Procrastination: Is My Fear Of Failure Feeding It?
I always thought that my procrastination wasn’t severe. Obviously, I was wrong. Increasingly, however, I’ve been realizing more and more how much easier things would be if I just completed tasks right away, or as soon as possible. Even with this revelation, I haven’t stopped procrastinating.
Whenever I’ve finished the smallest task, I “reward” myself with loads of hours or 1+ days of leisure time, totally ignoring that I have other things to do. Anything from back-to-back shows, the downward spiral of YouTube and other social media, or just plain sleep. I have tried to replace some of these with some good habits like switching out YouTube videos for audiobooks (to satisfy my reading goals for this year). Even then, I’ll take it too far and still ignore other important things because I think I’m doing something practical.
I think when we procrastinate, we’re trying to avoid a few things: the complexity of the task, our lack of confidence in our ability to do it, and/or it not being done right. It does more harm than good to intentionally put off doing something necessary. Over time I’ve become hyper-aware of my affinity for (and somewhat dependency on) procrastination but not enough to stop; almost as if I’ve convinced myself that it is a necessary part of my process.
When I finally took the time to figure out what’s creating this horrible habit, I started to wonder if it was my fear of failure. No matter how passionate I get about a project or prospect, there’s a sliver of doubt that grows exponentially and eventually cancels out all my motivation to do anything; thus, I procrastinate – more so that I can escape the feeling of guilt and inadequacy. I was stopping myself from living the life I really wanted.
Do You Have A Fear Of Failure?
No one likes to fail. Failing kills one’s confidence, motivation, and can eventually take away all desires to succeed. The feeling it evokes in us – anger, disappointment, frustration, regret, and most of all, shame – becomes deterrent over time, causing us to start subconsciously avoiding anything that will induce these feelings.
Here are some things that might be evidence of your fear of failure:
- Failing makes you worry about what others think about you.
- Failing makes you worry about your ability to pursue the future you want.
- You worry about how smart and capable you are.
- You tend to tell people beforehand that you don’t expect to succeed in order to lower their expectations.
- Once you fail at something, you have difficulty imagining what you could have done differently to succeed.
Anything along these lines shows a lack of faith in yourself and how fear of failure can plague your life. As a result, your desire to procrastinate piggybacks off of your fear of failure as a cathartic way to avoid facing that possibility of failure or its consequences. One thing I’ve realized is that we shouldn’t be afraid to fail. Instead, we should put our energy into figuring out why we failed and then do something different.
There Are Surprising Benefits To Failure
There’s a saying that goes: “Success is 99% failure”. I do believe there is truth in that. There are many things you can learn from failing, which will ultimately lead you to find success.
Failure teaches us valuable and priceless lessons. Failure allows you to learn from your mistakes and apply that new knowledge the next time around. Remember, earning what not to do is just as important as learning what to do.
Failure (despite what you think) can be used to motivate. We can use the failed experiences to our advantage. Let it clarify your goals and how you’ll approach them. Let them help you not become complacent. Use failure as a benchmark to make your future actions well-informed and intentional. It is a sure way to stimulate your mind to find more creative and more efficient solutions to your problems. Allow it to propel you to find out your real potential. Make failure the foundation to build all your future successes.
Overcoming The Fear Of Failure And Procrastination
Fear doesn’t have to control us. It doesn’t have to force us away from our responsibilities and dreams. We can overcome this fear. Here’s how:
- When we realize that no “perfect moment” to start or settle down will come, we can start being proactive.
- The act of getting started will dissolve any feelings you have of it not being the right moment.
- Adopt the mentality that it is okay to make mistakes. Despite it being cliche, it is very true. Focus on all the ways your mistake could be fixed versus the mistake itself. Don’t be afraid to utilize failure to find different ways to get your desired results.
- Eliminate distractions as much as possible. Don’t give yourself a reason to lose focus.
- Most tasks or activities can be broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks. It’s okay to make things easier for yourself.
Fear of failure is real and allows you to be thrust into a cycle of procrastination, getting you nowhere in the process. Whenever you feel that gripping feeling that makes you start to lose confidence, remember that you can find a way to buffer your fear of failure and overcome procrastination.
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