Three wine glasses in and relieved to have avoided the question, my friend of over 20 years told me about her latest archeological adventures in Latin America.
So how’s the book coming along?
There is was –the question I had hoped to avoid.
“It’s a slow go,” I admitted sheepishly and I quickly took another sip of wine to sidestep the need to say anything more.
What followed were words of encouragement, as good friends do when they hit a nerve. But still it left me feeling flustered and wondering:
why would I procrastinate doing something that I enjoyed?
I had an idea, but I asked a buddy what he thought about procrastination. He’s the kind of guy that knocks you over with a feather with his insights. He’s also my go-to guy for life’s questions. Here’s what he responded to my late night text:
- We think we’re not good at it. We tend to focus on those things we feel capable in.
- It’s boring or unrewarding.
- It involves discomfort. Instead, we turn our attention to something pleasurable.
I let that settle in overnight, and woke up with a few more reasons why we (mostly me…most definitely me) might be avoiding doing things we enjoy:
- It’s hard work.
- It involves learning something new and we don’t want to put the effort
- Fear of embarrassment or failure.
- Fear that we will not be able to sustain the success or replicate it. (one-hit-wonder syndrome)
We often joke about our tendency to put things off. We even have silly names for it like “lollygag” and “dillydally”, but the truth is that procrastination has serious consequences. Being idle about things increases stress, strains relationships, increases the likelihood of depression, and could even result in loss of income because of missed promotions, dropping out of school, or losing your job!
Yes, my darlings, dawdling can be much more serious than we make it out to be. So let’s get to the bottom of this and figure out what causes this chin wart to disfigure our beautiful possibilities.
What The Experts Say About Our Procrastination
There are several possible causes of procrastination identified by researchers in the peer-reviewed study I looked at. *Peer-reviewed simply means it was looked over by other professionals before it was published. Makes it a more trust-worthy source darling!
This particular paper studied college students and their academic procrastination. At first glance, it might look like a stretch to say that procrastinating on building a website for your handmade soap business is the same as procrastinating on writing a 10-page paper on Lincoln’s depression. *raises hand. However, they are similar in that they are both steps to a bigger goal –a dream that you hope to achieve.
One more itty-bitty thought as you do some self-examination: these causes often overlap.
Causes Of Procrastination
- Poor Time Management -This one may seem obvious, but consider this –more than just setting a timer and sticking to it, poor time management is the bedmate of undefined goals. Oh yes, I’ve often seen them canoodling, these two. For example: Have you ever set to clean the house, then somehow end up spending the day cleaning out your closet? By the end of the day, the closet is cleaned out but you feel unaccomplished because the house is still a mess. By not defining the areas to be cleaned, you end up spending too much time on one thing and not enough on another. Of course, there is also the bad habit of just not making time. Because you’ll get to it later. Or after. Or someday.
- Trouble Concentrating –I had a mentor a few years back that described women’s brains like spaghetti, meaning that our thoughts about one area in our lives pour over into the other areas. That’s what generally makes women better at multitasking. Obviously this a GREAT advantage as we manage households and children and career and relationships and passions, but it can be a disadvantage if it leads to trouble concentrating. Our minds and energy are pulled in so many directions that we’re not quite sure what the next step is in completing our goal –so we procrastinate.
- Fear Or Anxiety -The fear, in this instance, is more like a low tolerance to frustration or pain. Think about that Zumba or Pilates class. You enjoy the class and know that you’ll feel wonderful after taking it, but the discomfort of working out or the frustration of not seeing changes in your body could lead to procrastination.
- Low Belief in Capabilities -We are our own worst critic. You make beautiful jewelry, but not good enough to sell it. You love photography and everyone says you have an eye for it, but you’re probably not good enough to make a career out of it. You’re great with numbers and you’d love to go back to school to earn your degree in accounting, but you’ve been out of school so long that you probably can’t keep up. Negative self-talk makes us doubt our capabilities and makes possibilities seem out of reach. Instead, we tell ourselves that we’d love to do XYZ but we’re not quite ready for it. Thus, procrastination.
Can you relate to any of theses procrastination causes?
Take a few moments today and do some self-examination about the reasons (and reasons behind the reasons) about why you keep putting off working on that thing you love. Trust me my dearest, regret is a wretched, wretched thing. And one day there will be a time when it’ll be too late to work on that goal.
But not today.
Today we still have time to change our idle habits and get to work.
How? Glad you asked! Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll share proven ways to move past procrastination toward action!
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1. Balkis, M., & Duru, E. (2007). The Evaluation of the Major Characteristics and Aspects of the Procrastination in the Framework of Psychological Counseling and Guidance. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 7(1), 376-385.