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MENTAL TOUGHNESS FOR PROCRASTINATION
Tomorrow never comes
We all delay doing things at some time in our lives. Some people put off paying the bills or washing the car, for others it's completing work on time or changing an unsatisfactory relationship. Procrastination becomes a real problem when putting things off develops into a habit that continuously blocks us from living our lives and achieving our aims. For mental toughness and resilience we need to avoid procrastination and have the confidence to take effective action.
So what is procrastination?
You have a task or activity that is beneficial for you to complete
You decide to do it
There is a time frame or deadline for you to complete it
You needlessly delay taking action and postpone the task to another time
You are aware of the disadvantages of delaying
You still put off doing the task
You beat yourself up about your procrastination
You still delay
You make excuses to yourself or rationalise to defend yourself against feeling bad
You continue to procrastinate
This delay means that
You do the task at the last minute
You do the task after the due deadline
You don't complete the task or no action is taken at all.
Procrastination tends to fall into three areas of our lives, which can overlap and interact.
"Getting ourselves together". This includes areas such as health and exercise, our finances, paying bills and our personal administration. Procrastination can also disrupt our home environment, personal cleanliness and organising our work. We sometimes hear people say that, their house is chaos and laugh. However, wading through weeks of old newspapers, mail, dirty clothes and takeaway cartons, really isn't that much fun.
Our commitments to others
If we are too absorbed and "wrapped up" in ourselves then we may be continuously late for work and appointments. We may promise others that we will do things and then fail to fulfil our obligations. By our irresponsible behaviour we can alienate friends and colleagues. We can cause them unnecessary inconvenience and hassle by also making them late and disrupting their schedules. People will lose their confidence in us. We can get the reputation of being unreliable and undependable or be labelled as a "time waster"
We may needlessly hold ourselves back by delaying on activities and goals that would enable us to progress in life, work and relationships. This may include further study or improving our skills and knowledge. We may avoid taking up hobbies or joining clubs that would enrich our social lives or put off going out and meeting new people and finding partners. We may miss out on career and work opportunities by not enhancing and developing our skills. Procrastination can keep us trapped in a rut, while the world and others around us change and move on. We can lose confidence in ourselves, as we doubt our capabilities to make decisions and complete anything on time.
Why do we procrastinate?
The reasons why we procrastinate are varied and may change depending on our particular situations and circumstances. I work in partnership with you to find your specific causes and help you to challenge and overcome them. Here are some of the common themes behind procrastination, although there are many others.
Low Frustration Tolerance (LFT)
If we are demanding that we must be comfortable at all times and cannot bear discomfort or frustration, then it is inevitable that we will put off doing things. By seeing tasks as too uncomfortable or complaining that "we can't stand it", we will delay or avoid taking action altogether. We need to develop High Frustration Tolerance (HFT) and realise that actually, "we can stand it". All comfort zones eventually become uncomfortable; they become comfort traps. Building high frustration tolerance is an integral part of overcoming procrastination and developing confidence, mental toughness and resilience. There is more on high frustration tolerance on the articles page here
Don't feel like it - Not in the mood
If we demand that we must be "in the mood" to do something then we become slaves to our procrastination. It is always nice to be in the right frame of mind or "head space" to do something but life isn't that simple. If we are dependant on our moods to get things done then our progress will often be delayed, as even when we are in the mood there is always a danger that something or someone will change it. We need to work towards the fact that we don't need to be in the mood to start; we just need to start. This is, of course, easier said than done.
Here we may believe that there is a definite "right or wrong" way of doing things and that perfect conditions must exist, in order for us to start. We may be highly competitive and not ask for help, as this will discount any success. Our need to be perfect can cause us to spend far too long doing the task and our need for control means that we will not delegate work to others who may help. If our feelings of self-esteem and self-worth are dependant on how well we do things, then this adds to our anxiety and causes further delay. We may delay due to our own lack of confidence and our lack of confidence in others.
Fear of failure and fear of success
A lot of procrastination is about avoiding threats. If we have low confidence and overestimate the chances of failure, we will be reluctant to start. We may also overestimate the likely consequences of failure and what it would mean to us or how others will view us. We may label ourselves as a failure or of low worth. Conversely, we may also fear success. Succeeding could mean that others will demand more from us in the future and we may worry about failing to live up to their future expectations of us. If we succeed it could mean upsetting the balance of our relationships with partners, colleagues and friends. If we are too dependant on the opinions of others for our self-worth we may avoid any action that we think will upset them or cause them to disapprove of us. It could also be the case that we put off taking action because we think that we don't deserve success and that success doesn't fit with who we are or where we are from.
How can rational thinking help?
Rational thinking is based on the coaching approaches of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)
As I have explained above, our thoughts and beliefs underpin procrastination. So by examining our thinking we can see what errors or over-generalisations we are making. Whether our thoughts and beliefs about doing things are based on evidence and correspond with reality. In short is our thinking irrational and self-defeating? If we decide that our thinking is in fact unhelpful, we can change it and develop rational and helpful thinking that is based on evidence and reality. By repeatedly taking action that is consistent with our rational thinking and beliefs, we will overcome procrastination and achieve our goals. By taking action we increase our confidence in ourselves and others will also have more confidence in us, as someone who is reliable and gets things done.
How can hypnotherapy help?
On a conscious level we may be able to see that our thinking and beliefs are irrational and not getting us where we want to go. Hypnotherapy works more on updating our unconscious minds; our instinctive and gut level. It is in our unconscious minds that our everyday habits reside. We don't have to consciously decide to do habits like biting our nails or tapping our feet; our unconscious mind starts doing these things automatically out of our conscious awareness. It is the same with some aspects of procrastination; we have conditioned ourselves into doing them by repetition and practise until we do them automatically. Hypnotherapy is effective in loosening the habitual links and encouraging more flexible and adaptive thoughts and behaviour. It is more about being "de-hypnotised" from our restrictions. We can also use mental rehearsal techniques to practise our rational and helpful beliefs in circumstances that would have previously caused us to procrastinate.
Hypnotherapy and rational thinking are effective methods for dealing with procrastination, by challenging irrational thinking and breaking habitual patterns. Of course these methods cannot remove the tasks (or the things you need to do) themselves; you will still need to do them. However, using these methods, together with work and practise, you will find that you can do things easier and on time, without the added anxiety and stress of procrastination. When we take action, we no longer have to feel guilty; we have the confidence to make decisions and get on with our lives.
If you would like further information on mental toughness, resilience, confidence or overcoming procrastination, then contact me today…or tomorrow…or…!!??
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London
10 Harley Street, London, W1G 9PF.
Tel: 020 7467 8548
© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Mental Toughness. Resilience. Confidence.
Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Hypnotherapy.