“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Mary Schmich
Fear is one of the greatest enemies of productivity. New research has shown that procrastination is due not to a lack of willpower or motivation, instead, it is because of fear.
You aren’t getting to that challenging project because you don’t have the time or you don’t feel like it, maybe it’s because you don’t know where to start it. Maybe you feel inadequate to be able to do the kind of job on it you’d like and would rather not do it instead of facing the specter of the fear of failure.
This makes a lot of sense when you stand back and look at it.
For years the shaming of people as lazy and unproductive was really a mask for their insecurity and fear.
Mayo Oshin shares in his article: “You’re not lazy. You’re afraid,” on TheLadders.com the results of a new brain study focused on procrastination. Here’s an excerpt from his article:
The researchers discovered a higher volume of the amygdala—an almond-shape set of neurons that process our emotions—in the brains of the participants who procrastinated than those who were more action orientated.
Moreover, they discovered that the procrastinators had weaker connections between the amygdala and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC)—another region of the brain responsible for self-control and emotional regulation.
These breakthrough findings provided the long-awaited neuroscientific explanation for what psychologists had referred to as an “amygdala hijack.”
In layman’s terms, during high-pressure scenarios which trigger memories of negative experiences, the amygdala triggers a fight or flight response.
It takes over our ability to think of the long term consequences of our actions and leads us to avoid the important task at hand because it’s perceived as a threat to our safety.
On the surface, procrastination looks a lot like laziness, in the brain, it looks like a matter of life and death!
“Procrastination is the symptom. FEAR is the root cause.”
I have put Mr. Oshin’s takeaways in my own words for you to take with you when you face your day-to-day fears in your 9 to 5 job:
- Walk through (in your mind) the worst-case scenarios of your fears.
- Accept your fears for what they are.
- Take a deep breath, acknowledge the fear, and then go for it!
What fears are holding you back from the life you want? What things keep you all locked up inside? When you came name your fears and then deconstruct them into something simpler and more manageable, it is amazing how quickly fear’s power shrivels up.