The Now Habit has helped me to look at procrastination in a new way. Here are the last two negative self statements Fiore identifies. These are the heavy hitters our inner critic uses all the time.
4. Negative Self Statement: “I must be perfect.” This self-statement seems like the real epicenter of the problem for me. It is the ultimate self-condemnation that my efforts are small, insignificant, and inadequate and therefore I am small, insignificant, and inadequate. So procrastination is a self-defense against my fear of failure. Fiore writes: “The more perfectionist and self-critical you are, the harder it is to start on a project that you already know will never be quite good enough.” And it will make it so much more likely your project will be abandoned when it doesn’t measure up. Replace this negative thinking with this Positive Self Statement: “I can be perfectly human.” Move from self-criticism to self-compassion. This statement recognizes that beginning any project necessarily means that there will be a learning curve. But rather than being deterred by the inevitability of mistakes and small missteps, you are encouraged and enthused about the learning process and give yourself credit for your courageous efforts. Fiore recommends: “For procrastinators blocked by an addiction to perfectionism. . . A direct attack to unlearn this insidious pattern [is this]. . . Try to be imperfect. Intentionally do the first part of your project sloppily.” Wow! What a novel idea! “Then let your natural motivation for excellence take charge.”
5. Negative Self Statement: “I don’t have time to play.” This underlies deep feelings of resentment toward your work and a feeling of deprivation that your life is so full of obligations that you “miss the things other people enjoy in life.” Replace this negative thinking with this Positive Self Statement: “I must take time to play.” Basically, this is the sense that you “have something to look forward to in the near future. This could be exercise, dinner with friends, frequent breaks throughout your day, and frequent vacations throughout your year.” This increases your sense of inner worth, value, and respect for yourself. Move from resentment, isolation, and deprivation to feeling of self-worth, connection and a full life.
Fiore says that by applying these five positive self-statements there is a greater chance you will find work itself can be rewarding and enjoyable, you will enjoy guilt-free play and “reinforcing small steps with frequent rewards will increase the likelihood of consistent progress.
Here is the ultimate Negative Self-Statement: “I have to finish something big and do it perfectly while working hard for long periods of time without time to play.”
Here is the ultimate Positive Self-Statement: “I choose to start on one small step, knowing I have plenty of time for play.”
Fiore suggest that each time you use one of these positive self-statements you are actually rewiring your brain from that of a procrastinator to one of a producer.
Here is a summary of the statements:
"I have to."
" I must finish."
"This project is big and important."
"I must be perfect."
"I don't have time to play."
"I choose to."
"When can I start?"
"I can take on small step."
"I can be perfectly human."
"I must take time to play."
Try jotting these positive self statements down on a small index card and then carry it around with you for a week. You will be amazed as the difference it will make. You are on your way to ridding yourself of one of the major obstacles to feeling good so many of us face.