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  • Steven Sutton, LCSW

Don't Wait to Try a New Approach

If you’re like most people who procrastinate, you’ve been frustrated with yourself in the past and tried to bare down and change your habits. You may have tried different techniques or read books about how to stop doing it. All your efforts were likely in the hopes that you could stop wasting time and stop putting things off. You wanted to stop shooting yourself in the foot on projects that were looming or stop falling behind in routines that you needed to stay on top of. In the past, you were likely motivated to stop doing the bad thing — the procrastinating. And it never really worked.

Our brains serve up preferences in one way the vast majority of the time. Ask someone what they want and they’ll almost always begin by telling you what they don’t want. This is especially true if the subject you’re asking them about is important and has been frustrating to them in the past. We find it very easy to describe all the things we want to stop and all the ways we want to escape from negative experiences. We tend to find much more difficult to identify a clear idea of what we would like to do instead. We know what we want to get away from but not always a desirable outcome to seek. Stating things in the affirmative can be a powerful tool in several contexts. When it comes to emerging from the habit of procrastination, finding a new motivation to make a change might just hold the key for you to finally start doing something different.

Imagine you have 100 units of time in a single day. You already know that on most days a significant portion of those units will be spent sleeping. Let’s say after you sleep you have 60 units remaining. You can choose how you want to spend the remaining units but chances are you have some commitments that feel non-negotiable. If you work a typical work schedule you’re now down to 20 remaining units of time in a normal day.

You already know your free time is valuable and precious but that’s not enough to change your habits of procrastination. What you may need to learn is how important it is to influence the quality of that remaining time. What if procrastination held the key to unlocking a solution for making that precious 20 units of time as good as it can be? What if, by learning more about procrastination, you could increase the likelihood that the time you have will be happier, more relaxing, and more joyful? I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but the truth is that learning more about how procrastination functions in your life is directly related to learning how to make the time you have more pleasurable. Once you get a feel for how accessible it is to improve the quality of your free time, you’ll have added a brand new motivation to your list of reasons why you might do something new. You won’t just be trying to run away from something bad, you’ll want to stretch out and reach for something wonderful. Turning that corner can be a life changing experience.

If you want to learn more about how to influence you valuable time and get ahold of your procrastination check out our 4 week e-course starting Feb 24, 2020, Growing Out of Procrastination. The course will walk you through how procrastination likely functions in your life and how you can begin to find new ways of doing something different than your old habits. You’ll learn to be clear with yourself not just about what you don’t want to do anymore, but what’s important to you in those remaining precious units of time you have to yourself. For most of us, it’s too important to put off and longer.

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