The Hidden Secret to Why You Procrastinate

The other day I found myself sitting at my desk staring at a blank word document, trying to will myself to find inspiration and put something on the paper, but I couldn’t. I was frozen.

I had set myself a task and it was about time I followed through. I had already been putting it off for what felt like months and it was high time I just sat down and did it. The procrastination couldn’t continue any longer.

And then it hit me. One of those ‘A-ha!’ moments you get every so often that hit you in the stomach and rattle your foundations, changing the way you look at yourself forever.

The reason I was procrastinating, the reason I couldn’t take the next step, was because action would make it real.

I had spent weeks researching and planning. I new exactly what I had to do. In fact, I was already 50 steps ahead, had planned out the next two years of my life and had readied myself for world domination (I have a very vivid internal like, remember, always dream big). Yet the next step was something I couldn’t take. I had blocked it with that oh-so-fun friend (note: sarcasm) named fear. By taking action I would make it real which meant I could fail and as someone who at one time would have told people I failed for a living I can tell you that man, I was tired of failing.

I sat with that realization for a while as my chest tightened and a way to familiar sensation rolled through my body. And I’m going to be honest with you, I walked away. I got myself up and busied myself doing other things as I quietly contemplated my revelation: Action would make it real… and secretly, under all the bravado I was terrified.

But I new I had to do it. I new that if I wanted my circumstances to change and achieve the life I desired I would have to do it. The pain of my present reality outweighed the fear of possible ridicule by putting myself out there, jumping into the unknown, and opening myself up to failure.

And so I did it. The first attempt wasn’t great I have to admit but doing it once meant I could do it again and again and again… you get the point. The fact that you are reading this blog post is a testament to that. You see, it was the very first one I ever wrote for this website that I just couldn’t get myself to sit down and commit to writing. I feared the bold action of writing the blog post because then it would make the idea of putting myself and my ideas out into the world real. But as you’re reading this you can see that I managed to overcome that.

If there’s something you’re putting off I want you to take this moment and take a good hard look at your ‘why’. Why are you putting it off? I truly believe that a lot of us put some things off because deep down inside, often hidden behind other feelings and masked as other characteristics, we are being held back by fear. So what type of fear is stopping you from taking the action you know you need to? It could be fear of the unknown, fear of failure or success, fear of rejection, fear of change, or fear that you will make yourself redundant. It could be just about anything.

Now I want you to take a deep breath. And another one.

I’m going to tell you a big life truth that its about time you heard and you may not like it: fear never disappears.

 

Yup, that’s right.

 

Before that statement upsets you I want to ensure you that fear being present in your life is not a bad thing. All people who have succeeded in life have felt fear, they just learned to harness it to their advantage rather then letting it be a dominant force in their life.

The Hidden Secret to Why You Procrastinate

If, up till now, you have allowed fear to rule your life, leading to procrastination then that’s ok. I want to give you a few easy steps to help you move through this. I suggest you write your answers on a piece of paper.  

 

1.    Identify what you have been putting off and really wish you could find the motivation to do or complete.

2.    Write down all the reasons why you have been putting this action off. There are always several answers if you are really honest with yourself.

3.    Look at the list you compiled in step two. Within those reasons lies your fear. If you have truly made an exhaustive list you will find it.

4.     When you have identified your fear ask yourself “what do I have to gain by ridding myself of this fear?” Then ask “what have I got to loose?” Look at those two lists. I am sure you will see that you have much more to gain by taking action then by putting it off. Even if the ‘gain’ list is shorter it will be far richer in value.

5.    Now close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, meditate if that’s something that you practice, and give yourself an emotional pep talk. Try the following one out or create your own if it doesn’t resonate with you - “Everything is ok. I am allowed to feel how I feel. It is perfectly normal to feel this way. I am an amazing person and have done fabulous things with my life. The future is exciting and I look forward to the changes that await me everyday. I am powerful. I am a success. I am proud of myself and look forward to the next phase of my life. I choose nothing but my highest best. I know I can handle anything because I AM AMAZING.”

Feel the feelings within your body. Get yourself in an excited, expectant state. Sit with those feelings for a moment. Now, rev yourself up for the next step…

6.    DO IT! Take the action that you have been putting off. Don’t wait until you feel ready, that’s your fear talking. Don’t wait for perfection, that’s just an excuse. You need to accept that fear is always going to exist. So consciously decide to take control of your life, stop putting things off, and no longer allow fear to rule your world.

 

Here’s a quick example of how you could use the above steps:

 

1.    PROBLEM: I should send my friend overseas an email. It’s been almost a year and I keep making excuses.

2.    REASONS: I’m busy, I keep forgetting, I don’t have anything interesting going on in my life, nothings changed, he never emails me so why should I email him, I don’t want to bother him because he’s really busy etc. etc. 

3.    FEAR: I’m afraid he will reject me. I’m afraid that he doesn’t want to be my friend anymore because he never takes the time to email me.

4.    GAINS OF GETTING RID OF THIS FEAR: reconnect with an old friend whose company you enjoy, a realization that he was making excuses too.

LOSS: Pride

Connection and realization are high value emotions. Pride is a low value emotion. So even though the lists are only short the ‘gain’ list has a higher value.

5.    Take a few deep breaths and give yourself a positive pep talk. Feel the emotions throughout your body and come to the other side feeling excited, expectant and believing that only the best will come into your life.

6.    Write the email. You don’t know how it will turn out but choose to believe in the best. It could turn out that he has drifted away from you but it could be that he was experiencing the same fears that you were. Choose to rise above your fears. You will only have success by conquering them.

 

This technique can be used for so many different things you are putting off. Tell me below, what have you been putting off? What was the fear that was underlying your procrastination?

As you go through this life fear will show itself over and over again. Choose now to never let it rule your life and to live as courageously as you can. After all, as the saying goes – 

Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to triumph over it.
— Nelson Mandela

 

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