Analyzing Irrational Fears
Alright, so I am supposed to be doing homework right now, yet am not. However, since I meant to make this post today anyway, I figue its better that watching TV until I manage to muster the will power needed to start. So, basically I'm going to type some of the thoughts I have been having concerning the reasons I procrastinate in an attempt to help me organize and nderstand them better in my own head and possibly get some feed back from others about which they have in common. :) So here are some of the reasons why I procrastinate and the corresponding counter-reasons.
Irrational: Fear of Obsession- I realized that a main reason I procrastinate is fear of obsessing over/overdoing things (ie being OCD or a workaholic). My mom, though a "stay-at-home mom" often does things like this. If she has a project to do she won't be able to stop thinking about it until it is completed to her satisfaction (ie perfectly). I have found that my mind works in a similar way, which scares me, I guess. This results in me doing nothing, for fear of doing everything. For example, I'll throw my dirty laundry on the floor of my room, telling myself that if I'm fine with it being messy, I won't ever have to spend hours cleaning it.
Rational: Doing something is always better than doing nothing. Just because I start something, doesn't mean I have to do it all, perfectly, right away. I have the ability to decide how much of something I need to do right now and when to stop. Just because I do my homework right after school or keep my room straight doesn't mean I will have ot spend all my time on homework or cleaning to keep it that way. If I do what I am supposed to in a more timely fashion, I will have more free time, not less.
Irrational: Fear of Failure- I usually avoid school assignments because I fear failure- not failure on the actual work itself (getting right answers and ggod grades), but the fear that even if I start it now, I might fail to finish on time. If I will end up working on schoolwork late into the night no matter when I start, there will be no difference, therefore, I might as well choose the option that allows me to have fun beforehand, so I won't have to work the ENTIRE day.
Rational: Even if the task seems dauntingly large, progress is progress, no matter how small it seems at the time. If I work hard and don't finish all I hoped to do, this is NOT failure and it is NOT the end of the world. Even if this happens, I will survive. I will still have gotten more done than I would have if I started later, therefore it is not the same. Not everything is black and white, a grey area DOES exist in between. Just because I wasn'y able to do EVERYTHING doesn't mean that all I've worked on amounts to NOTHING, therefore it is not a total failure.
Irrational: Fear of Success- I fear success in completing my schoolwork as well as stopping my procrastination. This seems strange as success is also the thing I want most. I feel that if I succeed in getting everything done, I will always have to get everything done. But what if I can't get everything done? After all, everything is alot!! Am I really ready to commit myself to everything? I dont want to have to put in THAT much work and effort! I would never have any free time ever again!
Rational: Just because I am able to finish my homework tonight doesn't mean I will have more to do in the future. Even if I succeed in keeping up the streak for an infinite amount of time, I will retain the power to choose what is important enough for me to do. I have the ability to just do most things when everything seems impossible or unimportant. Stopping my procrastination habits will clearly give me more free time, and even better- more GUILT-FREE free time. This is a good thing, not bad!
Irrational: Fear of Change- Fear of change is something that applies to all aspects of my life (ie when we moved and when I got 17 inches of my hair cut off), and this includes changing my habits. Sure I've been unhappy with my habits in the past, and sure I'm unhappy with them in the present, but who knows what will happen in the future if I change them? What if it's even worse than it is now! What if I put in all this work and effort and end up with a negative result? After all, I can't prepare for something if I don't know what I'm preparing for!
Rational: If I'm unhappy with the way thing are now because of procrastination, I am most likely to be happier in the future if I don't procrastinate. I can name plenty of ways procrastination has negatively affected my lives, but no ways it has positively affected my life. It is a bad thing. Getting rid of it is a good thing. It will lead to a better life. Not all change is bad. (And if somehow things take a turn for the worse, I will have the ability to revert back to my old ways.) I can't live my life afraid of change or I will never be able to grow in any way, just as I can't live my life afraid to go outside.
Irrational: Fear of Incompletion- This is usually one of the main factors that keeps me procrastinating even after I've realized what I've been doing and what it's consequences will be. My main thoughts as this is happening is thatif I don't finish an assignment, I will end up turning it in late or not at all. Therefore, time spent on an assignment that never gets finished is wasted time, because it won't get turned in anyway. Either way will have the same outcome: tommorrow I will be stressd/guily/disappointed because I am unprepared for the day. If these feelings are inevitable, I might as well spend my time realxing while I can.
Rational: All or nothing is a bad philosophy! I can never do it all and I don't want to do nothing! Something will always be better than nothing. Getting something is done not a waste of time. Something is something, even when it's not everything. If I start my work I have a chance of getting it done. If I don't, I have no chance. Just because I failed up to this point doesn't mean I have to continue to fail. If I accept my failure and move on, I will be able to learn from it and avoid doing the same thing in the future. Plus, the regret in the morning won't be the same either way. It will be greatly decreased if I get some done.
Irrational: Fear of Strees- I don't like the feeling of stress. No one does. Stress appears to be the "bad guy". After all, it's bad for your health and it lowers your ability to concentrate on work. I need to get rid of the stress. Getting rid of the stress will get of the problem, right? Watching TV helps me forget about the stress and the problem and appears to make everything better! What a good idea this was! Now I will be able to better concentrate on my work.
Rational: I know just what will follow those pleasant thoughts even from the beggining. Something like, "Wait, work?! Oh my gosh, look at the time! How did I let myself waste x number of hours?!" Did this get rid of the stress? No, it just temporarily hid it. Did this get rid of the problem? No, it made it worse. It's okay to relax and destress sometimes, but it's not okay to get rid of stress all together. A little stress is the key to keeping me on track with my goals. I am capable of handling a little bit of stress. And, anyway, the only real way to get rid of stress is to get rid of the stressor itself.
Irrational: Fear of Despair- Alright, I will admit it: I can't even remember the last time I have worked on something in a timely fashion unless severe procrastination preceeded it. All those times I worked so well were because it already WAS the "last minute". Therefore, even when I was finished, there wasn't much of a reward. I had no free time afterwards and usually ended up staying up later than I would have wanted anyway. It was more bad then good. Now that it's not the "last minute", I don't have to do the work now, so why would I want to go through all that hardship if there is no guarantee of a reward? And in my mind, work=despair because when I am doing it late at night, regretitng all the wasted time and fearing that I will be unable to finish, it feels this way. Why would I want to do this more?
Rational: This fear comes from my experiences with procrastination, not from my experiences with doing work in a timely fashion. If I do my work in a timely fashion, it won't be like this. I WILL have free time afterwards and I will have the pride of having succeeded in my work, as well as lack of obligations that will make me stressed. Even the work itself WON'T feel like despair. I know this because I wouldn't feel this horrible when I have to do a similar assignment during school, when it isn't already "too late."Procrastination makes this feeling, not work.
Irrational: Fear of Fun/Free-Time- Even though fun/free time is what I want most, I also fear it, because it usually signals that I am procrastinating and by extension, that I will soon have to go through all the despair associated with it. This makes me feel guilty, which it usually should. Because, after all, the less fun/free tiem I have, the more work I will get done.
Rational: This is just my inner workaholic speaking. Fun is important and it's what make life worthwhile. It will give me the patience and motivation to do my work when used in moderation. Plus, when I am feeling guilty about fun, it doesn't stop me from procrastinating, it just makes it worse because I don't get my work done and I also don't have fun. I don't feel "refreshed" and ready to do work like I would if I alowed myself to have fun. Not having fun raises stress and is not the answer to getting more done.
Irrational: Fear of Imperfection- When something doesn't go exactly as planed, be it either my fault or something uncontrollable, I feel that it's been ruined and I cannot fix it, so I might as well wait until the next hour/assignment/day/week/month/semester/year. It seems to me that it's not worth doing unless it's perfect, and if I don't know if I can make it perfect, I am afraid to try. If I might not be able to fit in enough study time to reread both chapters, I will consider it a failure and mentally cross it off my to-do list as failed, just because it isn't perfect.
Rational: "Something is better than nothing" applies to quality as well as quantity. Perfection is impossible. And getting close to perfection requires going through phases of imperfection before hand and gradually getting better. I can deal with imperfection. I have to be able to accept that it is a part of life and get right back up, not wiat for the next week in hopes that it will be perfect. "Mistake" is just another name for "oppurtunity to learn something new." I can't ignore this oppurtunity; I have to take advantage of it!
Alright, this is all I'll type for now (might do further reflection on other types of causes later)...
Well, hopefully I will be able to convince myself to follow the rational thought path in the future! And good luck to all in your anti-procrastination endeavors!