Welcome to Week 2 of our Procrastination to Progress Challenge. This week we are going to talk about traits, excuses, how not saying “No” can create procrastination, how to make the jump from Procrastination Champ to Progress Warrior, how to build up to living a proactive lifestyle, and a few changes you can make to become proactive this week! It’s going to be a full week. Let’s jump in.
There’s a false sense of security in procrastination that helps you feel good for the moment. Your decision to postpone tasks is typically associated with a lie or false belief that will cause you to take action. An example is delaying submitting resumes because you know you aren’t going to get any call backs since last time you tried you didn’t have positive results. The fear of rejection is what’s preventing you from submitting the resumes but it manifests itself as procrastination to attempt to block you from digging deep. Our ego loves to protect us!
Because avoidance and procrastination are usually linked to one another, there are some traits that are common among procrastinators. These traits trigger the act of putting things off. What are they?
Let’s look at why these traits are problematic.
If you are inflexible, you’ll likely resist any and all activities associated with change. Whether they are major life changes such as leaving your job, moving to another state, or starting a new relationship or a more minor change such as stalling on painting a room or buying a new living room set, being afraid of change is a major reason some people procrastinate.
When you are afraid of change, you also limit how much you can grow. If things are always the same, your life will always look the same. Being inflexible is like keeping yourself in prison while holding the keys to the cell.
Have you ever tried to do a task when frustrated? You may as well put it off because it will most likely be poorly done. Think I am lying? Remember the last time that you did the dishes while angry? That broken dish didn’t drop itself. Or the last time you exercised while angry and how you were dealing with sore muscles for a few days longer than normal? When you are easily frustrated with simple tasks, you become escalated over small things and then live with anger where you don’t need it. It makes you resistant and you tend to avoid completing the larger tasks that need to be done.
When you’ve felt rejection in the past, chances are really high you never want to experience it again. Sometimes, you walk with such a heavy weight that it will happen again that you tend to tread carefully, even if others think you are bold and fearless. What you are “bold and fearless” about is actually self-preservation or within your comfort zone, but others don’t know that because your fear of rejection allows you to wear masks well.
I get it! I’ve been there. I moved out of state when I felt the Lord told me to, which seemed risky to others around me. However, I was living in a home that I bought with my ex, who abused me within it and left me with many memories that often rose up just walking from the kitchen to the living room. Letting go of that house was the easy part because it meant finally cutting the hold he had on me. Leaving a well-paying job to begin a writing career was a not bold for me because it also meant severing ties with living the live OTHERS wanted for me. The real fear came with writing under my own name instead of as a ghostwriter. Now that is where the real boldness comes for me because I complete dislike rejection and have struggled with abandonment issues.
You know that inner dialogue in your head that always tells you terrible things about who you are and what you will become? That negative self-talk is what will keep you from completing the things on your to-do list! If you tell yourself that you are always going to be overweight, you will be. Why? Because you will stall on eating healthy foods, exercising, and making positive changes.
I struggled with this for years. I once saw a quote online that asked, “If you talked to your friends the way you talk to yourself, would you have any friends?” After that, I started getting better at being my own friend and talking to myself in more encouraging ways. That helped me to start getting more done, despite not being fully recovered from putting things off (as can be told by wrapping up this post at 10:00 pm after spending an hour and a half this afternoon looking through an old backup of my computer for a specific picture).
When you have low self-esteem, it’s harder to make decisions because you second-guess how things will turn out and don’t always trust yourself. Your confidence affects how you move forward with tasks and projects, so it makes sense that if you deal with low self-esteem you’d also procrastinate on big projects and major decisions because you fear making the wrong ones.
Low self-esteem is a lie from the devil because it almost always stems from something that happened to us once throughout our life that we internalize and take with us from then on. However, when we heal from it, we realize how many years we kept ourselves in prison over something someone else did or a time we failed. When we feel like we won’t be any good or we can never do it right or any of the other feelings that rise up when we have low self-esteem, we abort dreams and destinies and settle for a life of status quo.
Let’s be honest with each other right now: How many items are on your to do list that are left undone weeks at a time? In 2019, I made a list of all the things I felt like God had said to me at some point in my life. Book projects, titles for Bible Studies, courses to take, people to talk to, places to visit, and the like. Things that would enrich my life and lead me further down the path we were co-creating for my life. There were 96 things on that list. Today there are still 61.
Number 26 on the list was the title of a book that God gave me during prayer and journaling back in 2015, “The Purpose in the Pain”. In February 2022, I will complete this task but only because Dr. Tamika Hall put out a call for an anthology entitled …
wait for it …
“Discovering the Purpose in My Pain”. My procrastination in this case is leading to meeting 24 other women who have overcome some difficult circumstances as we all stand together and write this book, receive training from Dr. Hall, and encourage others in our stories of realizing the purpose within the pain we’ve endured and rose above.
In this case, I watched Romans 8:28 come to life for me, but we aren’t always that lucky. Lack of focus can cause our dreams to go untouched when they should have been fulfilled. Being easily distracted can causes us to forfeit what is rightfully ours because others get tired of waiting on us and find someone else to do what we should have done.
When you need immediate gratification, you are more likely to put off tasks that require more work, time commitment, and patience. Additionally, because you are so used to getting everything immediately, you can lack the stamina to finish projects and see larger tasks through to the end. You will know this is you if it’s been years since you’ve had a truly clean house but you don’t have little ones who live with you. You will know this is you if you have a lot of files with short stories or book ideas but no finished books. You will know this is you if you have more to do lists than accomplished tasks this week.
When you need everything right now to feel satisfied, looking at longer term, harder tasks can be overwhelming. This will cause you to stall, becoming an active (or productive) procrastinator (which we will talk about later in this challenge). You will start to procrastinate on larger projects by doing things like looking through your hard drive or cleaning out your emails.
If you avoid tasks that you feel are demeaning, hard, or boring, you may be stubborn. This can trigger a false sense of superiority that will allow you to justify procrastinating. You will spend more time justifying why you are not going to take out the trash since there are three teenager who can do it than you would have spent if you’d just taken it out yourself and let it go. You will spend more time arguing with your boss over why someone else should do the menial task than if you had done it and shown him or her how you aren’t afraid to jump in and help the team. Stubbornness is one of the major killers of dreams, jobs, goals, and friendships.
Once we admit we have a tendency to procrastinate, finding out why is the next step. These common traits can help us see how we may be lulled into procrastination. Once we identify why we procrastinate, and which traits we have that encourage us doing so easily, we are better equipped to find proactive ways to approach tasks and stop putting them off.
Which of these traits do you identify with? Sit with a journal and note which of these traits you possess and how you can address it this week to prepare yourself for Wednesday’s challenge to stop procrastinating.