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The root of procrastination: How to detect and overcome it

Have you avoided tasks that you know you need to do?

Tasks that you told yourself you'll get around to, but then it doesn't happen?

To clean your house

To take the car in for a service

To start exercising regularly

And it may not just be the small things. It could be a larger task or goal, like enrolling in Uni to help you further your career. Or to make a doctor’s appointment for a routine, but important, health check-up.

Avoiding tasks – or procrastinating - could have a huge impact on your life. In fact, it could even create major health issues.

If you identify as a chronic procrastinator, you probably think you're avoiding feeling overwhelmed or anxious by delaying a task.

But you're actually doing the complete opposite! By delaying the tasks you are creating anxiety and overwhelm, along with the potential to develop serious health concerns like digestive issues, headaches, depression, and even cardiovascular disease and hypertension in extreme cases.

In turn, this could translate into financial strain if it causes you to miss work due to illness.

What’s going on in your brain when you procrastinate?

Procrastination is a symptom of a deeper issue.

There are a variety of reasons behind why you procrastinate but here are a few important points:

Instant gratification

This means that your desire for an immediate reward (a positive), is stronger than your desire to delay a task you may not love (a negative) . It’s a short-term mood repair which is protecting you from a feeling of stress, fear of failure or judgement by others.

For example, you might put off responding to a full inbox because it's 'tiresome’ or ‘boring’ (negative). But you’re likely to jump on social media to see how many likes you got on your latest post because it makes you feel good (positive).


If you consider yourself a perfectionist, chances are you have fallen into the trap of procrastination at some point.

Procrastination reduces the stress of doing things perfectly, or in a work situation, worrying about how your boss or the team might respond to your efforts.

It protects you from thoughts like, “Can I do this? Do I have the skills or knowledge?” because the egotistic side of your brain jumps in to save you by avoiding the task, therefore relieving your stress.

Limiting beliefs

Have you ever caught yourself saying something along the lines of…

"I can’t afford that."

"I don’t earn enough to save money."

"I’m not pretty enough."

"I can’t lose weight."

"I don’t have time."

"I was born this way."

"I don’t have a university degree so I can’t expect a pay rise/promotion."

"I’m an overthinker."

"I’m a procrastinator."

These aren’t just casual remarks. They are very impactful statements and examples of limiting beliefs.

Beliefs are things we hold to be true, either with or without proof. They are formed at a young age from our caregivers and are often not questioned until much later in life if and when we delve into the world of self-development. These beliefs are often the stories, or excuses, we tell ourselves that are holding us back from realising our full potential.

How can you overcome procrastination?

It comes back to looking at the root cause of the issue.

What makes you feel anxious?

When did it start?

How does it feel to you?

You may think the reason for your anxiety is situational, perhaps relating to a recent event. But more likely, it stems back to the very first time you experienced a feeling of anxiety, perhaps as a child, and it has stayed with you.

Until you identify the root cause and address it, you'll continue to feel this way.

Below are tips on how you can determine the root cause of why you procrastinate and begin to move forward:

1. Develop greater awareness Listen to your language - internal and external - and identify your limiting beliefs. These might sound like "I can't..." statements. Write them down or journal about them, or seek help with a coach to shift them.

2. Begin to see different possibilities Reframe your negative thoughts. Instead of focusing on the negative aspect of the limiting belief, turn it into a possibility. With a bit of thought, this is possible for any negative statement. 3. Take action

Challenge your limiting beliefs and explore ways to achieve your goals and ambitions. Information is simply information until you take action. It will be uncomfortable, you may even think it feels painful! But this pain is only psychological and will pass.

Pain + reflection = progress. 4. Associate with or learn from people who have achieved what you want in your life. Search for like-minded people, the ones who are doing what you want to be doing, or who are already on the path you want to be on. Learn their model and imitate them to achieve the results you desire.

5. Continue to grow

Never stop learning. Read, attend seminars, listen to podcasts, share your dreams, and continue to challenge yourself. Embrace mistakes you make a long the way (they will happen!). View them as opportunities to learn something new. Don’t allow the limitations of others to prevent you from growing.

Overcoming procrastination won’t be as simple as waking up tomorrow and you’re a changed person. Like learning any new skill, it takes work, commitment, and a deep desire to change... but it is possible.

If you want to learn more about how to overcome procrastination, crush your limiting beliefs and live a more fulfilling life, click the button below to subscribe to our weekly newsletter for stories, timely tips and suggestions that will help you transform your life 🌙


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