I have many clients come to my office proclaiming they want to stop procrastinating and become more productive with their time. Typically these clients refer to themselves as being lazy. They tend to self-criticize and say mean things to themselves trying to increase motivation.

Most often, these same clients will defend their methods, stating, “if I am not hard on myself, I will never get anything done.” Or “If I am nice to myself and do not push myself, then I will become even more lazy.”

They are very surprised to learn that they are buying into a myth about procrastination.

The myth is if we are hard on ourselves and set really high goals, then we are more likely to meet these goals.

This is simply not true. 

The truth is that being compassionate and kind to yourself will go a long way toward helping you reach your goals. Really, I am not kidding. Think about it this way. Here are two scenarios. Scenario #1: You are thinking about taking action toward getting a difficult task done and someone is behind you and screaming insults into your ear, telling you that you are lazy, etc. Scenario #2: You are thinking about taking action toward getting a difficult task done and someone is calmly offering words of support and encouragement, cheering you toward action. In which scenario, do you think you are more likely to get moving and take action? 

I can tell you that showing yourself compassion and being your own best cheerleader makes taking difficult action easier. 

Now let’s talk about goal setting and the effect it can have on our ability to get things done and be our most productive. 

The definition of a perfectionist is someone who sets unattainable goals and then criticizes one’s self for not reaching the same unattainable goals. 

So if you are procrastinating, you are not lazy, but you might be a perfectionist. 

What is it about unattainable goals that causes procrastination? When we set unattainable goals, by definition we can not reach them. When we fail to reach a goal, we tend to feel like failures and self-blame. The self-blame causes negative, uncomfortable emotions. Therefore, we don’t want to try next time. We have given ourselves negative reinforcement, instead of positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement makes it less likely we will take action in the future and makes procrastination more likely. 

Now we know 2 of the causes of procrastination. 

  1. Negative self-talk- bashing yourself over the head with insults.

2.   Settting unrealistic and unattainable goals.

Here are 2 Tips that will help you stop procrastinating.

What causes procrastination? Tips from empower counseling on how to stop. Tip #1: Try a Little Self-Compassion:

Be nice to you. Treat yourself the way you would a friend. Encourage yourself, instead of discouraging yourself. See what happens.

Tip #2: Set Realistic Goals

You can set lofty goals. You can set very high goals. Go for it. But do not set unattainable goals. When you have a thought about what you expect of yourself, ask yourself, “Could a human logically do this?” “Is this possible?”. It does not even have to be probable, but it HAS TO BE POSSIBLE.

If you can’t seem to break free from the negative self-talk, or you struggle with setting realistic goals, reach out to Empower Counseling. We have counselors who specialize in perfectionism, procrastination, and anxiety.

We help teens, college students, and adults with procrastination and time management, so they can set and accomplish their goals.

Kathryn, and her male and female colleagues are here to help you with Acceptance Commitment Therapy, a proven effective anxiety therapy and depression therapy.

Contact Empower today for your appointment 205-730-6570.

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