6 reasons for procrastination and how to avoid it!

On why just doing it anyway is the only way…

We all want to achieve a lot, be successful, feel appreciated and ultimately lead happy lives. All this can happen only if we make a start somewhere.  Every achievement needs a starting point. And very often, once you start it, the rest will follow. Fighting procrastination and starting is the key to success.

Observe how thoughts unfold in a particular scenario…

You are deliberating about investing the bonus you got in an equity fund. You have been reading about it for quite long and have enough reason to believe that it is a wise thing to do. You fix an appointment with a qualified financial advisor. But even before the meeting happens, the doubts start pouring in.

Is it wise to do it now? What if market tanks? How can I trust her advice? How will I pay for my holidays if the value erodes? Wouldn’t my wife laugh at me if she found out? What do I know about investment after all? Why get into all this when I am comfortable with my bank deposits?

Here are the 6 key reasons why we procrastinate like this in the time of decision making :

1.       Lack of confidence:  We don’t feel confident about the decision that needs to be taken. Acting confidently also means shouldering the accountability for the task. That can be intimidating for us. In situations where independent decision making is required we delay the decision due to absence of confidence. 

Confidence comes only from acceptance of responsibilities and consequences that come with decision making. Having no one to blame for a possible failure in fact makes you feel more responsible and committed towards achieving your goal. Failures would feel only like learnings, because you know you gave your best and that there is always a next time in most things. 

2.       Inability in a key area of a task and lack of knowledge: Often, it could happen that we might not have the capability or expertise required in one key area of the task at hand. So instead of learning it or seeking help to sort it out or understand, we just put the whole plan into the back burner. 

If you aspire to be the world’s best triathlete, but your swimming skills aren’t up  to the mark ,you should just work on honing  that and not abandon the dream altogether. Sometimes it is not practically possible to learn a skill in the required time frame. For example, if your business skills are top class but not your accounting, and you feel totally ill equipped and disinterested in handling it, it makes sense to just hire an accountant to handle it or outsource it to people specializing in it. 

3.       Fear of the unknown: We fear what we do not know. The fear of the unknown prevents us from trying for new jobs, travelling, meeting new people or embracing new experiences. The worry of ‘What if it goes wrong?’ prevents us from taking a leap of faith in almost everything. 

Things could go wrong. We do not live in a perfect world. Think of what is the worst that could happen and be prepared for it! As long as it does not involve loss of life, injury or breaking law, you are in a good place. We do know that 99% of the time what we fear or worry about doesn’t happen. As they say, Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best! 

4.       Fearing of losing face: What would people think if I fail? Wouldn’t it be a vindication of their poor image of me? How can I respect myself after that? These apprehensions cripple us before we embark on anything new. 

If Michael Angelo, Edison or Beethoven had thought what people would think, we wouldn’t have a David, a light bulb or a Fifth Symphony today. It is worth mentioning here that, People’s opinions are just that. Their opinion. Until you accept it as your opinion of yourself, it remains their problem to deal with. 

5.       Focus on perfectionism: We delay or avoid doing something because we don’t know how to do it perfectly. We think it is better not to do something if we can’t get it perfect the first time. We feel it is below us or to do it less than perfectly. 

Almost nothing was achieved by anyone exactly like envisaged in the first attempt. We hone our skills over time. It needs patience to do it. The chance failures enroute to success should be considered as learning opportunities. Eventually we get it right. Progress and consistency, not perfection is the key to success. 

6.       Reluctance to leave the comfort zone: You look out and admire the pink shirt in the shop window, but don’t buy it as you are comfortable with your grey and blue shirts. You want to travel alone and experience seeing the wildebeest crossing in Masai Mara, but eventually go to Florida and stay in a beach resort where you pay for 3 nights and get the fourth free. Why is that?

It is difficult to leave our comfort zone all of a sudden and embrace new experiences. What can be done instead is take small steps which are less intimidating. If pink is impossible now, start with a lighter neutral blue. If Masai Mara is tough for now, go on a day’s hike to the national park closest to you with a group of enthusiastic strangers. Eventually you get comfortable exploring entirely out of your comfort zone. 

Guru in the field of habit formation James Clear gives a great tip to beat procrastination and chronic inaction. He says “If it takes less than 2 minutes, then do it now”. So if it is a decision that you have thought over logically, rationally and found water tight, DO IT ANYWAY! Procrastination is certainly the thief of time. Nike is talking to all the procrastinators when it says “Just do it!” They sure got that one right!  That is the ONLY way!

Harish Rao is a Curacao based Entrepreneur, Investor and coach. He is the CEO of Abaque group. Finsight global, Seguros Muskus (representative of New India Assurance in Curacao, Bonaire and the Windward islands), Partem education are some of the key ventures of the Abaque group.  


Harish lives by his vision of “Empowering people to master themselves through education”. That perhaps, translates into his success as a business coach.


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