Last week we established that procrastination isn’t just about not doing what you need to do to move you forwards. It’s also about the action you need to take to allow you to break free from what’s stopping you.
And what's that? Well, it’s the primitive part of your brain that simply wants to keep you alive.
As we've evolved as a species we didn’t create a brand new brain relative to our new experiences. Instead we just added different sections to the brain which means that there’ll always be mental conflict as each different brain part plays their role.
What You Need To Know About Procrastination
The brain has different sections that individually contribute to the sum of our everyday functioning. Our prefrontal cortex is one of them and is the most recently evolved part of the brain. It can be found at the front of the brain.
Now, this is going to be your weapon against procrastination. It will override the Motivational Triad we talked about last week of pleasure, no pain and efficiency. Why? Well, it’s responsible for complex planning, decision making, focusing and organising your attention, moderating social behaviour, personality expression and regulating your ability for attention or distraction. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t actually fully develop until you’re around 25 years old and it's basic activity is considered to be putting thoughts and actions together that relate to our internal goals. Do you recall knowing exactly what you wanted to do in your late teens and early twenties? No, me neither. Now I understand why.
So you have a fully functioning ‘over-rider’ that, if you learn to use effectively could be the armour you need to combat procrastination and set you up for your absolute success. How powerful is that?
Did you know that there are 50 different types of fear that may cause you to procrastinate? Fear of intimacy, fear of death, fear of flying, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of public speaking, fear of the dark, fear of commitment... and the list goes on.
When you're fearful, you activate your survival instincts causing a response of fight, flight or freeze. This results in your sympathetic nervous system taking centre stage to protect you. Hormones are released that heighten your senses and keep you alert and alive however these days your dangers are very different to the dangers of yesteryear where a delayed reaction could have meant death.
Today’s everyday fears are more related to losing a client or disputes within relationships of high emotional value rather than survival but the brain doesn't differentiate between the two. It just recognises fear and responds accordingly. When you continue to focus on why you DON'T want to take action you activate the fear/stress circuit especially when you start to focus on what will happen if you do take action ie the humiliation, disappointment, shame etc. Remember, what you focus on becomes your reality.
Now you’re in survival mode and fight, flight, or freeze responses are on full alert. Most of you will become paralysed by procrastination and flee away from the task at hand for fear of failure.
When you procrastinate and it results in no action, the actual fear of not achieving your vision is actually very small. In order to overcome procrastination you have to make the fear bigger. Ask yourself this, “What is the reward of TAKING ACTION that is greater than if I don’t take action?” For example, If you don’t prepare for or make that speech for your upcoming meeting, you're going to be humiliated and seen as unprofessional. But if you prepare for the speech and do it well, there’s a strong chance you'll get hired, be seen as an expert in your field, add value to your clients world and add revenue to the business.
Giving yourself a positive reason to act will activate the dopamine receptors in the brain releasing dopamine, a neuro transmitter known as the ‘chemical of reward’. When you metaphorically score a goal and achieve a win, dopamine neurons are activated and you feel good. When you feel good, you’re motivated to act. This beautiful women entrepreneur is how you start to manage your mind.
Discover next week how to step away from the fear response and try my 7 Steps to Moving Away From Fear into Action plan.