Most people attribute procrastination to laziness or some other negative personal trait. They label themselves as “programmed to fail” or lazy. All negatives and NOT at all the problem. Procrastination is actually a positive way we protect ourselves from loss!
Let’s say you had never been parachuting and you found yourself in a plane at 6,000 feet. Let’s imagine someone strapped a parachute on your back, opened the door and told you to “jump.” You would not jump – you would “procrastinate” from jumping. Why? Out of a desire to avoid death and protect your life! If you don’t know how to parachute, you would naturally feel fear and would then procrastinate from jumping out of the door of that airplane. That would protect your life and procrastination would be a very good behavior.
Most situations are not that dramatic and the harm is not as clear to our conscious mind. In the typical world, we procrastinate to avoid being made a fool of, losing money, or losing time. Our subconscious picks up on danger, generates the feelings that cause us to hesitate, and in the end, procrastination protects us.
The thing is, we automatically desire to procrastinate when we are trying to complete something we aren’t fully confident completing or something we fear will put us in financial or emotional danger. The feeling is generated subconsciously, which is why it can be a little tricky to diagnose.
This feeling is from our subconscious. In the instance of procrastination, we will feel fear and a lack of confidence. The task in front of us seems hard and overwhelming so we automatically procrastinate. This will protect us from loss because the negative feelings associated with the activity cause us to procrastinate as long as possible. We may never do the task at all. Of course, if we procrastinate and avoid doing the necessary tasks of our business, we will never succeed.
We need to put ourselves in a position to feel confident in the fact that procrastinating is actually good for us. That comes from learning how to do the thing we are not confident about and practicing in a low-risk environment. Meaning where failing has low financial and emotional costs. Do what I call “batting practice” and build your knowledge and confidence. You will then be able to do the activity readily and without procrastinating.
In one of our businesses, we have people who have to cold call prospects. They are afraid to do that, especially at the beginning. So we give them a call script telling them exactly what to say and we have them practice with a stand in for a real prospect. Then they graduate into cold calling on very low value leads where the costs of failure are very low in terms of a lost opportunity. Finally, after they build confidence, they move onto the higher value leads. For your business model, have someone stand-in, playing the role of real estate seller or whomever else is your prospect. Once you feel confident in giving your pitch, move up to low value prospects and practice some more. Finally, move on to your high value prospects once you are confident.
You can speed this process along if you can find an experienced person to coach you. Be sure this experienced coach has some incentive to help you. Either they win financially or they are paid for doing the work or they are getting some emotional benefit from coaching you. If helping you is “free” from them – meaning they get nothing from it, then their coaching will be worth exactly what they get from it – nothing.
If you cannot do any of the above activities to solve your negative feelings that are causing your procrastination, then get someone else to do the activity. Honor them and either gain your experience in a low-risk way or get someone else to do the activity. Make sure you’re moving your business forward.
Written by: Bob Diamond