolve them quickly and there would not be a rush at the end to finish the materials.
Days and weeks went by and this consultant put off developing the template. He ignored or sidestepped my requests to review the template until finally things came to a head. You know the scenario; I had to have a closed-door meeting with him about his undelivered deliverable. He continued to insist that he would have it ready “tomorrow”. Tomorrow came and went and I was in the unenviable position of having to put the manual together at the last minute to satisfy our commitment to the client. The result of this was that this consultant was put on probation. During the course of his probation, it came out that he had lied on his resume about his prior position and had no clue how to put together training materials. He felt that starting to write the materials would have exposed his lie and hastened the inevitable termination that was coming his way.
Looking back it was definitely this consultant’s fear of facing his lie and the consequences that got him into trouble and the underlying reason for his procrastination. If he had started on the training materials when I asked (templates were readily available online) and had an open attitude towards learning how to do the task at hand, there were several people, including me, on our team who would have helped him complete the job. He would have then covered his experience gap by learning a valuable skill that his job required and been able to move forward in his job.
As another example, I recently found myself putting off scheduling my regular dental checkup. This had never been a problem for me before and I started to explore the reason why by asking myself some very pointed questions. I traced in my mind all the steps that I would go through when going to the dentist and when I got to the part where she started drilling on my teeth, I felt myself cringe. This had never been a problem with other dentists, and I realized that I had only experienced pain with this particular dentist. I realized that it wasn’t the dental checkup but my fear of this particular dentist’s technique that was the problem. So, I found another dentist--problem solved!
It’s important to take a look at the underlying reason behind any procrastination in your life to discover what lies behind it. This is particularly true if you are procrastinating anything that you have successfully completed in the past. Is there a person you are trying to avoid? Is there a part of the task makes you feel bad or inadequate? Does it have to do with being found out? If so, what do you have to do to get past this, apologize or make amends in some way? I promise you, it will be easier to make amends than to live with this feeling of dread in your life and with the consequences of procrastination.
Identifying the issue will have multiple benefits in your life. Once you identify what has you “stuck” and is causing you to procrastinate, you will probably find that the issue you’ve uncovered is causing you pain in other areas of your life as well. Dealing with that issue will clear up more than one problem for you. This is what I call “holographic”. Your life is multidimensional--a hologram where energy from one area impacts the energy flow in other areas of your life. Resolve the issue and your life will get better.
Is there something that you are putting off? What is the real reason behind your procrastination? I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you would like to comment or have any questions, you can reach me here.
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My name is Carolyn Jolly. My professional life has been in sales, marketing and IT management. Along the way I’ve been studying and experimenting with self improvement and personal development techniques for the past 20 years. I have had more than a few mind-blowing experiences and I’ve made some discoveries that have shaped my ideas. I’m now using this website to pass those ideas along.
Our world is changing very rapidly. Many of the constants and institutions we thought to be permanent are now crumbling or changing drastically. This website is dedicated to those interested in how to manage their lives in light of these changes or in just becoming a better person. I hope the information you find here will stimulate you to embark on your own voyage of motivation and self improvement.
I hope that you will find something here that interests you. If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me here.