Feel the feelings.
Some of us thrive on procrastination, saying that it’s the only way we get stuff done—the incentive of a deadline and having no time left to do anything else but the thing we could’ve done two weeks ago. The adrenaline, the motivation. Procrastination has become a habit for those of us.
And that’s great for those who like the adrenaline and the deadlines and the rush of it all.
For those of us who wish we could stop procrastinating so we didn’t need to crash into deadlines, or feel the thing looming over us the whole time, or experience the stress of adrenaline, there’s another way.
It may not be easy, but it’s simple.
Why do we procrastinate? We can probably come up with a bunch of reasons, but the main reason is we associate some level of pain, fear, or discomfort with the activity we’re procrastinating about. That’s it.
To overcome procrastination, we need to understand that all of that pain, fear, and discomfort is mostly imagined—coming from our thoughts in our heads.
Thinking about doing it can seem scary. So the more we think about it, the more we procrastinate. But actually doing it? Doing the thing we’ve been thinking about, the thing we know we need to do, can be liberating.
We stop expending energy on thinking about NOT doing it and why we HAVEN’T done it yet and we just expend energy on DOING IT.
The feelings of fear and discomfort may be there for us, they may be real. But allowing it to be scary and uncomfortable and DOING IT ANYWAY shows ourselves that we can feel our feelings AND do hard things.
Most of the time, our perceptions become irrelevant while we’re doing the thing we THINK is painful, scary, or uncomfortable. Actually doing the thing frees us from our fear—it’s almost never as “bad” as we told ourselves it would be.
There’s an added benefit as well: soon what we imagined would be uncomfortable settles gently inside our comfort zone. Just from doing it and realizing that it wasn’t “so bad” after all.
We start to build trust with ourselves, knowing that we’ll do the thing when we say we’ll do it. And get it done. Without having it loom over us or stay on our to-do list for days, even weeks.
So in order for us to find the motivation we need to do the things we habitually procrastinate on, we must:
- Remember that our thoughts about the thing are what makes it uncomfortable (scary, painful, uncertain, etc.)—not actually the thing itself or doing the thing
- Allow ourselves to feel the feelings of discomfort and DO IT ANYWAY—because we know we’re going to have to do it at some point, why have it looming over us the whole time and spend mental energy on it that way?
When we start doing the things we used to procrastinate on, we’ll start to feel proud of ourselves. We’ll realize that the choice to procrastinate is exactly that, a choice—one that we no longer have to settle for now that we’re clear about what was causing it.
Your turn: What parts of this resonate with you? If procrastination is just a choice and not an “identity” (e.g. “I’m a person who procrastinates” vs. “I have chosen to procrastinate in the past”) how would your life be different? What are some things you can start practicing with—doing them when you say you’ll do them instead of putting them off like you used to?
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