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Whether a client is spiritually and psychologically very experienced, deep into personal development or just at the beginning of his journey, one question keeps rising up. It is about procrastination.

“I know I should do *thing*, but I just don’t. And the worst thing is that I actually like doing what I procrastinate on. What is wrong with me?”

Personally, I tried every single possible time management I could get my hand on, and there were a lot. The results have been very inconsistent, from extreme productivity to weeks of despair about endless procrastination. Then I tried to identify limiting beliefs, visualize my intended outcome, set impossible goals to “grow into” and motivate myself with pain and pleasure. The results remained inconsistent – with even higher highs and lower lows.

At last I tried to let go of my unconscious fears around success and question my beliefs about procrastination and what I “should and shouldn’t do”. This approach was the most rewarding so far and it is the one I wrote about.

And still – there is a trap.

If you are going to use these techniques as a “tool” for time management or as as a “tool” for achieving your goals, their effectiveness is radically diminished and they could have negative side effects. You are not open for a paradigm shift, still forcing what you think you should do to finally feel happy in an imaginary future.

That said, let’s jump in!

 

Step 1: Question your premisses

 

Premisses are underlying assumptions that are experienced as facts, without even knowing that they could be not accurate. Let’s find some possible premisses of the statement above:

“I know I should do *thing*, but I just don’t. And the worst thing is that I actually like doing what I procrastinate on. What is wrong with me?”

  1. I don’t do what I think I should do at all.
  2. I should do something.
  3. It is bad when I don’t do the *thing* I think I should do.
  4. I know what is best for me.
  5. I need a good excuse to feel good while not doing what I think I should do.
  6. The fact that I actually like the *thing* I think I should do makes it even harder to justify not doing it.
  7. The reason I feel something is wrong with is because I don’t do the *thing*.
  8. There is a possibility that there is something wrong with me.

There could be some hidden premisses that are not explicitly stated, as:

  1. I shouldn’t feel that there is something wrong with me.
  2. If I would finally do the *thing*, I finally would feel happy.

So let’s assume we are actually not experiencing the circumstances as much as our thinking about those circumstances, what would have the heavier weight on our peace of mind? The experience of the statement about our procrastination or the experience of all the underlying premisses combined?

If it is the latter, it could be beneficial to focus on our perception of the premisses as fact than on finally start doing what we think we should do. For that, sometimes awareness and the question “is this statement really true?” is all you need.

One of the best tool for questioning premisses is “The Work of Byron Katie”. You can look it up at thework.com.

 

Step 2: Let go of the resistance

 

What if it was true? What if there is just something wrong with you? What if you just can’t do it? What meaning do you give that statement. It may be one of the following:

  1. I’ll never achieve my goals. (emotion of fear)
  2. I’m a failure. (emotion of apathy)
  3. I need to change my behaviour and suffer to compensate it. (emotion of desire)
  4. The world is a bad and unjust place. (emotion of anger)
  5. A feeling of deep depression. (emotion of grief)

You might avoid the experience of these meanings by resisting the thought of you being a procrastinator.  The best way to do this is by either doing the stuff you think you procrastinate on or, at least, feeling bad about not doing it.

So, like in Step 1, it might be more comfortable to experience that there is possibly something wrong with because of your procrastination (with the disguised plot motivating you to not procrastinate anymore) than experiencing yourself as a depressed failure, full of fear, apathy and grief, angry about an unjust world that is full of suffering.

But actually, if you would allow yourself to fully experience all these things, you might see that after a 5-20 minutes of pain, it would be kind of okay. Not that these will be happy thoughts, but it will actually stop hurting. And it wouldn’t be a big deal anymore.

Your mental mechanisms could adjust, because they don’t thing they need to “protect” you from a life crisis, triggered by these experiences.

And the next time you think “I should do that” you might answer yourself with “I kinda don’t want to” or “Yeah – let’s do it!”.

If you want some guidance, one of the best books around this topic is “Letting Go”, written by David R. Hawkins.

 

Step 3: Set other goals

 

This is a short one.

What do you do in the time you think you procrastinate and should do the *thing*?

For the next few days, have the goals of doing this things for at least a few hours, every day.

Be hard in holding yourself accountable.

If you want to.

 

 

Michael Imas