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Working with procrastination

Working with procrastination

by Peggy Guglielmino
August 13, 2015

Do you find yourself postponing things you have to do? Like sending important emails, or making phone calls that have been on your to-do list for days?! Or even going to the gym, paying the bills or launching your business? Are you finding excuses to avoid doing that? Such as being too tired right now, or not having enough time, etc.?

If you recognize this pattern in yourself, welcome to the world of procrastination: the ability to avoid what needs to be done, whilst keeping busy doing anything else. That can be quite a debilitating pattern. So if you want to change it, the first question to ask is “What stops you from getting things done”? You may be tempted to answer “I don’t know“. If it’s the case, I recommend you read my previous post!:-)

Sometimes my clients think it’s about being lazy. But interestingly when they look deeper, they find they’re only “lazy” about a certain types of tasks, the ones that challenge their identity, their purpose or their beliefs…That’s interesting, isn’t it? But often the root causes are sitting much deeper than we might think…

You may find that underlying this behaviour there is fear. Perhaps fear of failure. In order to start overcoming it, there are two important things to remember:

  • there’s no failure, only feedbacks. We learn from our mistakes. If you look back at your life, I wonder if you already recognize that your biggest learnings come from what you thought at the time were failures…I certainly do!
  • What you consider as failures simply relate to your behaviour, not your identity. Making a mistake doesn’t mean you’re worthless. It simply means you need to change what you did, to do it better next time.

Sometimes fear of success can also be behind procrastination… A lot of my clients, when they recognize having this feeling believe it doesn’t make sense. I think it actually sometimes relates to the fear of change: if you succeed at what you’re doing, things might become different and that can be scary. There’s a really good book I recommend on that, which is also pretty easy to read: “Who moved my cheese by Spencer Johnson.

Or sometimes the fear of success is linked to self-worth: if you succeed, people may expect you to continue to do so and you don’t believe you’re worth it or able to do it. Or perhaps you may even feel that you don’t deserve success…

Sometimes the obstacle is perfectionism, fear of getting it wrong. You’re not getting things done just yet, because they are not good enough, they need more work or more thoughts. The irony with perfectionism is that you’ll rarely reach your ideal. Because there’s always space for improvement…Meaning you end up never taking the steps forward that could indeed allow you to get closer to your goal…

Perhaps it’s simply a matter of learning to prioritize. If you have a large to-do list you may feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. You may want to first determine which tasks are important and which ones are urgent. That could help you in choosing which one to do first, starting obviously with the most urgent ones…

And sometimes it is simply to recognise that perhaps what you have to do, maybe your job, isn’t motivating because deep down you don’t like it. A client of mine last week was talking about procrastinating only when he was asked to perform a task by his boss at work. And quickly admitted that he hated his job and deep down wanted to do something completely different.

All those fears and patterns are very common; I found that most people suffer from them. And the good news is that it is possible to shift them around and replace them with some empowering feelings instead, using for example some powerful NLP or hypnotherapy processes such as a blend of core-transformation, metaphors and submodalities work.

The first step I encourage you to do for now is to find out if it’s a fear that stops you taking action. Are you scared of what people will think of you? Are you scared of being found out? Or not being good enough?

Have you actually noticed that most of those fears are interestingly related to other people? And perhaps with the help of a professional you can start to work on them, free yourself so you can start living the life you want. I also invite you to reflect on Robert H. Schuller’s question: ” What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?”

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