Bust Out of Procrastination Nation: How to Get Out of Your Own Way

The Startup
Published in
8 min readMar 23, 2020

Everyone has that friend with a million ideas who never executes on any of them. This person talks a big game-about their latest invention, their fashion label, their bespoke furniture company-but that’s all they are, talk. In the moment, their vision is clear and their confidence and bravado make the goal seem within reach, something you’re going to be reading about next month. Yet the next time you meet up with them, their focus has completely shifted. Your friend loves imagining the thrill of the finished project, but something holds them back from figuring out all the steps needed to make that dream a reality.

From the outside, it may feel easy to write your friend off as lazy. Why can’t they get it together? But if you’ve ever had to pull an all-nighter or left an email reply until the last minute, you’ve suffered from the same affliction. Perhaps you feel it in your gut, a slow and churning feeling. Or maybe your muscles tense up and you get a headache thinking about completing the task.

Regardless of how your individual symptoms manifest, your subconscious knows something is up and it’s not going to let you off the hook so easily.

Procrastination isn’t necessarily about being lazy

Sloth is often blamed as the roadblock between thought and action, yet more often the force driving us to procrastinate is fear. When the pressure is on and the stakes appear high, it can feel too terrifying to start. What if you fail? You might produce trash. Or perhaps your work won’t live up to your perfect expectations.

Comparing yourself to other people doesn’t help either. By witnessing the accomplishments of others, especially your peers in the same space, you may feel like they possess different qualities that make it easier for them to do the work. You could incorrectly assume that they don’t feel the same fear as you.

In a 2012 study, Gordon L. Flett and his York University colleagues found a strong correlation between procrastination and perfectionism. A desire to complete a task perfectly sparks anxiety, and these negative thought patterns cue avoidant behavior, which leads to even more tension as the clock ticks. Flett’s data indicated that “the experience…

The Startup

Career coach for women in the digital world. Dog mom of Gary Waffles the corgi. Reading, writing, and running in my free time. she/her