Human beings have always been pain-avoiding creatures. We seek to avoid the things we don't like or that could bring pain to us, and we pursue the things that bring us pleasure and happiness. Oftentimes, this human practice takes form in procrastination.
However, as we procrastinate, by avoiding the things that could be painful to us, we oftentimes end up bringing more pain upon ourselves. Waiting to pay bills, putting off going to the doctor, doing our taxes/homework/projects the night before they are due are all ways we procrastinate that could bring severe consequences. Any yet, why do we still do it?
Dr. Bruce Liese explores this question and gives some insight into some of the causes and effects of procrastination. He says that any kind of procrastination is essentially delaying and thus avoiding our obligations. However, many people "get away" with procrastination time and time again, causing a perpetual cycle that reinforces a lack of discipline.
Dr. Bruce Liese shares his own personal story of starting in poverty to now being a successful businessman and psychologist. Although he grew up poor, he had no desire to remain poor and he knew the only way out of that hole was to be disciplined and work hard at his goals. Liese says this determination allows him to overcome procrastination and makes him the successful man he is today.
Parenting can even have an impact on the procrastinating habits of children. Liese suggests that "over-functioning parents," or parents who simply do everything for their child doesn't enable a child to develop a sense of independence and self-control. This may lead to a child developing into a procrastinating adult.
Lives can be ruined by procrastination. Certain kinds of procrastination have severely negative consequences if we don't take care of the tasks now. Liese mentions his concern for patients who procrastinate on coming to the doctor for fear of confirming that they really are sick. Many patients wait until something very serious has developed or incapacitated them to go to a doctor, when if they had come earlier, the problem could have been resolved more quickly.
Social media has also become a key factor in our procrastination. In fact, Liese asserts that social media has made procrastination worse. As people have more access to information and various sites to check and update, they get instant gratification making more rewarding to avoid the things you should be doing.
Procrastination can become so serious that it can develop into chronic procrastination. The chronic avoidance of tasks can often be attributed to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as individuals are so caught up in the details that they are unable to accomplish daily responsibilities.
- Bruce Liese, Psychologist, Professor of Family Medicine at KU Medical Center