How to Talk to Yourself to Avoid Destructive Procrastination

Good day, my Wonderful Friend!

Have you ever put off working on an important task for days, delayed answering e-mails or facing essential issues in your life, like saving money for your future or opening your own business? You spend time watching TV, browsing the internet or going out to feel better, but, unfortunately, you know it is only temporary relief, and the reality comes back to bite you in the end. The next thing you know, it’s the end of the day, and nothing was done, while tasks remain unfinished? This force inside of you is called PROCRASTINATION.

Wikipedia defines procrastination as ‘the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished… and putting off or leaving things until the ‘last minute’ before the deadline. Procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression, and self-doubt.

I have a new definition of procrastination. I would call it the energy draining battle between two voices in your brain.

How often does the voice of your Greater-Self tell you: It’s a great idea, you can Do it! You just need to start acting on it.

Meanwhile, your Protective-Self voice says: You are going to fail. It will be painful. Remember you failed when you were a child and how painful it was? Don’t even start…it will be painful if you fail again… you are going to embarrass yourself, you don’t have enough skills, talents, or energy….

So what do we do in these cases of procrastination and delay? How can we silence that loud and negative Self-Protective voice and how can we give power to the voice of our Greater-Self? Here is a great exercise that you might find helpful. It definitely helped me!

Sit comfortably, close your eyes and take a few breaths. Now imagine going inside your brilliant head and standing between two people who represent these voices.  1) One person with the Greater-Self voice and another person with the Protective-Self voice.

And you’re having the following conversation with your voices:

Listen, guys, I know you want the best for me.

You…my Protective-Self, are trying to protect me from pain from potential failure or embarrassment. I understand your intention and thank you…But why do you know that I will fail THIS time? What if I do well THIS time? And even if I do fail, it’s not the end of the world. Everyone makes mistakes, that’s the only way to learn, and maybe THIS time I will handle my failure well. I am a grown-up person, who no longer needs to be protected… and if you really want to protect me – then protect me from doubts in my abilities, from constant hesitation, from other people’s negative comments and hold that protective shield that will really help me to focus on my growth and not on fighting the negativity in my life.

And then, imagine turning to your Greater-Self and saying with firmness.

And you, my Greater-Self have been too quiet and not assertive enough. I want you to be stronger and every time I have new ideas, help me act on them right away! Push me forward, support me, encourage me! And in the moments of doubts tell me: Even though You are afraid to make a mistake or be less than perfect, you can still do it and it does not have to be perfect!

And even if you happen to make a mistake – you can always correct it. Successful people are ok to make mistakes and start acting, even when they feel uncertain and don’t have all the information required to succeed. They usually operate in that simple system:

ACTION-FEEDBACK-CORRECTION! ACTION-FEEDBACK-CORRECTION!

My dear, Greater-Self!

Please always remind me to look at the BIGGER PICTURE. Please tell me that I have the power to start now and finish what I started. Praise me when I practice this exercise. Do not let me get discouraged if my anxiety and tendency to procrastinate does not go away at first. This is normal and expected. Please be the patient, encouraging and loving voice in my head.

My dear, voices! The Protective-Self voice and the Greater-Self voice! Listen carefully:  from now on, both of you must be focused on ONLY PRODUCTIVE, LOVING, ACCEPTING, SUPPORTIVE AND MOTIVATIONAL THOUGHTS! Let’s all agree on that and shake our hands!

Then imagine that you are shaking the hand of the person who represents your PROTECTIVE-SELF and that of the GREATER –SELF. You have made an agreement. Your brain knows what to do. Take thirty long and relaxing breaths and then open your eyes. Great job, my friend! Your mind is re-programmed, and you can finish that daunting task that you have been avoiding! You can strategize, immediately start and tackle everything QUICKLYand PROACTIVELY!  You can reach the finish line way before the deadline!

Repeat this exercise every time you need to break your tendency to procrastinate and after a few weeks, your brain will re-wire itself according to your new behavior, and from a chronic procrastinator, you will transform into a CHAMPION who can successfully reach his FINISH LINE!

YOU ARE A CHAMPION…

With Love,