Everyone has heard the old saying, “The hardest part of any journey is taking the first step.” However, identifying what makes it difficult is the key to understanding this saying. As a consultant, I recognize procrastination and its death-like cycle immediately in some of my clients. I also identify the cause behind their procrastination as fear or resistance to change. Surprisingly, what we most fear is often far less important than what we make it out to be. The longer we resist doing something, the more difficult it becomes. The simple thought of moving forward with a plan or speaking with a higher-up about such-n-such, can strike fear in our hearts and cause us to retreat, thereby perpetuating the cycle of procrastination. If you are struggling with this issue and want to get control of it, there is a way to do so. First, recognize that small steps are the true building blocks of success.
I’ve discovered that people fight with procrastination most often in the following challenges.
Do these resonate with you?
The task is beyond your current skillset. If you lack experience, there is a good chance you lack confidence. In addition, where you lack confidence you’ll find yourself procrastinating. If the task you’re putting off is outside of anything you’ve ever done before, putting it off might sound like a reasonable strategy. Unfortunately, the longer you stall your professional growth, the more limited your opportunities will become. Do your best to embrace challenges, whether it involves learning a new software program or giving speeches, give up resistance and replace it with curiosity to make advancement. Take the first step towards the challenge at hand as soon as possible, and overcome the awkwardness that develops from procrastination.
Discussing a difficult topic with a difficult person. If you are a leader or a boss, having an important conversation can be challenging. It can even be frightening if it’s happening between you and your own boss. Unfortunately, challenging conversations are a fact of business life. To overcome your fear of the situation, set aside your emotions and get to the point. Identify the points you want to make and plan how you will convey them to your listener. Think ahead, be smart, and don’t over-react to any negative response you might receive. Be confident in your ability to communicate, and choose neutral ground for the discussion so both parties feel more relaxed and non-threatened.
Fear of self-improvement. Committing to a new exercise routine or a new way of managing your staff is challenging, particularly in the beginning. By identifying the best possible way to produce results, both in your personal and professional life, you set the stage for self-improvement. Remember to start out slow with any adjustments and praise yourself when you reach a new goal. Don’t expect dramatic results right away either. Stay the course to see the results you want.
What are some ways you can identify procrastination in your team and how can you respond to it?