Why We Allow Ourselves to Procrastinate
To be perfectly honest about procrastination, we all do it. I do not recall in the decades of counseling ever speaking to someone who will not put off something they do not want to do.
The reality of procrastination usually becomes apparent around high school or a little before. You begin to realize that studying for a test an hour before you have to take it puts a lot of pressure on you… but there are so many more interesting things to do “OTHER” than studying for a test. In fact, almost anything is more interesting than what you actually have to do. “Piddlers” also fall into this category. They seem like they are working on a lot of projects because they are always moving… but still not getting any project finished and doing the project they don’t want to do. Sticky notes don’t work for them either.
Three types of procrastinators
- Arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute because of the euphoric rush.
- Avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case, they are very concerned with what others think of them and would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.
- Decisional procrastinators, those who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events because the blame always lays elsewhere.
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There are many ways to avoid success in life, but the most sure-fire just might be procrastination. Procrastinators sabotage themselves by putting obstacles in their own path. They actually choose a path that will hurt their performance but have a good excuse for it. So why do we do it? The experts have some pretty interesting answers to why but the real solution to change, takes a strong commitment on your part.
- Twenty percent of humanity identify themselves as chronic procrastinators or Piddlers. We all know at least one that we give them an extra hour because they are in the middle of four projects while getting ready. For them procrastination is a lifestyle and cuts across all areas of their life. They don’t pay bills on time. They miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts. They don’t cash gift certificates or checks before they expire. They file income tax returns late. They leave their Christmas shopping until Christmas eve.
- Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t take it seriously enough as a problem but it IS a serious problem of self-regulation. And there may be more of it in the U.S. than in other countries because we don’t call people on their excuses (“my grandmother died last week”) even when we know it is not the truth.
- Procrastination is not a problem of time management or of planning. Procrastinators are not different in their ability to estimate time, just more optimistic. Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up.
- Procrastinators are MADE not born. Procrastination is learned in the family environment, but not directly. It is a passive defiant response to a harsh, controlling, authoritarian parenting style, usually of the father. You are never given the opportunity to develop the ability to regulate and be accountable for your own time, as someone else is always setting your boundaries.
- Under those home conditions, procrastinators turn to friends versus parents for support with their friends reinforcing the procrastination because they tend to be tolerant of their excuses.
- Procrastination also supports higher levels of alcoholism as procrastinators always drink more than they intend to, once again manifesting the problem of self-regulation.
- Procrastinators continually lie to themselves in small ways everyday. Such as; “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow, or I always work better under pressure.” Knowing full well they have no intention of addressing something they do not want to do. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying “it’s really not that important.” Another big lie a procrastinator will indulge in is being under a time pressure makes them more creative. It could be true, but the end results are usually that it doesn’t get done at all.
Susan Z’s Verdict
Procrastinators CAN change their behavior, but doing so consumes a lot of their psychic energy. And it doesn’t necessarily mean one feels transformed but it can be done if the desire is there. Affirmation tracks, small baby step lists to finish for the day and the absolute promise to yourself not to blame or shame yourself if you procrastinate doing your list for a day.
Susan Z Rich is an emotional addiction counselor, spiritual intuitive and holistic therapist. She counsels others to see life in a more positive way and teaches personal accountability for life choices. She is also the author of several children’s books and Soul Windows…Secrets From The Divine.