The Real Reason You’re Not Achieving Your Goals
Raise your hand if you ever say you’re going to do something, and then you don’t follow through? This can be especially frustrating for those of us who identify as high achievers and are used to getting shit done, and getting it done well. Because of that, we get really peeved at ourselves when we find ourselves spinning in procrastination.
Let’s explore 5 primary reasons that you may be getting stuck in a loop and not following through on what you say you want. Along with that, we’ll explore strategies for shifting from procrastination, into action for more productivity and impact. If you’d prefer to listen to the podcast rather than read the article, click the link below.
For those of you seeking to move beyond the tendency to procrastinate, the first question to ask yourself is: to what degree do you actually care about the thing you’re working toward? Is the task at hand actually relevant to your goals? Sometimes we procrastinate because we don’t actually have a meaningful connection to whatever project we’re working on. If that’s the case for you, you have an opportunity to consider what would allow you to be reinvigorated or reconnected, or aligned with your values and vision. You don’t actually want it. It may be something you think you “should” want, or “should” do, but you end up avoiding it because you’re not actually connected with it. The strategy here is to evaluate your goals from a lens of your values and vision. Notice which goals are aligned, and which, if any, are “shoulds.” In the event that you discover goals that you’re not actually connected with, consider reevaluating your commitment to them, so that you can shift your focus to those that do hold meaning. You may notice a sudden burst of time, energy, resources, and productivity.
It’s possible there’s too damn much on your plate. You may be procrastinating because you don’t have the resources available to accomplish everything you’ve committed to. In that case, there’s an opportunity to get supported. There are so many ways you might receive support. Ask for help so that you’re not trying to do every single thing yourself. Or see what you can take off your plate that may not actually need doing- or that you don’t have to be the one doing. For instance, a lot of my clients are senior leaders, whose time really needs to be spent on high level strategy or long game vision. Yet when we actually look at how they’re spending their time, it’s often in the tedium of the day to day. I have senior leaders who are accepting every single meeting invite that comes onto their calendar for things that might be accomplished by a 5 minute phone call or email, or that they don’t even need to be present for. Some of us may feel that we are the only ones that can truly do what needs to be done. If that’s you, you may notice resistance to enlisting support because you believe no one could possibly do it as well as you do. For instance: for years I recognized I was spending too much time in the weeds in my coaching practice, taking valuable time away from doing what I do best, which is supporting my clients. I was clear that I needed support in the form of an assistant, yet I resisted bringing someone on because I just knew that no one could handle the back office tasks the way I can. Once I finally managed to move past that fear and hired an amazing assistant, I immediately observed that not only did she handle things far more quickly and with greater efficiency than I did, but she did it BETTER.
Action step: Notice what you’re doing that someone else could do, and often could do BETTER, so you can focus your energy on the most impactful use of your time.
You wait and wait and wait some more until you think things are “perfect.” And, that day never comes, because as we know, perfection is an illusion. Perfectionism leads to procrastination leads to paralysis. Those of us with perfectionist tendencies will refine and undo and redo for days or weeks or months until we eventually just give up from the impossibility of getting it perfect. As a practice, do things before you think you’re ready. Otherwise, you will never think you’re ready. If you struggle with procrastination due to perfectionism, go for B+ work and call it done.
It could be that your procrastination is due to a lack of adequate structure and accountability. Most of us have structure and accountability built into our professional roles. You are likely accountable to someone: board members, your senior leadership, your team, your clients: someone. Your job may depend on getting done what you’ve committed to, and you’re reliable to follow through. But what about in your personal life? Are you willing to let the ball drop on your own goals, whereas you can’t even imagine letting someone else down? Here’s how this might show up: Saying you want to develop a fitness routine, yet not joining the running club or the yoga studio or the YouTube channel. Saying you want to travel more, yet not reserving the time to do so. Saying you’d like to learn another language, yet not signing up for the class or using the app or practicing with your multi-lingual friend. Saying you want to level up your leadership skills, yet not enlisting a mentor or coach. Action step: notice where you underutilize accountability and structure, and consider adding supports to bridge the gap between what you say you want, and what you actually have.
This is a radical idea, I realize, and yet: what if there’s nothing wrong with your procrastination? Some people, myself included, actually work really well under pressure. A clear deadline creates a structure that causes us to get things done. If it’s working for you, maybe there’s nothing wrong to “fix.” In that case, you have the opportunity to embrace procrastination as part of your creative process.
If you identify as a high achieving procrastinator and would like support, please reach out. Let’s get you from procrastination into action, so that you can create the level of impact that you are truly capable of.