One of the biggest challenges for people when they want to achieve their goals and create success is procrastination.
I was watching a video by a well-known promoter of the Law of Attraction who was talking about why people suffer from procrastination and while he covered one of the underlying reasons for it (limiting beliefs), he missed an important factor in what causes procrastination.
I have said many times that success is 80% mindset and 20% strategy which means that, to me, there are two major causes of procrastination. Let’s examine those two causes.
It is undeniable that your mindset is an important factor in causing procrastination. You set your goals with every intention to achieve them but then you find that you’re not making the progress you wanted or expected. Here’s why.
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”
The biggest barrier to achieving your goals and dreams is your subconscious mind with its doubts, fears and limiting beliefs that stop you from achieving your goals before you even get started. It is the cause of procrastination and self-sabotage and keeps you stuck in a state of mental paralysis.
These subconscious beliefs may not manifest as thoughts but may feel more like inner resistance to taking action to complete the tasks necessary to achieve your goal which causes you to procrastinate or completely avoid doing what’s necessary to succeed.
Old Habits Die Hard
Starting something new or doing things differently can be hard to sustain because habits are hard to break.
A habit is a well-developed neural network in the brain and your thoughts are drawn to follow those same paths, resulting in the same patterns of behavior. Even procrastination can be a habit that is hard to break. You allow yourself to be distracted, doing things that don’t move you towards the achievement of your goals.
Lack of Faith
Other people often see more capability and potential in us than we see in ourselves. Our biggest problem is questioning our own capability and letting lack of faith in ourselves stop us from achieving our highest potential.
So we set small limited goals and create our own ceiling that limits what we can achieve and leads to a lifetime of frustration and regret.
When we expect things to be difficult, the easiest thing to do is to procrastinate over completing those tasks and focus on things that we find easy but don’t lead to success.
From birth, we’ve been subjected to programming and socialization that has shaped our belief system about ourselves and the world we live in.
As we absorb information that is provided to us by our parents, teachers and the media we develop beliefs about what is possible for us, and this can have a profound effect on the results we achieve in later life.
If you’ve heard repeated messages that you’ll never amount to anything from the people around you this can seriously limit your ability to be successful, so no matter how much you want to achieve your goals, procrastination sets in and you fail to take the necessary action to achieve them.
The second cause of procrastination is not having a clear strategy and plan for the achievement of your goals.
Unless you break down your goals into simple steps you’ll feel overwhelmed by the size of the challenge you’ve set for yourself and procrastination will set in for two reasons.
- It is easy to get overwhelmed when you look at the big picture – once you break it down into steps you have a roadmap to follow.
- If you make each step too big you are creating barriers that will make you likely to procrastinate or avoid it completely.
Lack of Clarity
If you are unclear on the steps to take towards your goals it is much harder to take the right steps towards your goals, so you waste a lot of time and most likely procrastinate over taking ANY action at all!
As I said above, breaking down your goals into small steps gives you clarity about what you need to do, and in what sequence, which is the best way to overcome procrastination. You are much more likely to dive into a task that is easy to complete and takes only a little time than if you have a huge task that may take you hours or even days.
The Myth of Multi-Tasking
When it comes to completing the action steps towards your goal, you can only do one thing at once and unless you give a task your full attention the result will be low quality. Every time you jump from one task to another you lose time and concentration because you have to remember where you left off and refocus your attention on the new task.
By multi-tasking, you are lowering your productivity so you make far less progress towards your goals which is discouraging and likely to lead to procrastination and possibly even giving up completely.
Obstacles V Outcomes
Too often we focus on what’s not going right, what we didn’t do and the inevitable challenges en route to our goals.
Most of us are really good at recognizing our mistakes and weaknesses but we often fail to acknowledge and celebrate our accomplishments, even when we’ve achieved significant goals.
We frequently focus more attention on the things that didn’t quite live up to our intentions or expectations than on the positive results we’ve achieved.
This can also lead to procrastination because with this perspective we can get stuck in the belief that nothing we are doing is working, so we put off taking the action and completing the tasks that will lead to success.
Understanding the causes of procrastination is the first step towards overcoming procrastination. In this article, I’ve focused on the causes rather than how to overcome them. You can find the answers in my free eBook Dream Achievers Success Kit which explains how to overcome the obstacles to manifesting your dreams and set yourself up for UNSTOPPABLE success.