3 steps that beat procrastination
Stop putting off the inevitable
Every now and then I buy a lottery ticket. It’s usually Euromillions as it’s often got a decent jackpot. And for a little while I dream about what I’ll do with a cool £23 million or whatever’s on offer at the time. (Less than £10 million just doesn’t cut it any more. If you’re going to dream, dream big!).
I’d probably split most of it with family, especially my daughters. There’d be plenty to set them both up and leave loads over for Gill and me.
We could buy whatever we wanted. Explore the world. New house, new cars, adventure holidays. Put some of it to good use ‘cos there’s far too much to just spend on, well, fun.
And the dream lasts right up until my numbers don’t come up.
Not a bad deal for the price of a ticket.
Except I’ve been unconsciously extending the dream & I’m not sure it’s good thing.
How do I do it?
I don’t check the numbers.
You see the irrational logic? If I don’t check, I haven’t lost yet. I might’ve won. A sort of Schroedinger’s lottery ticket, if you’re of a sciencey disposition.
So why are we here? What’s my quirky lottery philosophy got to do with therapy?
Procrastination. That’s what.
That’s what drives my lottery ticket problem.
Procrastination stems from all sorts of things. Like perfectionism, self worth, not knowing where to start, too many ideas, no ideas, indecision
Underneath most forms of procrastination, lies a fear of something. Being found out, fear of failure, looking like a fool, being useless, a fraud. Whatever it is, procrastination tries to delay the inevitable. Delay and delay and delay so the scary thing can’t happen.
Except life doesn’t work like that.
If you put things off long enough, you create the very thing you’re trying to avoid. The scary monster turns up anyway and you end up:
- Not getting get the job because you didn’t apply in time.
- Feeling like a fool because you didn’t finish the report.
- Proving you’re not up to the job ‘cos you didn’t prepare that presentation.
- Having to rush & you can’t do your best.
So what can you do?
As soon as you recognise what’s going on, that you’re playing the lottery ticket game, collapse the dream (or more likely, the nightmare).
Do this to beat procrastination:
- Take a moment to imagine yourself shortly after your deadline, once all the dust has settled. You either did well enough… or you didn’t. You won or you didn’t. Either way, you’re still there. In the future.
- Imagine this, if you did well enough, what did you end up doing?
- If you didn’t do well enough, what would’ve made the difference?
This way, you approach the problem from the other end, deliberately thinking about it from a future perspective.
Our fear response isn’t just fight or flight. Often, it’s freeze. Procrastination’s like that.
By approaching the problem form the future, the fear’s already been and gone. So there’s no need to freeze.
This is often all you need to do to unfreeze. Then you can actually knuckle down and get on with it.
Try it. It really does help you beat procrastination.
Of course, if your particular procrastination’s too deep rooted, you might need more than this mind-hack to solve the problem. If this is you, do get in touch. It might be simpler than you think.