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How to Finish your Goals: Procrastination

This lesson is a part of an audio course How to Finish your Goals by Ana Maria Matamoros

Procrastination is when you know that you have to work on a project, but you suddenly catch yourself watching Netflix or Youtube, eating, scrolling endlessly through social media, cleaning your inbox, or doing laundry, or just about anything in order to avoid the task at hand. Jen Sincero, the author of "You're a badass," says that she decided to clean her office before starting to write her book. She did it so thoroughly that you could actually perform open-heart surgery on her floor, and then she went and wrote the whole thing on the kitchen table.

I'm not telling you not to organize, because a cluttered room sends your brain a signal telling it that the work is never done, making you feel overwhelmed and stressed, and preventing you from sitting down and tackling the task at hand. Having an organized workspace on the other hand, puts our brain at ease, giving us a sense of calm and supporting us because it allows us to focus and to be more productive.

Motivational speaker Mel Robbins says that according to research, procrastination has nothing to do with work. Procrastination is a form of stress relief, just like smoking. What are you stressed about? Finances, health, a relationship?

Then, look at your to-do list, which requires you to use the frontal cortex of your brain, and immediately you'll feel exhausted, and you'll say to yourself, "I need a break!"

Mel says that there is a 5-second window between idea and action.

In order to start working when you don't feel like it, you have to count backwards "5-4-3-2-1." That action interrupts the habit loop in the basal ganglia, the part of the brain where your feelings and your emotions are, and it moves and awakens your frontal cortex, where you can make a new decision. It becomes a starting ritual that triggers you that "this is a moment for courage." You're never gonna feel like doing the things that are out of our comfort zone, but you can make a conscious decision and begin doing them every day. Also, progress boosts your confidence, and completing 1 action gives you a spike in dopamine, like a drug or sugar.

Hiding under an Obstacle

On the outside, it might seem like you're trying to accomplish a goal, but really you're creating an excuse that makes you feel good because it gives you a safe place to hide so that you don't have to pursue your goal, and then you can stay in your comfort zone complaining as usual.

For example:

  • If I had the resources to buy organic food, then I'd be healthier.

  • If I had the money to buy new clothes, then I would apply for the job.

  • If I had an extra room in the house, then I'd be able to have a side hustle.

  • If I lose this extra weight, then I'd be dating again.

  • If I go to the gym, then I'd look like a bodybuilder.

  • If I start a business and become a success, then I won't be able to have free time for my friends or family ever again…

Ask yourself: "What am I getting for not finishing?"

There is always a hidden agenda behind not finishing your goal.

Even if your goal is to declutter a space in your home, a lot of emotions can come up in the letting go process, as well as the fear of "what if I need this later?" that makes us hold onto stuff.

Making money might trigger in you feelings of unworthiness, of not deserving or not belonging, of not being safe or not being a good person, maybe you grew up with all those limiting beliefs like "Money is the root of all evil," "All rich people are greedy," and "You have to work hard for your money".

Thinking that you might indeed succeed might trigger a fear that you won't have free time at all, that people only want to be your friend for your money, that you won't be able to make something quite as good, etc.

"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." —Abraham Lincoln

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Written by

Ana Maria Matamoros