She paced in front of the boss’s office a million times already today. This last time she got so close, she could have just slipped right in but at the last moment panicked and pretended to go get her fifth cup of coffee this morning. She’ll never find the courage to knock and ask what she really wants to. It’s procrastination and most humans know it well.
Even the high-achieving, driven, and ambitious deal with it. Many will admit it with a shrug and guilty smile. But what is really underneath the nonchalance is confusion, fear, worry, anxiety, self-doubt, or overwhelm. When people procrastinate, it is simply avoidance. They simply would rather not deal with those personal demons right now… they’re too busy.
Overcoming procrastination is like the Limitless Pill. Learning this life skill allows individuals to pole vault over roadblocks that keep competitors stuck and others playing small. It comes down to a few mindset shifts and easy-to-follow steps broken down inside this article. If procrastination has you stuck and frustrated, then read on. This is for you.
Procrastination is Just Avoidance
The first thing to know about procrastination is that it is just avoidance. So the question becomes, what is she avoiding, exactly?
Sure, she says to herself, I didn’t pitch myself to keynote the next corporate retreat but I got my inbox cleaned out!
Procrastinators swap a needle-moving to-do for a non-urgent, non-important task. *Queue the sad-sack trombone music.* It’s an unfortunate mistake many bright and determined women make. Tying Worth to Productivity, they fill their time with things that don’t really matter because the activity they chose is known, it’s easy, and it doesn’t hurt.
How to Overcome Procrastination
Since procrastination is just avoidance, the question is: What are you avoiding? Real change and breakthroughs happen when individuals acknowledge that they are purposefully avoiding something and camp out there. This is the step most people skip because it is really uncomfortable and even painful. Dealing with the deeply ingrained fears, mistakes, and confusion can pull such strong emotions that it becomes easier just to skip past it.
But if the Question continuously gets skipped, even the head-of-the-class finds herself repeating the same mistakes (or stuck at the same level year after year and never seeing any growth). It’s like Groundhog’s Day but with upper-limits. Serious go-getters can find themselves stagnating, overcomplicating, overplanning, overspending, over caffeinating, and so much more. Busy becomes a badge of honor when it should be a red flag that priorities and boundaries are out of whack.
The first step to beating procrastination for good and forever is to recognize that you are procrastinating. This may feel super obvious, but not enough people like to admit a fault, especially the driven types. When a person admits to herself that she is procrastinating, it draws attention to the moment. Inside the moment there are elements that triggered the mental arrest.
Recommendation: Start a journal (or add this to your daily practice) and review your day or week. What projects, conversations, or tasks did you straight-up avoid? By writing them down, you tell your brain that it is important to notice.
The second step to overcoming procrastination is to camp out in the Question: What are you avoiding? Simply by asking the question “what,” the brain starts to work on the problem. The brain is incredibly powerful. It is designed to find exactly what is asked for and is always working to close loops.
This is the most difficult part of the process because it brings up all the feels. Things that have been buried perhaps since childhood will dredge up old wounds, insecurities, and anxieties. All of them have a common thread underneath everything: fear.
Fear of lost sleep.
Fear of judgment.
Fear of failure.
Fear of success.
Fear of broken relationships.
Fear of loss.
Discovering a personal demon gives the opportunity to battle it. It’s a fight, sure, but in the end, it’s taking place in an individual’s mind and soul. No one has complete control but her. She’ll win.
The third step to overcoming procrastination is to honor and celebrate the discovery. This is perhaps the most counter-intuitive part of the process but totally clutch. When people celebrate something, it triggers the reward centers in the brain, teaching it that it is a good thing to uncover these limiting beliefs.
The healing is just beginning at this point, however. Although the heavy lifting is done (finding the root cause of the procrastination), now comes rewriting the narrative in your mind. This is exactly why celebrations are needed. When a person decides to change, up-level their identity and processes, it means growth. That needs to be honored.
Procrastination is a habit that needs to be unlearned. The fourth step is rewriting the mental narrative, choosing a different belief. Until this point, important work has been habitually skipped, avoided, or rescheduled. With the what and the why solved, a connecting idea can be formed from the current belief system to the ideal future belief system. Here is how that looks:
Journal exercise example:
My Current Belief (what I think now): I’m not ready to Keynote because I lack experience.
My Ideal Future Belief (what I’d like to think): I’m a confident and engaging speaker that adds tons of value.
My Connecting Thought (my right-now to future-self bridge): I know that everyone starts from zero, so messy is okay. I focus on serving over fear.
Anytime procrastination arises, going through these steps teaches the mind to quickly overcome the limiting beliefs by pulling the rug out from underneath it.
Conclusion: Procrastination is a Good Thing
Procrastination is such a gift. Recognizing it is one of the most exciting and pivotal moments in someone’s personal growth journey. The awareness itself is the brain offering permission to change. The biggest bursts of momentum follow, breakthroughs happen, explosions of high-vibe energy happen, and next-level clarity washes over. Bottom line: limitations vanish and there is now a big green checkmark on that thing you’ve been avoiding.
ROWAN WOOLSEY is a recovering life-long procrastinator, mama x2, and wife living the cozy apartment life in Saint Louis, Missouri. When she isn’t developing high-performing teams and running multi-million dollar storefronts, she is writing, guest speaking, and hosting events. She is the founder of the growing blog powerbuttonlife.com and the SPARC signature program. Rowan teaches powerful goal setting and implementation strategies on her social media platforms and high-touch, six-week live program SPARC built especially for side-hustlers with big dreams. If she isn’t teaching or writing, you can find her with a giant latte watching Disney Plus with the fam.