Procrastination: The Silent Career Killer

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When you’re attempting to successfully navigate the career ladder, it’s often the little steps you take that bring about the greatest personal and professional growth. Completing the certification program that will help push you into the next income bracket or stepping up and applying for new opportunities when they arise are all well and good, but you likely won’t do any of that, at least not in a timely fashion, if you’re burdened with the very common problem of procrastination.

I read something recently on the ‘Net that suggested curing procrastination was a mind matter centered on overcoming fear. That shocked me. I thought procrastination was rooted in laziness. But apparently getting past the habit of procrastination isn’t about willpower or even measured progress in goal-attainment efforts, though that can certainly help. It’s about learning what you might be afraid of and then finding ways to face that fear so that you can move forward.

The first step is to find out what you are afraid of. If you don’t know, speculate. Is it the threat of failure? If so, run down the worst-case scenarios. Have fun with it. I’ve actually done this trick, and it can relieve some of the anxiety associated with the unknown. Think about what could happen if you fail. You won’t get the job. You don’t have it anyway, and if you procrastinate about sending in the resume or whatever you never will have it. Once you face the worst, it becomes easier to internalize the idea that worrying about what might never be isn’t going to keep that nebulous idea from becoming reality. Maybe you think taking that next step could lead to embarrassment. Your coworkers and supervisors will look at you askance and ask silently, what the hell was he/she thinking? But you’re not responsible for other people’s thoughts and feelings. They’re not helping to pay any of your bills, nor can anyone’s thoughts affect your situation. Only actions can.

Are you afraid that you won’t fail? That you might end up a raging success with lots of new responsibilities that potentially increase your potential for future failure? It could happen. Good and bad are almost always in tandem in life. Yin, yang, light, dark: It’s about balance. With new challenges there is usually a period of adjustment, a time for learning. People understand that and most will cut you some slack while you’re learning. It’s okay to make mistakes. That’s how you improve and come up with new angles and ideas for solutions to problems. Come to terms with the good and bad of success. Would you forgo the former out of fear of the latter?

Procrastination is a mind game. Curing it means being brave, facing your fears head-on and moving forward regardless. Curing procrastination implies personal growth and depends entirely on your willingness to make mistakes, knowing that only by continuously stretching beyond your current capabilities can you enjoy success.

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