Anxiety and Procrastination

Anxiety and Procrastination

Looking at my life and pulling positive data from it slowly became an ingrained habit.

Reframing anxiety.

I have plenty of experience struggling with anxiety and procrastination. Both of these things used to consume me and dictated every decision I made a day in and day out. I never made much progress because I worried about outcomes which left me putting off tasks I needed to complete to move forward in life.

Thankfully, over the years I’ve learned to control my anxiety and procrastination. They are no longer the same driving forces they used to be. Still, I sometimes find myself stuck in old ways of thinking to this day. For example, last week I procrastinated on some very important tasks and obligations but couldn’t bring myself to care.

I used to spend weeks in this state of mind but nowadays it’s rare that I stay there for more than a few hours. I was on day three of this feeling, though, and it started to get to me. As I sat in the gym on the morning of that third day, I started breaking down exactly what was going on. Why was I procrastinating so much?

I had so many things to do. There were clients to speak with, paperwork to sign and send off to my team, sessions to attend, individuals to keep accountable, and certifications to complete, but none of this was out of the ordinary. All of these tasks are ongoing things I deal with as a regular part of my work and life. Why did I feel so overwhelmed?

While sitting in the gym between sets I finally realized what was different: at some point, I attached a negative outcome to these things which contributed to my growing anxiety. I spend the majority of my time assigning positive effects to situations but occasionally I still slip, and that’s where I found myself on day three of my procrastination stint.

I know I’m not alone in this experience. I’ve spoken with hundreds of brothers over the years that find themselves wracked by an unshakable bout of procrastination, and we can often trace it back to the outcomes we assign to circumstances. Do you deal with this porn addiction effects sometimes, too? Do you find yourself anticipating negative outcomes and feeling your anxiety increase as a result? 

All anxiety does is waste energy on a future outcome, one that isn’t guaranteed. You have no idea what the true outcome will be but that doesn’t stop you from expending precious energy worrying about what may happen. That buildup of negative energy typically manifests itself as procrastination as you work yourself into a ball of stress over outcomes that have yet to arrive.

The outcome I attached to my situation was the primary difference between those three days and the thousands of other days where I had all the same responsibilities. Nothing about my external circumstances had changed, only the way I looked at those circumstances. 

As I sat there I also thought back to the week before. A few days prior I sat in the same gym but with a much different mindset. I received a message from my CPA asking my CFO and me to review my tax returns for approval, and attached to those tax returns was a high six-figure number I wasn’t at all anticipating. It was so much higher than I expected, and not only was I not prepared for that figure but I was not expecting my response, either.

You would probably assume that I felt anxious, nervous, or angry, but I only sat there and felt delighted. Delight. Can you believe that? I found out I owe Uncle Sam far more than I thought I did and yet I was overcome with excitement. Why? Because owing that much means I’m making financial progress in my business endeavors.

I wasn’t worried about how to pay for it – I knew I would be able to. I didn’t shift straight into business mode and start handling it, either. I simply sat with the feeling of joy and gratitude at my circumstances, then I sent a screenshot of the message from my CPA to my mom. What person in their right mind receives that news and feels thrilled?

Honestly – that’s what a person in their right mind should do. And it proved that my mindset was to blame for my three-day procrastination stint. Nothing changed from last week to this week aside from how I chose to look at the situation. When I received the news about the taxes I owed, I viewed it in a positive light because it meant I achieved more this year than last year. But now under the same set of circumstances, I found myself not giving a damn and putting off some of the simplest tasks on my list.

It’s easy to discredit how powerful our minds are. Anxiety and procrastination are closely connected. If you’re struggling with one, chances are you’re probably dealing with the other to some extent, too. But anxiety isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While talking with one of the brothers in the Porn Reboot program, he shared something with me that he heard from another mentor of his: “Anxiety is the emotion of growth.”

I love that reframe because it couldn’t be more accurate. Anxiety is simply an emotion encouraging us to take action, but too often we pathologize it and turn it into something more than it is. We often hear that anxiety is out of our control, that it’s a part of us rather than something we experience. But that is false. Anxiety reveals an opportunity for growth, and I guarantee you that taking action instead of procrastinating will provide a positive outcome, not a negative one.

We don’t grow when we give in to anxiety. Instead, we feed those negative outcomes that we anticipate. However, when we choose to use anxiety as fuel for action, we shift the negative assumptions into positive results and place another brick in the foundation of our new life.

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