I’m gonna go right ahead and guess you’ve been there before. I know I have.
Often times, we know exactly the things we need to do in order to reach a goal, but we are reluctant to execute.
We’re excited and know that this is going to change our lives for the better. The idea of being there is liberating, empowering, fulfilling, and a number of other lovely feelings so many of us crave.
Yet, even with all that knowledge, we come home, sit our butts on the couch, spending our time mindlessly scrolling through social media, watching crappy TV shows, binging on Netflix, and a wide number other things that are fairly meaningless (and likely mindless) to us. I think we can agree they’re distractions. And sometimes, whether consciously or sub-consciously, we actively create those distractions for ourselves.
This is often because when you get to the point where you:
>> know what you want as well as
>> what actually has to change and/or occur as a result in order to get there (real-life here, no more fantasy land), as well as
>> what it signifies to change in this area of your life
— all of a sudden, it all becomes very, very real…
And we freeze. We don’t move toward our goals, yet we feel ashamed and crappy and call ourselves ‘lazy procrastinators’. [P.S. No one is inherently a procrastinator, though some clients and other people I’ve talked to have tried to convince me otherwise. That being said we most certainly can participate in the act of procrastination.] It is up to us to break the pattern by getting curious, by asking ourselves the real reason that we don’t take action day after day.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a little mindless TV watching and getting lost in an Instagram Story binge; I do it, too. But when we are struggling to reach our goals that we truly want and that can change our lives for the better, we owe it to ourselves to be honest + get real so that we can make the decision to continue to either engage in these behaviors or choose differently. Know that either is totally OK, but it’s always more empowering when it’s a choice, and doesn’t feel out of our control 😉
That being said, there can be many things at play, but a few of the common factors I’ve seen include:
Factor #1. Fear
I know this might sound crazy, but a lot of us fear increasing our power, success, wealth, etc. Let’s talk about a couple of the causes of this fear as examples.
You suddenly realize that going after this goal is an act of taking responsibility for your life (rather than being a victim to a situation you don’t like but won’t change / feel powerless to change). The need to commit, be brave, and take action overwhelms us. We are being asked to do something about our goals instead of daydreaming and convincing ourselves that these very attainable goals are elusive and/or impractical.
Another common one is that deep down you’re not comfortable being powerful or successful. You may have grown up believing at some level that being any of those things makes you bad, you don’t deserve that level of success, it will make you an outsider in your social circles, you’re not capable of handling that much power, you must think you’re better than someone else if you do that. This leads to us playing small to avoid threatening others, ruffling feathers, and/or putting ourselves at risk for abandonment or judgment.
We need to address these fears head-on and get real about whether we want to play it safe or fully step into our personal power.
Factor #2. Wrong Goals
This tends to show up in two ways. The first is that we are pursuing a goal that is not truly ours, rather it is the expectation – implicit or explicit – of someone else or a group of people, and we are trying to meet it.
The second is that the timing is off. Maybe this goal was once a dream, and you’ve moved past that or in a different direction, but you’ve struggled to let go of it. Or maybe it’s meant for you somewhere in the future because once you started to go after this dream, you’ve realized that there is something else that is more important, needs to be processed / addressed / resolved first, and then it’s time to go wholeheartedly after what you want, and you just had to make a pit stop along the way to support your success.
Go after your goals and trust in Divine timing. It is often the detours, not the perfectly mapped-out plans, that make our lives interesting and fun journeys of growth.
(Also worth noting, you are totally allowed to admit that something just isn’t a priority right now, and put it on the back burner for a bit for when – if ever – it feels more important to you.)
Factor #3. Self-Efficacy
Sometimes, we don’t believe we’re capable of reaching our goals, as excited as they make us. And the truth is that so many of us are afraid of failure, so it’s easier to write off a goal as ‘out of reach’ than it is to go for it and risk that you could potentially fail.
We must ask ourselves if our dreams are more important than what others think of us. Do we want to give up on ourselves in an attempt to control others’ perceptions of us? (It’s worth noting that people are going to judge you and have opinions of you, no. matter. what. Do you still want to play it safe?)
And if it’s your own self-image you are concerned about, be willing to see ‘failure’ as an essential step to true, lasting success. To see everything that doesn’t go well as simply information to help you figure out the next step, not a determining factor in your self-worth (which, as I’ll always remind you, is literally unchangeable no matter what you do or don’t do).
Factor #4. Pouring from an Empty Cup
Any over-achievers in the house? This one’s for you. So often, we are stretching ourselves thin in so many directions across all area of our lives, that we are flat-out exhausted. While we give children recess and time to play, it is often considered indulgent or selfish or even inappropriate for adults to engage in.
But the truth is we need it, too! Instead, we tend to engage in mindless numbing or avoidant behaviors because there’s not enough joy and fun in our lives, and our energy tanks are just about empty, so our brain directs us to chill out somehow. (See: bottle of wine a day, Netflix, drugs or other substances, routinely mindlessly or binge eating, social media, etc.)
But before we go adding new responsibilities on our plate, we often need to take one or more other responsibilities off, and then use that new-found time not just to work toward your goals, but to have some FUN! Put it on your calendar. Do something that really ‘fills you up’ and nourishes your soul.Even just a small investment of time and/or money in yourself can pay off in dividends when it comes to the other areas of your life.
Trying to withhold from rest + play is not going to leave you feeling great, and eventually, life often forces those of us who refuse to slow down to do so through much less fun things like illness, chronic fatigue, injury, etc. Fun is sounding pretty good right about now, huh?! 😉
Factor #5. Discipline: If after considering all of these other factors, and you are still very much sure you want this goal, yet you don’t totally love the journey there, then what I suggest is: write down every single step you believe it’s going to take to get there.
For each task that you don’t look forward to, ask yourself: 1) is this absolutely essential? (if not, let’s cross that off and skip it), 2) could someone else could do this instead? (pay them, trade with them, cash in a favor, something…), or if you still believe you must do it, 3) how can I make the process better for myself (whether setting an intention, making the experience more pleasurable in some way, having a reward for it) and get it done.
I get it. We are most definitely supposed to enjoy the journey in life, but that can sometimes be more difficult for certain goals, so rather than entirely not going after what you want, at least make the road there more enjoyable for yourself. (Also, if the issue is perceived to be your ‘lack of time’, ask yourself what you can say ‘no’ to and stop doing to make time for what really matters to you. Seriously.)
And in any case: don’t forget to celebrate your progress long before you reach the finish line.
There are many more reasons than listed here, and a given person can be experiencing one or a combination of any of these things or something else entirely. Do any of these sound familiar? What are some other reasons you feel like you procrastinate? It helps to look one layer deeper than you’re probably used to looking… 😉 I’d love to hear from you!
You’ve got this. <3
As always, feel free to share this with anyone who may find it helpful, and I look forward to hearing how it helps you.
P.S. If you need some help with this (or other related topics) and are interested in possibly working together, comment below or click the ‘Contact’ link above, and let’s get talkin’!