Procrastination Isn’t Wisdom

Rajgopal Nidamboor

The thought of procrastination, or postponing action, or deferral, brings to mind, among other things, the idea of avoiding something you don’t want to do. Agreed that you may want the benefits of a particular action — and, the fruits it can bring. However, on the downside, you also fear the apprehension it conveys. This is the irony that aptly defines procrastination. Of a way to handle situations where you want action, but you also dread a possible outcome — at the same time.

You may, therefore, relate to procrastination as a form of ‘negative stimulus.’ Because, when you procrastinate, as Dr Philip Humbert, a professional coach, writer and speaker, puts it, you tend to motivate yourself to avoid a known, or a not-yet-known situation.

There are as many types of negative procrastination, as there are potholes in Mumbai. Laziness, for instance, is one of the foremost examples among them. Being lazy is the need to make the most of temporary comfort above everything else.

In addition to this, you may have a fear of failure, or reprimand. This can ‘fuel’ people for short periods, although it is not useful in the long-term.

This is not all. Mock deadlines, challenges, and ‘motivational classes,’ are stress-based ways to momentarily enhance performance. Ironically, they all tend to only work to a certain degree, not fully.

In other words, they are not a solid base upon which you can build your life and/or career. You would know the reason — don’t you? That negative motivation often works in a crisis, but not in the long-term.

Is there a way out — you may well ask.

Yes, there is. It is called ‘positive motivation.’

Positive motivation is value-driven. It is also a much more efficient practice than you could think — off-the-cuff. To paraphrase the idea, in one’s own words: “When I’m motivated by a positive vision, a sense of destiny, or desire, my behaviour, thoughts and attitudes are all stimulated in the same direction. I tend to do well with anything that is given to me to achieve, or accomplish.”

Motivation Does Best

First things, first. You need to handle procrastination effectively.

Next, you need to have consistency between your values — for instance, love of family — and, your stated goals, for example, being a good parent. Besides this, you need to have a clear strategy to achieve your goals. Once you know what you wish, or want to do, taking action is not difficult.

When our values, our goals and our strategies are united, we all tend to be exceptionally productive. To highlight a few examples:

Ask your adolescent if they really want to stay up past their bed-time with their social media frenzy.
Ask your cousin who wants to make the football team to date someone their parents don’t like.
Ask a talented tennis player about going for tennis practice when it is awfully hot and humid.

You get the point. When our values, goals, and strategies are aligned, we perform well.
Interestingly, it is also only when things are out of position that we fight back strongly.

To pick another example. When one of your key values — to spend more time as a family — conflicts with your goals, for instance, to get that promotion, or when you don’t have a practical strategy, you get into trouble. Hence, the big question — without an effective strategy, why try, you may well ask yourself.

Wait a moment.

To achieve more, you need to start by ‘reading’ through your core values. Small wonder why many people get into trouble at this point. Here goes. You say you value ambition, but you actually prize vacations, or relaxation, more. Or, you may say you value a comfortable retirement, but what you actually value is the prestige of a new car, a bigger home, or eating out.

Take a deep breath, and think.

Core Values

You need to stay motivated to stay motivated. To achieve this, you should first start with a rigorous examination of your core values. Ask — what is most important to you.

Next, make sure your daily actions and the ‘little’ goals of daily life actually reflect your values.

If you ask most adults to list their five- or ten-year goals, they’ll sound pretty good. But, ask them to list their daily projects, or their plans for the weekend, and you often see a conflict. You should take a lesson from this, and make sure your value of ‘financial security’ is mirrored in your monthly bank statement.

Also, always work with tried-and-tested strategies, not quick-fixes. In addition to this, remember that ‘hope is not a strategy.’ It is a strategy that is achievable.

Always have a plan, and work through your plan. Also, make an action list, or create a ‘road-map.’ Do you know that most ambitious people know they should have written goals, but not many take the time to develop a useful, if not great, strategy? The moral of the story? You need to have a solid, workable and confident strategy. Once you stick to a plan, things will slowly fall into place, and you’ll be better off for it. What’s more, to achieve further, make doubly sure your core values, short-term goals, and your daily strategies are properly allied.

You’d also do well to use certain sound affirmations to stay afloat and focused. Tell yourself, “Day by day, I’m getting better and better.”

Sounds simple, but its effect is profound. Reason: when your daily actions fully mirror your core values and workable strategy, you’ll be able to emerge victorious, or successful, in most things you do.

(The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher, columnist and author.)

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