Why do we feel the need to procrastinate or postpone tasks? I believe it has a lot to do with the complexity of the task at hand, and the scale of ‘comfort’ that we have about it. Especially if it’s taking us outside of our usual comfort zone.
In general terms, I have noticed, that I would procrastinate when I would feel a certain amount of discomfort because something would be difficult – especially if I wasn’t particularly sure that I’d succeed. Two key behaviours played big parts for me here:
- inability to be ‘comfortable’ with the discomfort I felt
- the need to reject uncertainties
As a result, I’d avoid completing the task, situation or confrontation; and, ensured I stayed within my zone of safety: doing what always made me feel better, good even. Browsing through my social media or scrolling through my favourite sites, updating plugins or fixing an unimportant css bug, working on my bike, or EVEN doing household chores (!!). ANYTHING to avoid doing what just needed be done.
I find it fascinating actually that when we are faced with challenge or difficulty, most of us fall back (hide), to where we feel ‘safe’ (is there truly such a place though?). Our body and mind collaborate, joining forces – to find a way to make you think that those hard tasks aren’t needed. That you don’t need to do them anyway. And that it’s more important for us to feel safe and comfortable than just taking a tiny step outside of our zone of comfort and just doing it!
After thinking about this, I read a couple or articles about fear. Our fight or flight instinct is useful in some circumstances… when you are about to get run over by a car or eaten by a tiger. But that doesn’t happen to me every day. Still my body was able to produce a similar physiological experience, causing me to flee for “safety” when there was no real danger. There was real challenge, discomfort and uncertainty, but no danger.
The 80% done-threshold
Usually this would happen when a project was around 80% complete… or, any other typical “crunch-time” moment. That moment where it’s ‘do or die’ (push through or give in…) … I’d rather just hide and wait out the storm. Do you recognise this: not keeping up with your training, diet, not checking email first thing in the morning, daily journaling etc – I could go on and on here, but I won’t.
For me… I would always prefer to start a new project (every time), than pick up those final but difficult tasks in front of me and just finish that last 20% – to get it launched. Can you believe that? So many times I’ve been close to completion, but because I felt ‘uncomfortable’ with the difficult last batch of tasks, all combined with an uncertain outcome (will people like it?) I just gave in… I quit… My inability to tolerate discomfort and uncertainty meant that I couldn’t even ask for help!
It still hurts…
Not only did I not finish my projects, I robbed myself of the opportunity for learning and growth, all because I decided to ‘play it safe’ and stay ‘comfortable’. When I think about this, it still hurts – it hurts that I was in that position. I feel pain for everyone else in that position. I urge them with all my heart to move – keep moving and never stop moving!
I’ll be honest here and tell you, it won’t get any easier. Finishing that 20% is just the beginning. But, by giving yourself the opportunity to learn and allowing yourself to grow is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Be you own best friend
I bet you always wish great things for your best friends – growth, learning and amazing opportunities (and obviously having fun doing it, because that’s also true). Be YOUR OWN best friend, give yourself the uncomfortable gift of not accepting your own BS anymore and finish your project. I know you can do this!
Thanks for reading, your are awesome. You know that, right?!