How to Deal With Procrastination Problems and Break Bad Habits

Negative habits, such as procrastination can be hard to break.
The mind is always evaluating the balance between the pain of changing and pleasure of succeeding.
Your mind always weighs the perceived benefit of an action with the pain of having to do it.

To change you need to change the balance between pain and pleasure.
That is the cause of procrastination and why it is hard to break bad habits.

If the pain out-ways the pleasure you won’t change, it is the same with procrastination – if the work is harder than the reward is pleasurable you won’t start.

How to tip the scale
There are three ways to make change possible, you can either;
1. Add more pleasure – increase the reward.
2. Decrease the pain
3. Completely change the focus of the pain.

Adding Pleasure
Increase the reward by offering yourself more, an example can be allowing yourself to buy something you really want or you can vividly imagine the sought result that makes it more real and makes your mind give the perceived pleasure even more value.

Decrease Pain
By making it easy to start it becomes easier to get going – see the article about procrastination on setting the table.

Change the focus of the pain
Create a strong pain for not starting; it can either be a punishment or you can think about how much it hurts not to start, the consequences of procrastinating or continuing with your negative habit.

An example from life
Someone might really want to change their habits, for example their health habits, but for years they haven’t been able to break their habits, until one day the doctor tells them that if they don’t change, soon, they will die.

All of a sudden the pain of not starting is so powerful that they change immediately.

A simple way to change the balance
Making a list of the benefits of starting and completing a task will give you a chance to see and visualize the pleasure of completing the task.
Continue adding to the list until you have enough on it that it completely conquers your procrastination.

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Related posts:

  1. What do you need to Defeat Procrastination?
  2. How do You Cure Procrastination?
  3. How to Cure Procrastination
  4. How to Choose the Habits That Will Make You a Success
  5. How to Stop Procrastinating – The 15 Minute Method
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4 Responses to How to Deal With Procrastination Problems and Break Bad Habits

  1. Hi Daniel,

    A great simple post – I’ve seen and written on this topic many times, but never managed to find or write anything that is quite so succinct!

    There’s an element of this to find out which of the buttons works best for you – I’ve found that most people who are habitual procrastinators tend to be people who respond best to decreasing the pain of getting started, or at least increasing the pain of not getting started!

    • Daniel M. Wood says:

      Hi Dan,

      Thank you very much for the praise.
      I am honored.

      “There’s an element of this to find out which of the buttons works best for you – I’ve found that most people who are habitual procrastinators tend to be people who respond best to decreasing the pain of getting started, or at least increasing the pain of not getting started!”

      You have a very good point. It is very personal what works, but if you find your own button you can overcome the problem.

  2. Timo Kiander says:

    Something that I learned years ago from Dave Navarro’s great e-book (What is holding you back?) was that you shouldn’t make things too hard on yourself, when you start. So, the easier it is to start with your new habit the better.

    I have experienced, that when starting a new habit, the more difficult/hard I make it for myself, the harder it is to stick with the habit.

    Timo

    • Daniel M. Wood says:

      Good point Timo.
      We are often very hard on ourselves and expect a lot from ourselves.
      If we make it easier, it becomes easier.

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