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Procrastination: the Silent Killer

In my studies of human development, I found that procrastination destroys more things than any other single element. If this habit gets out of control, it ruins marriages, careers, relationships, and self worth. Over time, it has the capability to grow until it completely paralyzes an individual. The effect equally devastates the people doing the procrastinating and all others around them.

Everyone procrastinates to a certain degree. It is a natural human tendency to put some things off, especially those activities we deem negative. Where this habit becomes a problem is when it becomes the default mindset. As children, we are inclined to do things the moment that we think of them. The “do it now” mentality is prevalent. The concept of time is not well formed, thus the child lives completely in the moment. Of course, as we age, this all changes.

As we mature, we learn certain lessons. These lessons are taught in a variety of ways. However, the overall message is that responsible people do a lot of things they do not enjoy. To show us how this work, most of us are given chores to do while growing up. Tasks such as mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage, setting the table, and doing the dishes suddenly are assigned to us. Naturally, the desire to go out and play is stronger than the will to do these things. The reason is playing is fun while chores are not. It is in this way that many of us encounter our first opportunity to procrastinate,

Obviously there is a vast difference between putting off the mowing of the lawn and not paying the electric bill. Yet, when we follow the progression of this deadly habit, we clearly see how one arrives at this destination. We simply do not start out as procrastinators. However, as the unenviable tasks that require our attention mount in our lives, we begin to put more and more off. It starts with the lawn. From there we develop the practice of leaving our school assignments until the night before they are due. This action is duplicated when given a project in the workplace. Some of us even revel in the reputation that we gain as being able to complete things at the last moment. Unfortunately, many of us realize that procrastination creates a great deal of stress in our lives.

Procrastination is a habit. Like all other habits, it becomes ingrained in us over time. The more we engage in it, the deeper it spreads it roots. It is not uncommon for procrastination to completely dominate someones thought process. Instead of having a do it now mentality, the default mindset is to put the activity off. “Later” and “tomorrow” are commonly uttered responses when questioned about the task being avoided.

There are two factors that drive us to procrastinate. When simple activities are put off, laziness is the motivator. Basically, we do not want to do it. We can complete the tasks with ease yet just cannot seem to motivate ourselves to do it. Fortunately, this is usually a short lived situation. Once the motivation to act returns, the activity is quickly completed.

The other motivator is fear. Most situations where procrastination is present is based out of this emotion. When confronted with a task, we project into the future negatively. Our mind focuses upon how everything will not work out for us. This creates a degree of fear. When it is great enough, we start to put the action off. This will occur until the pain of putting it off is greater than the pain associated with taking the action.

Repeating this scenario is what causes us to be paralyzed by procrastination. At first, only the most difficult of tasks are avoided. However, as the habit develops, we default to the idea of putting things off. When this point is reached, the individual is most likely unaware of the severity of the procrastination. It is operating at a subconscious level. The result is the inability to take the action necessary to move forward. While this persists, the quality of life decreases as all areas become infected with this tendency.

Awareness is the beginning of the overcoming of this tragic habit. Monitor those areas where you have a tendency to procrastinate to bring a level of consciousness to your shortcomings, Then take action to complete the task in spite of what your mind is telling you. It is the key to success.

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