Friday, February 11, 2011

The Perpetual Procrastinator

Are you a perpetual procrastinator?  An eleventh-hour virtuoso?  A lasting lingerer?  You are not alone.
About 25% of the population are considered procrastinators and in reality….most people (I have seen quotes as high as 85%) have practiced the time-worn unproductive artistry of “putting off today that which can be put off tomorrow again….” 
It also doesn’t matter who you are, what you do for a living, socio-economic status or gender… I have heard heroic stories of women going on major cleaning sprees right before important deadlines; men detailing their cars down to toothbrushes on their whitewalls; teens playing “just one more hour” of World of Warcraft; teachers “researching” online to avoid marking papers……well you get the drift….avoidance, stress and disappointment is usually the result.
There are several common reasons why people typically procrastinate (Note: this does not address clinical or psychological procrastination)

1. The Fear of Success or Failure
Think about it….both success and failure can bring on life-changing gains or loss. Sometimes we sabotage our own success because it brings new responsibility, tests our limits and comfort zones, exposes our"selves" and creates unknowns.  Likewise, the fear of failure is a mindset….instead of learning from mistakes we create self-fulfilling prophecies of inadequacy.

2. Lack of Desire, Goals or Ambition
Being uninspired to create or pursue dreams is a show stopper.  The missing part of our lives is that which is unique to us, our own authentic selves.  No one can forge our paths but us and not being able to do so is debilitating.  Living our own lives, increasing ambition, inspiration and incentives are key to finding that sometimes elusive path to happiness. (Discussion in the next few blogs)

3. Motivation
Loss of motivation means severely decreased momentum and even a superhero can’t overcome depression from lack of motivation.  Healthy minds, bodies and souls…..keeping our eye on the prize and then creating goals and sub goals that are achievable in small steps is a future forward way of thinking.

4. Becoming overwhelmed and distracted
We live in the super age of choice……the product choices alone in the world have proliferated over the last 35 years so much that it is no wonder people are inundated to the point of inaction.  Look at television alone; we are faced daily with hundreds of channels to choose from, however, a scant three decades  ago, I believe I watched one of four channels on a black and white set.

Being overwhelmed can actually lead to inaction or hastily made decisions.  Here is the terrific thing about choice……it is our own muse….and if we don’t succeed the first time, what’s the problem with choosing again?

5. Losing Focus
The pursuit of our dreams can be waylaid by so many distractions in our lives that we create our own loss.  We can create our own outcomes and contribute in a meaningful way to the “pursuit of happiness” for ourselves and others. 

Lack of structure, perceived and literal boundaries, unhealthy habits and routines and low self-esteem all contribute to a loss of focus. Building goals and maintaining them takes commitment and diligence and frankly sometimes hyper-focus. 

Creating focus takes a plan…..and maybe lists (Next blog “How to make lists that work”)

Procrastination is serious and it isn’t about being lazy or a perfectionist or an over-achiever.  It IS however, about managing your time and there is AN ART TO THAT!  Let’s discover it together.

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