The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of procrastination is “to delay doing something that you should do, usually because you do not want to do it”
When it comes to good new year’s resolutions, hatching the “new me”, why do we still then procrastinate when there are so many positive outcomes to look forward to?
Put quite simply it’s because most human beings (you and I) are creatures of habit. We find comfort in the familiar, even if that leaves us feeling out of shape, out of sorts, and feeling a bit run down… Above all, resistance to habitual change tends to be innate, hardwired in a manner that varies based on our personality:
Perfectionists– they’d rather avoid a task than face the possibility of falling short or failing
Thrill Seekers - tend to prefer the pressure of a deadline, usually, they like to wait until the last minute to get a feeling of ‘rush’ (euphoric)
Avoiders – tend to put off tasks because they fear failure (or success!) as they are overly concerned what others think of them.
Decisional – tend to avoid making decisions so they don’t have to hold themselves responsible of the outcome.
Fear is also a key dimension of procrastination – and for various reasons, we tend to be fearful of, and therefore resistant to, that which
- spells change from habits and the beaten track
- questions - nutritional, medical, exercise, lifestyle – wisdom handed down by parents and teachers
- requires a sustained mental and/or physical effort
- involves the unknown of change
- involves the support of therapies or disciplines one has not practiced before
- may require us to be a basic learner again and acquire competences from scratch
All of which fuels an all equal endless ability to list the many reasons for putting something off! It is also fair to say that changing behavior consumes a great deal of psychic energy, and that too can be a great de-motivator.
The problem with procrastination, as applied to our 2019 good health resolutions campaign, is that even if we finally stare ourselves down in the mirror and decide to “get started”, many of the ingredients listed above will conspire to grind us down. We will run out of steam unless we plan to face the phenomenon of procrastination itself fairly and squarely.
So, how might we set about overcoming procrastination effectively and lastingly? A few thoughts:
- Be honest – are you genuinely procrastinating (you will know...) or putting something off because you are genuinely rushed off your feet? If the latter, the last thing you need is extra pressure, so schedule a good and realistic time to start.
- Set realistic goals – design a progressive implementation plan on a “crawl / walk / run” basis
- Commit - write down the full set of benefits to be gained by acting, rather than delaying
- Focus - how will you feel when you have achieved your goals
- Start – start now with something, even a humble component of the overall plan – you will gain some immediate momentum and self-credibility that can then be built on
- Make time – schedule some time to make a start (this is often the hardest bit)
- Share - involve trusted friends in your plans, both to hold you accountable and cheer you on
- Celebrate - set regular and meaningful milestones for review, and ensure a measure of self-praise
- Reward – at a successful milestone, do something you love and have put off until then
Ever mindful of making 2019 the year of your sustainable health turnaround, why not start here and now?