Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder. -Mason Cooley
We wait until January or Monday’s to start a new workout, a new habit, a new routine and so on.
We procrastinate for a variety of reasons, but we know deep down that we have something we need to do, or even want to do, but for whatever reason — we choose not to do it.
We tell ourselves we will wait…
Until the moment is right…
Until next Monday — then I’ll start…
It will be a New Year’s Resolution — that’s when I’ll begin…
When we wait until January or Monday to start a new habit, such as getting in shape, we rob ourselves of potential we will never know.
What Causes Procrastination?
Before we can make a change — let’s first understand what causes us to procrastinate in the first place. You might be surprised to learn that the reason is quite simple.
The root cause of why we do or do not do what we do — comes down to two things: Pain and Pleasure.
What we do and do not do comes down to either avoiding pain or gaining pleasure.
Think of it this way: Have you ever procrastinated on starting or getting back into a workout routine? Have you ever wondered why on Earth you do this to yourself when you know it’s important to get in shape and be healthy?
It’s because you associate more pain to taking action than not taking action. (In this example: We’re focusing on the hard work of getting in shape.)
But what happens when we procrastinate and our backs are up against the wall? (In this scenario let’s use the case of an upcoming get together with people you haven’t seen in 10 years.)
You know what we end up doing? We bite the bullet and make things happen (we start working out). And the reason why we do this is simple: Because of pain. In this example — it would be painful to show up to the future get together out of shape and in poor health.
Getting to know why you procrastinate will help you correct this behavior.
Take a moment and think of the last time you put something off. Now ask yourself why you put this off. The odds are you didn’t do what needed to be done was because you associated some pain to taking action. (For example: It’ might be uncomfortable, you don’t enjoy the task and so on.)
Now think of the opposite, in this case, something you really enjoy, such as going on long walks with your family. In this scenario, you don’t procrastinate on going on walks because you enjoy these long walks and don’t associate pain with the activity.
The Downsides of Procrastination
Regardless if you’re trying to lose weight, get in shape, start a new healthy habit, procrastinating can have ill-effects on your life.
No matter the task at hand, I think it’s safe to say that when you procrastinate you end up saying to yourself: I’m not worth it. (Especially if you’re looking to improve your life.)
Here are a few downsides of procrastination:
1. You Waste Time
When we are avoiding pain of doing what we need to get done — we have a unique way of suddenly becoming busy. We end up distracting ourselves with media, tasks that don’t have priority and just plain time-wasters.
Procrastinating activities are usually things that don’t add value to our lives. (For example: Checking social media, cleaning your house, talking on the phone or taking a nap.)
2. You Miss Out
By engaging in activities that aid procrastination we end up missing out. We miss out on the potential of getting done what we need to get done. We miss out on fully showing up for our lives. And we might be met with a big dose of reality when we wake up one day saying to our self: Where did all the time go?
3. You Remain Stuck
Real Talk: When you take zero action, you cannot expect your life to change.
If you’re sick and tired of how your life is going — you have to do something about it. If you’re tired of being out of shape, not being healthy, not having the job or relationship you desire — you have to go out and do something about it. And I’m not talking about putting in 2 hours once a week –instead — small micro actions every day.
Remember — Small actions add up.
4. You End up Feeling Bad
If you’re anything like me — sometimes you carry around guilt that isn’t yours to have. (I’ll admit — that’s my weakness.)
But when it comes to procrastinating — when I procrastinate — I actually feel bad. And it’s not just feeling bad about not completing what I need to get done — I actually start to feel bad about myself.
When we continue to procrastinate we may experience a strong decline of self-worth.
The Benefits of Not Putting Things Off
If we piece apart the word procrastinate from its Latin roots, we end up with: pro and cras. Which means to leave something “for tomorrow”.
Procrastinating can feel good at the time, but in the long-run, procrastination brings you down.
Let’s focus on the benefits we may experience when we choose to stop procrastinating:
1. We Feel a Sense of Relief
We all have had that time when we procrastinated to the last minute. And when push comes to shove, we end up getting the task done. Then what happens? We immediately feel a sense of relief.
A lightness comes over us. We furrow our brows less. We can smile and breath deep.
Just think — if you were to stop putting off whatever it is you’re putting off — you could experience this lightness to your life.
2. We Gain Momentum
I like taking action in life, even if it’s itty-bitty bites of action.
For example: If you’re looking to lose 10 pounds, but you hate working out — what do you think would happen if you decided to go on a 10-minute walk and eat a salad every day? Naturally you would start to feel better, and when you feel better, you naturally do better. You make better choices and you gather momentum to stay the course towards your desired outcome.
Making the choice to act versus putting things off gives us momentum to keep going, to try something new and to show up for life.
3. We Show Up For Life
By choosing to not put things off in life — you end up making the choice to live full out. Nobody ever said starting a new habit, going for a new goal, or trying something new was going to be easy. There’s going to be pain, there’s going to be struggle, to put it bluntly — that is life.
Regardless if it’s a rainy season in your life, a blustery winter storm or bright and sunny days. Show up for life. Your future self will thank you.
4. We Tap into Our Potential
I like to think of procrastination as a straitjacket. It keeps you from making progress, reaching out for help, and keeps you confined to your current circumstances.
When you choose not to put off that workout or task — you break free from that self-imposed straitjacket.
5. You Experience Less FOMO
FOMO — The Fear of Missing Out. You know what I’m talking about!
When you choose to get after what you need to get done, you no longer are a prisoner of procrastination! When you procrastinate — you directly make yourself unavailable to opportunities in your life. Plain and simple.
By taking action in your life and not putting things off — you open yourself to new opportunities in your life. (That relationship you want, that fitness goal you want to achieve and so on.)
6. You Avoid REGRET
There is one word that makes me cringe when I hear it and it’s the word REGRET.
REGRET is the ultimate cost of procrastination. And as far as I know, we only have one shot at this life. By kicking your procrastinating butt off the couch to get whatever it is you need to get done — you get to avoid regret. And if I may, (*clearing my throat*), nothing great is ever accomplished by surrendering to procrastination.
Avoid regret by taking action. Want to get in shape and be healthy for tomorrow ? Want to start a new habit that will support you for years to come? Want to try something new? Let the fear of regret motivate you to get going!
We all have procrastinated a time or two in our lives — it happens to the best of us. And I certainly don’t want you to feel bad about putting things off. Instead, my intention is to get you fully charged to take action in your life.
Get out there and live your life — don’t put it off. Don’t rob yourself of joy in the future. Don’t rob yourself of health in the future. You can start showing up for life — right now. You can start feeling more joy in your life — because you’re choosing to show up.
Tara Massan is a writer, wellness coach, yoga teacher and dreamer. She is sharing her journey everywhere she goes — for one purpose: To help others live with more ease. If you’re looking to live with more ease and create a happier and healthier life, click here to learn more about her coaching sessions.