The Role of Procrastination, Emotions, and Success
Anxiety may cause health problems in one person, but it may be the key motivator of another.
The fear of failure may paralyze one individual and for another be fuel in the tank on the way to success.
Negative emotions propel many people to success.
Mary Lamia, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, a professor at the Wright Institute at Berkeley, and the author of numerous books. Her latest is What Motivates Getting Things Done: Procrastination, Emotions, and Success. In this book, she highlights the role of emotions and how our innate biological systems motivate us to achieve.
I recently talked with her about her considerable research and experience into the role of emotions and motivation.
Understand Negative Emotion
Motivation. Most people talk about positive motivation, but you carefully talk about negative emotions. Why are negative emotions often overlooked or discounted in the motivational literature?
Labeling emotions as positive or negative has little to do with their value, but instead involves how they motivate us through the ways they make us feel. Negative emotions like distress, fear, anger, disgust, and shame motivate us to do something to avoid experiencing them, or they urge us to behave in ways that will relieve their effects. Although we can be motivated by anticipating the positive emotions associated with pride, such as enjoyment or excitement, often what motivates us to get something done has to do with our response to negative emotions, such as in the avoidance of shame or in an attempt to seek relief from anxiety about an uncompleted task. People who are successful in their endeavors have learned to make excellent use of the negative emotions they experience. Erroneously, my own profession has promoted the notion that only positive emotions motivate us. This is possibly a misconception based on the positive psychology movement which focuses on positive human functioning rather than mental illness, and has more to do with resilience than motivation.
Learn How to Be A Multiplier
If you’ve tried all of the tips, tricks, tools, apps, checklists, planners and technology gimmicks to improve your productivity, you may wonder why it is that you still haven’t mastered your time.
My friend Rory Vaden, cofounder of international company Southwestern Consulting, NYT bestselling author of Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success, says that:
- Everything you know about time management is wrong.
- The most productive people in the world do things differently.
- We need to understand the emotional aspects of time management.
- We need to learn how to multiply our time.
- We need to learn how to procrastinate on purpose.
His new book, Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time has just been released. A few weeks ago, I sat down with Rory to talk about his extensive research into time management.
If you want to be more productive, more effective, more impactful – and who doesn’t – Rory’s research will propel you along.
3 Types of Procrastination
1: Classic procrastination
2: Creative avoidance
3: Priority dilution
3 Types of Procrastination
Learn about the 3 different types of procrastination:
Image Courtesy of istockphoto/AnsonLu
This is a guest post by Bill Blankschaen. Bill is a writer, speaker, ministry consultant and non-profit leader. He blogs at FaithWalkers
at Patheos and can be found on Twitter
If you fear failure, you are not alone. A quick Google search reveals countless resources to help you overcome the fear of failure. Certainly, an unhealthy fear of failure can paralyze us and destroy the culture of the teams we lead. But the lack of any fear of failure can be just as deadly.
I recently enjoyed lunch with a friend who excels in sales for a large media company. Quite simply, he’s one of the best at what he does. Always eager to learn, I asked him what trait seemed to be shared by all the failed salespeople he has seen over the years. His reply? Overconfidence.
The most common characteristic of those who failed was that they all once thought failure to be impossible.
There’s an important lesson for us as leaders. When no one fears failing at all, our team gets complacent, inefficient, and starts to coast. As I’ve often reminded my teams, coasting kills. It’s when we think our ship is unsinkable that we stop looking for icebergs ahead — in spite of repeated warnings.
We all know how that story ends.
When No One Fears Failure
Procrastination is not inherently evil. There may be benefits to procrastination. Before ending procrastination for good, make sure you understand why you are delaying in the first place.
Why do we procrastinate?
No commitment. You realize after waiting a period of time that you aren’t fully committed to the goal. Better to know before you spend hours and hours on it, then abandon it.
Bad idea. It may be that you realize it’s a bad idea or that there is another way to accomplish something.
Too many goals. Maybe you put it aside in favor of something else or you have competing priorities.
Laziness. You look at your last week and realize that you have no excuse. You are just lazy. A sloth.
Exhaustion. You are physically and mentally spent doing other things, and you don’t start because your tank is running on empty.
Fear of failure. By not starting, you don’t finish and therefore reduce your risk of failure. After all, if you finish, everyone will see the end result and judge it. Rather than risk that, you never begin.