I said in On Procrastination Part 1 that

[all] people are concerned with self-esteem and so worry about being judged, and in particular about being judged negatively. Introverts especially may worry about being ‘criticized’ by others and delay action; extroverts tend to act and then worry about negative appraisal after the words have already been said, oh shit. Everyone is happy with positive appraisal – who doesn’t want praise – especially from those whose opinion matters to us; praise is possibly the ultimate motivator.

Relationship Awareness theory tells us that our self-esteem is in play whenever we encounter (or are about to encounter) another person. We care what others think of us and we become sensitive to the judgments (or perceived judgments) of those we are interacting with. The SDI instrument (Elias Porter and the Personal Strengths Publishing company) tells us that we naturally deploy our strengths when things are going well for us (do not perceive feelings of conflict and our self-esteem is intact, or reinforced). However when we are experiencing feelings of adversity – our self-esteem is [perceived to be] under attack – we shift, usually shift, subconsciously, to our less-developed attributes (weaknesses?) in order to preserve self-esteem, in the faulty assumptions that our [natural] strengths are not working for us so we need to shift to something else!

What has this got to do with procrastination?!? Well, if feelings of self-esteem are in play whenever we are engaged with others, or about to be engaged, one strategy to minimize adverse consequences is to not engage, or at least delay as long as possible, so that the prospect of being judged by the other is avoided. I may feel good about myself if the thing I need to do goes well, but I can avoid feeling badly about myself if I can avoid the encounter altogether. Of course this is a failed strategy, as may be in all cases of procrastination, because eventually we will have to engage anyway, or be judged for not engaging. Worse, when we finally do engage with feelings of adversity, we do so using our less preferred behaviours. Procrastination is a curse: We feel the anguish for being judged, but also we feel anguish for avoiding.

[People with preference for Assertive-Directing motivation (coloured ‘Red’ in the SDI model) tend not to worry about this sort of damage to self-esteem – perhaps like extroverts – and generally don’t suffer from procrastination; their problem comes later when they’ve plunged in and then discover people aren’t with them! Maybe they should procrastinate a bit more.]

So one of the solutions to the procrastination dilemma is to become very familiar with your own motivation value system – what strengths when deployed make you feel good about yourself – and take comfort in them; accept that you will not feel good about yourself in different motivation value sets and put yourself in situations where you will be appreciated for your strengths. This may take a fair amount of self-talk and self-promotion, but it’s worth it. More on that in the next segment: The ABCs (& DEs) of CT.

Of course it really helps if you surround yourself with non-judgmental people! Or borrow some ‘Red’ Characteristics.