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Procrastination - A radical new approach

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What’s the one thing I’m avoiding today?
Read Millionaire Fastlane
May 30, 2017
Warning: This post will be controversial. If you’ve already ‘cracked the code’ on procrastination, feel free to tell me I’m wrong. However, if you feel like you’ve tried every possible method to motivate yourself and you’re still stuck… read on. You can always discard these ideas later if they don’t serve you.

Procrastination is not your fault

But it is your responsibility, to fix if you want to move out of mediocrity

Imagine this. You find yourself in front of a screen, mindlessly consuming content of one form or another, when the thought pops into your head “I’m wasting time, I should be working on _____”

What is the primary emotion that results from that thought?

For most people who procrastinate, the emotion is overwhelming guilt.

We cycle through an open loop of unresolved tasks, ‘should-ing’ on ourselves about what we ought to be doing. We beat ourselves up internally, like the lazy, worthless, losers that we know we are.

Does it work? Do we get off the couch, or close all our open tabs, and shift into productive action? Maybe, sometimes… But if guilt and shame made us work harder, then you wouldn’t still have a procrastination problem, would you?

What if the negative guilt-energy was actually the force paralyzing you? It seems counter-intuitive, because we feel that beating ourselves up should motivate us, but it’s actually the opposite. It takes a lot of mental energy to hold onto guilt, and to run these self-punishing loops in our head all day. This energy is unavailable to us when we want to act.

What would happen if you stopped moralizing procrastination as a character flaw?... Just as a thought experiment for a little while. What if you stopped thinking of yourself as lazy, as if it was some inherent weakness in the fiber of your being? This is an old way of thinking, passed down through generations, that we are inherently bad and deserving of punishment.

You’ve been repeating these patterns for years, and still not getting anywhere, so why not try a different approach for a while. How about treating yourself with compassion while you begin to question your beliefs and assumptions about what’s been holding you back?

Who’s voice is it in your head that constantly punishes you for being lazy and unproductive? Is that the true voice from your ‘heart’? Or is it possible that you just internalized the criticism of a parent, teacher, or other authority figure? Did they make you feel like you were a ‘bad boy’ or girl, deserving of punishment? If so, does that belief serve you productively right now?

Our personality is a combination of many different ‘parts’ or ‘sub-selves’, that are often engaged in internal conflict*. We have a taskmaster part who constantly berates us for not doing enough, as well as an inner child who resents and resists being told what to do by the taskmaster… The inner child rebels by digging in its heels even further and refusing to move.

The net result of the two opposing forces is a standstill. Non-movement. Inaction.

Along with the heavy, paralyzing weight of guilt, there are at least 2 more forces that contribute to procrastination.

1. Low self-confidence – “I’m not good enough”. This is a symptom of toxic shame

2. Fear – Fear of failure, the unknown, criticism, even success

Shame grows like a mold in the dark. It can only be healed in the light. We hide our shame from others, because we think that they will not like us if they find out.

Shame originally comes from our parents. Even if they did their best to raise us well, they unwittingly passed their shame down to us. We often feel like we have to hide our true selves, because deep down we feel inadequate and we want to protect anyone from seeing our shortcomings.

What’s something you’ve been ashamed of admitting? Have you failed in your business? Have you been chronically procrastinating? Have you failed to live up to promises you made to yourself or others? Tell someone about it. Share your deepest shame, preferably with someone close to you.

It may not feel good in the moment, but it will greatly unburden you and you’ll feel much lighter overall. What you’ll probably find is that when you tell someone, they won’t think it’s a big deal at all. They won’t think any less of you. The reality is a lot less scary that what you imagined. This is the most effective ‘emotional release’ method I have ever come across.

Fear is similar to shame. The only antidote is to face what we have been avoiding. We must turn and face our fear head-on. It’s obviously easier said than done, and I know you’ve all probably heard ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. A softer, and perhaps more effective approach is to investigate our internal parts and understand where this fear comes from, so that it can be fully understood, faced, and dissolved.

The ‘inner family’ of conflicting parts that I have discussed is now an evidence-based, clinically validated form of psychotherapy known as IFS. These personality sub-selves are responsible for all of our self-sabotage. They seem to actively work against us, but the truth is they are there because they ‘think’ they are protecting us from being hurt. If we can connect with these parts with compassion and truly understand them, then we can eventually change them and therefore break these lifelong patterns.

This is not ‘new age’ or typical self-help material. It’s the real deal. The best part of IFS is that much of the work can be done by yourself, without the need for a therapist. It is still recommended that you see a therapist to get started.

Here’s what many consider the ‘definitive guide’ for doing this kind of work on yourself. It’s a very easy read, with plenty of illustrations to hammer home the concepts.

There’s also a bunch of material on YouTube regarding IFS. None of it is a good substitute for reading the book, but you can definitely get your feet wet and see if this is something you want to pursue.

Here’s a very brief analogy for the theory:


In terms of YouTube, the ‘definitive source’ would be Derek Scott. (Search ‘Derek Scott IFS’), but again I highly recommend the book by Jay Earley.

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MJ DeMarco

Staff member
I've Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2007
Fountain Hills, AZ
What about sheer laziness?

Warning: This post will be controversial.

Don't see much controversy here, makes perfect sense to me. Should it not?


What’s the one thing I’m avoiding today?
Read Millionaire Fastlane
May 30, 2017
What about sheer laziness?

Don't see much controversy here, makes perfect sense to me. Should it not?

I guess ‘laziness’, as a lack of action despite negative consequences would be the same thing. Apathy stemming from a sense of powerlessness, which is then backwards rationalized with excuses.

Chronic laziness in all aspects of life is probably a symptom of depression. The word lazy is more of a character judgment though and might not be productive to someone who wants to change their patterns.

(I.e. believing ‘I am lazy’, as if it’s your inmutable identity, as opposed to a pattern of thoughts and behaviors which were learned at some point early in your life)

I’m glad that the post made sense to you. I guess I was just hedging my bets in case it was received poorly. There’s so much ‘just do it, bro’ type material or ‘negative motivation’ in the self help world... which doesn’t help if you have fundamental problems with your self-esteem.

Once again, I’m not trying to absolve anyone of their personal responsibility to fix themselves if they want to overcome mediocrity. But hating yourself for not doing what you’re already not doing certainly doesn’t help.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and reply, I’m honored!

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