How many of you have problems completing your daily goals? If you are like me, you often find yourself setting up goals that you end up missing at the end of the day. From my own observation, there’s always something that will interfere with my ability to consistently complete the tasks. Whether it’s the hot/cold weather, or the uncomfortable chair, or the distracting noises nearby. Even if the outside environment looks perfectly productive, I still find reasons within myself to postpone completing a task or prolong the time it takes to complete it.
Our mind is our greatest enemy.
The inability to concentrate on the task at hand is the major reason why projects fail and goals are not met. Our mind is very creative when it comes up with endless things to do that have nothing to do with the task we are supposed to complete at all. Conquering such a wandering mind requires great effort, and a bit of a strategy.
First of all, we need to understand why we avoid certain tasks and keep procrastinating even though we know it leads nowhere but failure.
The Avoidance of Pain
Believe it or not, your mind constantly searches for pleasure and avoids pain. For example, you watch that movie because it gives you joy. You can’t wait to try the dessert because you already know how delicious it tastes. On the contrary, you would avoid putting your hands on top of a hot stove because experience from the past tells you it’s a bad idea.
Our brain’s tendency to avoid pain is crucial to our survival. After all, if our ancestors didn’t learn from their bad experiences and avoid all pain-causing objects, we would not be here today. However, since our brain mostly operates on a survival mode, it can mislead us into avoiding tasks that can lead to our success.
If you are like me, you dislike Math. That’s why when it comes to completing the Math homework, I often find myself procrastinating. It’s funny how our brain tricks us into believing that we can successfully crack that difficult homework the night before the deadline.
How the Avoidance of Pain Can Ruin Your Life
There are two types of motivation behind everything you do: either it derives from love or from fear. Love and fear are the two strongest emotions that are the driving force behind our actions. For example:
- When doing their homework, most people often do it out of fear of failing their class.
- When you decide to cook a lovely meal for your partner, chances are you are doing it out of love, not because you fear they would throw a tantrum if you don’t.
- When you eat chocolate, you do it because it gives you pleasure, a form of loving feelings. When you try to stay away from chocolate, you may do it out of fear of gaining weight.
There is nothing wrong with using fear to propel you forward, as with the case of finishing high school or graduating from university for fear of not getting a good job. However, acting out of fear doesn’t always work in real-life situations. In fact, most of the time, it does you more harm than good.
Staying in a boring job that you hate because you are afraid you won’t be able to find employment after quitting is not only detrimental to your mental health but also a waste of time. Yet, many people do so. They rationalize their choice by believing that it will get better with time and after some time, they may get a promotion.
The fear of instability often leads us to choose something we are familiar with rather than opting for something unknown. That’s the reason why most people opt to climb the corporate ladder rather than launching their own business. It feels much safer having a paycheck deposited into your account each month than to struggle to find your own customers, beat the competition, and make a profit.
When you find yourself procrastinating, deep inside yourself, you are avoiding some kind of pain that you may not even be aware of. Many of our fears get imprinted in the subconscious mind and become the underlying force that dictates our life even though we are not aware of them. Therefore, to overcome procrastination, first, you need to look deep inside yourself to figure out what is the fear that’s preventing you from taking action.
Many times, people procrastinate because they fear failure. For example, you postpone writing that dream book of your life because you fear no one would be interested in reading it. You take forever to set up your ecommerce business because of the overwhelming fear of competition. How will customers find you? Would they buy the product?
Now, think about this. If you know for sure that doing X will result in Y which is the result you want, would you hesitate to do X? I doubt that you will. When the route is clear and the result is certain, you will have no fear of taking action.
By understanding the underlying fear that governs your procrastination, you’ll stand a better chance of overcoming it.
(to be continued…)