It’s Monday at 8AM and I see on my planner I have a paper due Saturday at midnight. That should be no problem to complete, right? Six days to work on a double spaced 4-5 page paper that only requires one cited reference…a piece of cake, right? Then I look at the space between Monday and Saturday on my planner and I see little to no white space. Full-time clinic coverage on Tuesday and Thursday from 8AM-5PM, 49 papers to grade and 49 portfolios to grade on Monday, 4 chapters to read in the textbook that pertains to my paper on Wednesday, meetings with students and faculty, a site visit with a student on clinical, and somewhere in there I would like to eat, sleep, and spend time with my family. So, my plan A was when I had down time between meetings and site visits, I would work on my paper in small chunks, but my plan b was to arrange babysitting for Saturday morning and wait until the last minute to complete the paper. Let’s be honest, my plan A was the way that I was convincing myself that I wasn’t procrastinating. Plan b was a “back up” plan, but in reality, was what was going to happen all along.
Procrastination. My nemesis. Maybe yours too.
Can I be honest with you? I could have found time during the week to work on the paper. I could have stayed up later in the evenings, I could have gotten up earlier in the mornings, I could have not wasted that time in the morning talking to people in the hallways…the list could go on and on.
Can I be even more honest with you? I haven’t written a blog for 4 weeks and this week when I had some time to work on one…I found other things to do. I literally made my cup of tea and sat down with some of my references and decided to work on my monthly budget instead. My monthly budget…who chooses to use 2 hours of free time to work on their monthly budget???
I knew at that moment that I had a problem. I began to suspect an issue at the end of last week when I was scrambling to get this paper done and turned in, but I was able to write it off as being busy and juggling various things. But, sitting at my kitchen bar looking at what we spend on gas each month I realized…procrastination had found me.
Procrastination is nothing more than fear at its core. Fear of failure…at least for me…is the major driver of procrastination. As I sat aside some time to write today’s post, I found myself procrastinating and trying to fill the time slot with something else. I found these thoughts racing through my head, “It won’t matter if I skip this week too, you already missed four weeks. They won’t even notice at this point if you are missing a post.” Fear can be sneaky. Sure, it can be very apparent like in scary movies or walking through a haunted house, but the kind I’m talking about can just ever so gradually creep into your life. In fact, until sitting here actually processing my emotions and processing the last several weeks, this fear was silently working on my every move. Fear of failure has so subtly woven itself throughout my life. I started finding myself saying, “That isn’t like you to wait until the last minute.” “It isn’t like you to not care about the outcome of your work.” But my responses were things like, “It’s okay, your busy.” “This is just a phase; you will get through this.” I kept giving myself excuses for my procrastination, instead of facing it for what it is…fear.
I have been contemplating at what point I let this fear begin to creep in and then begin to proliferate subtly throughout my life. Initially beginning my PhD, I had my doubts if I could do it all…there may be the start. I also received some rejection recently that really rocked me to my core. For me getting positive feedback and acceptance of my work is always a real confidence booster, but recently I had a lecture cancelled due to low attendance and a presentation proposal rejected at an annual conference. I would like to be able to tell you I have approached with a growth mindset and looking forward to growing from these setbacks, but I can’t tell you that at all. I have floundered and questioned my worth and my ability for success.
“The buck stops here.” – President Harry Truman
I would love to tell you how I have it all figured out and these will be three easy steps to combating your fear of failure and procrastination…but I don’t think any of the steps will be easy. But my dad always tells me that nothing worthy in life comes easy, you got to work at it…so here goes:
1. Admit you have a fear driving your procrastination.
I think this is always the hardest step. With life being so busy you can easily provide yourself with excuses on why you have procrastinated certain things. That’s what I have been doing. “I just haven’t had the time.” No…I just haven’t made the time. Saying out loud what it is can surely help you down the path of beating your fear.
2. Find accountability.
This past spring, I found myself wanting to get back into an exercise routine but kept finding excuses to avoid it. I shared this with my friend, Jenna, and come to find out she was feeling the same way. We both wanted to get back into exercise but couldn’t get enough self-motivation up to make it happen. So, we made a bet…we each had to send each other our exercise plan for each week and whoever didn’t fully complete the weekly exercise had to buy the other person’s coffee at our next meeting. It worked! We both were held accountable and developed our exercise routine. This blog is my accountability. I will not let fear run me and you will be my accountability.
3. Make intentional choices.
Be brutally honest with yourself on a daily basis about where your psyche is and what choices you have been making. When I am in procrastination mode, I find myself binging on Netflix more, trolling Facebook and getting lost in tweets. Although it can be nice to check out every once in a while, choosing life fillers instead of intentionally choosing action actually causes me more depression than joy. I decided to make the commitment to step outside of my comfort zone daily, so I become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I would also recommend setting up a reward system so when you intentionally choose action you are rewarded. Acknowledge your growth and progress and keep choosing to move forward.
Thank you for not giving up on me the past 4 weeks and thank you for your time reading. Writing these blogs for sure keeps me out of my comfort zone, but I am becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Why do you procrastinate?