We have been putting off writing this newsletter. Okay, that is supposed to be a joke and there are plenty of procrastination jokes out there. Did you hear about the procrastinators club that never met? Or about the author who planned a book on procrastination but never wrote it?
For those who routinely procrastinate, the jokes are not funny. People who habitually delay tend to be very self-critical. When we coach those who describe themselves as procrastinators, they often report persecuting self-talk, for example:
- “I don’t know how to do it.”
- “I don’t know where to start.”
- “I’m afraid it won’t be good enough.”
- “There’s no reason to try because I won’t get what I want anyway.”
- “Coming up with excuses is easier than facing my fear of failure.”
This is a great example of how the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) can operate inside yourself—what we call your “inner DDT.” With internal conversations like that, there’s no wonder getting past procrastination can be so challenging.
When you procrastinate, your self-criticism and anxiety go up. In order to sooth your anxiety about not doing it right—or whatever you tell yourself—distractions such as Facebook, online games, binging TV or over eating can temporarily relieve your angst (which all serve as Rescuers in our inner-DDT). With more distractions available today, it is no wonder that many people say that they feel like a Victim to their own procrastination.
Procrastination takes everyone over at some point. It is impersonal, embedded into the creative process. The more resistance you feel, the more likely what you are resisting is something that is, ironically, important to you. Otherwise, it would not be triggering anxiety. Take it as a sign toward something you really want. If it didn’t mean something to you, you wouldn’t even focus on it.
Procrastination is easy to rationalize. A writer doesn’t tell themselves: “I am never going to write my next book.” Instead a procrastinating writer says: “I will write the next book. I am just going to write it tomorrow.” That keeps the dream alive for someday.
How do you turn someday into now? How do you cultivate your Creator essence more than feeling victimized by self-persecuting inaction?
One insight we have learned is letting go of how you think something is going to turn out. Needing to have all the answers, or understanding all the steps to complete a project, before you start, will work against you.
Another way to address procrastination is to forgive yourself for putting off what you say you want. If you continually persecute yourself for what you didn’t do, you will never have energy for what you really do want.
We can be our own worst Persecutors, relentlessly consuming ourselves with negativity and demeaning self-talk. Catch yourself when that voice arises, and switch your focus toward what you most care about. You will immediately feel a shift in your inner state. Even if it’s a slight shift you will be on a new path. That new energy will allow you to get past the procrastination and take just one Baby Step toward what you care about.
And that’s why the magic of Baby Steps helps breaks the trance of procrastination. Just taking one step, and seeing how it goes, will get you into motion and out of the frozen energy of procrastination. (See our essay of the 5 Ways Baby Steps Help Get You Unstuck)
Take just one step….and it doesn’t matter how small that one step is. Taking a step transforms procrastination into creative action.