Procrastination: Why You Do it and How to Overcome It

Procrastination is something that we have all struggled with at one point in our lives. While you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re procrastinating on something. As a life coach, I’ve seen how people have fought hard to overcome it with little to no success. Are you one of those who hasn’t found an effective solution that would break this bad habit for good?

The Two Kinds of Procrastinators

Let’s first take a look at the two kinds of procrastinators. The first kind is the one who procrastinates on tasks or short-term goals. The second kind is the type of person who puts his or her life on hold, whether it’s getting into a relationship, letting go of it, or pursuing the job of his or her dreams.

The common thing between these two types of procrastinators is this: they both don’t have the right tools to get things done, which is why they end up in a vicious cycle of procrastinating. This results in a lot of unnecessary stress and regrets. For those who are delaying on their life goals, this could quickly lead to long-term unhappiness.

What Happens Inside the Mind of a Procrastinator?

Inside a procrastinator’s mind, he or she is being asked to choose between two things: to gratify one’s self now, i.e. do what’s fun, comfortable and convenient at the moment or to do what makes sense i.e. start working towards your goals, no matter how tedious or difficult it may seem.

Of course, it is easier to give in to instant gratification. We want to avoid discomfort. Sometimes, we let our fear of failures overwhelm us. We wait until the last minute to act, which ironically results in more intense distress, anxiety, and fear that we have been avoiding in the first place. In other words, procrastinating doesn’t make sense. 

The problem is, procrastinators often rely on a limited resource to overcome this habit: willpower. Notice how life coaches never tell you to rely on your willpower to overcome addictions. That’s because it never works.

In many cases, willpower fails because it tells you two things. First, when it something requires willpower, it means you are not 100% sure about what you want. Second, if you need willpower, it means you are not fully committed to doing it.

When you are certain about what you want and you decide to go for it, that inner struggle of deciding whether you’d do it or not will be instantly gone. That fear of failure or the temptation to do what’s fun and easy at the moment won’t be strong enough to prevent you from taking action. When you are truly committed, you will take concrete actions that will lead you to your goals. You will invest your resources, create timelines, have an accountability system, and design your environment that’s free from anything that will distract you from your goals. When you’re committed, you follow through your goals and build a solid system that will prevent you from straying away from your target.

If willpower doesn’t work for beating procrastination, what does?

Here are 6 easy steps to overcome procrastination.

These are specifically designed for long-term procrastinators, the people who delay on living the life they want.

1. Make your goal very specific and clear.

Be clear about what you want to accomplish. Remember, procrastinators always have this inner battle of choosing to do something now or later. When you know what you want, that conflict within you will be gone. Make your goal specific and very clear in a form of a simple phrase and repeat it to yourself.

2. Set the right motivation.

The right motivation isn’t something that you look for on the outside. It’s right inside you. This is the set of positive feelings that you attach to your goals. Visualise yourself at the finish line and embrace the FEELING you get out of reaching your desired outcome. Set the motivation by stating clearly how reaching your goal will change your life, affect your health, improve your friendships and family relationships.

3. Create Milestones

Once you have defined your goal, break it into small enjoyable tiny tasks spread over days and weeks on your calendar. This way, it becomes easier to get started without feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work. Look at the calendar and let it remind you that you have a limited time to accomplish your tasks, so use it wisely.

4. Get a partner

Share your goal with someone and start the work. That person should be someone who will listen to you and affirm you when you achieve your milestones.

5. Commit

Make your environment conducive to your goals. Make your environment free from anything that will discourage or distract you from goals.

6. Celebrate your accomplishments

Remember to have fun while working toward your goal by celebrating the end of each milestone. That’s how you will feed your need for gratification.Celebrate your accomplishments and feed the fun. 

With these 6 steps, you can beat procrastination. It’s a bad habit, an addiction that you can overcome only if you decide to do it today.

Sometimes you could also be procrastinating because the thing that you want to achieve is not meeting one or many of your core values, or that one of your limiting beliefs (coming as a negative self-talk) is in between you and meeting your goal. Learn more about the importance of your values and the role of your belief system in leading your life.

“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” – Christopher Parker