There comes a time when all of us struggle with this concept of procrastination. Despite our very best efforts, we just don’t get it done. Despite our very best intentions, we delay achieving our goals. Whether it’s doing the dishes or completing that university degree. And, good intentions pave the way to despair, self-loathing and may create a downward spiral of lacklustre self esteem. Thus, preventing us from being the best versions of ourselves. We find excuses, create diversions and hurdles and, make mountains out of molehills. Sometimes, we even trick ourselves into believing that we’ll get to it when we feel motivated. We do that often because of self-doubt, fear, time mis-management. By doing that we give our power away. We start to feel over-whelmed, in a state of despair and we start to think of ourselves as ‘less than’. Perhaps, it’s because we’re unsure of where to start. This becomes habitual behaviour. It’s time to shift perspective and take our power back.
Let’s start by understanding this opponent called Procrastination and learn how to conquer it with Motivation. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy considers Procrastination as a symptom of various unaddressed negative psychological associations such as anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress and even neurological disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We are prescribed chemical medications to manage these perceived disorders when natural products such as Omega and 5HTP, talk therapy with qualified therapists as well as myriad other natural alternatives exist to accompany them for a more holistic result. And, here we thought we were just dealing with Procrastination.
Understanding the Intention Cycle is worth its weight in gold. Intentions, thoughts and feelings, become mental pictures and words, these become actions or reactions these become patterns of behaviour. Ultimately this forms character. We practice what we become. We become what we practice.
At a fundamental neurological level, our brains are a spaghetti junction of neurones and synapses which create neural pathways along which electric impulses and hormones travel. These vehicles of motivation carry our intentions which are witnessed by our thoughts and feelings along these highways. We need to understand that as humans, we are energy conserving beings and our brain is no exception. We are not lazy. We are wise beyond measure. These vehicles avoid the roads less travelled to hit their destination as quickly and time efficiently as possible. Why is this important to know? Simply said we become addicted to Procrastination and not Motivation.
Behavioural Psychology asks us to consider that we perceive ourselves in the Past, Present and Future Self. Procrastination is a tug of war between the Present and Future Self and a concept referred to as time inconsistency. Time inconsistency refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards. That’s because we’ve taught ourselves to think that way at a fundamental neurological level. Fundamentally there is no such thing as procrastination, think of it as a disagreement between your present self and future self.
What is the best way to get it done? Motivation. Here’s how:
- The root of word Motivation is Latin. It means movement. Motivation will not come to you. Motivation starts by taking the first step. Start and Motivation follows.
- Acceptance and honesty. Accept where you are at. Take a look in the honesty mirror. And understand that your Future Self wants the very best for you.
- Start where you are at. Do what you can. Use what you’ve already got. That way there are no hurdles.
- Understand the Law of Singularity. Start small. This Universal Law states that "in each situation only one move will produce substantial results”.
- Repeat a motivational mantra: Progress not perfection.
- Use the two minute rule. If a task takes less than two minutes do it now.
- Work SMART. Specific Measurable Achievable Realistically Timeously.
- Tie up loose ends. Like shoelaces you might trip up so close the circle.
- Use the I AM phrase, a powerful tool to help you affirm who you are. Be careful with those words. Avoid using the word not in the I Am phrase. Avoid saying I am not a procrastinator. Instead use positive self talk by shifting perspective. I am motivated. I am worthy. I am deserving.
- Harvest an Attitude of Gratitude. Give yourself a pat on the back for all your proudest achievements and accomplishments and remember that feeling of “just when I thought I couldn’t, I did”.