Even the most proactive of people fall into the procrastination trap at some stage or the other. Important activities are sometimes substituted by pressing activities, the same of which don’t necessarily contribute to achieving one’s goals. Some people get really busy, but often with the unnecessary. Others, seemingly immobilised by fear or indecision, find alternative outlets for their stress energy. This lack of focus on the important goals produces no results and, in and of itself, creates more stress. This stress leads to further procrastination and the cycle becomes a downward spiral. A lack of commitment to a clear vision results in inactivity and despair.
Procrastination is the result of one or more of a variety of issues, as represented by the following possibilities:
- A blurred vision for one’s life – insecurity regarding direction or purpose creates vagueness, resulting in attempts at a number of different things. Subsequently, nothing of real value gets achieved.
- A lack of self-belief – misunderstanding of giftedness and a poor self-image immobilises talented people, raising doubt as to the real value they can offer.
- Inability to make decisions – there are some children who were raised in situations where decisions were always made on their behalf. Their ability to use logic to make decisions for themselves has probably been stunted.
- Fear of the unknown – insecurity and anxiety hamper decision-making attempts and put a brake on progression. Fear is a powerful emotion and can immobilise the strongest of us.
- A belief that one doesn’t deserve success – this is tied to the extent to which one values oneself (self-esteem). If perceived value is low, the possibility of ambitious progress will be disregarded.
- Avoidance – procrastination frequently occurs where the steps that need to be taken to advance are difficult, unpleasant or tedious. People always tend to avoid discomfort.
- Toxic shame – a belief that one is broken and inherently defective. This belief drives inactivity and the quick quelling of any attempt at achieving meaningful goals.
- Stress – an overloaded schedule, panic as a result of adverse circumstances and dysfunctional relationships all can lead to inactivity and putting off essential tasks.
In order to convert one’s procrastination into decisiveness and the recovery of proactive actions based on logical goals, three foundational steps need to be taken:
- Deal with the limiting human issues of the past – psychological and emotional ailments, unless addressed, plague and negatively impact the present (they tend to immobilise one and slow down decision-making and subsequent possible actions). All these ailments (like poor self-image, low self-esteem, toxic shame, etc.), however, can be resolved with professional assistance. Release from the debilitating effects of emotional trauma, psychological dissonance low self-value can give one a new vigour to live well.
- Establish a meaningful vision for the future – creating an invigorating picture of a desirable future reality boosts one’s motivation and settles a deep sense of purpose within. This vision should include an acknowledgement and understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses, giftedness and aspirations. It should take into account personal passion, personality and skills. It should resonate within your spirit and be motivational.
- Set realistic goals for the present – this meaningful vision for the future should be divided into bite-sized projects, with appropriately defined goals for each project. Realistic goals, when achieved, give one a sense of accomplishment and motivate one on to achieve more. Distractions should be eliminated, a schedule established and accountability structures be set in place. Consider rewarding yourself for every significant achievement.
Overcoming procrastination not only requires a good dose of will-power, but also the elimination of distractions and other human issues that impede progress. Whilst procrastination might not be something you can avoid entirely, becoming aware of its initiators and how to overcome these tendencies can assist you in becoming more focused and give you the satisfaction of realised goals for achieving your life’s purpose.