Procrastination Paints a Poor Picture of You

Posted by on Aug 1, 2003 in Success!Ezine For You


Procrastination Paints a Poor Picture of You

E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2003

Many successful people fail to advance in their careers and personal lives because of procrastination. They do enough to keep their heads above water, but struggle with legitimate worries and self-doubts because they know they’re not performing up to par. They spend valuable time and energy covering up missed deadlines and poorly executed projects. They also become very good liars as they make up all kinds of excuses for why they failed to perform as expected. All of this takes emotional energy and makes you look bad, so make the decision to do something about it today. Why are you dragging your feet? Maybe it’s one of the following:

  • You’re Not Sure You Can Do It

If you’re unsure of yourself, you will be afraid of failing and will worry about exposing this weakness to everyone. You’ll find all kinds of reasons to avoid getting started with the task and often will avoid doing it altogether if you can get away with it. When the job is done poorly, you tell others that it was a “rush job” or that you needed more staff or more resources. Any excuse will do, other than the reality that you didn’t know all that you needed to know in order to do the job properly and didn’t take any action to obtain the skills to overcome these feelings of inadequacy.

Some people try to compensate for these nagging feelings by obsessing over so many little details that they never complete the job in time, if at all. These little things are easier to manage and usually are conducted perfectly, but it doesn’t matter in the final analysis because the total task is undone and the deadline is over. Thus, their perfectionistic effort is considered a failure. This has typically been a pattern in their lives — resulting in a trail of unfinished objectives, such as never completing all the requirements for an educational degree, not getting necessary business or professional certifications, and now — being unable to complete key tasks that lead to career advancement in their field.

Take steps to learn your job well and develop the specific skills you need to get a task done. This will mean starting earlier and putting in more time and effort, may require reading or outside training, but you will feel so much better about yourself and in control of what you’re doing. You will be able to get the job done competently and with confidence, and can take pride in the finished product, rather than offering excuses for why it was late, why there were mistakes or other problems with the quality of your work.

  • You Don’t Want To Do It

Ask yourself honestly if you are putting off a project because you just don’t want to do it. Often people are assigned tasks by their boss or have obligations in their businesses that they don’t like, but don’t acknowledge this to themselves and express their anger and annoyance by just not doing them. Unfortunately, you’re the one that’s negatively affected by this because it reflects most poorly on you.

You can speak up and object about the assignment if it’s of a nature that can be negotiated. Sometimes projects can be redirected to others or, if you’re serving as a volunteer and have been asked to do something, it’s fine to request a different assignment if you don’t like the one you’ve been given. Better to do this than to simply ignore the project altogether.

More often than not where work is concerned, however, you will have no control over the matter and simply will be expected to do what you have been given to do. Accept the reality that there will be aspects of your job that you don’t like but have to complete or that as an entrepreneur, your reputation will be irreparably tarnished if you fail to follow through with “grunt work” obligations. If you find that you feel so negatively about this, then you need to get busy and start looking for another job or business venture. It’s fairest to you and fairest to your employer or your customers.

  • You’re Afraid People Will Expect More Of You

This is an aspect of the fear of success that people often fail to identify in themselves. You work hard to become successful, but then poke around with a critical assignment — the end result being that you sabotage yourself. You know the deadline, know how much time it will take to do the work, start doing it, but just keep finding other things to distract you to the point where it doesn’t get done. Close examination of this often reveals that you already feel the pressure of success and people’s high expectations of you. “My goodness,” you say to yourself “what if they start asking for more?” So how do you prevent them from dumping more on you? You start to mess up — not enough to lose your job or run all your customers away, but just enough to become branded as unreliable so that people learn not to count on you. While this relieves the immediate pressure, you still feel stressed and depressed because of your persistent, painful awareness that you are performing poorly and are being viewed as a failure by those around you.

Get a grip on yourself and make the decision to either accept the full responsibilities of the job you occupy or move on. You can’t keep taking the salary without doing the work required. You’re not helping yourself by hanging on in a job by the skin of your teeth, nor are you doing your employer any favors either. Sometimes circumstances have elevated people to positions that outmatch their capabilities or willingness to work as hard as they must in a particular job. You have to be honest with yourself about this and step aside if you’re out of your league.

Procrastination has spelled disaster for many in their careers and needs to be dealt with before it does the same for yours. People who are chronic procrastinators typically have read all about the strategies for pacing yourself and managing your time when you have tasks to complete, and know that you must keep an image of the finished product clearly in your mind so that you can see it taking shape as you work. But, the bottom line is that you’ve got to just do it. So, get to the bottom of why you’re setting yourself up to fail and, if necessary, get help to correct self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings so that you can genuinely and proudly enjoy your success in the future.



About the Author:

Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,

The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You!
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at or call 954.797.9766.

E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262  Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317

Reprint Policy: You are welcome to reprint this article for your personal use and to share with friends and associates.
Contact Dr. Webster to obtain permission for any commercial purposes.