Top 20 Reasons People Procrastinate & Rationalize it

Procrastination is a killer. Whether you work for yourself, run the house, take care of the kids or work for someone else, procrastination is the worst friend you can invite into your life.

When you procrastinate, it's often followed by a rationalization. They are like best friends and hard to separate. Click To Tweet

When you procrastinate, it’s often followed by a rationalization. They are like best friends and hard to separate.

I am a huge believer in self-awareness. I even wrote an eBook about it. When it comes to procrastination and rationalization, it’s necessary to become super aware of what you’re doing. You cannot beat either without becoming aware of what you’re doing.

Just as an AA or NA group would say, “The first step is admitting you have a problem.” There should be a Procrastinators Anonymous group as it can be much like a sickness these days.

Let’s look at some of the most common reasons people procrastinate and how they rationalize it. By understanding what you’re doing, you can start to work on curing your issue.

1. I Don’t Feel Like Doing It

procrastination

Probably the most likely reason you procrastinate is the age old excuse, “I don’t feel like it.” If successful people only did what they feel like, they’d never become successful.

Comfort is overrated and you NEED to become uncomfortable if you want to succeed in life. Living a life filled with uncomfortable things means you’re growing. However, if you use the “I Don’t Feel Like Doing It” procrastination excuse, you’ll never grow.

This one is rationalized pretty easily by believing you should only do what you feel like doing. For the Christian, this one is easy to debunk considering, the motto of Aleister Crowley (One of the main Satanists of the world) is, “Do What Thou Wilt.” This basically means do whatever you want to do or what’s comfortable or what you feel like doing. If you do this, as a Christian, you’re not glorifying God, but instead, Satan.

For the non-Christians, it comes down to what you really want out of life. If you only want to do what you feel like doing, you’ll only make it so far and finding contentment in life won’t be easy, let alone happiness or joy (LINKS).

Beat this procrastination simply by doing uncomfortable things more often. Some of us use cold showers to prove we can do a very uncomfortable thing every single day. Some of us wake up early to prove it to ourselves. You’re mistaken if you think those using these uncomfortable things to help beat this procrastination enjoy it.

I don’t enjoy waking up super early, but I do it because I know my best time for writing is before breakfast. I don’t enjoy taking cold showers, but I do it because it energizes me and helps me to remember I can do uncomfortable things.

Beat the, I Don't Feel Like It procrastination by striving to be uncomfortable more often. Click To Tweet

Beat the, “I Don’t Feel Like It” procrastination by striving to be uncomfortable more often. Comfort is truly overrated. If you want to grow and become a true success, you want to be uncomfortable more often.

2. I Don’t Have the Skills or I Don’t Know How

We put things off all the time because we don’t believe we have the skills or the knowledge to do something. Just because you’ve never put together that new desk you purchased doesn’t mean you cannot gain the skills to do it.

You weren’t born with the ability to walk.
You weren’t born with the ability to talk.
You weren’t born ready to become a success.

We don’t come out of our mother’s womb complete with all the skills we need for everything. We have to learn and become skilled in the things we are called to do in this life.

Beat this procrastination by putting together a plan to get the skills you need to do whatever it is you’ve been putting off. Whether it’s putting together your new desk or going back to school to become a veterinarian, you can gain the skills and beat this procrastination.

3. I Might Fail

failure

Failure is the mother of all procrastination. It’s like a little devil sitting on your shoulder scaring you every step of the way. You might fail, which is true, but you’ll never succeed unless you try.

You might fail, which is true, but you'll never succeed unless you try. Click To Tweet

So many people never go after their calling/passion/purpose because they are afraid of failure. Part of this comes from the modern society of the “get rich quick scheme” or the “overnight success”. However, if you look into any so-called “overnight success” you’ll quickly find out that the person probably put in a decade of work, had multiple failures and finally found success.

The “I Might Fail” procrastination is easily rationalized with the “I Might Fail” fear. It’s easy to avoid our fears, but the best way to get over fear is to face it. If you truly feel whatever it is you’re putting off is your calling/passion/purpose, it’s time to stop procrastinating and do it.

Beat this procrastination by understanding that anytime you do fail, it’s just a learning opportunity. I have failed numerous times and have far more failures on my record than successes. However, every failure has taught me something and has helped to lead to my success.

Embrace failure and you'll move forward. Embrace failure and realize it's part of the journey Click To Tweet

Embrace failure and you’ll move forward. Embrace failure and realize it’s part of the journey towards success. Enjoy the possibility of failure because you know it’s one step closer to truly working within your calling/passion/purpose in life.

4. Negative Self-Talk

procrastinate

This procrastination is a very strong one, but it’s also one you can cure. Negative self-talk is like having Satan stuck in your head. We all do this, but we don’t have to.

Robin Sharma’s book, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, shows a great tale of negative self-talk and how it can be changed. This type of self-talk is incredibly dangerous and can keep you stuck in one place for a very long time.

If you’re stuck in a negative self-talk cycle, you’ll likely procrastinate as you tell yourself you’ll fail, you’re not good enough and all the reasons why you don’t deserve something. This is one people don’t have to rationalize because they are already doing it as they talk to themselves.

Beating negative self-talk won’t be easy, but it can be done. I used to be very negative with myself, but through a few specific exercises, I was able to become self-aware and beat it.

For me, it started years ago on the golf course when I learned to start visualizing the shot I wanted to hit and block out the negative self-talk about the lake, hazard, bunker or other areas of the course I didn’t want to hit the ball into. Positivity took me from a mid-handicap golfer to a low handicap golfer over time.

It hit me again just a few months ago when I realized I was talking inside my head in a very negative way. I started using a rubber band around my wrist to beat this negative self-talk.

Every time a negative thought popped into my head, I would snap it and remind myself of something positive, along with telling myself that I don’t have energy to waste on negative thoughts. For the week or so, my wrist was rather red.

You can beat negative self-talk with the rubber band trick above or simply by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. As you become more aware of the negative thoughts, you’ll have fewer of them and you’ll have more control over them.

5. I am Too Good for It

snobby

I have to admit, this procrastination and rationalization makes me want to smack someone upside the head, but it’s real and something many use to put off important tasks.

When you believe you’re too good for a task or for something needing done, you put it off. You also put yourself on a fake pedestal, which feeds your brain something very ugly. This procrastination and rationalization doesn’t come from a humble place or a place of gratitude.

Believing you’re too good to do something that needs done, such as cleaning the bathroom or doing a task you’d rather hire someone for, but cannot afford to hire someone for is a recipe for disaster.

I am all for outsourcing work you don’t enjoy or don’t want to do, but when you’re early on and don’t have the cash to support outsourcing, you are the one it falls to. Even after you have enough cash to outsource, you should never take on an attitude that you’re too good to do something. You never know when the person posting to your social media will up and quit or simply stop working and you’ll have to take over until you can find someone else.

Beat this procrastination simply by humbling yourself. Live in a true place of gratitude and realize you’re never too good to do something that needs done. Those willing to get their hands dirty are the ones that enjoy life the most. Sometime, getting dirty can be fun, even if it seems like a task you may not enjoy.

Stop rationalizing that you’re too good for something and realize it needs done. If you suffer from this procrastination, the prescription is simple. Every single day, before doing anything else, write out three things you’re truly thankful for. Then, anytime you start to get an attitude about being too good for something, read the list. Add to it every day and you’ll start to become a more humble person.

6. The Need for Instant Gratification

I have a feeling this procrastination excuse will just get worse as we get things faster and faster in our world today.

Instant gratification can have you putting off things because you don’t believe there will be a reward immediately. Whether it’s praise you seek for a job well done or monetary rewards, many people fail because they want it right now and are not willing to wait.

The most successful people focus on the task at hand and not the reward. Click To Tweet

The most successful people focus on the task at hand and not the reward. Relating this to the blogging world, when you focus on the writing and let money be a by-product, you have the ability to reach more people with your words. When you focus on the money, the words don’t reach people because they are no longer true to your message, but clouded by tricks to help you make more money.

Beat instant gratification by teaching yourself to delay gratification. This can be done throughout your regular day simply by putting off checking your phone when it rings (turning the ringer off helps) or closing your email when you’re working. You can also practice delayed gratification by using your credit cards less and saving to buy things you want.

The more you practice delaying gratification, the easier it will be and the more you will grow into someone not needing rewards right now. You’ll stop rationalizing your procrastination simply because you don’t believe you’ll gain an instant reward. This will also lead to a happier, more joyful life.

7. The Perfectionism Procrastination

perfectionist

This one doesn’t apply to everybody, but does apply to the perfectionist out there. If you’re a perfectionist, you will know exactly what I am talking about with this procrastination.

Perfectionist will put certain things off if they think they cannot do them perfectly or are afraid they won’t be perfect at it. They need to be seen as perfect and they need their work to be seen at perfect. Anything less is hard for a perfectionist to grasp.

Often, perfectionists will have multiple unfinished projects because they don’t think they will be able to do the project perfectly. They may have written a great book, but won’t publish it because it’s not perfect in their mind yet.

Perfectionism isn’t an easy procrastination to beat. It’s often rationalized in the mind of the perfectionist over and over and can become much like a disease. It has to be something you become aware of and really work at to beat. You have to become okay with a less than perfect result.

The best way to beat this procrastination is to work on setting lower expectations. Perfectionists usually set such high expectations that they live in a world of constant disappointment. This can lead to negative self-talk and a number of other things causing procrastination.

When you learn to set lower expectations, you can start to change the course of your perfectionism. You can start to achieve more and become happier because you’re not holding yourself or others to an impossible standard.

These seven reasons for procrastination are the most common and the worst. However, they are not the only reasons for procrastination. Here are 13 more reasons why people procrastinate and rationalize putting of their life.

  • Lack of Self-Discipline
  • Overwhelmed by a Large Project
  • Afraid to Attach Their Name/Reputation to the Task/Project
  • No Clear Deadline
  • Unwillingness to Assign Importance to the Task
  • Lack of Setting Good Priorities, which Causes other Unimportant things to Get in the Way
  • Fatigue, Stress or Exhaustion
  • Lack of Self-Confidence
  • Distracted with a Poor Work Environment
  • Afraid to Start because the Task is Hard
  • Fear of Criticism or Judgement
  • Feel Like You Need to Control Everything
  • You’re Overworked and in Need of a Break

This list could probably go on forever as there are so many reasons why we choose to procrastinate instead of doing what needs to be done. It’s time to get uncomfortable and get the things done you need to do. Start today and start putting habits in place to help you avoid procrastination and the ugly rationalizations we use to make it okay.

Do you procrastinate? What’s your reason for putting something off? Tell me all about your struggles with procrastination in the comments below.

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Comments 11

  • Hi Benjamin,

    Awesome stuff here.

    I have no idea why folks cling to #2. Why say you don’t have certain skills and leave it at that? Weird human tendency, versus choosing to practice and develop skills.

    We are all newbs in areas we just became aware of. I had zero blogging skills 10 years ago. Poor writing skills too, and had no clue in heck how to network, how to make friends, how to serve others through blogging…..Heck, I had no idea what a blog was 10 years ago.

    But I learned, studied, practiced, and developed the skills to be where I am today.

    Thanks for sharing Benjamin.

    Ryan

  • Thanks for sharing valuable information with us…
    Keep Up The Work…

  • Hey Benjamin Ehinger
    it was complete good post , i am really enjoyed during reading post , because it’s true
    and some people said i haven’t skills what to do , so if they are search and want to really earn then they must pay attention on your work and learn more and more ,
    BTW Thank you for sharing Benjamin

  • Hi, Benjamin.

    Such great stuff here. I had to open a Google Keep tab as I kept writing notes and adding to the list you have here.

    I’ve been stuck at every point.

    This year I’ve been using Mel Robbins 5-Second rule and it’s done wonders for me.

    All of this stuff starts in the mind so it makes sense that if you catch it there (within the first 5-seconds of having the thought or desire) it can be rerouted or even stopped.

    Not gonna write a book here, but did want to put out something about #2.

    Children are naturally curious. Recall being young, your faith in all possibilities and your ability to achieve what you set out to do was HUGE.

    “I want to be an archeologist, a Rock Singer, a Police Man, a Race car driver…”

    Our system is set to put people into little categories or boxes.

    “Johnny, what do you want to be when you grow up?” or “Sarah, you must choose a major, time is running out.”

    Did you know that children are categorized from a very young age and usually sent down a certain “life path” by the time they’re in 4th grade? (depending on income level or community status, it may be sooner.)

    What a shame.

    I certainly have more to say on the topic, but I’ll leave it here. ^_^

    • Sara,

      No reason to ever cut a blog comment short. I find that when you write longer comments, they stand out, add to the content and more people read them. Just an FYI.

      The 5-second rule is awesome and I only listened to some of it with my wife before I read the entire thing. It has done wonders at helping me get out of bed and helping me with a few other things.

      I agree completely with how we put children in a box. I think I picked this up from Max Lucado, instead of asking kids what they want to do when they grow up, we should be asking them what they are dreaming about. There’s so much more freedom in what you’re dreaming about because it doesn’t have limits.

      Personally, I think our entire school system is basically set up to teach people to work for others and to categorize them. I remember having at least 6 people in my ear in high school trying to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do. Sadly, we lose something when we become adults and stop thinking about what we dreamt of doing and being when we were children.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Hello Benjamin Ehinger,

    I guess these common reasons people procrastinate. And I think we must avoid “Negative Self-Talk” so that we will be confident in what we do.

    Thanks

  • Hi Benjamin, interesting I still am not sure why I procrastinate when I do. I tend to do it for marketing my eBook and blog.
    Maybe it’s the afraid to fail theory?
    I’ve been working on it more of late as I finally realized it. I just have to move on and DO IT!
    Nike had a great catch phrase – “just do it!”.
    Thanks for shedding some light on this one Benjamin!

    • Lisa,

      Sometimes it can be hard to figure out why. I fall short with it all time time and end up procrastinating for one of many reasons. It’s amazing how the human brain can not only come up with excuses, but also rationalize those excuses so that we don’t have to feel guilty.

      Benjamin

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