Motivation vs. Procrastination

Kimberly Morrow

Are you a motivated person or do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you feel confident to help your clients with procrastination? I am lucky in that I have always had a lot of energy and get things done way before they are do. It has helped me have a successful private practice and an online anxiety training business, I have often struggled with clients who have problems with procrastination because I just couldn’t imagine living with the anxiety that comes with not getting things done and not moving forward towards my goals. Then someone recommended a Ted talk by Tim Urban .

Tim points out in his hilarious talk that someone who is motivated to get things done early is just as anxious as someone who waits until the last minute. He calls us precrastinators. I laughed at how this resonated with me. Seeing my “motivation” driven by anxiety has helped me to have compassion for my clients whose “procrastination” is driven by their fears.

How can we help our clients to see when fear is the motivating force behind their behaviors? Using socratic questions can help. Once they understand the role of anxiety and their behavior, it helps to become a team and get wiser than anxiety. We look at what tricks anxiety plays to prevent someone from taking the next steps forward. Maybe it tells them they don’t have enough time to do it all. Maybe it convinces them to watch one more Netflix show. Maybe it says they can only do well if it’s the 11th hour so they should probably just wait to get started.

Once a client understands that anxiety is not helpful and understands their thoughts/beliefs that keep them stuck, it’s time to develop an action plan that holds them accountable. Utilize the time before and after a session for them to get work done. Have them experiment with going to their favorite coffee shop to study. Ask if they would be willing to take a 5-15 minute walk when they have work to do because moving energy in their body will help quiet anxiety, let their wise mind show up, and help them stay in the flow of energy. Challenge them to involve a friend to study with or text them to check in on how their work is going. It can be a fun part of therapy to create counter moves to anxiety.

The important thing is to realize that anxiety shows up in so many ways in our life and convinces us to believe it and act on it; whether we are precrastinators or procrastinators. Becoming detectives with your client and being a part of their accountability team can make the difference for you and them.




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