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Is procrastination holding you back?

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

I hate the procrastination-filled days. They feel like a waste of precious time - I’m not working, and I'm not having any fun either.

There’s comfort, I suppose, in knowing that I’m not alone in my tendency to procrastinate.

“I just feel a bit stuck.” I hear these few words regularly from coaching clients (and friends, family members, even the dog can’t seem to be bothered to come for long walks these days!). And it’s ok not to be brimming with energy and enthusiasm all the time. Infact, it’s more than ok. It’s healthy to slow down sometimes.

Problems start to arise though, if feeling ‘stuck’ or unmotivated becomes the norm rather than the exception. We can easily fall into an unhealthy cycle where we have an unproductive day, we feel bad about ourselves, and we wake up the next day anticipating that it will be tedious and unproductive. Expecting your day to be bad is a pretty good way of guaranteeing it will be.

And so it is, that as coaches, we meet lots of people who describe themselves as ‘stuck’. Wonderful people with huge potential who, day after day, are failing to achieve what they’re capable of. And we help them to break the cycle of lethargy and get back to a state of thriving. Because there’s no better feeling than waking up each morning feeling excited about what the day holds, then going to bed feeling content with your achievements and positive about your future. Action breeds action just like success breeds success.

If you’re feeling stuck or unmotivated, here are a few ideas to get you moving in the right direction:

  1. Reflect deeply. Our brain protects us from overwhelm by only processing a small amount of the information available to us. On the plus side, this ‘filtering’ helps us to prioritise what’s important, but the downside is we only process situations using the information immediately available to us. In essence, we know so much more than we know we know. Deep and purposeful reflection allow us to access the knowledge we need to make positive changes and get unstuck. Reflection allows us to tap into knowledge that we hold within our unconscious. This is why coaching often results in ‘aha’ moments. By digging deep and asking questions that we wouldn’t normally ask ourselves, we can unleash knowledge and ideas that allow us to make changes and move forward. So, if you’ve had a bad day, reflect deeply on why it didn’t work out, accept the things you can’t change, and take action to address the things that you can influence.

  2. Take control. Recognise and accept that YOU are in the driving seat of YOUR life. Comparing your life and yourself to others or focusing on apportioning blame will keep you stuck. If you want something to change, YOU have to take control and change it. No excuses, no blame, just positive actions. Even if life deals you a shoddy hand, knowing that you have control over how you respond to it will make you feel empowered.

  3. Set the right motivation goals. motivation comes in many guises. In the past, managers used a ‘carrot and stick approach'; they motivated people with either money or the threat of punishment. This flawed idea of motivation lives on, but evidence is clear that this type of motivation rarely works. Rather than focusing on financial goals or avoidance of discomfort as sources of motivation, think about how taking actions could align with your deeper needs. For example, maybe you’ve been planning to do some training to enhance your skills, but you’re struggling to get started – rather than focusing on how the training could enhance your financial situation, think about how it could improve your life in other ways. Maybe you’ll meet great people on the course, enhance your knowledge, or experience something wonderfully unexpected. Within the more meaningful impact of your actions and decisions sits the seed of sustainable motivation.

And finally, don’t beat yourself up if you have the occasional day of procrastination. A little procrastination can be a good thing. On the days when whatever you try, you can’t get motivated, do something nice instead. Get outside, go for a walk, enjoy the moment. Because success isn’t only about achieving big goals – it’s about finding contentment in the small steps, and the everyday experiences on your way to great things.

By Dr Amy Redmond PhD. Psychologist. Coach. Psychology of Success Founder.

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