Pablo Picasso once said: “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
Consider the fable of the tortoise and the hare – the story is about a hare who ridicules a slow-moving tortoise. Tired of the hare’s arrogance, the tortoise challenges the hare to a race. As expected, the hare leaves the tortoise behind from the start and, confident of winning, takes a nap midway through the race. As he wakes up from the nap, the tortoise, crawling slowly and steadily, had arrived before him. While slow and steady wins the race in this fable, the procrastinator (pro-crastinus = lat. belonging to tomorrow, putting things off intentionally or habitually) experienced an unexpected loss.
In today’s fast paced world, habitual procrastinators are at risk to experience a variety of procrastination related consequences such as, lower academic performance, reduced financial status, increased interpersonal relationship issues, and reduced wellbeing. The more we know about why we procrastinate, the better we can change our behavior.
Root Causes of Procrastination
Procrastination has many different causes. Following are some of the more obvious causes: At times, we may have competing priorities that cause us to delay completion of a task. Other times, we may not have the skills or resources needed to complete the task. Another wide-spread root cause amongst the more task oriented group of people is the pursuit of perfection, resulting in re-doing a job because good is just not good enough. Lastly, we might be fearful to make mistakes, or we may not be organized enough with our time. Additionally, there can be hidden root causes at work such as:
1. Unclear Goals
Are your goals clearly defined or abstract? Do you have lofty goals that may be out of reach? People are more likely to procrastinate when their goals are vague. Goals such as “get fit” or “lose weight” are too vague and more likely to lead to procrastination. A clearly defined goal such as “get on the treadmill every morning at 7am and run for 30 minute at high speed” is more likely to lead you to take action. Goals that appear impossible, absurd, or highly unlikely to be reached, are also perceived as abstract, and in turn can increase the likelihood that people procrastinate on pursuing them.
2. Too Much Pressure Or Not Enough
Sometimes we put things off because the task just doesn’t float our boat. Many of us have been in the situation to postpone a task until pressure is extremely high to get it done. On the flip side, we also tend to procrastinate when we experience too much pressure or anxiety about completing a task. Both situations are completely normal and can be dealt with successfully.
We have to feel the correct level of pressure to successfully complete a task without procrastination. The correct level of tension can be created when the following 3 factors are present:
- We know exactly what we need to do, and how to do task.
- We have all the resources needed to complete the task.
- We are able and willing to do the task.
If one or more of these factors are missing, you, or someone you know, are more likely to procrastinate. For more information how to manage tension, feel free to reach out for a free consultation.
3. Personality Type
Focus, planning, and detail orientation are essential to completing a task without procrastination. Unfortunately, not all personality types have equally strong natural tasking, planning and follow through abilities. Approximately 15% of people are task types, 25% are free spirit types, 35% are people types, and 25% are driver types. The task type is the only type born to completing tasks in time. Task types thrive on being detail oriented, meticulously and working long hours to complete a task. Task types don’t get distracted, they are highly reliable, punctual and trustworthy. The task type is highly unlikely to procrastinate, and if they do, they have the ability to get themselves back on track quickly.
All other types are challenged with procrastination in their own specific ways. If you are interested to know your personality type, and which situations will put you at risk to procrastinate, feel free to give us a call, we’re happy to give you a quick overview.
Overcome Procrastination and Maximize Your Potential
Procrastination can be dealt with if you are willing to put in a little work. Take a moment to investigate your procrastination habits. Know your personality type and what situations will get you to procrastinate. Identify how the root causes apply to you, and how they are holding you back from getting to the next level in your career. If you are ready to overcome procrastination and maximize your potential, feel free to contact us for more information, or to schedule a free consultation.
* Featured Image credit goes to: Magnet.me.