Do you procrastinate? Welcome to the human race, you are not alone. Every human being on this planet suffers from procrastination, even the most successful ones of us. We put off projects, bills, doctor’s visits, job search, vacation, calling friends and family members, etc. In this article, I specifically would like to focus on the kind of procrastination that causes the most damage to us. You know, when we procrastinate on things that are really important, to the point that our entire life would change practically overnight, if only we just did that one thing, and did it regularly.
As I was recently listening to one of my favorite motivational audio books, I learned something interesting about procrastination. Apparently, according to the research, we procrastinate not because we are lazy, but to avoid stress. In other words, procrastination is nothing more than simply a compulsive avoidance of stress. Whoa! That was a huge eye-opening discovery for me. I suddenly remember the college days when I took Organic Chemistry (don’t ask) and how miserable I was the day before the midterm or final exam, sitting in front of the textbook not sure where to begin. And then again, after an extremely stressful midterm, promising myself that I will start studying for the final exam early, only to find myself with my head buried into the textbook, the night before the test.
And now, years later, thankfully leaving the chemistry-related career behind, I work with clients to help them find the career of their dreams. It is almost comical how many times I get a phone call from a client the day or an hour before our scheduled coaching call, asking me to cancel the call because they haven’t had a chance to do their homework. Interestingly enough, you’d think procrastinating is the source of all the stress. Yet, we procrastinate in order to avoid stress. Similarly to being overweight and compulsively eating foods with high sugar content, we use sugar to comfort ourselves when we feel insecure about our bodies. Yet, the more sugar we eat, the more weight we gain. When it comes to procrastination, we focus our mind on other activities and chores, in order to avoid the imminent stressor, such as not having a job or not being prepared for the chemistry test. Not thinking about it makes us feel a lot better. And yes, sometimes it is easier to clean the house than study for the test. It is easier not to think about bills overdue and put them aside, as if that can possibly make the problem go away.
Ok, putting off bills may not be your problem, it’s not mine either, but I’ve known people who do that. But we all have that one thing we procrastinate on that severely impacts the quality of our lives, over and over again. For me that one thing is writing blogs, staying in touch with friends and sharing my ideas with others. This may not seem obvious now, but did you know I was planning to start writing my blog again early January? It is April now, so here I am.
I am realizing the impact of my isolation: I don’t get to share my ideas, I don’t get to create interesting discussions with others that sometimes can be fun, eye opening and quite insightful. I’ve been told over and over again how much value others get out of talking with me, yet, I still keep to myself for the most part. How do I justify that? I simply tell myself that no one would be interested anyway. What nonsense! Well, no more of that crap. From now on I am committed to writing my blog and sharing it with you, my community, via newsletter, social media and other interactions.
Now, I invite you, the reader, to share your thoughts with me in the comments box what are the things you procrastinate on that would really make a big difference in your life if you just did them. Most importantly, now that you know what procrastination is all about, stop feeling guilty and forgive yourself. Yes, I also read that was the first step in dealing with procrastination. Recognize what kind of stress are you trying to avoid and just do it. After all, I did write this blog post, didn’t I? J