Ep. 189
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This week I want to talk to you about procrastination. I have so many people telling me I want to do this thing but I can’t get myself motivated to do it. What I’ve found is that procrastination is not a time management issue, but an emotional management issue. This week I dig into why we procrastinate and how to start overcoming it.

Show Transcript
There's something wrong with me. I just can't get myself to do this thing I wanna do. And why am I like this? Why can't I just put down my phone? I never do what I say I'm gonna do, you know, whatever the story is that you have about yourself. And then you feel shame and shame feels terrible.

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Hello, my friends. Welcome to another episode. I'm so excited you are here. We're gonna dive in but I wanna let you know that I'm gearing up to open doors to the next group of Pave Your Path. It's we're gonna enroll in March and we're gonna start in April. If you were on the fence and you've been waiting to get in, now is the time. I would get on the wait list because we're gonna open it up to the wait list first. So you can go to That is where we're gonna do all of this work that you're listening to. Listening is great and I'm not even knocking it. I think the beginning, we need a little bit of just like a new ideas to plant seeds. Like huh, can I think of the world this way? But I say this all the time too and the reason I keep getting coaching is even when you know the concepts, especially some of these concepts, like your thoughts cause your feelings. Seems very simple. So it's like I think I got it. The reality is is that if we got it, none of us would have all of the unnecessary suffering that we have, right? We continue to think thoughts cause we've thought them for decades and it often takes like somebody else to help you see a different way to see that it can uh learn to manage your mind. And there are other ways to think about your life and you can learn to create a life you love now before you leave and find the career that you actually want. So if you wanna do this work deeper and you actually wanna start applying it and six months from now you wanna be a different person and you wanna have just a different grasp on what your like life is, then I would highly suggest joining. So go to Alright, let's jump in to the super important topic of procrastination.

I actually had to pause this recording and go back to my podcast list sheet to make sure I haven't done an episode. Cause I like there's no way I haven't talked about procrastination yet cuz it's such a big one but it turns out there is a way. And so we're gonna do it now cuz it's something that afflicts every single one of us and for some reason we think it's just me and it's not. So let's deal with what the actual problem is. Okay. I mean we all know what procrastination is, right? But the problem, I think a lot of times why we get confused is because like we genuinely want to do something, right? Like we can tell when it's something that we don't wanna do. But oftentimes like we really have to do something or we genuinely want to do it and we can't get ourselves to do it. I always liken it sort of being like Frankenstein-ish where you're sort of the watcher of yourself and like something else is controlling your brain or your body, right? Like you are telling yourself like get up and do it but then you're not doing it. And we get even more frustrated. I think the really big problem that this causes is like not the actual act of not doing the thing. It's that we get so much more frustrated and we start feeling a lot of shame about ourselves. Like why am I like this? Why do I leave it to the last minute? Why can't I just do my work? There's something wrong with me, whatever. And that's what actually makes the procrastination worse. That's what makes us procrastinate and I'll explain why. And so we just like keep spiraling outta control. Like we keep the cycle going and it becomes more solidified that there's something wrong with me and that I just can't. I don’t have enough motivation or willpower or I'm not disciplined enough or whatever story you wanna start creating about yourself. And you started feeling very out of control. And I think this is kind of the biggest lie that we we tell ourselves is that we haven't been in control. Like I'm not in control. I don't know why I'm doing this. And so part of what I wanna help you today is figure out that you are in control and there’s a reason this is happening. And when you can start seeing it, it starts becoming more obvious. And that's the only way to start interrupting it and seeing if you can start changing it. Okay. So I think we mistake that either it's like a willpower problem or like a time management problem. And that's why there's tons of planners and habit books and schedulers and focus time and all these other things that we try to do. And it doesn't work, right? How many planners have you bought? And that doesn't magically just change the way your brain is. Trust me if it did, I have all the planners. I have all the intentions too. Every time I walk down Target’s planner aisle, I'm like I'm gonna become the most organized, efficient human being. turns out planners don't do that for you. And so I just wanna give you permission to stop buying the planners. I mean, you can still buy them but like that's not what's gonna get you to do the work, right? Because everything and I do mean everything is a thought problem, right? And maybe not everything but everything we're gonna deal with is a thought problem. And so I want to understand that it's not a time management issue. It's an emotional management issue. Okay. You are doing a task that is bringing up negative emotions in you and you being a human with a human brain would like to avoid negative emotions, right? So you go for that quick dopamine hit from something else that is gonna feel good in the moment to relieve that. That's all that's happening in your brain. Okay? It's not like some huge mystery. I'm gonna give you an example. Let's say you're doing your taxes and taxes tend to bring up a lot of emotions in a lot of us, right? So let's say if you're doing it yourself, maybe it's bringing up feelings of inadequacy. Maybe you feel dumb. Maybe you think it's too hard. Maybe you feel scary. Right? And it's only because you're thinking thoughts, right? They might be subconscious. But you’re thinking thoughts like I don't know how to do this, I don't understand any of this, I'm gonna get this wrong and be so screwed. Right? Whatever the thought is, it's leading to a lot of it could be like boredom. It could be fear. It could be inadequacy. Whatever the thought is for you is gonna be bringing up a lot of feelings. And those thoughts feel terrible. Or let's say you are doing a work project. Like not even your taxes. Let's say you're doing a work project and the project is boring. And then you have thoughts like ugh, I don't wanna be doing this. This is taking way too long. This is so boring. Right? Like very simple thoughts. And again, those don't feel good. Boredom doesn't feel good. Fear and inadequacy and frustration don't feel good. So our brain, I want you to understand like is evolutionarily wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. That is all it is meant to do because it wants to keep you alive. Now these are beautiful functions by our brain. It's just that our society has evolved much faster than we as humans have been able to evolve. Right. It takes us thousands and thousands, if not, you know, like hundreds of thousands of years to evolve and society is moving at a very rapid pace. And so back in the day, if you think about it, if we kind of like just fan out a little bit. Back in the day, what did you have to do to get a dopamine hit? It wasn't like as easy, right? Like maybe you find a tree that has berries in it and or like you're eating the sweetness of a berry and think about like how much that sweetness is maybe. And so your brain would get a little bit of dopamine and that would reward you to keep doing that, to keep finding the berries, to keep going and doing things that are gonna keep you alive. Okay.

Today we have a lot more false pleasures and I say false because it's not what our true desires are. It's not this true sense of positive emotion. It's just these false pleasures that give us huge spikes of dopamine. Okay? So like eating sweets, like sugar and whatever, any kind of food that gives you a dopamine hit. Screens, being addicted to our screens. Alcohol, Netflix, whatever. And so we have just like unlimited access to dopamine at this point, right? To like these hits and the hits become less and less, right? Each time you eat that thing, you don't get as excited as you did the first time or each scroll, each time you're on your phone, you just now need it more to get to a little bit of a baseline level. And so your monkey mind is like yeah, let's do that. That feels really good. Let's not do like the taxes or this boring project. Ooh, what's on Instagram? That's gonna feel a lot better and more fun. And if you notice like our brains, you know, they there's all these obviously like doom and gloom news reports. And I'm not trying to add to that where it's like, you know, we have less ability to focus. Now we're even, it's like we even need it faster and faster and faster. Right? Like we've gone from being able to get it from TV to like now even a minute reel or TikTok seems too long. It's like hurry it up. I see this all the time on posts, cause I post on TikTok and people will like get to the point. I'm like it's a minute. The whole video is one minute. What are you so impatient about? But that's how we are. It's like next one next, next, next. Right. And again, when you think about it, it's meant for your benefit. When you're experiencing these uncomfortable emotions, your brain is meant to try to steer you towards dopamine. And so oftentimes like it can become even automatic. Like I know for a lot of us, like we grab for our phone without even noticing that we're grabbing for it or we're grabbing more chips as we're sitting there. We're being completely mindless about the fact that we're eating. That's also a function of your mind. Part of what your brain's job is, is to make your life as automatic as possible. So you're not taking in as much information, like you're not using up all of your energy trying to process information. Think about when you go to like a new country, why it's like you're seeing everything, right. You're so heightened, aware, because everything is new to you and that's great and fun for a little bit but your brain can't live like that. Like it needs to start creating more predictability. And so it tries to get you to be more automatic. And so a lot of these things just become automatic behaviors for us. And again, and when I say like this was a great thing and it is a great thing, right? Like part of the fact that our brain knows to not leave us in, you know, despair or negative emotions and try to guide us towards getting up and doing things that are gonna give us a dopamine is a survival mechanism. And it's a great mechanism. It's just that it's kind of gotten out of hand at this point in our society with the way that we live. And so now it's like oh, look at all this pleasure all around, like me having to stop myself all day is really difficult. And that's another thing I wanna note is like people love to believe that they're not disciplined or they don't have motivation. And it's like the literally the furthest thing that could be from the truth, right. As humans, we are extremely disciplined animals, probably the most disciplined. Right. If you think about, if you go through your day and you think about everything that you don't do when you could, like I mean, imagine like a kid that grows up, you know, what's that movie, Big, like what we would think when we were children, like we thought would be adults and we would just be eating donuts for breakfast every day. And you know what I mean? Like just running around, living our best lives and that's not what any of us do because we have discipline, right. We wake up and we get to work on time. Right. We wake up, we brush our teeth, we do all the things that we have to. We shower, even though maybe we don't want to. We drive in the lanes of traffic that they tell us to. We stop at the stop sign. We get in line, you know, and stand in line and wait for our turn at the coffee shop. We don't just eat a box of donuts for breakfast. We do project after project every single day at our job that we don't wanna do, that may bring up negative emotions but we push through and we keep ourselves in line. Right. And so there is like, when there's a little bit of wiggle room for indulging, of course we take it right. We keep ourselves so kind of on track. And the problem is is that we like live in this hustle culture. So there's always this thought of like I should be doing more. I should be doing more, you know? And you start seeing like people who are doing all of these things like they're going to work and they're getting all their work done and getting, you know, good whatever reviews and they're keeping their kids alive and they're keeping themselves alive. And then it's like but I should be working out. Right. I should also be doing like all these other things that I may not want to do. And so I just say that to say like to get a little bit more understanding and a little separation from this idea that like there's something wrong with me. I just can't get myself to do this thing I wanna do. And I always like talk, you know, the people that come, I think from this podcast, a lot of times I'll talk to people who, like I said, like have kids, they have to take care of, work in a job that requires a lot of their time and mental energy, work out, do all these things. And then they want to like start a side hustle or they want to figure out what they want to do. And then they tell me like well, I come home and I don't know why I just can't get myself to do it. I'm like I know why. Cause you're exhausted. Right? I'm like maybe if we just don't shame ourselves and pile on the like whoa is me, what is wrong with me? There's something deeply wrong. And I can't ever stick to it as opposed to like oh, I do stuff all day long I don't wanna do. And I'm not saying to not do the stuff that you want to do. I'm just saying like when we can come from a place of understanding, it makes it easier. So when we started thinking about this like of course, when it becomes the end of the day or even at the time when I'm doing like the fifth project of the day I don't wanna be doing, my brain's gonna be like hey, let's just check some Instagram. It just feels better. And you're like alright, let's do it. And this is why, like I want you to think about the fact that like people always tell me like they procrastinate until there's a deadline and then they always get it done. Right. And if you think about it again with respect to thoughts, it's like it's just because your thoughts changed because you have a false sense of urgency. There's something that is due. And so your thought becomes from like I don't wanna do this to like let's go, this has to get done. I only have an hour. Like whatever it is, we create all of this unnecessary drama in order to get it done. And so even then, again, it is just like the the thoughts that you're gonna have. And part of what I wanna teach you is how do you stop yourself from needing that false sense of urgency? And how do you like start sticking to doing the things that you wanna do. But I want you to know that like the bigger problem with this, as I talked about earlier, is that this problem compounds because you start procrastinating and then you beat yourself up. Like why am I like this? Why can't I just put down my phone? I never do what I say I'm gonna do. You know, whatever the story is that you have about yourself. And then you feel shame and shame feels terrible. Okay. It's probably one of, not the most terrible emotions, but like the one that we want to resist the most, right. Nobody wants to feel shame. It does not feel good in any way. And so what do we do when we're feeling terrible, class? We procrastinate, right? It's like amazing that we end up creating the same exact problem. We just buffer more. We start like, we need more dopamine. And it's funny because, well, I shouldn't say funny. It's not very funny for a lot of us. It's very painful. But we tend to buffer or procrastinate with the thing that we have the least control in. Right. So if you have been trying to like curb your snacking habits, guess what you're gonna do when you feel a lot of shame? You're gonna keep snacking, right? If your phone is your problem, guess where you're gonna go to relieve some of that shame, right. Or alcohol or whatever. And so truly understanding this, that like my brain is trying to make me feel better in a certain way, like trying to get a little bit of dopamine and that's all I'm doing because it feels terrible cause I'm shaming myself. And so of course, I wanna feel better with chips or Netflix or whatever, alcohol, whatever it is, right. So then you end up just going on this cycle of like beating yourself up, feeling shame, not being able to resist, doing it over and over again. And then you start creating that self-concept. That's the really dangerous part is when we start making it about who we are, like I'm just not a person who has willpower or I don't know how to end this cycle or I don't know how to do the things I'm supposed to do. And like none of that is true. None of this is a personality trait. It's just some of us have been better and I don't know if that's just like our physiology and our brain chemistry or what it is. Some of us can resist numbing those negative emotions more than other people. And so if you haven't been able to, that's fine. It's just a, it's just understanding like oh, my brain was feeling terrible. I was feeling these negative emotions. I don’t know how to process them. And so I'm looking for something to relieve some of that pressure. And so the way around this, it's gonna sound so simple. And if you've been here for a while, you know the drill at this point. It's simply to figure out what the thoughts you're thinking that are causing you to procrastinate and stopping those thoughts. Right? Figuring out other thoughts you wanna think instead. And I know that sounds too good to be true. And I tell you as a testament for a person, a lifelong procrastinator. Once I changed my thoughts, it became so much easier to stop procrastinating. And I talk to a lot of you all who tell me like there's something I really wanna do but I can't get into it. And then as soon as we dig into your thoughts about it, they're terrible thoughts. Like I don't even know what I'm doing. People are gonna judge me. I know this is gonna fail. And I'm like yeah, why would you think that your brain is gonna like allow you to keep doing this thing day after day if you're telling yourself that you're terrible, no good, it's not gonna go anywhere, you're not gonna make any money. Like of course, you're not gonna wanna do that. And so it's just uncovering that and be like oh yeah, this thought's not gonna serve me. It's not gonna get me to do the thing I wanna do. So maybe I should just come up with some other thoughts I wanna practice. And maybe I should come up with thoughts that are going to serve me better. And the thing that I want you to hear me on with this is I'm not saying like say an affirmation and I'm not saying like stand in the mirror and tell yourself like I am strong and I am smart. If you believe that, go for it. Knock yourself out. That's awesome. But like if you have a thought: I'm dumb when you're doing your taxes, you can repeat I'm smart as much as you want. You don't believe it. Your brain doesn't believe it. And so your brain's not gonna go there. It's not gonna like relieve it cuz you're just gonna like yeah. Right. Alright, I'm standing in front of the mirror saying this, like you're gonna practice that a couple times and then you're gonna drop it. I want you to practice thoughts that you actually can believe. I want you to find thoughts that you believe about what you're doing. So for instance, in the example of, let's say doing your taxes, if the thought is I'm too dumb to do this or whatever, maybe you practice the thought. Like I have figured out a lot of things. I'm pretty sure I can figure this out. Or maybe the thought is well, I will give it a shot and if I can't figure it out, I can hire someone or whatever the thought's gonna be. Right. If the thought about the taxes is I'm gonna get it wrong and I'm gonna get prosecuted by the IRS. And I mean, I wouldn't laugh. A lot of us have these like really worst case scenario, kind of catastrophizing thoughts. Just investigate it. Is it true? Like even if I get this wrong, they will likely just correct me. Right? Like what is the thought I can think to sort of lower the resistance I have to the thing I'm doing? The name of the game is just trying to figure out a little bit of like what is a thought that can make me feel, like it doesn't have to make you feel excited and, you know, make you love taxes or your work project or whatever. It just has to lower that resistance a little bit. It just has to be like yeah, I don't wanna do this but I do wanna get my work done this week so I don't have to like scramble next week, whatever the thought is for you. Like when you can find a thought that makes you feel calm or makes you feel determined or makes you feel, I don't know, whatever the thought the feeling is for you that's gonna get you to do your work. It becomes so much easier to do the work. Like I was just saying, like for people that have things they wanna try that they've never tried before that they're scared. Like they're trying to start a side hustle and they have thoughts of like people will judge me. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm not good at this. Part of it's working on those thoughts. Like is that true? And really like what do I wanna think? Like maybe the thought is this is like the next thing I wanna figure out. I wanna push myself to try something new. And this is where a lot of thought work comes in. This is where learning how to manage your mind really comes in because it's like when you start being able to become aware and not be in that Frankenstein mode of like I don't even know what's happening. I don't know why my hands are shoving chips in my face. Right. When it becomes like oh yeah, I get it. I'm doing this because starting this business is way too scary for me. I feel debilitated. And so I'm gonna reach for snacks. When you can start like when you see that, it becomes less scary and kind of unknown and you start being able to think like okay, what is it that I have to do? What is the process here by which I have to figure out like the thoughts I want to think that are gonna serve me in doing this? And so that is the work, is figuring out A) what am I thinking that is getting me to feel a certain way that causes me to procrastinate? So you can work backwards, like when you're procrastinating, when you can catch yourself in the act of procrastinating, just pause. You don't have to shame yourself. You don't have to call yourself all these names cuz you're on your phone for the hundredth time today. You can just ask yourself like what was I feeling to grab up my phone? Get the feeling down. Okay. Boredom, the stress. Was it anxiety? Whatever it was. Figure that out and then ask yourself what thought was I thinking to cause that feeling? And write down that thought and then you can start figuring out what do I want to think about this task? If I have to get it done, what are the thoughts I want to think? And watch as your resistance to the task becomes so much less. Watch the need to have to procrastinate or buffer become so much less. And the more you practice this, it's not gonna happen, it's not gonna be like a one and done, now you know this, now you should be able to do it. Nope. You're gonna have to practice and build up the muscle the same way you do with any other muscle. Right? And the more you do that though, the more you start solidifying that self-trust in yourself of like oh, of course, I can do the things I wanna do. Of course, I don't have to procrastinate. You start changing your self-concept of who you are as a person. And you understand that there's times where you're still gonna choose to pro procrastinate because maybe your brain just needs some dopamine. Maybe you're just tired and you don't wanna keep beating yourself until you, you know, finish every single task on the to-do list. And those are gonna be okay. And there's gonna be like a lot less drama when you choose to do those things from a place of conscious choice then a place of I feel so out of control. I just need something to make me feel better. So start there my friends and if you want more help diving more deep into these concepts and figuring out how to stop your own procrastination once and for all, then join us in Pave Your Path. You can go to and sign up and I hope to see you there. Alright, I will see you guys next week.

Thank you so much for listening. If you liked this episode, share it with someone else. I promise you know somebody who also hates their job and wants to quit, so why not share the love? And if you want to come follow along for more, come join me on Instagram at LessonsFromAQuitter and make sure you say hi. I'll see you next week for another episode.