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If you think you are a procrastinator, you probably dread the thought of doing things that are necessary, avoid taking action, and then feel guilty about all that you could have done. What if you reframed this behaviour and saw it from a different light? You could see it as a strategy that you’ve unconsciously developed to protect you from something you don’t want to face. In this sense, you’ve been 100% successful in your strategy of safeguarding yourself from potential pain. It’s just not serving your best interests in the long run. People don’t set out to procrastinate, they don’t wake up in the morning and think ‘hmmm today I shall procrastinate doing my taxes’. In fact, most people do plan to do the necessary tasks, they just end up spending most of their day doing everything else but that!

A great way to break this pattern is to first acknowledge that you have created it as a strategy to shield yourself from perceived pain, which means whatever you are avoiding has the potential to make you feel vulnerable and unsafe. Then take a moment to face what it is about the task that is most scary to you. It could be the potential of failing, or being criticised, or getting rejected (or anything else that feels uncomfortable). Facing it takes courage, but once you actually do face it, you may realise that it’s not as scary after all. Perhaps this was a strategy you created when you were a child, and the program is unconsciously running in the background.

Finally, now that you have faced it you can create a new strategy of imagining the end goal after all the obstacles have been overcome rather than focusing on the obstacles itself and then avoiding them. This mental exercise only needs about 5 minutes to do, and can give you years of your life back! I look forward to hearing from those of you who attempt this.

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