Why Bright People Procrastinate the Most
It's really the smartest people who have the highest number of undecided things in their lives and on their lists. Why is that? Think of how our bodies respond to the images we hold in our
minds. It appears that the nervous system can't tell the difference between a well-imagined thought and reality.
Bright people have the capability of freaking out faster and more dramatically than anyone else.
If your body responds to the pictures you give it, how are you likely to feel physically when you think about, say, doing your taxes? Are you sending yourself "easy," "let's go," completion, success, and "I'm a winner!" pictures? Probably not. For just that reason, what kinds of people would logically be the most resistant to being reminded about a project like that—that is, who would procrastinate the most? Of course, it would be the most creative, sensitive, and intelligent people! Because their sensitivity gives them the capability of producing in their minds lurid nightmare scenarios about what might be involved in doing the project, and all the negative consequences that might occur if it weren't done perfectly! They just freak out in an instant and quit!
Who doesn't procrastinate? Often it's the insensitive oafs who just take something and start plodding forward, unaware of all the things that could go wrong. Everyone else tends to get hung up about all kinds of things.
Do my taxes? Oh, no! It's not going to be that easy. It's going to be different this year, I'm sure. I saw the forms—they look different. There are probably new rules I'm going to have to figure
out. I might have to read all that damn material. Long form, short form, medium form? File together, file separate? We'll probably want to claim deductions, but if we do we'll have to back them up, and that means we'll need all the receipts. Oh, my God—I don't know if we really have all the receipts we'd need and what if we didn't have all the receipts but we claimed the deductions anyway and we got audited? Audited? Oh, no—the IRS—JAIL!!
I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
And so a lot of people put themselves in jail, just glancing at their 1040 tax forms. Because they're so smart, sensitive, and creative. In my many years of coaching individuals, this pattern has
been borne out more times than I can count—usually it's the brightest and most sophisticated folks who have the most stuck piles, in their offices, homes, and heads. Most of the executives I
work with have at least several big, complex, and amorphous projects stacked either on a credenza or on a mental shelf. There always seem to be hobgoblin thoughts lurking inside them—
"If we don't look at or think about the projects, maybe they'll stay quiet!"
So what's the solution? There's always having a drink. Numb it out. Dumb it down. Notice what happens to many people when they get a little alcohol on the brain. It should drop their energy immediately, because it's a depressant; often, though, the energy lifts, at least initially. Why? The alcohol is depressing something—it's shutting down the negative self-talk and uncomfortable visions that are going on in these folks' minds. Of course my energy will increase if I stop depressing myself with overwhelming pictures of not handling something successfully. But the numb-out solutions are temporary at best. The "stuff" doesn't go away. And unfortunately, when we numb ourselves out, we can't do it selectively— the source of inspiration and enthusiasm and personal energy also seems to get numbed.