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Procrastination is commonly defined as the action of delaying or postponing something.

How often do we do this everyday? We know that we should be getting things done, addressing our challenging situations, and making changes to our lives in some way, instead what do we do?We delay it altogether, or even to the point of no return. Our procrastination can make the possible somehow impossible.

Procrastination may be present in both small and large goals. It can creep up on us when we are distracted with other people or things. When we feel unmotivated or unsuccessful, we may even intentionally postpone tackling another project or goal, assuming that a negative outcome will surface.

For some reason, we procrastinate because we think we will always have time to do something later. We do not always perceive our time or mortality as real, and we put off things that should have been done years ago, or ignore the people we should have paid more attention to and valued. But that clock has a creepy tendency to catch up with us, reminding us of our lost goals and dreams, often in ways that are not pleasant or desired.

In this way, procrastination can ruin our chances for a peaceful and enjoyable existence. Why? Because you will end up at the end of your life with regrets of all the things you should have just pressed out and tried, the success and failures you should have just experienced based on effort, the people you could have loved because you stopped being selfish and afraid, and the experiences you could have had because you stopped ignoring opportunities.

Procrastination negatively impacts our value system. As we postpone more and more people, things, and opportunities, we unintentionally change our priorities and values. Instead of keeping our standards high and being uncompromisingly vigilant about living our best life, we begin to settle out of fear and complacency.

Once we get caught up in a cycle of procrastination, we never seem to catch up. We delay one thing, frequently postpone goals or spending time with someone, and before we know it those opportunities are not only gone, but they have completely passed us by. Our kids are suddenly grown up, we feel or may be stuck in a career we should have left long ago, and that person we loved but wouldn’t commit to, is with someone else now. We miss a lot simply through the action of procrastination.

Procrastination can produce jealousy. When we see other people accomplish their goals, but we are not fulfilling our obligations and feeling successful, jealousy can begin stirring. We then begin resenting those around us and projecting our disappointments unto them. Not only is this unfair, but it is ridiculous. Instead of being accountable for our own procrastinating actions, we disregard the hard work and effort of others by being a negative presence in their lives.

So what does procrastination look like, and how do we fix it?

  • Anytime that we delay something that should be completed, we are procrastinating. Sometimes we may have good cause for postponing something, and this is alright, as long as we pick up where we left off as soon as possible. For example, if you have to continue working in a position that you feel you have outgrown for at least another year while you finish your certification or degree to qualify for another job, this is a smart move. However, if you stay in the position even after your opportunity to advance in a different direction, you are now procrastinating.
  • Most days, we need to accomplish as much as reasonably possible. We often underestimate how much time we really do have. Of course, we all have responsibilities and things that must be completed each day, but what do we do with the rest of our day? Instead of sitting in front of the TV, start exercising. If you are hanging out with your friends more than family, start balancing that out. If you simply need to become more disciplined in cleaning up your home, do it. Need to put in more time on your personal relationships? Do it.
  • Stop saying and believing, “I will just do that tomorrow.” Unless you are already disciplined in this area and will follow through with completion tomorrow, staying in the mindset of procrastination will guarantee delayed or denied results. Change this mindset into “I will do everything I can today, and then pick up where I left off, tomorrow.” See, tomorrow has enough of its own issues and challenges, and we also are unable to predict what we will need to do tomorrow. So, if we plan to accomplish as much as is reasonable every day, then we can be more prepared for any unexpected events of life tomorrow.
  • Change your value system: rate people before things. Of course, it is all about balance, but if we constantly place our goals and accomplishments over the people in our lives, we are doomed for regrets. We will certainly miss out on relationships, family experiences, and friendships. We will claim that we are always too busy to do anything or spend time with the people who should be a priority in our lives. One thing that many people regret when their time is up on earth is the amount of time they dedicated to loved ones. The regret is most often not about the bank account balance, the overtime at work that they missed out on, or the latest material items, NO, instead it is about their relationships and family. If you do your best to make people the focus in your life instead of goals and accomplishments, then this will not be one of your regrets.

Ultimately, in order to stop procrastinating, we have to make the conscious effort to stop putting people and things off until a later time, unless it is absolutely necessary.

We must utilize our time in the best ways possible.

We must stop complaining about the things that need to get done, and just get them done.

Most of all, we have to stop allowing procrastination to have more power than completion, so that procrastination doesn’t have a chance to ruin the experiences of life.

Finally, we cannot be fooled by the living model demonstrated by society. The “do more have more” mentality is garbage. Sure, we all want nice things and big fancy titles that follow accomplishment, but who really wants to do those things alone? If we live an unbalanced life, where our focus is only on one area of our life while we neglect/procrastinate on everything (and everyone) else, are we really enjoying life? Or, are we just keeping up with what society tells us is important?

You can be successful and live a full life. You can get things done in a timely fashion, while spending time with loved ones. You can make and meet your life goals. But if you start procrastinating in any one area, everything and everyone, including you, suffers.