“What if you could say “goodbye” to procrastination forever?” Believe it or not, there IS one way you can do this!
You can literally say, “Goodbye!” to it! Now that might sound “too simple,” but it really IS that simple–simple but very effective! What I’m suggesting is that you learn to “Externalize It!”
Try this 3-Step Process to Externalize, Eliminate, & Determine
Step 1: Externalize It!
Externalizing, in the therapeutic sense, means to make a mental projection, in image form, outside of oneself, and it is a method for counseling that is used in Narrative Therapy. It is a very useful therapeutic ‘tool’ for reducing self-blame and allows clients to create space for re-framing and restructuring self-identity. Therapists and counselors alike may tailor their use of externalization for a much broader spectrum—just as I am when I challenge your current view of “Procrastination.”
We don’t often call it by name directly, more often we indirectly speak of or think about it (i.e., “I should do this, but…” or “I can’t seem to get to that project, maybe later…”) only to wonder “why” we can’t follow through and accomplish our goals. We know we “hate it” and “want it gone,” but it seems that we surely haven’t become great experts when it comes to saying goodbye to it for good.
So, if you view “Procrastination” (I capitalize now because it has become an “It” with a name!) as an entity outside yourself…someone else or something else…it can greatly help you to get past the feelings of “I am a ‘bad’ procrastinator” or something of the like. When you externalize, you essentially relieve yourself of the burden because the “Procrastinator” or “Procrastination” is outside yourself…It is NOT YOU! So, that means that the next time you find yourself struggling with your time management and feel Procrastination is directing your actions, you can stop blaming yourself and sabotaging your belief in yourself to change your behaviors. You are not “The Procrastinator” and “The Procrastinator” is not your identity! Period.
Perhaps look at it like this: “I am learning now that Procrastination can no longer be in my life and my choices will not be made to benefit Procrastination anymore! I am me and It has to leave now!” Make a mental picture of Procrastination (create a specific vision in your mind’s eye) and watch Procrastination literally walk through a doorway and out of your life.”
Externalizing “Procrastination” allows you to release It and the inner grip that It once had on you. Procrastination does not have to be your resident arch nemesis any longer. If you try viewing It as separate from yourself, can begin to have the upper hand, free of the frustration It brought with it. But the work doesn’t stop here.
Step 2: Eliminate Resistance
Once you decide to release It, you need to begin to eliminate it’s companion, which is resistance. Much of your procrastinating behavior is grounded in ‘mental resistance,’ so it makes sense to find a way to create space for a new mindset. You can even repeat Step 1 now and externalize “Resistance” (“It” now has a name, too). Let it go out the same doorway as Procrastination!
The bottom line is: You’ve been battling two fierce opponents and it seems that the more any of us ‘resist’ the more we procrastinate, and the stronger “Resistance and Procrastination” become, taking over our very existence it would seem. So how do you fight off Resistance?
Start using affirmations to help you eliminate Resistance. Use your words and create action to accomplish this. For instance, you could say, “I am no longer allowing Resistance and Procrastination to rent space in my head and use up my mental energy,” or, “I am watching Resistance and Procrastination leave me now,” or you might take a slightly different approach and say, “I am free to choose Procrastination and Resistance as friends (or perhaps teachers) so that I can learn more about why they held me back and I fought with them and myself to get things done!”
Also, to eliminate Resistance you need to become very aware of Its presence. It’s sneaky if you’re not paying attention. Resistance will make your body feel terrible. Any response you have to a negative feeling is your body’s attempt to send you the “red flag” that It is in motion. What you may or may not realize is that you get to control your “resistance gauge” and if you don’t want Resistance, you can let your thoughts overcome it. Again, use your words and say, “I am feeling anxious right now, and that tells me that Resistance is trying to come back into my life or my home. There isn’t room for you, Resistance. I am at peace here without you.” The more you say it, and believe it, and feel it, the more you can lower that heartbeat and your anxiety will start to dissipate.
Taken a step further, resistance is a by-product of fear. Fear is not as easy to externalize, so we need to expand the search for answers by looking at the underlying fear that initiated your resistance that resulted in allowing Procrastination and Resistance to rent space in your mind.
Step 3: Determine Your Fear
Begin to ask yourself what you felt the last time Resistance led to procrastinating behavior. Did you feel anxious, afraid, confused, frustrated, angry? Think about this and really try to dig deep into the process of your procrastinating behavior. Step 3 is an important piece of this puzzle, so start by considering these three questions:
1. Am I fearful of rejection by others if I follow through with this goal or task?
2. Am I fearful of not knowing all the answers going in, so it’s better to lack the initiative than it is to attempt and fail?
3. Am I fearful of letting go of Procrastination because it has protected me and if I freely give up something that has become valuable to me, won’t I feel lost without it?
This should jump-start personal introspection if you really want to look to the source of your fear. Remember: “Your fear is what led to your Resistance that enabled Procrastination.” It’s never an easy process to look inside and become acutely aware of negative emotions and behaviors. But if you start this process by letting go of your identity as “The Procrastinator” or “A Procrastinator,” you’ve made the first giant step in learning to “Externalize, Eliminate and Determine” your way to success!
If you struggle with procrastinating behaviors and are interested making different choices and creating a more productive lifestyle, life coaching can help. Lucy Beal, M.S., NCC is owner of Pathways Total Life Coaching in central California. She holds a master’s degree in Counseling from the University of Wisconsin and is a nationally certified counselor (NCC), although she has chosen to establish her own private practice as a life coaching professional near her home in California.