Take Your Life Back! Three Key Mindset Shifts to Overcome Procrastination

Do you find yourself struggling with procrastination? Or maybe overwhelm stops you from making any forward progress. Perfectionism may be a cause of procrastination.

I am a self-proclaimed “expert” in procrastination. I can tell you I’ve spent so many hours, days, actually years if I added it all up, procrastinating. My sister says, “You can get a lot done procrastinating.”

If you find yourself not following through or avoiding difficult tasks or things you know would be good for you, you are not alone. Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, said, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” 

Research indicates almost everyone does it to some extent, and it seems to be an increasing social problem with all the ways we can get distracted in today’s world of internet and social media.

According to research, 88 percent of employees admit to procrastinating a minimum of one hour each day, and 75 percent of college students procrastinate (P. Steel, 2007).

Cost of procrastination

Employees who procrastinate turn in work that is below optimal. Students who procrastinate get lower grades. Procrastination may be costing you your health. For example, are you not exercising or going to the gym, or making doctor appointments? Another cost I am familiar with is late fees for not paying credit cards on time. Grrr. Or missed opportunities because you didn’t make a timely decision.

What is behind procrastination?

What gives? Why do we procrastinate when it is counterproductive and keeps us from reaching our goals and being our best selves? Author Denis Waitley says, “No one does it to feel bad . . . but to temporarily relieve deep inner fears.” 

These fears are primarily around failure and not being perfect.

“Having the fear of failure means you believe that even the smallest error could be evidence that you are a worthless and awful person.” —Neil Fiore, PhD, The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play

“Fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future, but all it will ever be is what’s happening here, the decisions that we make in this moment, which are based in either love or fear.” —Jim Carrey

One of the ways to overcome procrastination, overwhelm, and perfectionism is to shift how you think—shift your mindset. The following are the three key mindset shifts you can make to move forward on your goals and be the genius you are deep down.

Mindset Shifts to Overcome Procrastination, Overwhelm, and Perfectionism

  1. Reframe what failure means to you.

Shifting how you think about failure is key to overcoming procrastination. Reframe failure as being part of the learning, growing, and mastery process. People who procrastinate view failure as a sign that they are a failure. What if this is not true? What if you could see failure as part of the success process? Would you be more likely to get excited about failing if you saw it as an indicator of success? Journaling is an excellent way to make the subconscious conscious. Take time to journal about what failure means to you, and ask yourself, “What if it wasn’t attached to my self-worth?”

  1. Give yourself permission to be human.

I love this one. So many of us want to be “perfect.” Whatever that means. And really—is “perfect” even possible? We are human, and part of being human is being imperfect. When I think about the people I love, do I love them for being perfect? No! I love them because they are vulnerable and imperfect. Accept and embrace your imperfections. Finish these sentences: 

  • “If I give myself permission to be human . . .” 
  • “If I accept myself and my faults 10 percent more . . .”
  • “When I forgive myself . . .”
  1. Develop a growth mindset.

I believe this is one of the most important mindset shifts you can make to achieve your goals and live to your potential. A person with a growth mindset embraces learning, effort, and input from others as a path to success. They realize that success doesn’t depend on talent or genetics. A person with a growth mindset embraces failure as a part of learning. Struggle is part of the process versus a reason to give up. 

As adults, we can give up on our ideas and dreams when we come up against challenges and obstacles. We tend to think others are just more talented than us. We rationalize that they have it easier. What if that isn’t true? What if they had to work hard at it? Most likely, if you really look into what it took for a person to be successful, you will see a lot of work and struggle. 

Practice embracing struggle and effort as part of the process. Shift your mindset to realize that each time you are making an effort, you are developing mastery. 

“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.”

—John C. Maxwell

Here is to you living the best version of yourself!



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