It’s easy to identify what it is that you are avoiding right this minute, but do you know why you are avoiding it? The key to changing resistance into motivation may be contained within the answer to that question. We all have times when we just can’t seem to get anything done. Often if you feel stuck and unmotivated, there is an underlying reason why. Understanding the reason is important if you want to overcome it. I like to think of this study of the causes and cures for procrastination as Procrastinology.
Avoiding Discomfort + Fear = Procrastination
Avoiding discomfort is one of the causes of procrastination, and many of the techniques for motivation are about overcoming this issue. (See the post Alex Vermeer on How to Get Motivated). While I’ve read a lot about procrastination, only recently have I begun thinking about fear as a root cause of procrastination, and how to deal with it.
What are you afraid of, and how can you overcome the fears that are stopping you?
There are many different fears that can cause procrastination:
- the unknown
- hard work
Are you afraid to fail? ASK: “What’s the worst that could happen?” REMEMBER: Failure is a part of success. SAY: “I will experiment until I succeed.”
Are you afraid to succeed? ASK: “What am I afraid of losing if I succeed?” REMEMBER: your why, the reason you believe what you want to do is important. Think of times when you were independent and strong. SAY: “I believe in what I do.”
Are you afraid to be vulnerable? ASK: “Do you want to live whole-heartedly?” REMEMBER: being vulnerable is necessary to live whole-heartedly. WATCH: Brene Brown’s TED Talk on vulnerability. SAY: “I choose to show up and be seen.”
Are you afraid of rejection, or what others might think? ASK: “Do you care more about your own opinion or the opinion of others?” REMEMBER: Your worth is not based on your skill level or what others think of you. SAY: “What other people think of me is none of my business!”
Are you afraid of the unknown or change? ASK: “How could this be fun?” THINK: New experiences can be a fun adventure. REMEMBER: exploring as a kid, times when you were pleasantly surprised by trying something new. SAY: “New experiences are an adventure.”
Are you afraid of problems? ASK: “What is a creative way to solve this?” THINK: Problems are challenges, like puzzles to be solved. REMEMBER: times you successfully solved a problem. SAY: “This is a challenge and I accept it.”
Are you afraid of hard work? ASK: “Are the results worth the hard work required?” THINK: Hard work is a necessary part of growth and learning. REMEMBER: times you worked hard to accomplish something, and how good it felt. SAY: “I choose to do the work because it is worth it.”
In Mark Manson’s article (*@# language warning) “Everything You Wanted to Know About Procrastination But Were Too Lazy to Figure Out,” he says we avoid doing anything that threatens our view of ourself.
What’s Stopping You? Is It You?
What are your beliefs about yourself? How does what you are avoiding threaten your self-concept?
THINK – Are the things you are telling yourself: True? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind? These guidelines work for ourselves as well as others.
SAY: “I think rationally and positively. I choose a growth mindset. I can do it. I am strong and will persevere with determination.”
See also The Economy of Goals at the Daily PlanIt, and A Guide to Beating the Fears That Are Holding You Back at Zenhabits.