Your Goals: Why are You Procrastinating?
By Mary Ann Bailey,
I was recently talking with my business coach
about some new marketing ideas I wanted to
try. He asked me a couple of questions about
what I had in mind and then said, "They
sound great. What are you waiting for?"
Before I knew it, I started telling him a
story about all the things I needed to finish
before I could possibly start implementing
any of my ideas. I had a book to write, I
had clients to see, I had meetings to go to
and the list went on. Before I could go very
far down that road, my coach stopped me and
asked me again: "What are you waiting
In that moment, I realized how easily I could
create logical reasons why I couldn't start
working on my new ideas. There was no real
thought or truth to my response. I was responding
out of habit. Had my coach not challenged
me, I would have probably accepted my responses
as fact. And had I done that, who knows whether
or not I would have ever gotten around to
trying any of my new ideas.
What Goals are You Putting Off?
How many things in your life - new ideas,
trips, classes, etc. - are you putting off
doing because it just isn't quite the right
time? Are you sure that the time isn't right,
or are you just responding out of habit? I
invite you to carefully evaluate the stories
you are telling yourself about why you aren't
doing these things. Are these stories truly
based on facts? If not, what really is getting
in your way?
As I looked more closely at my own situation
and what might be motivating the story I told
my coach, I began to see that there are many
reasons why we might make up excuses and stories
in order to procrastinate or postpone taking
action. See if any of these fit for you.
Evaluate Your Excuses for Procrastination
1. You don't want to do the project, but
on some level you feel you should do it, or
have to do it. But instead of clearly stating
how you feel, you circumvent the issue by
coming up with reasons why now is not the
right time. However, this approach just leaves
you feeling guilty and you still have the
task hanging over our head. If you give yourself
permission to say "No", you would
free up a lot of energy that could be focused
towards something you really want to do.
2. You really want to do the project but
you don't feel comfortable taking the time
and energy away from other, "more important"
tasks. You feel selfish for focusing on something
you want, so you create stories about why
this isn't a good time to do it. You tell
yourself that as soon as everything and everyone
else is taken care of, it will be okay for
you to do your thing. As selfless as this
approach sounds, it usually leaves you feeling
frustrated and resentful.
3. You really want to do the project but
you don't whether you're up to the task. What
if you fail? If you can come up with logical
reasons why you need to put off starting the
project, you can delay the possibility of
failing. Unfortunately, with this approach,
you also delay the possibility of succeeding.
4. You really want to do the project but
you find yourself wondering what will happen
if you are successful. Maybe you don't see
yourself in terms of being successful and
so the thought of experiencing success could
be both frightening and exciting.
Or perhaps you know you could be successful,
but you're not sure you're ready to embrace
the effects your success might have on your
life. You need a little more courage to take
this leap; so in order to give yourself a
more time, you come up with several things
that you need to accomplish before you take
this on this project.
Don't Let Fear Hold You Back
As you can see, there are legitimate fears
and concerns that arise when we think about
doing something new or out of the ordinary.
That's the very nature of change. The key
is to not let these issues hold you back from
doing what you want and living your life as
fully as possible.
Start paying attention to when you use stories
to rationalize not taking action. When you
notice this happening, take a moment to see
if you can uncover the fear or concern hiding
behind the story. Maybe you don't want to
do whatever it is, maybe you are worried about
taking time for your own interests, or maybe
you are just experiencing the fear of the
unknown. Whatever the specific issue is, once
you bring it out into the light of day, it
will lose its power and you will be free to
move forward with you life.
Mary Ann Bailey, MC, is
a life coach who specializes in working with
people going through midlife career transitions.
She is also the author of the recently published
book, Changing Course, Changing Careers. Visit
her website at www.baileycoaching.com
to read more of her articles and to learn
how coaching can help you make the changes
you want to make in your life.