Internal Warning Signs of Procrastination

Internal Warning Signs of Procrastination

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the changes we try to make just don’t stick. We have good intentions. We have determination. We have a deep desire to change, but we find ourselves reverting to our old dysfunctional behaviors. However, there are clear warning signs you can look for within yourself and your actions.


Warning Sign 1: Face Your Fears

There are parts of us wanting to protect ourselves from change, which is often the reason for such behaviors. Change rouses our fears of stepping out of our comfort zone. It can be scary to change, so a part of us wants to protect ourselves. The internal saboteur part of our personality tries to protect us from the possibility that the intended changes might be scary or worse yet, cause us to fail. Then our actions are subverted by this internal saboteur – preventing us from moving out of our status quo. It can be intimidating to take responsibility for our actions, even though we always experience their consequences whether we take responsibility or not. Procrastination feels familiar and safe.

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Look at your hidden fears to see the mechanisms we use to hold those fears in place. Fear can be a tricky warning sign to recognize. It doesn’t always make your spine tingle or send your stomach into your throat. Fear often disguises itself as boredom, disinterest, or an inclination to gloss over important aspects of your task. Fear can also leave you feeling stuck, tired and overwhelmed. None of these may be strong enough to bring you into a crisis, so it’s natural to unconsciously let yourself avoid it by procrastinating.


It sounds scary to look at the fears that keep you procrastinating, but in my course I guide you through gently with encouragement. You get some tactics and exercises for facing fear and the support to turn those fears into motivation and breakthroughs. If you find this to be a particularly interesting topic, then you may be interested in my previous blog posts on developing courage.
Courage Through Curiosity & 8 Ways to Build Your Creative Courage



Warning Sign 2: Notice Your Self-Talk

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Self-talk is one of the main mechanisms we use to keep our underlying emotions in place. Whatever feelings you have, your mind will make up stories to justify them. That makes self-talk an excellent indicator or wake-up call. Be on the alert for possible upcoming procrastination if you are noticing negative self-talk about your intended endeavor. I find it easier to notice my thoughts than my feelings, so when I observe negative internal dialogue about my task, I know to be prepared to put my strategies in place.


Warning Sign 3: Mistaken Beliefs

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A related device that keeps us procrastinating is the mistaken beliefs we have about ourselves in relation to things we need to do. This can include beliefs like I have to feel like it in order to produce quality work, or I work best under pressure, or I will always be a procrastinator. These all deserve honest examination to determine whether or not they are really true. If they are not true, then take steps to instill new, more beneficial and true beliefs.

Once you are aware of these warning signs (also called internal procrastination facilitators), it’s good to focus on the external ones. Just as an architectural design can determine how people use that space, the way you set up your working environment can have the same effect. Even little changes can incline you towards reaching your goals rather than sliding into wasted time.



Use This Strategy

A key component of spending your time the way you want to is by noticing your procrastination triggers and setting up interventions for yourself. It becomes simple when you utilize if-then strategies.

IF it’s time to start writing my blog but I don’t feel like it, then I will take these steps (that I have determined ahead of time) to inspire myself.

IF I feel tired in the middle of working and want to quit, THEN I will do 10 jumping jacks and immediately return to work.


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