Self-Check: Is Stubbornness Preventing You from Being Proactive?

As we’ve discussed, there are many reasons people put things off. One of them is stubbornness. If you think you are better than others, have a hot head, or are above doing certain tasks, you will put things off in hopes someone else will realize that you should not be doing them. Now, while I know I don’t have any readers who think they are the Almighty Himself, who knows who from the internet may come across this or if you may have some friends who need this message.

Procrastinating Due to Defiance

People who procrastinate due to defiance tend to put things off out of resentment toward the task or the person assigning it. The defiance is about the feelings the task brings up more than it is the actual act of doing it. For example, a moody teen who catches attitude when you ask him to do the dishes or bring out the trash.

Defiant procrastinators may have had (or currently have) individuals with control issues in their lives who have caused them to feel they can’t say “no”. This could be a micromanaging boss, a crazy ex lover, a manipulative friend, or a controlling parent. They feel if they say no, the world will cave in, so they say “yes” out of protection from seeing their world implode. However, they resent having to do things that are forced upon them so they react the same way someone who things a task is below them would.

You could be procrastinating out of defiance if:

  • You resist tasks with anger rather than avoidance.
  • You often have conflict with others over tasks.
  • You are willing to not do a project or task despite the circumstances.
  • You feel indignant when assigned a menial task.

Did you see yourself in any of those? If so, keep reading.

Being Proactive is Hard When You’re Aggressive

When you’re proactive, it doesn’t mean that you love every task there is and suddenly approach every small task with a wide smile. It means you become disciplined enough to do now what you need to do so you can enjoy down time and the things you want to do later. It means you are willing to do uncomfortable and distasteful things for the greater good. This is so much harder when you are aggressive towards a task or the person assigning it to you.

Tips to Reduce Defiance So You Can Get More Done

In the same way you’ve got to get to the root of other procrastination habits, it’s really important to better understand what drives defiant procrastination. It could be related to a childhood trauma or an esteem problem, in which case therapy will be helpful to dig up the root. While you work through those, you can also use these tips to reduce defiance and get more done.

Think About the End Game

People who feel controlled or manipulated think people are playing games with them and use defiance to assert themselves. When you feel an urge to resist a task, think about what completing the task will achieve and how you will benefit. This can help reduce the sense you are being forced into something.

Build Strong Relationships

Defiance is a relationship issue. When people are in healthy, compatible relationships, including work relationships, they are less likely to feel threatened or micro-managed. If you sense you are routinely feeling angry or defiant about tasks, consider finding ways to improve the synergy in your relationships. Sometimes this will be as easy as talking with the person about non-work activities or family to get to know them better. The stronger your relationships are, the easier it will be to speak up when you feel like something could be delegated elsewhere.

Think Bigger than Now

Sometimes people feel angry about an assignment or task because they fail to see the bigger picture. If you find yourself resisting a task, ask yourself how the importance of this task fits into the broader picture. Once you see the overall goals and plans it may help you feel less resistant.

Get Familiar With Scripture

If you are a Christian, familiarize yourself with scripture. Understand what the Bible says about pride and humility. Use a tool like or YouVersion ( to do daily devotionals and ask God to clear your heart from whatever is causing the defiance. In my own life, when I have started to feel resentful about a task or like things are below me, this approach has helped me to remember I have the job or role because someone trusted me with it. Even if it IS below me, knowing they trusted me to do it means they saw value in my work. Reframing it that way has helped me many times, and it’s helped me to secure raises when I worked in corporate America because I was able to say I was willing to jump in everywhere! Who doesn’t want to be rewarded financially for work they put in?

Being stubborn will prevent you from being proactive. Having an anger-based reaction to tasks can cause procrastination and a general disruption both in your personal life and at work. Getting past anger and into solution-focused action will make all the difference. We’ll talk about some actions for becoming more proactive starting on Friday.


Journal through how you are feeling about what we’ve discussed. If you feel that you are defiant and it results from childhood trauma, schedule time with your counselor or check your local listings for a therapist with openings. It will be important for you to work through those issues if you want to stop putting things off.

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