PROCRASTINATION CAUSES ANXIETY. ANXIETY CAUSES PROCRASTINATION
HERE’S HOW YOU BREAK THE CYCLE.
The mind is powerful, especially our stealthy, meddling subconscious. Gut level reactions drive most of our daily actions, and in matters of little consequence, that usually works fine. But sometimes, that gut-based operating system can undermine us, especially when used to make important decisions. Our instincts are valuable, but letting our initial emotional reactions be in total control of high-stakes decisions is not the right approach. When you know this but don’t have another operating system that creates more accurate, predictable results, you put off making big decisions… and the stress cycle begins.
Getting an important decision wrong can have lasting consequences. The decisions you make today will shape your future. Operating only from gut feelings is a huge risk, but if you don’t have a better way, what do you do?
So now you have the added pressure of the decision still in front of you AND you still don’t know how to be sure you get it right.
Instead of relying solely on gut feeling, a simple, yet effective plan can help you make timely decisions with confidence, without anxiety, and with more predictable outcomes.
Why You (Don’t) Do What You (Need To) Do
Technology has evolved tremendously, but the human body and its innate biology for decision making, has not. Humans are hardwired to avoid losses. We want to get it right, but we are more afraid of getting it wrong. We can’t be wrong until we make the decision, so we procrastinate—putting off the risk of being wrong. Problem NOT solved.
The word “procrastinate” is from Latin procrastinare, which evolved from the prefix pro-, meaning "forward," and crastinus, meaning "of tomorrow,” and can be translated as “deferred until morning or put off until tomorrow.” Soon, tomorrow becomes today; so we defer it until the next tomorrow, and so on.
Postponing the inevitable eventually leads to frustration. Reacting to the frustration lead to bad decisions. In our brains, it is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) that controls both emotions and decision making. When we let our emotions get the better of us, there is a tendency for the DLPFC to shut down, which means that the part of our brain responsible for decision making is not firing.
So, it seems we have a dilemma:
A) Make a gut-based decision, thus rolling the dice, possibly getting it wrong, and suffering big consequences as a result.
B) Put it off, causing yourself anxiety, and being no closer to making the right decision.
Neither is a good option.
Fortunately, there is a better approach.
When faced with an important decision, acknowledge your gut feelings, then set them aside to think through the decision and the four components—Timing, Balance, Probabilities, and Pattern Recognition—discussed in my book.
If you have a clear plan for making decisions—one that creates more predictable outcomes and greatly increases your chances of getting the result you want—you will be much less likely to avoid the decision.
When you gain control of the process and your own fate, you will avoid letting subconscious fears and other havoc-wreaking emotions lead you to poor choices. With an excellent chance of getting what you want and very little chance of being “wrong,” you won’t procrastinate and create unnecessary anxiety, leading to the vicious cycle of more procrastination and more anxiety.