You have a deadline or an amazing idea that you want to put into action, but it feels like it will take an act of God to get you to sit down and complete your project. Why do you always fall prey to procrastination?
The answer is simple. You procrastinate when a part of you believes that achieving your goal or finishing your project will cause some sort of perceived, imaginary pain in the future. This can be totally not conscious, but it's nevertheless a protection mechanism to keep you safe from your fears.
There are some common methods of procrastination that we fall prey to. Underlying every procrastination tactic is a unique impulse related to how your mind wants to keep you safe from your fears.
Here are five common ways of procrastinating, and what they say about you:
1. Surfing Facebook
Is Facebook an ultra powerful magnet that sucks you in even if you try to set your limits before starting? For instance, do you find yourself saying, "I'm just going to see what my ex is up to real quick and then I'll get back to work"?
If you often get lost in Facebook instead of getting your work done, it's most likely because, on some level, you have a fear of being seen. On Facebook, you are a voyeur: you spend your time looking at others rather than finishing your project. In this way, you risk other people seeing your finished work. You may not think about it in these terms, but they are factually true, right?
Imagine you're writing a blog post and having trouble finishing it because Facebook is sucking your time. It's possible that you're using Facebook to protect yourself from finishing your work of art because after you finish it, the world will see it. That is a scary thought, so you think: why deal with it?
But I'll invite you to ask yourself: Am I hiding on Facebook so that nobody will be privy to my finished work?
2. Getting overqualified
A friend of mine calls herself a "recovering training whore" because she used to collect degrees like Pokémon cards.
Training was a form of procrastination for her. She was hiding out in classrooms and stalling the day when she would have to get out into the world and do the work she was put here to do.
Now, what does this form of procrastination say about her? It says that she has a fear of not being good enough.
Education and training are necessary, but if you are a person who has five degrees, ten certifications and is doing a PhD program right now, I encourage you to consider two questions: 1. Am I collecting degrees and certifications because I'm afraid I'm not good enough? 2. Am I using training to hopefully make me worthy of working in my field one day?
3. Waiting for someone else
Have you ever said, "I'm just waiting for the right business partner to come along" as a way to avoid starting a venture you've been dreaming of?
Support is a wonderful thing and necessary in many cases. We need support to thrive. But if you're not getting things done because you are waiting for the perfect business partner to fall into the office chair next to you, or you are overly dependent on the idea of waiting for something external to yourself to "save" you, you might be dealing with a deep-rooted fear of failure. The insecurity is simple: "I am not good enough on my own."
Consider: Do I fear that I'll fail if I try this out on my own?
4. Developing "Shiny Object Syndrome"
Do new research, innovative business tools, or a barrage of creative ideas and business opportunities constantly grab your attention?
If you're that person who never finishes a project because she starts nine million projects all at once, you are probably suffering from shiny object syndrome, also known as SOS.
What does SOS say about you? If you suffer from SOS, you most likely have a fear of success.
"Fear of success?" you may be asking. Well instead, ask yourself this: Am I starting a new project because I'm afraid to finish the one I'm working on and receive all of the potential success that could ensue? Am I scared of what success will look like or scared that I don't deserve or am not worthy of success?
5. Being a perfectionist
Raise your hand if you have been tweaking your website for years or every time you write something you edit it until it's perfectly...dead?
There's absolutely nothing wrong with being detail oriented, but if you're trying to catch that slippery fellow named perfection, you have a right to know that your perfectionism is a protection mechanism that is sabotaging your work instead of improving it.
If you're not fully reaching for the stars because you aren't perfect yet, probe this question: Do I focus on details so much that nobody ever gets to experience my work because it's never perfect?
If you answered yes, you're procrastinating with perfectionism because you're afraid that other people will judge and criticize you just like you criticize yourself.
If you're ready to dive deeper into the truth of your procrastination and interrupt that pattern of self-sabotage forever, check out this free training on manifestation and self-sabotage.
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