Why we procrastinate and 6 tips to deal with it
In life, we each have a calling from God. We are each at this time and place as part of His plan, for us and for the wider world. And we don't know when our time here on earth will be up; we only have the moment and each moment is precious.
But we know all that. So why do we--you, I--still procrastinate?
When we procrastinate, we're stopped dead in our tracks and sometimes it's fear that's stopping us. We may ask ourselves:
“But what if I fail at my purpose?” “Can I do this?” “Am I up to the task?” “Who am I to want to do this?” and so on.
Procrastination can also send us down rabbit holes, wasting our precious time.
“Just one more minute, then I’ll get back to work” “Wow, I just got sucked into this movie and didn’t realize two hours had flown by.” “I really, really, really—right now—need to organize my dryer lint collection."
Ah, the mind games we play with ourselves. And all the while we’re playing these games, time is slipping by, we’re getting further from living our God-given life purpose until it may be too late.
So why do we procrastinate?
But aside from fear and dilly-dallying, why do we find it so easy to procrastinate?
In his article in Entrepreneur magazine, “One reason our brains love to procrastinate,” James Clear explains that we human beings value our now more than our future. This is what behavioral economists call “time inconsistency”. Although we want to make choices that will lead to better futures, we are more apt to make choices that provide immediate rewards, even if those choices may negatively affect positive future outcomes.
For example, we may regularly choose to eat the donut and skip the workout, desiring the immediate benefit of the donut (sugar rush) to the future benefit of working out (healthier body).
Procrastination and finding life purpose
When faced with pursuing your life purpose, it can be even more difficult. Because not only will your payoff be in the future but also is it not as obvious as, say, exercising giving you healthier body.
Although engaging in pursuit of your God-given life calling is even more challenging than committing to regular exercise, here are some tips that will help you move toward future rewards can also be applied in this.
Tip #1: Give immediacy to future rewards
Visualize the payoff. To help you in this, ask yourself: what will my life look like when I’m living my calling? How am I feeling about it? How are my loved ones reacting? A good way to keep these visualizations in front of you is to create your dream board.
Tip #2: Make the future negative consequences more immediate
Several ways you could do this is by having an accountability partner. Commit to a certain action (reading that self improvement book by the end of the month, for example) and ask someone you trust to hold you accountable to do that. This technique can work wonders. My accountability partner actually pushed me into actions—before I even knew to ask—that helped me move forward in my business. The result? I’m now moving in the direction I want to move, taking daily action and loving it.
Tip #3: You could “fine” yourself when you don’t take the action you’ve committed to
For example, you and your loved one could agree that when you don’t use a specified hour to work toward your calling, you owe that person $50.
Tip #4: Avoid end-of-life regrets
Although it may be difficult to do, it can save you from experiencing a huge regret at the end. Make it more immediate and real by taking some time now to reflect on facing the end of your life when you haven’t pursued your life purpose. How do you feel? What does that regret seem like to you? This is not merely a psychological trick; this end of life regret is very real. In fact, the number one regret of those nearing death is not having lived the life they would have wanted for themselves. Don’t be that statistic.
Tip #5: Change your environment to make better choices
With so many things vying for our attention, it is easy to get distracted. So help yourself stay on course. By setting up a space in place and time that you work toward realizing your God's calling on your life. Place your prayerful vision board where you can see it every morning. Write out your specific commitments to yourself and place them on the bathroom mirror.
Tip #6: When we fail to live God's calling--and we will--ask His forgiveness and for His help to do better next time
Our God is merciful and His love for us knows no bounds. But we're often unforgiving of ourselves, which further keeps us stuck in the past and not living His calling for our lives.
Each day we are faced with hundreds of little choices. ("Do I spend this hour watching TV or reading my self-improvement book?") Every little step we take today, every choice we make that brings us closer to our calling, will do so.
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