In my last blog post, I mentioned there are two key factors that drive us to procrastinate – FEAR (which I discussed in that post) and the DESIRE FOR IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION.
Today, I’m going to talk about how our own desire for immediate gratification causes us to procrastinate and what we can do about it.
Here’s the thing, as human beings, we love and value immediate reward and gratification – much more so than rewards or gratification we hope for (or expect) to get in the future.
The best way to think about this is that within each of us, two selves exist:
- A future-self AND
- A present-self
Our future-self is just that – us at some point in the future. That could be next week or next year. And when we think of our future self, we are typically imagining and seeing something different, we are seeing the result of some change or accomplishment that we hoped to achieve. For example; in one year I want to be promoted and to do that, one of the things I know I need to accomplish is reading xyz book because reading this book will give me the working knowledge I need to perform at the next level. Sounds simple right? Read the book — gain knowledge on the topic and it will help me get promoted. So, you plan to begin reading the book on Saturday.
But what happens when Saturday comes? You’re in your present-self state which is in the here and now and you have to choose what you want to do at that moment – read the book or go out and have fun with friends.
Many of us would choose to go out with friends because it gives us immediate gratification and reading the book doesn’t. The benefits you’ll get from being promoted in a year don’t matter as much to you in that present moment.
So, you go out with your friends. And then the cycle repeats itself over and over until the pain of not being promoted, or feeling so guilty about not reading the book, becomes so strong that you’re now motivated to read the book.
You can see from this example that the present-self is much more likely to choose the immediate gratification of hanging out with friends versus the future gratification that being promoted provides.
So, what can we do about it? The best tip I can give you is to find a way to make that future pain (the pain you’ll experience when you’re not promoted) a present pain, because only then will you be motivated to move past the procrastination.
A tactic that works well here is to put rules or restrictions on yourself. For example, “I’m not going to allow myself to hang out with friends until I read at least the first 4 chapters of xyz book.” So, there’s immediate pain – not being with your friends. However, the trick is to find an immediate pain that works for you and gets you motivated.
If you struggle with procrastination and you’re interested in moving past it, please reach out to me at email@example.com and we’ll get a conversation started.