Q: I struggle with procrastination and analyze things to death, then end up staying stuck. What can I do to address this so I can move forward and not stall my progress?
A: Thank you for this question, Patty because it is so relatable. We have all struggled with procrastination at some point in our lives. Even those who are considered to be successful have also experienced procrastination.
On the one hand, it is normal. On the other hand, procrastination can become a problem if it gets to a point where you are stuck and you stay stuck,
The dictionary definition of procrastination is “the action of delaying or postponing something”.
Over the years, I have coached many clients who stalled their progress and experienced what I refer to as “analysis paralysis” because they over anaylzed everything, ranging from daily activities to career, business, family and relationship decisions. As a result, they are not able to move forward and create momentum.
There are many reasons for this, which can include doubting themselves as well as not trusting that they can make the best decisions and take the right course of action.
It can become very time-consuming and zaps the energy. In other words, procrastination is draining.
Nevertheless, it does serve a function. The function of procrastination is to act as an excuse to prevent an individual from having to take action.
On the surface, the likely reason for this is to avoid the fear of failure. There are likely other reasons as well.
However, the act of procrastinating is only a symptom of something deeper.
The deeper meaning of procrastination, which is not often talked about is…the fear of success.
Procrastination comes from the deeper fear of success and the implications that success brings. This can include the belief that success is a heavy responsibility and can become a burden with so much expectations that cannot be sustained.
Therefore, it is much easier to imagine and even day dream about the success, rather than actually taking action to make it a reality.
The fear of success also affects many high achieving individuals who are often perfectionists. They end up fearing that the success will be too much for them to handle, so it’s easier to procrastinate and put it off.
If this resonates for you, then I suggest trying these 5 strategies to help you address procrastination.
- Get clear and identify what you want to accomplish. What is your goal? Write it down.
- On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest), how important is it to accomplish this goal? Note: if the answer is below 8, then it’s not a priority. Be honest with yourself.
- Then isolate what action(s) are you actually trying to avoid and put on hold related to this goal.
- Review your list. Are there items listed that are not needed. This part is about streamlining activities.
- Only spend your precious energy on the priority activities that will actually move you forward toward the goal. This diverts your energy toward the goal rather than the excuse.
In addition, here are 3 tips to keep in mind:
Set aside specific time on your calendar (even as little as 30 minutes) a day to work on your goal. This will create some momentum and reduce feeling anxious about not taking action. This works really well if you are finding it challenge to get started.
If you have perfectionist tendencies, make a pact with yourself to not worry about getting it perfect. Your top priority is to take action, even if it’s imperfect. It is more about making the effort one step at a time.
Visualize how good you will feel once you have taken successive actions and realize your goal. Feel the excitement and surge of self-confidence, and let that feeling pull you forward.
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Meriflor Toneatto is an award-winning leadership and Positive Psychology Coach, Strategist and Entrepreneur. She has been featured in Yahoo Finance, Washington Post, Forbes, Los Angeles Times and more.
She is the CEO and founder of Power With Soul and creator of the Millionaire Difference Makers™ Path for visionary entrepreneurs.
Her book Money, Manifestation & Miracles guides women to reach financial prosperity and success while fulfilling their social promise in the world.
Meriflor helps coaches, entrepreneurs and experts turn their calling + mission into a thriving, profitable and fulfilling business that is tailored to their strengths, personality, passion + lifestyle.