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Is self compassion the secret to fighting procrastination?

Could being kinder to yourself be the key to being more productive?

The start of the new year is the perfect time to make a list of all the life changing moves you want to make. Maybe a list of DIY Projects to tackle in your home, planning to change your diet to eat healthier or maybe it’s time to actually get started on your passion project.

However, many of us will find we will end up days (or weeks) into the new year and for some reason nothing has got started. Not a single to do has been to done. You’re best laid plans are just not springing into action.

Before completely giving up on your plans for the year. Or turn to YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and the like, for tips on “how to kick procrastination to the curb and boss your life”. Take a moment to read this post. And if you don’t feel better by the end, I hope your scroll of doom, to find the secret to making your plans come true overnight, works out. Which, let’s be honest, will just be further procrastination from the true ultimate goal.

What is procrastination?

Procrastination, and therefore procrastinating, gets a bad rep. It’s considered a sign of laziness. A demonstration of the lack of willpower or focus. But what if it was considered a fear of failure…

Starting something new. Something that you have a lot of hope will work out and help you to make a change in your life and/or environment. Can, very understandably, be scary. Who would want to fail at making their life better?

I know I wouldn’t.

So putting off the daunting task a bit, by completing all the low hanging fruit tasks or doing loads of research to get you prepared for The task. Can help you to convince yourself you are still making progress. But really you are completing the tasks that you feel confident doing and continuing to put off what you feel less confident about.

Being less confident or unsure of something is not laziness or lack of willpower. It’s fear.

How to effectively fight procrastination.

I’m sure there has been at least one person in your life who has reminded you that, contrary to artificial popular belief, Rome was in fact not built in a day. It is likely these words of reassurance have been delivered as a way to encourage you not to be quite so hard on yourself. Like many of us you probably tried to complete a task within an impossibly short time frame, and then proceeded to beat yourself up for not “doing better”. The person delivering these words of reassurance and encouragement are demonstrating their compassion for your circumstances, while simultaneously giving you encouragement to keep going.

With that in mind, the key to fighting procrastination is (self)compassion and encouragement.

Regular compassion vs self compassion

Truthfully, compassion and self compassion are the same thing. The only difference between them is who your feelings and actions are directed towards. Compassion is a demonstration of the concern for the suffering or misfortunes of others. Which often involves expressing a level of understanding for their circumstances along with a few words of encouragement to help them to feel better.

To show self compassion you need to demonstrate concern for your own suffering or misfortune. Give yourself time to understand what it is you are struggling with. And then work to overcome what you are struggling with.

Procrastinating is the opposite of self compassion. Putting off doing something and then giving yourself a hard time about it. Doesn’t get you any closer to completing the task. But, taking a minute to write out what you need to do and where you might need help, and where to get that help, will absolutely get you on the right path to getting it done.

Cut yourself some slack

If you are struggling to fight procrastination, try showing yourself some compassion. Understand what the challenges are with completing the task you are putting off and then work to get the help and support needed to overcome those challenges.

But don’t just take my word for it. Dr Laurie Santos is the host of The Happiness Lab podcast, and they have an episode called Dump Your Inner Drill Sargent which goes further to explore how self-compassion can help you to achieve your goals.

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