A (belated) New Year’s resolution for procrastinators | SierraSun.com

A (belated) New Year’s resolution for procrastinators

Danielle B. Grossman
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. – Procrastinators rejoice! Now, weeks past Jan. 1, is your very own time for your very own special New Year’s resolution: Free yourself from your internal war of procrastination.

Certainly, everyone does some procrastinating. People naturally put off and avoid doing things that cause them discomfort, distress, or trigger challenging emotions. Procrastinating becomes a problem when your internal battle between the part of you telling you to do something (your inner “do it”), and the part of you that just does not want to (your inner “I don’t want to”), drains your energy and causes problems in your home life, your relationships, your work or your self-care.

This battle can be a war of aggression, with your inner do it attempting to bully and threaten your inner I don’t want to into submission, saying things like “what is wrong with you, why aren’t you doing what you said you wanted to do?” “You are so lame, just do it, what is your problem?” “Other people finish home projects, what is wrong with you?” “Why are you eating that brownie when you know you want to lose weight?”

The battle can be a war of avoidance. Your inner I don’t want to shuts out your inner do it through busyness and distraction with other activities or by zoning out with food, alcohol, TV, or the Internet.

The inner war can get so depleting you end up curled on the couch, unable to do anything at all, and/or frantically expending adrenaline-charged energy to meet deadlines, and then crashing again with exhaustion.

You may wish you could just wave your wand to get rid of your inner I don’t want to, but unfortunately, there is no magic wand. You might also think if you get angry enough with yourself, you may finally override your inner I don’t want to and take some steps forward – a method that can work sometimes, but depletes energy and usually feeds the cycle of procrastination.

So, if you find yourself stuck, rushed and tired, sitting in an increasingly cluttered office, getting in trouble with your spouse or boss, or feeling like a failure for not honoring your self-care goals, then you may be interested in a trying a new way to motivate yourself. As you cower under the dark cloud of something you “should” be doing, how about listening to the “no, I don’t want to.” Why doesn’t that part of you “want to?”

When you listen to your inner I don’t want to, maybe you find out it has a good point. Maybe your inner I don’t want to is trying to protect you from taking action along a career path that isn’t right for you, or going at a pace of change in your diet and exercise habits unrealistic with your busy life, or is simply too fast for you. Maybe your inner ‘I don’t want to’ is signaling you need help with starting the new business.

Maybe your inner ‘I don’t want to’ is a message you are tired and worn down, and what you really need is some rest. Maybe the ‘I don’t want to’ is digging its heels in about a minor chore like cleaning out your car, but is actually angry about something else, such as your difficult relationship with your employer, or your sibling’s recently diagnosed medical problem.

If you listen to your internal resistance, and learn to work respectfully with it, you can liberate yourself from the cycle of bouncing painfully between two options – just do it, or do nothing and feel terrible. When your inner do it deals directly and nicely with your inner I don’t want to, you open up a wide range of compromise options with which all parts of yourself can agree.

For example, maybe you can start your exercise plan, but only five minutes a day for the first week. Maybe you can pursue your business idea, but with help from a financial advisor. Maybe you can be honest with yourself your style is to pay bills the day before they are due, and then stop giving yourself a hard time about it. Maybe you can seek support to deal effectively with your employer, or to process your fears and pain about your sibling’s medical issues.

Freedom from procrastination comes when you begin exploring these compromise options and start moving at your own pace, with help as needed, toward goals that reflect an honest and realistic acceptance of your whole human self. Because, like it or not, you, just like all humans, have internal conflicts about which goals to pursue, have a limited amount of time and energy, move slowly at times, move sideways, move backwards, and need help. And yes, ‘all humans’ includes you.

– Danielle B. Grossman, California licensed marriage and family therapist, specializes in relationships, loss, anxiety, codependence, and addiction. She works in private practice and consults by phone. Contact her at 530-470-2233 or http://www.truckeecounseling.com