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Procrastination – not just about Reactive versus Proactive

Procrastination – it affects virtually all of us at some time and I find that it’s a particularly common problem for those who seek a coach. In fact, it’s often the reason why someone finally decides to hire a coach – to help get them moving on ambitions and plans that they’ve had for years.

At the surface, procrastination seems to be predominantly about the person being overly reactive rather than proactive and so not stepping into the actions needed to take them forward.

However, the more I’ve looked at the clients’ behaviours in the context of the MindSonar profile, I’ve begun to notice just how many of the Meta Programmes can contribute to their procrastination. That is to say that I think that being overly Reactive is, in some cases, a result of other Meta Programmes that are in operation. Here are two examples that I’ve come across:

Example 1: A client had relatively recently become self-employed after being in his profession for over 20 years. He loved his profession and was keen to be his own boss. He had always worked hard and had always been happy working on his own initiative . To minimise business costs he had set up an office at home, equipped it well and had everything in place. He soon had a good flow of clients as he already had a good reputation in his field. He was excited by his prospects.

Within a year he found himself constantly procrastinating. He was finding a million things to do before starting his work. He had never experienced this in all his years of working for someone else. He had become demotivated and was rapidly losing his belief that he could be successfully self-employed. Before finally giving up, he decided to hire a coach to help – that’s when he came to me.

What was going on? When talking with this client, it was clear he had not lost his love of his profession, nor had he lost the desire to be self-employed. However, it became evident that in the past, although he had worked independently, he had liked the knowledge that there were others around him. They did not need to be others in the same profession, just people who were nearby with for support. He worked best with a proximity Meta Programme. Without others around he found he couldn’t get into what he called “work mode”. At his home office he needed to work well with solo, and he found he could not.

His solution? He decided to rent an office near to home in a building occupied by other self-employed professionals. He very soon found that he was back on track, enjoying building both his business and his professional reputation. His change from reactive to proactive happened naturally as a consequence of a change from solo to proximity.

Example 2: A client had recently been promoted from a role in which she was a technical expert into a managerial role in a similar team. She had been with the employer for a number of years and had a reputation as a hard worker and an excellent problem solver. She was excited about her new role as it provided a chance to influence senior management and have her say about policy at key meetings in which she had previously only attended as a technical advisor. Shortly after starting her role she found she was getting behind in some areas due to a new habit of frequent procrastination. She came for coaching to help her get over this.

In this client’s case it became clear that she had not previously had to argue her case at meetings, or had ever needed to direct other team members. In her current role she needed to do both. Her procrastination resulted from her being worried about what others would think of her if she disagreed with them or if she had to actively manage a member of her team. She was highly externally referenced which was not a helpful Meta Programme in her new role.

Her solution? Through coaching for assertiveness and confidence alongside employer-led management training she developed her internally referenced Meta Programme and was able to end her procrastination at work.

The lesson for me from such clients is to not simply focus on coaching to change from reactive to proactuve , but to look across a full MindSonar profile and see where the root of the problem is. That way the client is likely to move to reactive quite automatically.

In your experience, what other Meta Programmes might lead to procrastination? I’m very interested to know, so do please comment below.

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