Top 3 Reasons Why We Procrastinate & How To Stop

At some point this week, this month, or this year, I am assuming everyone who reads this will have asked themselves the question above.  Some of you, in fact, a lot of you have probably asked yourselves the question today.  Why am I still here?

When it comes to the “here” part of the question, “here” could be anywhere.  For some, it’s a job.  For some, it’s a location.  For some, it’s a relationship. 

No matter what your “here” is, it’s forced you to have a conversation with your inside voice.  You know the little voice we all have inside our heads?  The one you talk to when you’re making a decision or trying to remember something.

“Where did I leave my keys?”  “Should I really do this right now?”  This is our way of making sense of the world around us and trying to ensure ourselves that we do have some control over our lives.  But, that’s a story for another day.  Let’s get back to the question and explore why it’s so important.

You Think You Have Time

There is a saying from Buddha that I love to quote often.  “The problem is, you think you have time”.  It’s a simple adage, but also a powerful one.  You see, I believe that most people’s procrastination is based on their misconception of time. 

We often think we have more of it than we do.  In my theory, I’ve singled out 3 main reasons for procrastination, and they all have a relationship with time.

Top 3 Reasons We Procrastinate
  1. Fear
  2. Laziness
  3. Sustainability

Fear

I believe that some people are scared of the unknown and this makes them more reluctant to make a move.  Think about it, if you move you have to learn a new city, town, state, neighborhood.  What if it’s worst than your current residence?

If you break up with your significant other you then have to start from the beginning with someone else.  What if they’re worst than him or her.  “Oh, I’ll just give it a little more time and see if I keep feeling this way,” you say.

The problem is you’ve had this conversation with yourself many times before and time is always running out.  The way your life turns out is a result of how you utilize the sand in the hourglass.

Laziness

I believe some people put a lot of things off because they simply don’t find those things important enough to act on yet.  That’s what laziness truly is in its essence. 

Look, there’s a difference between a person with debilitating arthritis who doesn’t want to mop the floor right now and the person laying on the couch binge-watching their favorite show instead of cleaning.  The philosophy of the lazy person is based on time. 

“I can do it later.  The dirt isn’t going anywhere.”  That’s true.  But the germs, bacteria, and bugs that pop up as a result of the prolonged negligence could have some heavy consequences.  Plus living in the dirt is just nasty.

Sustainability

I don’t necessarily see this one as a negative.  In fact, all three of these have their positive attributes and they can all be summed up within this one. 

Sometimes people are fearful or too lazy to make a move because NOT making a move is the best possible choice.  Think about it, we are biologically coded to survive, right? 

If your body is broken down and tired mentally and physically then laying on that couch binge-watching TV might be necessary to rejuvenate your internal the batteries.  Hey, some people meditate, some people watch television.  Who am I to judge what works best for you?  Why do you think personal days and vacation time is mandatory?  As for FEAR, yea maybe sometimes it comes in handy.

Fear is what taught you not to touch a hot stove top again when you were younger.  Fear is the reason you don’t blindly throw your money into the stock market.  Maybe you don’t see it as procrastination. You see it as keeping your sanity because when you get overwhelmed things can go from 0-100 real quick.

With all the positive energy coming from that last one I don’t want you to get things twisted here.  Procrastination, in my opinion, is an overall bad thing based on the fact that time is so valuable.  You only live one once and as another old saying goes, you should, “leave nothing for tomorrow what you can do today”.  This goes for everything in life from your career to your family.  My advice; learn and do all you can while the clocks still ticking.

As promised here is a scientific comparison to my theory courtesy of an article written by Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D. for Psychology Today.  You can read the full article here.  It’s very interesting.

“At the heart of these excuses lies self-deception, I think. Unfortunately, this self-deception was unmasked as death loomed; only regret remained. This speaks back to my blog entry yesterday in relation to grief and procrastination. Unfulfilled intentions, regrets of omission, were found to be terribly problematic in grief. The research that Rabbi Abrami has begun indicates that unfulfilled intentions with respect to life goals, vocation and self-identity are problematic at life’s end when we struggle with what Erikson defined as a stage of Integrity versus Despair. To some extent, a sense of integrity about our lives depends on our actualizing vocation in our lives as advocated by Jung, Frankl, Buber and Maslow as I summarized above. When we reject our own agency in making this fundamental choice of who we are as defined by our calling or vocation, we set ourselves up for deep regret and perhaps despair when life nears its end.

The Solution

So how do you deal with your procrastination problem?  Science would suggest that solution depends on the person, but I’d disagree.  I think frustration and anger, two things that are usually synonymous with negativity, are anyone’s best weapons here. 

If you are fed up and angry enough about something in your life that is usually when you make a change.  Let me provide an example.  Years ago when I was a young man just getting started in the workforce, I had to take the bus to work.  While this didn’t bother me much during other seasons, winter in New York was a different story. 

Standing in the freezing cold waiting for a bus 5-6 days a week took its toll on me.  Let’s make a long story short.

One day I had enough with life below zero.  I remember it like it just happened.  Me standing on the corner shivering while people in heated cars drove by me.  The worst part is the fact that my girlfriend at the time was just given a car by her dad and was too selfish to give me a ride to work. She soon became my ex-girlfriend. Nuff said. 

I vowed that day that next year I would not be standing on that corner.  No matter the fact that I didn’t have enough money to buy a car, only had a permit and didn’t know how to drive.  No one in my immediate circle had a car to help me out either. I had to stick my chest out and put a plan together.

Several months of saving, driving lessons and 2 road tests and I was driving to work 365 days later as I promised myself. Like I said if you get fed up or angry enough about something in your life you will make a change.  Find that anger and frustration right now and use it to fuel your mission.

There you are. Top 3 Reasons Why We Procrastinate & How To Stop. So, what do you think? Will these suggestions help you? Have they already? Leave a reply in the comment box below.

[Featured Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash]
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