What’s Your Procrastination Telling You?
A little while back, I found myself seriously procrastinating on writing some new website content for my business. It wasn’t a difficult task, but every time I sat down to write it, I felt completely drained. Being the coach that I am, I tried to coach myself through it, trying to get to the root of my procrastination (which only served to help me procrastinate a little longer!). But there didn’t seem to be any real reason why I felt so sluggish about writing a few short paragraphs.
Then later that week, Rachel and I had a breakthrough about a new direction for our business, which, incidentally, would require totally different website content. Feeling invigorated by our new idea, I sat down that same day and scribbled out the new content. And I felt inspired to do it.
I may not have been aware of it at the time, but my initial procrastination came from an inner knowing that I had strayed off course from my true business goals. So my procrastination was actually trying to send me a message that I was out of alignment. As counterintuitive as it might sound, my resistance was (for once) leading me in the right direction.
Now, that’s certainly not the only reason procrastination creeps up when you’re trying to be productive. Often you’ll resist doing something important to you because there’s an overwhelming fear of failure or rejection. As Steven Pressfield wrote in his book The War of Art:
“The more resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you — and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.”
The key here is not to judge yourself when procrastination shows up, because it’s usually just trying to communicate something to you. So instead of feeling guilty or forcing your way through a task that feels impossibly exhausting and heavy, try asking yourself what your procrastination is trying to tell you.
- Are you off track or out of alignment with your goals/values?
- Are you feeling scared or vulnerable about something?
- Have you overcommitted yourself and you’re craving some downtime?
- Is this task really important to you, and you’re worried it won’t turn out like you hoped?
- Could you ask for help or hire someone to do this?
- Is there another approach that would feel more authentic to you?
It might help to ask yourself this question: “How would I feel if I simply removed this task from my to-do list or asked/hired someone else to do it?” If you would feel completely relieved and free, then give yourself permission to let it go! But if your sense of relief is mixed with disappointment or discomfort, then your procrastination is likely coming from an inner fear. Being truthful about your fears is the first step to neutralizing them, so take this time to be honest with yourself. And if you’re still struggling with procrastination, consider working one-on-one with a coach to get to the root of your resistance.
Kristen Walker is the co-founder of Clarity on Fire, a coaching company for women in their 20s and 30s who want clarity about the type of job and relationship they want and how to get it. Contact us to try a free coaching session.
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