How to Trick Your Brain to Stop Procrastinating The Really Scary Stuff

By Jamila Mustapha

August 30, 2016   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Do you know why you can’t stop procrastinating the really scary stuff- despite all your good intentions?

It’s because the classic anti-procrastination tip just doesn’t work on them. It works on easier things,  like those things that are only a little uncomfortable. Take, for example, decluttering your bedroom.

But, when it comes to the really important stuff, such as the ones that are life changing and take a lot of commitment, the classic tips cease to be effective at all. This mostly happens with important milestones in your life, like quitting your job to start your dream business, losing weight, or writing the book you’ve had in mind for ten years.

It’s like cutting down a tree in a really thick black forest. You know you have to do it but you find a lot of excuses not to.

It’s really difficult, right?

There’s something about feeling ‘scared’ that makes us not to want to have anything to do with it. And there’s another good reason- pain.

We’re inclined to do things that can give us pleasure, while we run away from the things we know can give us pain. We’d rather choose the pleasure of today even if it’ll cause us pain tomorrow. We’d rather deny the pain of today even if we know we’ll get great pleasure from it in the future.

Think about it this way:

If the promise of pleasure is greater than the promise of pain, you tend to act immediately. But, if it is the other way round, you procrastinate.

So, do you know how to quit procrastinating?

Easy. You have to break this pattern.

Here are the secret ways you can trick your brain:

Put things into perspective

Learn to recognize the pain that’s holding you back and the pleasure you derive from being held back. You can ask yourself the short-term and long-term discomforts you have to endure if you don’t take action now.

See Also: 3 Things You Need To Stop Doing To Live The Life Of Your Dreams

Think about the stress and lack of peace of mind. Anticipate the feeling of disappointment in yourself and the long-term pain of watching your dreams go down the drain. Imagine financial failure, lack of self-fulfillment and even depression.

Establish accountability

Sometimes, the idea of a loss or failure can be enough motivation to pull you off of your comfortable couch.

Imagine that you have a good book to finish. If you’ve been putting off writing that book, you might miss your deadline. There’s the pain of possible rejection and the fear of not being able to finish it on time. You can get laid off from work and you might not even get paid for the earlier work done.

Anticipate the pleasure

Aside from thinking about the negative effects of procrastinating, another good motivator is the reward you’ll receive after getting the work done. While working, ask yourself what pleasure you can derive from it.

If you’re aiming for a promotion, now’s the right time to act on it. If you’re planning on taking a vacation, you should start working on your project right now- so you can have enough time to prepare for your trip. Just think about the pleasant activities you can enjoy once the hard tasks are done and you’ll feel instantly motivated.


Compare and contrast

Compare the pain of taking action now and the pain of procrastination. Then, compare the pleasure you’ll derive by taking action now and the pleasure you’ll get from procrastinating.

If you’re having a hard time picturing these things in your mind, it’s a good idea if you can write them down. List down the pros and cons of delaying the task. You can also sketch down its negative and positive effects.

to do list

Seeing these things on paper can help train your mind into going into action. The more you condition your mind, the more likely you’ll defeat procrastination.

See Also: Five Things To Do Right Now To Stop Procrastinating

How do you beat procrastination? What do you do to get yourself to move?


Jamila Mustapha

Jamila is a communications and branding specialist at She's a writer, poet, translator and a Divi Web designer.

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