Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

The Referred Pain of Procrastination

Medicine 2 by Sergio Roberto

Medicine 2 by Sergio Roberto

My watching of a favourite American TV show about a cantankerous Dr House, and a 121 chat with a colleague at Madgex started me thinking about why we sometimes find it hard to change something that it appears we could consciously address.

It often appears to me that one of the frustrations with change is that we think we know so clearly what we have to do to make the change happen. Our conscious intellect has applied weighting (prioritisation) and a set of justifications to the most likely drivers for change. We think that we can start to get up early in the morning and get loads of work done/ start that book/ do that reading if only we could respond to the alarm clock. We obviously think/ justify that we need more sleep to do this, so we go to bed earlier. But this doesn’t seem to work, so we re-tag ourselves as ‘being one of those people that…..’ and continue not to get up early.

On watching House, I was prompted to think differently about why this may be so. A woman suffering from leg pains was potentially diagnosed as having referred pain from a brain tumour. 

What if we get it completely wrong? What if our conscious clutches at the straws of explanation/ justification. We try to act on something, but just get it wrong. It’s the wrong lever we’re trying to pull to make the change.

What if in the example above, we actually need to do that thing we had on our list about shifting our bad eating habits. Oh, and taking exercise at least three times a week. Maybe they’d give the energy required to give the boost required to gt out of bed. Referred solutions.

The answer? Just take action. One thing at a time. Just take action. Chain it and do it. Play the games with yourself. Why? Well – if you trust your personal management/ to-do system then you’ll just start to knock things off the list. And then stuff will just start to fit into place.

Trust me.

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One thought on “The Referred Pain of Procrastination

  1. Take a look at Temporal Motivation Theory, Prof Piers Steel.


    Alternatively, go listen to “Do it” by Henry Rollins.


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