The first in a series of myth-busting pieces In contrast to most advice columns, I think procrastination has less to do with fear, and more to do with hope.
When you procrastinate on doing the big rocks in your life (finding your next career step, starting a business, writing your book, etc.) you do so to preserve hope: As long as you dont put yourself out there, then in your mind you can continue to live in the possibility that someday you will live up to your ideal of yourself and earn the respect of people important to you.
You have an inner debate between the part of you that believes in you and the part of you that doesnt think you are enough or have what it takes. Because you have this inner debate, you try to settle the matter once and for all. You are worried that if your efforts to take a bold next step dont go well you will make it a confirmation that you will never be able to live up to the dream you have for yourself. That would lead to hopelessness.
Your procrastination behaviors are an effort to prevent the bursting of that bubble. By not testing your capability in the real world, you can hold onto the hope you are still capable of achieving dreams youve long had for yourself. You can hold onto the hope that the good impression you have made on people to date will endure because you wont expose whats really (not) inside. Procrastination serves a psychological purpose of allowing you to have hope for the future so that you can keep going for now, even though part of you really doesnt feel you are enough.
When you dont put yourself out there, you also dont grow from experiences. You dont move your life forward.
In sum, people who procrastinate seek relief. They get rewards by living in hope. Successful people seek real results. They get rewards by contributing what they love and learning from their mistakes.
Here are some tips of what to do instead of procrastinating.
1) Instead of drowning in I cant do it. What if? focus on what you are passionate about inside. Reflect: what lessons have you learned from your experiences in the workplace, or in your life? What do these lessons inform you to do and contribute next; and what form do you want it to take?
2) Rather than projecting to the possible future negative outcomes, tap into how much you enjoy doing the activities that youll need to do everyday in order to have that final outcome (e.g., enjoy the daily/weekly practice of writing a blog about your subject, and leverage the compiled material for your book). Just set your sights on the next of small milestones youve set along the way to the big outcome.
3) Dont make the results of your first attempts to make a big move forward in your life a referendum on your worth. Successful people have an attitude of whoever makes the most mistakes wins.
4) Work around your particular obstacles (i.e., outsource certain functions) and develop an attitude of being an unconquerable force: I am committed, I do whatever it takes. Make the taste of how good it feels to finally prove yourself to yourself far more powerful than the small relief of preserving hope in the illusion of your own mind.
Sharon Melnick, Ph.D. helps talented and successful people get out of their own way. Over 90% of the clients who come to her to find their next career step successfully completed a career change within 3 months! A coach and psychologist affiliated with Harvard Medical School, she has taught hundreds of people practical solutions to overcome the blocks they have to stepping into their ideal career. Take her free assessment at http://sharonmelnick.com/quiz2.htm and find out ways you don't even know you are getting in your own way or visit her website http://sharonmelnick.comGeorge Washington