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The Root Cause of Procrastination

As a business coach, it’s my job to hold business owners accountable. Every day I talk with leaders who have aspirations to scale and grow their businesses, and we work together to get their businesses to the next level. At the end of each session, we part with a list of action steps that the business owner can take to make real, measurable change over the next few days and weeks. Many will come back having completed most if not all of the items on that list, but oftentimes procrastination gets in the way of reaching their goals. And while we have all experienced procrastination, there are some root causes to the behavior that should be discussed. Because the more you know about why you are procrastinating the better prepared you are to change your way of thinking surrounding that behavior.


Fear is one of the most powerful drivers of procrastination. Maybe you have to make a big decision, and have a lot to lose or gain from that decision. Maybe you have to have an adult conversation with one of your employees, and you fear the outcome of the conversation. Maybe you just feel like the task at hand is too big or maybe you don’t have a lot of experience doing that task and you fear making a mistake or letting others know that you aren’t an expert in that certain area. Whatever it is that you fear, one of the best ways to overcome it is to approach it head on. Allow yourself to acknowledge that fear. Think about the worst case scenario, and allow yourself a moment to see what that would look like in your head. If you were to fail at the task, what do you have to learn from it? Once you start thinking about fear differently, it becomes a learning opportunity instead and you no longer shy away from it. Which in turn, allows you to overcome procrastination as well.

Old Habits.

Another precursor to procrastination is old habits. Maybe you are used to pushing things to the last minute. Maybe you know that in order to grow and scale you will have to change the way you do certain things in your company, and you don’t want to make those changes. Changing the sales process that you have done for several years, for instance, could make a huge difference in the growth and trajectory of your company. But in order to do that task, you have to try new things, admit that what you have been doing isn’t working and that can be tough for any business owner. So the next time you find yourself putting something off, spend a moment focusing on the bigger picture. Why do you want to do that task in the first place? What value will it bring to your company and that of your team? Taking this moment will allow you to push fast those feelings of change and allow you to grow in the moment. 


The third reason you may be procrastinating has to do with perfectionism. You want to do it right. And you want everything to be laid out and ready. If everything isn’t perfect you run the risk of failure and you would rather put it off indefinitely then deal with the fact that it might not be perfect. Your competition isn’t waiting. They aren’t waiting for the perfect moment. They understand that progress will always win out over perfection, and in order to grow and scale you have to jump in and start doing. 

Addressing the root cause of procrastination will go a long way to helping you overcome your bad habits. With time, you will begin to recognize when you are fearful, stuck in your ways or struggling with perfection. And soon you will find yourself making more progress on your high level tasks and projects. 

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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