Switching up your mindset! Passion projects on the back-burner, to-do list overflowing – it’s often easy to write off procrastination as laziness or complacency, but what’s really going on under the surface?
The answer could surprise you
To do the things you should do can be the hardest thing in the world for you. Isn’t it strange that sometimes we can just get on and do the things that matter, and other times we procrastinate or self-sabotage?
Writing a diary, doing charitable work, finishing a project, spending time with friends, meeting deadlines. There are so many worthwhile activities, yet, we find ourselves doom-scrolling, browsing Instagram, window-shopping, reading celebrity gossip. There are so many things we should be doing, so why don’t we?
“Should” – according to whom?
Sometimes, the reason we don’t do something is that we don’t really own it in the first place. If there is a ‘should’ or an ‘ought to’ running through your mind, you may be allowing outside pressures to control your outcomes. If you are doing it because somebody says so, you can unconsciously resist doing it.
You can start changing the thought to ‘I want to…’ Try, ‘I want to go to the gym’, or ‘I want to finish my craft project’. How does that feel to you? Does it feel genuine and sincere? If it does, you may find it easier to move forward just by changing that one word, ‘should’. If it doesn’t really connect with you, then you may need to dig a little deeper into your motivations – or just let it go.
You need to Find the value behind and connect with it
When you are living a life that is synchronized with your values, you tend to feel fulfilled. When your life conflicts with your values, you start feeling uncomfortable, start lacking in confidence, feel worthless. There are values behind most of your unconscious actions and you are almost always unaware of them.
So, with any project or activity that you want to complete, find the value that is behind that project. What is it that is ultimately important about completing this activity? Going to the gym might fulfil the value of health, friendship, or being consistent. Writing a novel might fulfil the value of success, self-expression, creativity, or communication.
Sometimes values are negative too, so you may be motivated by the value of avoiding something such as criticism, loneliness, or ill-health.
Once you know the value that drives you, really connect with that value as you visualise the completion of your task or project. See yourself in your mind’s eye and imagine how you will look when you satisfy that value of recognition, or fulfilment, adventure, or self-mastery.
Start dealing with distractions
Sometimes we find that, although we want to do the right thing or that important project, we end up passing the time less productively or focusing on something irrelevant. Social media is the classic modern example, but it can also be more subtle things, like reading an ‘important’ report first, doing ‘research’, or going for a walk to clear your head.
If you are aware of such distractions and timewasters, ask yourself what value this distraction fulfils for you. What is important about this? What value does it fulfil for me?
Social media? Important? What possible value does that give me? Well, maybe it’s connection, communication, attention, or self-expression, or maybe it is to avoid self-doubt, failure, or discomfort.
Don’t underestimate the values that distractions fulfil. The fact that you choose them over more important stuff could mean that the values they fulfil are even more important to you.