For a dream comes through much activity,
and a fool’s voice is known by his many words.
Ecclesiastes 5:3 NKJV
In my struggles as a recovering procrastinator, I have learned a simple lesson: You can look extremely productive while producing not much of anything. In the name of planning, we procrastinate. We analyze, plan, research, mull over, and consider. Then we analyze some more, plan some more, and research some more. It is as if we expect things to magically come together if we just think about them hard enough. Maybe you’ve been there—or perhaps you’re there right now.
The truth is, you don’t reach your dreams by overthinking. You reach your dreams by doing. Stop planning and start doing. Don’t worry about doing it perfectly, or having it all figured out. That’s never going to happen anyway. Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Trust that if you make a mistake you can learn from it, make adjustments, and keep moving forward.
When you find yourself procrastinating, dig deep to see what’s really going on. Often procrastination isn’t about simply putting off a difficult task. It is about the counterproductive thoughts that can sabotage your success. Some of these thoughts are ones you are not consciously aware of. But if you become more aware of these thoughts—and intentionally change them to something more productive—you can get unstuck and become unstoppable.
Are you holding back? Are you stuck in neutral, not moving forward on plans you say you want to see come to pass? If so, you have to wonder what’s really keeping you stuck. It’s probably not just that you have too much on your to-do list today, or the distraction of text messages or e-mail or social media. Truth be told, when you really want something, you take action. You don’t let anything get in the way.
As you look at the five revealing subconscious thoughts many procrastinators have, be honest with yourself. Do any of these thoughts resonate?
- “Truth is, I like things just the way they are.”
Sometimes you think you should do something, but you really don’t want to do it. You like things the way they are. Maybe you need to give yourself permission to stay where you are—or maybe it’s time to muster the courage to shake things up a bit. The choice is yours. Just don’t stay in that inauthentic place of insisting you want something you are never actually going to pursue.
- “Tackling the project at hand is too complicated.”
Many procrastinators tell themselves that the task at hand is complicated. Because it’s complicated, they feel overwhelmed or paralyzed. They can’t even get started. Do you do that? Break the task down into specific action steps—one at a time. What is the next step you could take right now? Do that.
- “I don’t really think I deserve to have what I want.”
This statement is one that gets to the heart of your self-esteem. Whether you feel guilty about something you did in the past, or you don’t feel worthy for some reason, you won’t move forward if you don’t believe you should have the thing you want. Subconsciously, you can sabotage your success by procrastinating. Do you really believe you deserve to have the goal you say you’re aiming for?
- “I don’t really think it can happen.”
One of the most basic and necessary elements of goal setting is self-efficacy—your belief that you can accomplish the goal. Without that belief, what’s the point of putting forth effort? A lack of confidence can be masked as procrastination. Be honest. Do you need to strengthen your belief that it is possible to fulfill your dream?
- “I’m afraid of what others will think, say, or do.”
Fear is at the root of most self-sabotaging behaviors. Are you willing to allow what others think (or what you’re afraid they might think) to control you? Make an intentional decision.