Recognizing Procrastination for What It Really Is

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Welcome back!

Now that you know about the most common fears, it’s time you learned how to recognize them. That’s because you probably won’t be gripped with an actual fearful emotion. It’s not like when someone sneaks up on you or when you think someone is following you. In other words, your heart won’t pound, your mouth won’t go dry and your palms won’t get sweaty.

TIP: I say these things “probably” won’t happen. That’s because some people do develop anxiety, which is fear. The person who feels anxious may develop the above “symptoms” of fear. We’ll talk about that in a later lesson. For now, we’ll look at those more subtle manifestations of fear.

Instead, fear tends to manifest as inaction or taking the wrong action. Simply put, you can recognize symptoms of fears as those things you do that prevent you from moving forward. And while we’ll talk about several of these symptoms in the coming lessons, we’ll start with one of the most common: Procrastination.

You already know what procrastination is: Specifically, it’s when you avoid doing a task that you know you should be doing. In the case of goal achievement, it means avoiding working on your “to do” list or doing anything else that will propel you towards your goals.

Sometimes it’s quite obvious when you’re procrastinating. You start the day with good intentions, but by the end of the day you realize you haven’t done anything productive. You may have become distracted (which is easy to do when you’re procrastinating), or you may have simply convinced yourself that something else was more important.

For example, an aspiring novelist may decide to write one chapter. The morning starts with this writer going through all the motions and preparations – starting up the computer, pouring herself some coffee, opening up her favorite word processor, etc.

But then she looks around the room and realizes she would be able to write better if she tidied up a bit. Fair enough. She cleans, vacuums, organizes and dusts. Then as long as she has the cleaning supplies out, she decides to clean the adjoining room. If things aren’t particularly messy, she may do “deep cleaning” things she hardly ever does, like cleaning the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush. That’s the kind of thing that can kill several hours.

I use this cleaning scenario as an example… but procrastination can take many forms. Some people may simply re-prioritize their lists repeatedly, which means the one thing they want to do (or the thing they should be doing) never gets done. The person may be super-productive in other areas of her life, but she can’t seem to make headway on that one important task.

Still other people simply rationalize that they’ll do something “tomorrow.” For example, the writer who knows it may take her six months to write a book says to herself, “taking one day off won’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things.” Maybe not. But one day becomes two… which becomes several… and the days easily turn into weeks or months.

That’s procrastination. And if you can recognize it for what it is (a symptom of fear), you can overcome it. You’ll learn exactly how to do this in upcoming lessons. For next time, however, you’ll learn how to recognize another symptom of fear that’s closely related to procrastination… so stay tuned!

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