You may struggle from time to time with procrastination. Procrastination comes in many forms, such as not making decisions, being late to events, not showing up, putting things off till the last minute, not completing projects, not putting things away, not cleaning up after oneself, etc. It is caused by many different things, such as laziness, selfishness, stubbornness, passive resistance, rebellion, fear, perfectionism, etc.
Surprisingly, research shows the number one cause of procrastination is the need to be perfect. Perfectionists are constantly "in a bind." They can't decide and act because there is no perfect decision. There are just different choices with different possible outcomes. Perfectionists tend to see the worst thing that could happen in any choice, therefore resisting action based on such horrible possible outcomes. They can't see any good way to go, so they do nothing.
What procrastinators don't realize is that NOT making a decision IS making a decision! They are making an unconscious choice to do nothing. They may give lots of excuses, justifications, and rationalizations for their lack of movement, but the reality is, it was their choice. If perfectionism is the cause of the person's procrastination, this can be handled by asking yourself what is the worst that could happen. Then, using RBET (Rational Behavioral Emotive Therapy) principles, ask yourself what the possibility is of that worst thing happening. It's probably not that likely, and not worthy of the amount of anxiety you place on it. At some point you may need to just take a risk and make a decision.
A great way to overcome procrastination is to make whatever it is to be done YOUR CHOICE. Make it your choice to do it. Rather than resenting that you must do it, or feeling guilty about the fact that you should do it, simply choose to do it. From all the available possibilities, choose what you know is right. Knowing you are doing the RIGHT thing will often overcome all obstacles. Choose, and then put the power and commitment of your intention behind your actions. When you choose to do it, you put yourself in positive control of your own destiny. You make yourself vastly more effective. Every moment is a choice. In every moment, in every situation, make it your choice to do what is best. Make it YOUR choice and you'll make it great!
----Make careful decisions and then pull the trigger. ----Dr. Phil McGraw
Persistence and Perseverance
Enduring the Struggle
The most important aspects of progress are positive thoughts, social support, and enduring the struggle. They say, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." But how do you develop that toughness to keep going? Sometimes you need to move even when you don't feel motivated at all. How do you keep moving when you don't feel like it at all?
First, you realize that there will be adversity along the way. There will be setbacks, obstacles, challenges, delays. You already predicted it, you expected it, and when it comes it is no surprise to you. Prepare for setbacks and problems. Put a plan in place ahead of time so you will know how to deal with them. Do not become discouraged when you encounter them along the way. Remember times when you achieved success in the past after enduring hardships. Remind yourself how you were able to overcome obstacles and endure frustration in the past. These memories will serve to be very powerful motivators in getting through the low and slow times.
-----Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.
Cognitive restructuring, or changing negative self-statements to positive self-statements, is a strategy you can use when the going gets tough. Positive affirmations can replace former negative ones. Avoid making statements to yourself such as, "My father was right, I'll never succeed at anything." When a statement like that comes into your head, try to dispel it by immediately reminding yourself of something you have recently succeeded at. Wayne Dyer, the popular self-help author, says that by working through self-defeating labels and behaviors, people can build confidence and self-esteem so that there are no limits to what they can achieve. Come up with your own positive statements about yourself. A negative statement should be immediately replaced with a positive one. Another technique for changing negative self-talk to positive is known as "Stop-Think." As soon as a negative thought comes into your head, immediately think "STOP!" and change over to a positive thought that has been prepared to replace the negative one.
Tony Robbins, one of the greatest contributors to motivational thought transformation in the self-help movement, writes, "In order to succeed, you must have a long term focus." He believes that in order to gain any valuable, long term pleasure, one must break through some short-term pain. This begins with the decision to overcome the discomfort of short-term pain. Robbins speaks of the principle of "concentration of power" or "controlled focus." He believes that people can achieve more than they realize when they focus their intentions on their goals. His delineation of the thought transformation process involves three steps:
1) Raise Your Standards: Decide what you will accept and what you will not
accept for your life.
2) Change Your Limiting Beliefs: Develop a sense of confidence that you can, and will, meet your new standards.
3) Change Your Strategy: The best strategy is to find a role model, someone
who is already getting the results you want, and tap into their knowledge.
"Your life changes," says Robbins, "the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision." Brian Tracy reiterates Robbins' point about long term focus in Secrets of Success (1997) and goes on to emphasize the feelings of confidence, mastery, and self-esteem that ensue when one achieves sustained concentration.
------If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
----Henry David Thoreau
Your Words Have Power
The following are powerful and useful words to incorporate in your journey. After each word, write your own positive affirmation related to each word. Then think of more words you can use on your journey of goal achievement.
----- . . . to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. - --- Booker T. Washington
Burka, J. and Yuen, L. (2008) Procrastination: Why you do it and what to do about it now.
Caliandro, A. and Lensen, B. (2002) Simple steps: 10 things you can do to create an exceptional life.
Dixit, A. and Nalebuff, B. (2010) The art of strategy: A game theorist's guide to success in business and in life.
Dyer, Wayne. (1980) The sky's the limit. New York: Pocket Books.
Hill, Napolean, (1960) Think and grow rich.
McGraw, P. (2006) Life strategies: Doing what works, doing what matters.
Robbins, Anthony. (1991) Unlimited power.
Scott, Steven K. (1998) Simple steps to impossible dreams.
Sterner, T. (2006) The practicing mind: Bringing discipline and focus into your life.
Tracy, Brian. (1997) Secrets of success.
Waitley, Denis. (1997) The new dynamics of goal setting.