Procrastination is a thief that steals from your destiny and causes you to miss out on divine opportunities and appointments. Stop putting off for tomorrow what you can accomplish today. -Bishop Rosie S. O’Neal
I have struggled with the behavioral pattern of procrastination for most of my life. I have put off completing projects, tasks, and goals, assuming that by delaying them, I would naively get to them tomorrow. However, when tomorrow would arrive, I repeated the same pattern: tomorrow would be next week, next week would be next month, and next month would be another year. After putting my goals and tasks off for so long, I would experience guilt, regret, and sorrow, lamenting over what I could've done differently. I would then promise myself in the new year that I would accomplish my goals. But not long after, the new year would begin, and I would return to my old habits and repeat the same cycle. I grew tired of this unhealthy behavioral pattern at the beginning of this year. I no longer wanted to identify myself with this unhealthy pattern of behavior. I set out to improve by discovering why I allowed procrastination to rob me of accomplishing my purpose. But this time, I needed to create a strategy and develop a plan to help me break the cycle of procrastination.
First, I had to be vulnerable and open to different perspectives to help overcome the heavy weight of procrastination. Before I begin to unpack why I procrastinate, I want to define the word. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, procrastination is putting off intentionally and habitually or something I know should be done. After taking the time to understand the meaning, I uncovered four culprits: (1) Fear of criticism, (2) Fear of success, (3) A lack of discipline, and (4) The desire for perfectionism. Let's unpack the meaning of each, and I'll later explain my plan to overcome them.
#1 Fear of Criticism. Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25 NIV
Admitting this was difficult, but I feared people’s criticism, what they thought of me, and possible ridicule. As I discovered my why, I began to understand that I was more concerned about what other people thought and said about me than what God said about me. While talking with a friend, I was transparent and vulnerable about why I was stalling on my second book. My friend listened to me but gave me some great words of wisdom. They informed me that people working on their gifts have no time to criticize or gossip about others. It's the people who are not contributing to their purpose who have the time to talk about others. Being worried or concerned about what other people will say only hurts me and those connected to the mission and my assignment. My fear of others was a snare, delaying me from completing my assignment.
#2 & #3 Fear of Success and a Lack of Discipline
“Discipline is training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior.”
I also discovered that I feared success due to a lack of discipline. If I succeed, I must put all my efforts into doing good work and excelling, which requires changing and developing the discipline. Though I respect structure and organization, I want to do what I want. And at times, all I want to do is binge-watch a Netflix series or mindlessly scroll through social media. I don't want to spend my weekends or evenings planning better ways of being effective in business or developing habits to be more productive. But, in the long run, binge-watching a Netflix series doesn't push the mission forward, and by delaying tasks, I add to my current workload, which adds more stress to my day.
#4 I desired perfectionism. Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. Ecclesiastes 11:4 NIV
Whenever I create, I prefer to have things in a particular way. I don't want to feel fear when I start. I want everthing to be in the right spirit and to have an atmosphere set up for success, with minimal disruptions or distractions. That’s not how life works, sometimes, I have to do it afraid, and walk into purpose despite the feeling of fear. I may have an occasion where everything is how I perfer it, but the chances of that occurring are slim to none. There is no such thing as a perfect time, and standing still delays me even further. I had to accept that there would be inconveniences. One day, I listened to a Youtube video from Myron Golden, and he said disruption always follows intention. He explained that when we set our intention to do something, disruption will always follow. That’s why watching the wind and waiting for situations and circumstances to be perfect is a waste of time.
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV
To overcome procrastination, I discovered the need to create a strategy to assist with creating new habits. To start, I looked up the antonyms for procrastination and found eagerness, determination, certainty, and confidence, to name a few. These four words are the words I actively need to use in place of procrastination. Instead of saying I am a procrastinator, I begin by replacing words like I am eager, determined, certain, and confident. I was ready to accept that God did not create me to tie my identity to a bad habit.
The next strategy is action. I must create a purposeful working atmosphere and remember that this is only a season. Writing a book, marketing the book, and creating content and tools are hard. However, it's only for a season. Finally, I created a strategy for support. I don't like sharing my struggles with others; however, I wouldn't have gotten that great advice if I hadn't been vulnerable with my friend. My tribe is not only there for support but also accountability. Because I've struggled to overcome this behavioral pattern for so long, I need a group of people to ensure I stay on track.
Procrastination can be a habit that leaves us stagnant and stuck and only adds to the long list of tasks we already have to do. Though it can be a difficult habit to break, it's not impossible, and by understanding why we procrastinate, we can create strategies and new practices to overcome it. In time, we will witness tremendous growth and improvement that will develop our character. Let's start to move out of the habit of saying: “I'll do it later,” to actively saying, “I'm going to do this now."