A Coaching Power Tool created by Tiffany Rose
(Career Coach, UNITED STATES)
How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’. Martin Luther, Scholar
As humans we are very good at ‘getting in our own way.’ When we have an important project to complete, we convince ourselves ‘now is not the right time’. And we instantly invent a handful of reasons why it’s not the right time. Or it could be a routine household chore such as cleaning, which very easily builds into a larger task in the near future. We often make excuses for not getting that work assignment in on time;
I wasn’t feeling particularly creative; or for not paying our bills on time; I’d rather be watching TV.
But all this self sabotage of putting obstacles in our path ultimately hurts our performance in the long run. No matter how many reasons we come up with for putting a project on hold, we are clearly avoiding a self sense of accomplishment in the big picture. This is procrastination at its best.
Procrastination is the gap between intention and action, and it is in this gap that the self operates. The undermining behaviour lies in not closing the gap. We make an intention to act, the time comes, but instead of acting we get lost in our own deliberation, making excuses to justify an unnecessary and potentially harmful delay. Who makes this decision? We do. Ironically the self, in fact, sabotages its own intention.
Although we may know intellectually what we ought to do right now, we don’t feel like doing it. So we focus on short-term mood repair: Feel good now, worry about that intention later. Short-term gain, long-term pain.
As many as twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators, so this is a common problem and has proven to be a deep embedded psychological one. For procrastinators – it becomes a lifestyle, albeit an unproductive one.
They miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts. They don’t cash gift certificates or cheques. They file income tax returns late. They leave their Christmas shopping until the last minute on Christmas Eve. All this causes anxiety and stress, many missed opportunities and sleepless nights.
Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don’t take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mails, surfing the net, calling friends is almost perfect for this purpose. They distract themselves as a way of regulating their emotions such as fear of failure.
To clarify, procrastinators are not ‘lazy’ people. You may consider yourself a proactive person by nature, but nevertheless you can still procrastinate about your ‘proactive-ness’.
The opposite of procrastination would be doing things with alacrity, meaning doing them promptly and not psychologically ‘putting them off’. Feeling motivated on the other hand is empowerment. It’s taking control of your life. It’s having a desire to make things happen ‘now.’ And not paying attention to the mindless chitter chatter which fuels our insecurities.
It’s the difference between waking up before dawn to pound the pavement and lazing around the house all day. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining goals, and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control. So what mind frame suits you best? It’s never too late to overcome your procrastination tendencies by dissecting ‘why’ and to start taking control ‘now’.
Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger, more skilled and more self-confident and more successful. Mark Victor Hansen, Founder of Chicken Soup for the Soul
The first step is to determine whether you are a procrastinator. If any of the questions below ring a bell, then there are steps you can take in order to move you from procrastination mode and into a motivating one.
Signs that you’re a procrastinator:
- The same things show up week after week on your to-do list
- You put things off until the very last minute and meet deadlines by the skin of your teeth
- There are incomplete tasks and projects piling up around your home or office
- There are jobs you just can’t seem to get ahead on
- You feel flustered and often break into cold sweats, when you think about all the things you still haven’t done
- You find it hard to make decisions
- You miss out on opportunities because of your failure to act
- It effects your peace of mind and insomnia rears its ugly head