Why Do People Procrastinate?

Constantly putting things off and finding yourself in a vicious cycle of never being able to get things done on time can be because of a number of things. People have a number of reasons why they procrastinate, and many can’t figure out why they do it. There is always an underlying reason, and sometimes procrastination is a psychological issue. Some people are afraid and others get stressed out under pressure. Whatever the underlying reasons may be, it’s important that you don’t just tell yourself that you are lazy or don’t care; this is hardly ever the case. Some of the most common reasons for procrastination are listed below; do you fit into one of them?

Fear of Failure

Consider the thoughts and feelings that come over you when assigned a new task. Do you instantly think of everything that could possibly go wrong, or how people will react if you fail? Do you tell yourself that it may be better to just not try at all than to have your best not be good enough? If this sounds like you, your procrastination may be a result of a fear of failure.

When you think about the possibility of working so hard on something and having it not be good enough, it’s overwhelming and may make you want to put it off. The thought of failure is enough to make anyone want to ignore a project; why put time and effort into it if it’s just not going to be good enough anyways? Procrastinating in this sense also gives you an excuse if your project does fail (or if you feel it has); you can rationalize that you didn’t have enough time.

Assuming that you are always going to fail is neither healthy nor fair. You owe it to yourself to do your best and be happy with it, no matter what happens. As long as you gave the project your all and you feel good about it, the rest really doesn’t matter.

Fear of Success

On the total opposite end of the spectrum are those who procrastinate for a totally different reason. Does the thought of the responsibilities that could come with success overwhelm you? Do you feel that by doing well, others’ expectations of you will be higher and you’ll be expected to do more? Do you feel that by succeeding, others will get to know a side of you that you prefer to keep hidden?

Those who feel this way are often procrastinating because they are afraid of success. Rather than thinking that they will fail, they assume they will be great and the thought of what could come along with that just becomes too much.

What this basically means is that the responsibility and expectations of what could come if you do succeed is just too stressful and you choose to put things off in order to avoid that stress. Success also means new challenges, and some people are not ready to be put to the test. People put things off in the hopes that getting to it at the last moment will allow them to fade into the background rather than standing out and raising others’ expectations of them.

Success is an amazing thing; you should take pride in what you are capable of and allow others to benefit from your greatness. Yes, there are extra responsibilities that come with success, but there are also rewards that far outweigh any uncertainty that you may have.

Unreasonable Expectations

Do you expect perfection from everything you do? If things are going exactly the way you want them to, do you find that you want to quit? Would you rather not do something at all than do it less than perfect? Those who can relate to these questions are also guilty of procrastination because their expectations for themselves are unreasonably high. Being a perfectionist is incredibly damaging to your work and your self-esteem, and if you wait until you believe you can achieve perfection, you will be procrastinating your life, let alone a project.

Any of these reasons for procrastination will only lead to an ongoing cycle of stress, avoidance, and guilt. Your feelings of guilt will only increase the more you put things off, and you really can’t accomplish anything with all of that hovering over you. You’ll also only wear yourself out more because there is always a list of things you should be doing but are putting off.

Tomorrow holds new tasks; if you put today’s tasks for tomorrow, you will always be behind and always feel that you are failing in some way. Your fears and visions of perfectionism will only keep you from ever achieving anything. Get to work, do your best, and don’t wait until the last minute. The sooner you tackle a difficult project, the better you will feel about your work, and no matter what, you will know you did your very best. Regardless of your reason for procrastinating, the truth is that when you put things off nothing ever gets done.

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