Why Do I Procrastinate

Many people are hindered by procrastination, and have no idea why they do it. There doesn’t seem to be any logic or reason as to the cause of putting things off, but it is almost impossible to get the simplest task done.

My theory is that the problem lies in the aspiration of perceived perfection.

How many people are actually fully content with being themselves compared to those who aspire to be like someone else?

It is commonly accepted and even highly encouraged, to emulate and be like someone you admire. I am sure it must be commonly thought that to copy a great success will make you a great success. The problem is two fold; what determines success and are you able to be exactly like the other person?

Certainly in the case of money, if you set a goal of a fixed amount you have a clear line dividing success and failure. In life, money or other concrete goals, are not always the item of concern and so there is no clear point of success in the method.

Every man and woman knows the problem of finding just the right temperature when they are together. One often finds it hot while the other is cold. Perhaps the food is too spicy or the same dish can be found bland. What then determines ‘just right’?

There is no clear point of objective perfection when it comes to most things in life, it is all a matter of opinion. All opposing things are the same, they are just a matter of degree. Hot and cold are really one and the same thing, they are points on a line of temperature. Each person has their own ‘perfect’ point.

Problems arise when one person determines what is just right and makes others conform. We all know about the discomfort of compromising to another persons preferences. Certainly, we can adapt and deal with simple things and do not complain, much at least.

But what happens when we try to go against our own nature? The result is procrastination. We do not want to do it the way we can because we want to do it the way the other person does, but we know we cannot because we do not have that skill, so we just do nothing and avoid failure.

Everyone has a style in the way they dress or walk and move, the way they talk; loud or soft, fast or slow, and just about everything we do. Everyone has their own innate style to everything, even the way we brush our teeth, this is our unique and individual personality.

Most people do not like or accept their personal style and would rather be like someone else. The character in a movie, the famous persons style of cloths or hair, an accent and any aspect of the way a person is. How many people change their hair style or grow a beard based on what a movie star does.

Brad Pitt may look good with two days growth of his beard, but you may not look like Brad Pitt. Copying his style may be very counter-productive.

This article was inspired by a conversation I just had and so I will use that example as it perfectly expresses the cause and solution of procrastination in most cases.

This fellow, we will call John, has created a group and is attracting many members because he  has created something truly wonderful for people to enjoy. John knows he has to write emails to people who attend the events to build a social contact and feeling of connection. The problem is that he believes he must write these emails in the same manner and style as is popular and in the way a friend of his writes; long, glowing, flamboyant emails.

John just cannot get himself to write the thank you emails and is frustrated and confused with his procrastination. The answer lies in style. John’s style is very simple straightforward to the point, that is just how he writes because of his character. The problem is that he believes the emails should be long and flowery rather than short and to the point.

Here is the conflict, and back to the beginning of this article. John set a standard of writing that is someone else’s style and not his own. He has denied his own nature and personality which has caused an inner conflict which paralyses him from doing a one minute task of sending a thank you email.

John wants to be like someone else but simply cannot because he is like a fish trying to fly and live in the trees. Naturally, this fish is looking up at the trees from the bank of the lake but just can’t get himself to climb out of the water.

When we realise that procrastination is caused by our desire to be like someone else and do it the way they do, yet cannot because that is simply far to different than our own personal nature, and then accept our own style and do it our own way, then all tasks become simple and easy to do.

Remember that all opposing things are the same, they are just a matter of degree. Writing an email is just writing an email wether you say it in one sentence or a page and a half, you have said; ‘Thank you.’

As each person has their own style, there will be many people who like each individual style. When you accept and do things in your own way, simple or flamboyant, direct or round about, loud or soft, graceful or plodding along, you will become free of procrastination and get things done.

When you find yourself procrastinating, just remember that it is because you are rejecting your nature and trying to copy someone else when you simply are not that way and do not have that style. You have your own style and that is all you should do.

Only when you get things done can new things, or people, come into your life.

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2 Responses to Why Do I Procrastinate

  1. Ray February 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    It seems to be trued to me too.
    I think this is happening to me.
    I tried to write perfect English emails, which took a long time to do; but once I think…just take the message out..that is good enough..the task became much easier and more enjoyable.
    Thanks for opening my eyes.

  2. Kirstin ODonovan March 13, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Hi David,
    Love your article! Most people struggle with procrastination and they are unable to pinpoint why , great insight into procrastination, really informative!
    Thanks! 🙂

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