Procrastination: What Causes It?
Tom is a college student. He is intelligent, probably one of the smartest people in his class. But Tom has a problem: he can’t seem to get his classroom assignments done on time. He puts work off until the last minute, then he has to rush to get it done. He knows he has a problem with procrastination, but he doesn’t know what is causing it, or what to do about it.
Tom is not alone. Some studies indicate that up to 20% of the population consider themselves to be chronic procrastinators. The numbers for students is even higher. There’s no doubt that procrastination can cause major disruption in a person’s life. Why would anyone put themselves through the stress that procrastination causes?
Procrastinators are not born, they are made. It seems that procrastination is a learned response. In other words, it develops as a way to deal with something going on in a person’s life. For many people, procrastination stems from beliefs that the procrastinator has about him- or herself. These beliefs may not be factual, but they are nonetheless real, and they limit a person’s ability to act.
One of the beliefs underlying procrastination is the belief that a person is not capable. When someone believes he or she can do anything, there is plenty of motivation to begin a project, and see it through to the end. Conversely, when a person doubts his or her ability to successfully complete a project, there is little motivation to even begin the project. The person believes it is doomed to failure, before it starts.
This belief can manifest itself in many ways. It can show up as fear that your project will be rejected. It might come out as an unrealistically high standard of perfection, where anything less is unacceptable. However it displays itself, this belief is destructive and debilitating.
It is important to note that what we are talking about is not a person’s actual ability. It’s his or her perception of their ability. The perception may completely wrong, and still cause damage to someone’s thoughts and actions.
If procrastination is primarily a problem of faulty perceptions, then the cure for it lies in correcting those perceptions. This is easier said than done. Often, these perceptions are deeply held, and are rooted in events that happened in a person’s childhood.
A person who procrastinates needs to examine his or her own reasons for doing so. Once someone discovers the beliefs that fuel procrastination for them, he or she can take action to bring those beliefs back in line with reality.
P.S. Those conflicting, jumbled up thoughts about whether you can really do this or if it might be another mistake that ends in failure are coming from the procrastination! Fight against it and believe in you, so take a deep breath and STOP PROCRASTINATING about stopping procrastination!