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The Eight Key Reasons why we Procrastinate

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Over the past two weeks I’ve been discussing procrastination and how crippling it can be to our productivity – and this week I’m going to start showing you how to use your inner cheerleader to take on that devilish Instant Gratification Monkey* and win, by addressing the root causes of this behaviour.

There are 8 key reasons why we procrastinate – in other words, eight different types of delicious banana the Instant Gratification Monkey* loves to feast on. But the good news is there is something you can do to eliminate every single one of them, so you can starve that monkey into submission!

But because you’re busy (and I don’t want to be responsible for keeping you in the Dark Playground* for too long) I’m not going to fill up your inbox with all eight of these in one go – so let’s tackle them two by two.

The first inner cause of procrastination is Rebellion. We each have an ‘inner child’ who doesn’t like to be told what to do. When we start bossing ourselves around (and ‘shoulding’ all over ourselves**) we step into our inner ‘parent’ role and our inner child usually sees that as the perfect cue to rebel. The silly thing about this of course is we are only rebelling against ourselves!

To counteract the childish inner rebel, it’s important to bring choice back into the situation. Give yourself the choice – to do it and feel happy about getting on with it, or feel miserable that it isn’t getting done. Remind yourself of what you will gain by getting it done and what will happen if you don't – what are the ultimate outcomes of those two choices?

procrastinate cheerleader Imagine the cheers you’ll hear when you get it done! Your inner child responds better to praise than criticism, so reminding yourself of the praise you'll deserve when you get this done is more likely to work than criticising yourself for not doing it.

The second root cause of procrastination is Indecision. If you simply can’t decide what to do, you’re likely to put off taking action in case you do the wrong thing. The interesting thing is this is not just confusion about what to do, this is actually a fear in disguise: the fear of making the wrong choice, which can be one of the most crippling procrastination causes of all.

But like most fears, fear of making the wrong decision is just an illusion. There’s no such thing as a ‘wrong’ decision. There’s just a decision, and then there are consequences of that decision, and you will either be happy or unhappy with those consequences. Your reaction to the consequences is your guidance system to let you know what is working for you, and whether or not you need to make any changes. But the important thing about this is you can't actually feel your reaction and get that inner feedback unless you take action in one direction or another. 

To overcome the inertia of indecision, engage your inner cheerleader to get you out on the playing field and just begin somewhere, anywhere, and before you know it you’ll be gathering momentum and actually starting to enjoy the ride. Once you are under way you can adjust your course - but remember, you can't steer a parked boat.

*See my first article on Procrastination here. **See my second article on Procrastination here.

Are either of these causing you to procrastinate? Let us know in the comments box below!

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