Procrastination. In case you are the rare few who have refrained from ever practicing this behavior, let’s begin with a basic definition of this P word. Procrastination: the act of replacing high-priority tasks with either lower priority ones or something enjoyable, thereby delaying important tasks for a later time.
While it’s natural to prefer enjoyment and fun to responsibility, frequently delaying important tasks can hinder your road to success by creating added stress, guilt or even crisis.
If you’re shaking your head in recognition, let’s take a look at some reasons behind why we procrastinate. Traditionally, procrastination has been associated with perfectionism. Seeking nothing less than perfection hinders or at times completely blocks our efforts to start projects.
This fear of failure or fear of even receiving any negative criticism from others can lead to avoidance of the activity altogether.
Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion. When feeling pressured to perform, they may rebel by doing just the opposite. They may even justify this by devaluing the importance of the project.
Some procrastinators lie to themselves by saying, "I work best under pressure" or “I’ll feel motivated to do this tomorrow”. The truth of it is, they don’t get any greater urge to do the task the next day or the one after that; nor do they necessarily work best under pressure.
Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that are easy and don't take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mail, surfing the Internet for hours, or doing other unnecessary tasks, are prime examples.
Distraction serves a way to distance themselves from difficult emotions such as fear of failure, fear of the unknown, or even just avoidance of what they consider to be an unpleasant task.
Some procrastinators tend to be thrill-seekers. They await the excitement of doing things last minute. Others tend to be avoiders. They avoid the task altogether for fear of failure or even fear of success. In either case they are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others believe they failed due to lack effort than ability.
Procrastinators who have difficulty making decisions tend to create delay to avoid the responsibility for the outcome of events.
Ultimately however, there are costs to pay for procrastination. The added stress, guilt, and crisis can wreak havoc on the procrastinator’s health. This is often evidenced by compromised immune systems resulting in more colds and flu, gastrointestinal problems or insomnia. This can result in days lost at work or school.
Procrastination can also result in a high cost to others when the burden of responsibilities shifts onto others and creates resentments. It destroys teamwork in the workplace and can create stress in personal relationships.
There are many ways to avoid success in life, but the most infallible way might be via procrastination. Procrastinators sabotage themselves by creating obstacles in their own path. They veritably choose paths that hurt their performance.
Rest assured though that all is not lost. Procrastinators can change their behavior. Work with a coach or therapist in a step-by-step process to unblock what holds you back and hinders your success.