When we procrastinate, we put our dreams, our hopes and our yearnings on hold. We put things off under the illusion that we will get to them someday, when there is more of time. We deny fears and postpone action while covering ourselves up with layers of excuses, like an onion. We deny the biggest obstacle holding us back. It is us! So how can we lick that “old devil” called procrastination that allows us to squander so many precious minutes, hours and even days? Delaying what we need to do feeds our fears instead of our courage and passion for life. An old proverb says, “The habit that becomes prevalent in one’s life is the one we feed.” Where we focus our attention grows stronger and will manifest.
If procrastination is your nemesis, recognize how this undesirable trait began by reviewing your life and how the habit of it shows up. Has it littered your path with false starts, broken promises, or possibly weakened your resolve. Have there been missed opportunities as well as the feeling of guilt over lost time? Do you feel stuck? If you do not change the trajectory of your starts and stops nothing you really want will be manifested in your life. Have you lost faith in your ability to follow through? Have you ever wondered how procrastination got started?
Although most parents do the best they can for their children, their upbringing greatly influences how they parent. In addition to what they already know, parents have to adjust to the changes inherent with raising a child in a new generation. Due to fear, a desire to protect their children, and do things the “right way,” parents are often unaware of how their behavior impacts their children. Parent’s beliefs, rules, fears and limits, are projected, which produces a “boxed up” way of life. This is often referred to as “fear based” parenting.
Children are like sponges, absorbing everything without the judgment to decide what is right. In addition to what is being passed down by parents, children also are immensely influenced by churches and schools, which require that their teachings be accepted as gospel. A child’s natural curiosity, creativity and freedom to question are suppressed in order to fit in, be accepted, or just get by.
To escape those small boxes, rules and beliefs, children claim a little bit of freedom by delay. Small personal victories are won and momentary freedoms are claimed through those delays. They say “later”, “in a minute,” “in the New Year,” etc. These tactics become entrenched in our unconscious as automatic habits or responses to life’s requests upon us. Although it gives momentary freedom from the demands placed on us, the habit sabotages our potential for authentic freedom, forever. The early pattern of experiencing a reward in the delay (an attempt to assert control over one’s environment) lays the foundation enabling other fears to attach. Once we identify and eradicate the basic pattern, the other fears or attachments organically lose their power.
Some of those other fears inherent in procrastination are:
Fear of Success: At a deep level many of us are afraid of success. On the surface we declare we are going for the gold, but that which manifests may be something quite different. You may read more about this subject on my Self-Growth Expert Article: Obstacles to Manifestation - Fear of Success.
Fear of Failure: When we list our desires, wants and life goals, we often omit “failure”. Not only will we fail, we must fail if we are to risk having passionate lives and manifesting what we desire. This fear is more adequately addressed in my Self-Growth Expert Article: Obstacles to Manifestation - Fear of Failure.
Fear of Freedom: Everybody wants it! Freedom must be an inside job. In order to have authentic freedom, responsibility for everything in life as it is at this moment must be accepted. When you arrive at this point you can be free even if the external situation finds you locked in a prison cell. My article on the Self-Growth, Obstacles to Manifestation - Fear of Freedom further discusses this fear.
Fear of Change: Since change is the only constant in our lives, why is it so frightening to accept change? So in-grained is this fear, I devoted an entire chapter to it in my book The Nature of Change. You may also find articles discussing change on my website Life Resource Center - Change. Keep a lookout for my next Self-Growth article “Obstacles to Manifestation – Fear of Change”.
Although Fear of Success, Fear of Failure, Fear of Freedom and Fear of Change are inherent in procrastination, additional fears such as perfectionism responsibility, criticism and judgment feed the habit of procrastination. These additional fears seem to come later and attach to habits formed earlier.
In order to break the habit of procrastination, our first step is intention. We have to make a determined decision that we have had enough of dawdling, avoidance and fear of being responsible in our lives. An intention to break the habit is a beginning. This beginning may cause uneasiness, as there is a strong pull deep within that resists change. The “same” is the familiar; we may not be happy with the familiar but we know how it goes. There is an old Irish proverb that translates to say, “A good beginning is half the work.”
In order to recover from procrastination – address one small area whereby you habitually procrastinate. Often we tend to set the bar too high, get overwhelmed and delay. If we want to lose thirty pounds it seems too much to tackle unless we break it down into manageable steps. Pick something that may not have an emotional pull and start with baby sized steps to overcome the habit of procrastination. When we follow through in one area we absorb confidence and positive feelings towards ourselves, which gives us the courage to move to another area. Exponentially changing one habit can be the foundation for many more changes. One shift is rarely just one shift. You will have slip ups, but be patient with yourself. Overcoming procrastination brings you closer to manifesting the life you want. Remember, “there are risks in life one cannot afford not to take.”