Procrastination A Problem?

There are many words in the English language that begin with ‘Pro’, such professional, promotion, progress, prodigy, production, and so on. Each of these terms suggests something positive. In contrast, procrastination, the age-old art of putting things off, is negative in its connotation.

The procrastinator’s mentality says ‘Why do something today when I can easily put it off until tomorrow?’. Yet when the morrow comes, the same verse is repeated once again.

At one stage or another in our lives, we have all been guilty of ‘stalling’, ‘delaying’, ‘giving it a miss’, or any other of the pseudonyms that procrastination hides behind. As it knows no bounds, it can rear its ugly head in every area of our life. From small things that lead to temporary frustration, such as taking out garbage, doing homework, or cleaning the house, to major areas, which can lead to a life of disappointment, unhappiness, and stress. These may include dealing with, or controlling problems, to making or taking opportunities in our life.

The road to karate success is also abundant with ‘procrastination pot-holes’. Have you ever had a strong impulse to take up an extra class? To practise kata at home? To start a new fitness or stretching regime? These are all common short-term ‘Gunna Goals’ people set for themselves. Gunna Goals are those things we are ‘gunna’ do, but for some reason never get a start on.

In his book, The Art Of War, Sun Tzu wrote “know your enemy”. Considering procrastination is an enemy of all humankind, let us examine it. By understanding the way it functions, and the attitudes that fuel its fire, only then can we eventually conquer it.

It is worthy of noting, that procrastination is often a symptom of a deeper problem. In such cases, the only cure is going directly to the root to deal with the true problem.

Firstly, it is often a symptom of a lack of self-confidence. When we lose confidence in our ourselves we tend to do very little of anything. Secondly, it is often a symptom of apathy, the ‘couldn’t care less’ or ‘couldn’t be bothered’ syndrome. After all, if you don’t care about something, you generally put it off.

What can we do about it?

Often people believe they are either born with a certain level of confidence, or apathy – but it has become clear that these are learned attitudes and fortunately like anything we learn, we have the ability to improve and show growth in these areas. There are many books and regional karate instructors who can help you in both of these areas.

When a person feels that neither a lack of self-confidence or apathy is contributing to their procrastination habits, then we can look at our list of ‘Procrastination Triggers’. The most common causes of procrastination include:

  • Too boring
  • Too hard
  • Too complex
  • Too time-consuming
  • Too confronting
  • Too shy
  • Too embarrassing

If a given situation involves one or more of these triggers, then procrastination is a likely outcome. This is because when we procrastinate we are probably obsessed by the task, not the outcome. We tend to be focused on the short term, the drudgery or the difficulty.

However, if we shift our thinking and our focus to the completed task, then a whole new world can open up to us. If we imagine the task completed – if we can imagine how we would feel when it’s all over, then actually doing it can become a lot simpler. Our motivation becomes the ‘now’, so our mentality changes to “why delay the feeling of success any longer?” or “why put off the feeling of relief…let’s do it now!”.

Procrastination is a reflection of your state of mind. If your attitude and your perspective on things is good, then procrastination becomes a thing of the past. You will also find that once you begin a task, it is never as difficult as expected, nor does it take as long as you originally thought it might. Indeed, it might even be more enjoyable than you envisaged.

By tackling procrastination in every area of our life, starting with the small, we create a new habit – of productivity. If you feel the task is rather daunting or complex, break it down into small pieces that you can easily digest. This will also help to build your confidence along the way.

Give yourself permission to make mistakes along the way, and learn from them. Review what you have done, reward yourself for progress and never give up! Remember DDP (Discipline, Determination, Persistence!).

So what are you waiting for? Get to work on your attitude shift right now, and be a ‘Do-er’, not a ‘Gunna’!

By Sensei Antonie de Bruin

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Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

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