published Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Mohney: Three main reasons for being a procrastinator

By Dr. Nell Mohney

During my growing-up years, my no-nonsense mother said at least once daily, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” She said it in regard to homework, household chores, writing thank-you notes or offering an apology to a friend.

Psychiatrists tell us there are three reasons we procrastinate: fear of failure, fear of success and resistance to authority. Recently, at lunch with a friend, when I asked about her son, who is in his late teens, she took me up to his studio. There was a large display of beautiful paintings done in oils and watercolors. My immediate response was, “When is he having a show? I’ll be there.”

Her reply baffled me. “He won’t. His perfectionism, based on a fear of rejection, won’t allow him to sell or show his paintings because he feels they aren’t good enough.” As I walked away from her, I wondered how many people are sitting on the sidelines of life because of fear of failure.

When it comes to fear of success, women seem to be more guilty of it than men. They are afraid to release all their talents, fearing that doing so might adversely affect their marriage or other relationships. While I believe we ought to be sensitive to the feelings of others, I’m sure we either use our God-given talents or lose them.

As for resistance to authority, if you don’t like to take orders, or chafe under authority, or often remember an authoritarian parent or teacher, you will find ways to procrastinate.

To overcome these tendencies, we need to remember that procrastination is a cancer on our personalities. It kills opportunities for effective living. In addition, we need to face honestly our own reasons for procrastination. Is it fear of failure, fear of success or resistance to authority? Then make a plan of action and follow it.

Remember that the God who created us is not glorified when we bury our talents or hide them behind procrastination. So “don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”

Contact Nell Mohney at nellwmohney@comcast.net.

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