Why You Procrastinate (And What You Need to Do to Stop)
This is you. I know this is you because the headline above grabbed you and here you are, taking a few minutes to hang out with me.
That’s pretty awesome. I dig that.
But before you bookmark this page with the intention to go back and read it later (by virtue putting procrastination into practice), let me share with you a little nugget of truth:
One in five people procrastinate regularly.
Joseph Ferrari, a psychology professor at DePaul University in Chicago, conducted studies based on this I-don’t-feel-like-it phenomenon and stated, “Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator.”
See, you’re feeling better already, aren’t you?
If you procrastinate but still get things done, you’re ahead of the game, but can still fine tune your approach. If you procrastinate and get nothing done, you have more work to do, but change is well within your reach.
Let’s dig into why you procrastinate and what you need to do to stop.
The Reason We Put Things Off
I discovered a long time ago that habitual hesitation has nothing to do with time-management. Many believe this to be the case, but it’s not. Having no concept of time may be part of the issue, but the root of the problem is the inability to manage conflicting emotions.
(Say what, RB?)
Here’s what I mean…
Think about how many times you put something off because there contained, somewhere in the depths of your soul, a level of uncertainty?
I don’t think my script is ready, so I’m not going to pitch it or show it to anyone. At least not until it’s 100%.
You and every other writer in the world has had this thought. And this paralysis of fear over achieving perfection impacts every creative, artist, entrepreneur and businessperson at one point or another.
The fact is this mentality isn’t going to get our scripts read, our films seen, our illustrations sold, our businesses launched. You have to reach a point of complete honesty with yourself, admit you have done everything possible to see your vision through to it’s fullest potential, and recognize the fact that 100% perfect doesn’t exist. Not only is the pursuit of perfection irrational, the fear and anxiety associated with reaching such a goal is as well.
What To Do: Free yourself. Allow yourself the freedom to know you’ve done your absolute best and your work is ready for public consumption. Be ready, willing and able to accept feedback and criticism. In fact, get yourself in a mindset where you look forward to it with the knowledge that all feedback leads to growth.
While you procrastinate and keep giving yourself reasons why you need to make everything perfect, your competition is out there creating opportunities. And that, to me, as it relates to my artistic and entrepreneurial pursuits, is unacceptable. It should be for you as well!
Blaming Life for Our Struggles
I had a friend who made everyone around him responsible for his uneventful life. Basically, he blamed his friends, your friends, your friend’s friends, and his mother for all the things he lacked. As a result, he didn’t act on anything he was passionate about and railed against what he believed was a “rigged system”.
One day, I was helping him and his family move. His young son was bouncing around the yard, chasing a butterfly when I said offhandedly, “Look at that little guy. Not a care in the world. That’s fantastic.”
His response? “That’s because life hasn’t sucked him dry yet.”
This wasn’t just a general self-defeating remark. This was a self inflicted philosophy. My friend truly believed that life was an entity waiting outside his door, ready to pounce on him, tackling him to the ground, screaming, “You can’t have that! I will suck the life right out of you so you suffer, you poor sonofa-*bleeeep.*
You get the idea.
What To Do: Here’s the deal, folks, life isn’t happening to you, it’s just happening. How you react to it, how you deal with it, how you live and learn from it all, defines you. If you continue to play victim to life’s circumstances and blame everyone else for what you believe prevents you from achieving your goals, you’ll never take the responsibility and, as a result, take the actions necessary to be successful. If you feel the same way my former (no negativity in your life, please) friend does, prove life wrong. Respond with fervor and drive, instead.
And bear this in mind, too: Every single one of us have struggles and heartaches. Every. Single. One. As much as I like you, I have to bravely tell you that you’re not an anomaly. You’re not the only one facing challenges or suffering. We all suffer. It’s how you choose to respond to that suffering that will stop you from procrastinating and take on the world. Your choices and decisions matter. And it’s as easy to make a positive choice for yourself as it is to make a negative one. You’re in control.
You always have and always will be.
Deciding to Course Correct
One of the primary reasons we don’t step up and knock out our to-do list is because we’ve made internal decisions based on our own set of rules that keep us frozen in fear.
We don’t believe we’re good enough.
We don’t believe we’re smart enough.
We don’t believe anything good will come from what we do.
So what do we do instead? We don’t act. And then, that friggin’ entity called life attacks us the second we walk out the door and spills our coffee and our hope all over the sidewalk.
Richard Branson said once, “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes — and learn how to do it later!”
YES. All day, YES.
Dive in. Take some shots. Believe in yourself. We live in an age where abundant information is available with a few keystrokes. All the other variables that matter — the commitment of time, the willingness to learn, the passion to succeed — are entirely in your control.
Will you make mistakes?
Will people around you talk and mumble and call you out?
It’s certainly likely.
You have one person to answer to: You. Live, learn, repeat. Celebrate your wins. Find the riches in your losses.
What To Do: Here’s the good news about taking a leap of faith — you can course correct as you go along.
You can pick up your coffee cup from the sidewalk, go back inside to refill it and stride out that door again. You’ve digested, you’ve learned from experience, and you’ve applied the lesson. Guess who’s back in control?
Here’s the Deal…
Look, I’m not saying making this kind of shift is easy. But trust me, you are full of greatness. You have talents that are unique to you. But it’s up to you to allow the world to see them. Take the brick by brick approach. Plan. Commit.
You have one life to live. This is your gig and no one else’s. Live on your terms and show them how great you are.
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Rich “RB” Botto is the CEO of Stage 32, the world’s largest online platform dedicated to connecting and educating film professionals and content creators. To join the creative revolution, click here.
RB is also a working screenwriter, actor and producer.