Procrastination and Failing in Life

Procrastination and Failing in Life
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(Wilson Ng) #1

I have a confession to make. I don’t want to be a loser.

:notes: Soy un perdedor. I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me. :notes: - Beck

I don’t like failing. But failure is a part of life. It’s not something I enjoy but I am coming around to accepting it. I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid of uncertainty. I’m afraid of doubt. Fear is the main root of why I procrastinate a lot on big projects. Sometimes, I’ll get assigned to a project that I have no knowledge of. It feels like a project that is outside my comfort zone. It’s a new project that demands skills that I don’t have. I’m gonna be found out as a failure because I have no clue what I’m doing. Yet, I was assigned to this big project because other people have the utmost confidence in me. They think I can pull a rabbit out of a hat…

My fear of failure has been a great psychological barrier for most of my life. I don’t want let other people down. I don’t want to look like I’m a failure If I don’t get it right the first time. But I think I can accept it. We fail all the time in life - big and small. I might not be able to take my kids to Disneyland this weekend. I might have yelled at someone in frustration but it wasn’t their fault. I might turn in disastrous results because I don’t know what I’m doing. I usually think that I only had one shot to get it right. If I’m gonna do it, I’d better do it right the first time.

Why do I procrastinate on big projects? So far, I’ve identified two issues that greatly affect me.

1. Fear of failure

I’m always scared of not being able to complete a big project because I suck at it. I keep trying to tell myself that I don’t want end up a loser or a failure. But s\•\•t happens and I fall down flat on my face sometimes. This was drummed into my head by my Asian parents…


Anything less than an ‘A’ grade is considered an Asian ‘F’!

I fail all the time. Sometimes I procrastinate because I don’t want to start a big project that terrifies me. I’m afraid that my results aren’t good enough and I look like the village idiot.

2. Fear of the unknown

I don’t want to look like the guy with egg on his face. I might be assigned a project that is way beyond my skills. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be discovered as a fraud because I had no idea how my loud mouth got me into a new project. I had no qualifications beyond “I’m willing to give it a try.” But I freeze when I look at my computer. Yeah, I’m gonna look for something easier to do. I just don’t feel like it today. I’m constantly looking for excuses not to start on that scary project because I don’t know what I’m doing!

Overcoming my fears and stop procrastinating


The scope of a big project might be so big that it is intimidating. I don’t know how the Great Wall of China or the Giza pyramids were built. But someone did it.

How do you an elephant? One bite at a time.

Break up large projects into small sub-projects. Then break those sub-projects into next actions. Breaking down a huge project into small bits and pieces gives me the sense that I can actually do something. It is no longer the scary monster that I imagined it would be!

Release and re-iterate

I believe in second chances. The first time to work on a project is the scariest. I’m learning on the job. I find new obstacles that weren’t there during the planning stages. A job might take longer the first time because I am unfamiliar with any possible issues that might come up while working. It’s hard to bake a cake right the first time if I’m an absolute beginner at cooking.

I release a product (a blog post, an advertising campaign, a book, a software program) on a small scale and get feedback. In the beginning, I used to take criticism personally. Man, that dagger sure hurt. But I’ve learned to take such pains as constructive criticism. The first release will never be perfect. I get feedback to see what I can work on. I go back to the garage and fix what I can. Then i re-release it back out to the audience to see if I can fine-tune the direction of the project.

Embracing the unknown and discover something new

I don’t have to be scared of failure or of losing. Whenever I release a product out to market, I’m always looking for ways to improve it. I accept that it’s not perfect and there’s room for growth. My first release will never please everyone. But if it can show promise to a small part of my audience, I’m happy. I can build on that.

I see stinging reviews in technology all the time. Apple’s first MacBook Air was woefully underpowered. But Apple kept churning away and it become a best selling product. The first generation iPad was an interesting release but had many limitations. Many years later, the iPad Pro has become the first device where I can see it actually replacing my computer for most of my daily computer-related tasks.

It is interesting to see a big project grow and evolve over time. It can take me in new directions that I never dreamed of when I first started out. My first release will suck but I get a chance to try something new. I build up my big project piece by piece and work my way up. Now I scratch my head and wonder “what was I so scared of?” I should’ve started this a long time ago…

(Ilhan) #2

I recommend the book “Winning Through Intimidation” (I have heard that the original 1970s version is best).

This is what one blogger writes about it:

Winning Through Intimidation by Robert Ringer

This book made such a huge impact on me that I’ve probably re-read it more than any other nonfiction book. Robert Ringer is my favorite living nonfiction author. His advice is so rational and effective, I’m shocked that more people don’t think like he does. (Or should I say, did, since as he’s aged he’s changed his views somewhat.)

This book shows exactly, step-by-step, how he went from earning about $23,000 a year to $850,000 a year (gross), in one year, in 1960s dollars. Yeah. You might want to read this book.

(Justin DiRose) #3

I think this is the biggest key to getting over the procrastination gap and fear of failure. Everything these days is an iteration. Heck, we ourselves are iterations, where we get the chance every day to do something differently than before. It’s all about learning from failure and applying its lessons.

I was in this rut previously. I used to want perfection instead of embracing the process. But I’ve found over time embracing process has been much better and way easier. All the pressure’s off! Try something, if that doesn’t work, try something else. The complications are often things we add on top, like the social pressure to perform, or maybe we had an authority figure that punished us in some way when we weren’t the best. The hard part can be getting past that mindset, but it’s 100% worth it to overcome procrastination and fear of failure.

(Wilson Ng) #4

Thanks! Placed into my shopping basket now. Yes, it does ring true. Don’t be the victim. Victimhood is mental statement of feeling helpless, nothing is going my way, and I just can’t win. But by standing firm, I can regain control inch by inch.

Interestingly enough, I have seven out of the seventeen books from this list!

(Wilson Ng) #5

I wanted instant gratification. I want instant victory. No one is an overnight sensation. It takes blood, sweat, and tears and a lot of time investment to get the real results. I don’t want to be a one hit wonder and have nothing to show. I’d rather have a long career than just the fleeting fifteen minutes of fame.

(Justin DiRose) #6

I think I still struggle with this piece!

(Mike N) #7

The funny thing is, with any long term goal that you had to grind away at for years, there generally isn’t any “Hooray!!!” moment of gratification. I’ve always experiences a sort of “that’s it?” feeling. Lots of people who achieve major goals get into a funk soon after.

Embracing the process, as noted above, is where the money is. Building a system around the process can grant those little bits of dopamine / gratification as you execute it day by day.

(Atif Shahab Qureshi) #8

Hello. First of all, i appreciate your confessions. secondly, procrastination is a quite common problem. I would say, you will have to prioritize things and eliminate your to do lists.