Notice that the title said, “AM CURING” meaning this is a CURRENT process not yet completed.
I have been a procrastinator for as long as I can remember. I put off school projects and papers, calling the guys I liked, getting a passport, getting my license (I was 24!), etc. I had no real solution for it and toward the end of my college career I chalked it up to “That’s just how I operate. I work well under pressure.”
While that really does seem to be true – I come up SO clutch when I’m against a pressing deadline – I have had a lot of time lately to explore WHY I procrastinate so much. I never questioned it before. I just went with it, occasionally kicking myself when I had to pull overnighters or throw things together last-minute.
Iyanla Vanzant recently tweeted something that stopped me in my tracks because I felt as though she was speaking directly to me about me:
In that exact moment I was putting off at least three different things in my life. I had notebooks and to do lists and papers and notes everywhere. I had ample time and ability but I wasn’t getting anything accomplished. Or I wasn’t doing as complete and awesome a job as I knew I could.
So, Iyanla’s tweet hit me in my chest and made me pause a moment. Indeed, I had a severe lack of focus. That was clearly evident from the debris of papers and lists scattered around me. What had not been so clear to me until that moment was that the lack of focus came from deep, years-old fears that I had yet to really ever face.
I copped out in college but proclaiming that I worked well under pressure but how did I feel every moment under that pressure? Scared. Nervous. Unsure. I was never quite sure if what I turned out would be good enough. I was never quite sure what I would be met with – criticism or praise. Criticism would become another shovel full of dirt over the coffin of my confidence. Praise would become another reason to question myself – Did I really deserve it? Could I now live up to the standard expected of me? I was fearful of failing and fearful of success at the same time. Talk about conflicted.
It was pretty amazing to me how one tweet could send me into a full self-revelation. Now that I knew what drove my procrastination, what could I do to change? How could I start?
I started looking up various articles about procrastination and maximizing time throughout the course of the day. And they all had a common theme:
1. START RIGHT NOW. No matter what the task, there is something you can do in this moment to get you closer to your goal than you were five minutes before. Whether you need create a to do list, call a vendor, write an outline, practice some scales, pitch the article… whatever it is, just start. Make it a point to do at least one thing to work your way toward an end product and set a time frame for that accomplishment. Not only are you beating procrastination but you’re slowly but surely teaching yourself perseverance.
2. FACE THE FEAR. Whatever the fear is that is keeping you from seizing any and every opportunity to move forward – confront it. Whether you have to rant to a friend, vent in a journal, or have a conversation with someone who has hurt you – face it. There is very little else that will solve procrastination and lack of focus than standing up to the fear that started it all. In facing the fear, also understand that you are capable. Fear of failure and fear of success often stem from not believing you are capable.
3. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR SUCCESS. One of the things we are often taught, as women, is to be very humble. Almost to a fault. We’re taught to play down our strengths and our accomplishments or else we’re called other things which I won’t mention here. It is so important to be aware of what makes you unique, what makes you great and how far you have come. When dealing with procrastination, be proud of each step you make toward your goal. Reward yourself, even! Sometimes just looking at success as a bunch of small accomplished steps is the push you need to keep moving forward.
I am not 100% cured of procrastination – I still take breaks to watch “R&B Divas” when I know I should be completing this or that – but I am moving forward, releasing myself of fears, priding myself in my success and looking forward to the next step.
La Truly’s writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Follow her on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and AboutMe http://www.about.me/latruly.