Why Do We Procrastinate?

There is no such thing as being lazy. When we aren’t as productive as we would like to be, when we push tasks aside, when we opt to lay around instead of taking action, it isn’t laziness. It’s something way more complex. We like to think that our refusal to employ a healthy dose of will power is why we procrastinate but the truth is will power is a tight and limited resource within each of us. Will power is not why we accomplish hard things. Will power didn’t make Serena Williams a tennis star and you’ve never heard Kobe credit his success to will power. If a lack of will power isn’t the problem, and laziness doesn’t exist, then why do we procrastinate?



Procrastination has a function that provides us with a reward: It’s a device we use to avoid pain. Let’s say, for example, you’ve been wanting to do research to start a new business. You wake up on Sunday morning with full intention of getting the research done, but after breakfast, scrolling through social media and a long Netflix binge, you’ve effectively avoided completing that task. You know that had you gotten the research done, you would be ready to take the next step putting you closer to your goal, but you procrastinated instead. Why?


For each person it’s different but the key to overcoming procrastination is identifying the pain you’re trying to avoid. In this example, maybe research seems like a tedious task to you and the pain you’re trying to avoid is boredom. Maybe the issue is that doing business research sparks your fear of failure. Reading about the industry you’re interested in entering may overwhelm you and rattle your confidence in your ability to achieve so you just avoid the whole task instead. You could also suffer from excessive perfectionism, in which case the pressure to accomplish things flawlessly prevents you from even starting. On the opposite spectrum, if you lack structure completing a vague task like “business research” may seem so daunting and confusing that you choose to re-watch the entire series of Tiger King instead. These are all examples of how procrastination is born out of a need to avoid pain.


In moderation procrastination can be a useful tactic. If your pain point to a task is exhaustion, meaning you don’t have the energy to get something done, putting a task off until later might be the very thing saving you from burnout. However, to live a fulfilled and productive life, you need to avoid the pitfalls of chronic procrastination. It may save you from pain in the short run but it robs you of massive opportunities in the long-term. The good news is that there are a ton of simple and easy to replicate methods that you can use to overcome the pain points that lead us to procrastination. If you think you or your employees can benefit from these methods, reach out to Goalmachine by emailing saganspeaks@MyGoalmachine.com and ask about how you can get a free productivity coaching session from a certified life coach. You deserve clarity and you deserve to thrive.

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