Procrastination (and Shiny Object Syndrome) hurts. It attacks like an enemy and it is, perhaps, the cause of many broken dreams, ministries, marriages, etc. Think about it, what do you need to do in order to destroy a business -or a marriage- for instance? Nothing. Just do nothing and remain in your comfortable zone, postponing what you ought to do, but before you go back to that old pattern I hope this brief article will help you to reflect and change with God’s help.
These are the main areas hit by procrastination.
1. Your goals.
You will be in the same hamster wheel chasing goal after goal after goal to keep changing your mind. Scripture tells us that if we are “double-minded” we will not receive “anything” from the Lord (James 1:7-8). Now, trust me, God is the most interested in your success. He already made a considerable investment in you by creating you and giving you your talents, gifts, and dreams, but He is waiting for you to decide. You are the CEO; He is the President. He handed you complete control of the company, and it is your responsibility to make decisions and set the course of action.
2. Your finances.
Little by little, a new subscription, a course you think you need, a new software, another how-to program will keep increasing the bills. Some entrepreneurs “invest” thousands of dollars on ideas but stay stuck in the same rut, delaying projects, jumping from one project to another, or worse yet without any projects! I personally know of a man who spent almost $20,000 in courses and was still looking for the “idea to win,” not being capable of trying or executing any, indeed. Continuously spending on the new shiny objects “for the business,” as well as the inaction or delay to follow through on your business ideas ends up in a smaller bank account. Let me set this straight for you again—a smaller bank account. SOS and procrastination have a high financial cost.
3. Your well-being.
Without progress comes frustration, a sense of guilt, shame, and self-reproach. This brings negative stress, wreaking havoc on your body and mind. This type of stress has the potential to open doors to depression and anxiety, slowing your performance even more. I’m not going to start talking about the physical problems negative stress can bring because there are so many that I would need another book! But I will say that neurological studies show that this can shut the frontal lobes of your brain down, which are related to decision-making and goal-oriented behaviors.
Procrastination can lead to a very unsatisfying life because inaction takes a toll on your skills, performance, and identity or self-perception. Also, no matter how capable or prepared you think you are, your skills and performance at work will decrease because of it.
Do you remember the principle taught by Jesus in the parable of the talents? “Whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him” (Luke 8:18). Solomon put it this way: “if you show yourself lacking courage on the day of distress, your strength is meager” (Proverbs 24:10). The day of distress is today; you have to work today. Take another step towards finishing that project again. Remember, if you do not do it, your strength (skills, capabilities, performance) will shrink.
4. Your relationships.
When you deal with frustration and stress, you are not you. As I mentioned before, this invites depression, anxiety, and other feelings which frequently find a voice through anger, reactions that can hurt your loved ones, mood swings, or the inability to communicate. In those situations, you do not show the loving and caring person you are. Worse yet, these destroyers can project frustration upon others.
Let me tell you a short story. One day, I was talking about another “wonderful project” when my wife finally blew out, “I want to support you, but I get frustrated because you keep changing your mind. I do not know how to help you. I feel frustrated because I have no clear sense of direction.” You see, I was passing my frustrations on to her! And instead of admitting it, my shame and self-reproach pushed me to ignite an argument! The “dreamer procrastinator” in me wanted to say, “You do not understand my ideas!”
5. Your brain.
At a biological level, we know that our brains are in constant change. This change—scientifically—is called “the power of neuroplasticity.” While the brain strengthens, generates, or deletes neural pathways, something in our thought process and behaviors changes also. Every experience, word, habit, environment—and even the way we talk to ourselves—creates or reinforces these neural connections.
So what happens when we procrastinate? There are many reasons. When we procrastinate, we do not want to face something we dislike. Maybe we are looking to stay in our safety zone. We may feel insecure. We may fear something or someone, or even ourselves. We avoid or postpone as a coping mechanism to help us deal with the emotion we do not like. We put off what we should do for something else that gives us pleasure more quickly.
Once we create these neural pathways, this behavior spreads to other areas of our lives, and there is a biological reason for that. Remember what people used to call “modus operandi”? The principle is valid. Consider this deep truth: “The way you do something is the way you do everything.” I have seen procrastinators not only procrastinating in their business or career or job, but also procrastinating in their friendships, personal development, family, spiritual life, and other areas.
I would like to close this article mentioning the Spiritual Sphere. What do you need to do to neglect your relationship with God? Nothing. Don’t pray, don’t search, don’t meditate in His word. Spiritual crisis is not when a “big sin” or “unlawful thing” is done, usually that is a consequence. A consequence of failing to do what we know we had to do. May God gives you wisdom and strength to do his will and achieve your purpose.