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New Year’s Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are becoming rare as more and more people set short and long-term goals for the upcoming year. SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound) much like New Year’s resolutions, are achieved through behavior modification, dedication, and hard work. Researchers suggest scheduling, planning, and publicizing resolutions or goals increases the odds of success. This might hold true, however, many fail to reach the scheduling, planning, and publicizing phase. They’re inspired, motivated, and full of intentions, yet one personality trait stands in their way – procrastination.

Defined as putting off a task or opportunity until the last minute or until the opportunity is lost, procrastination can lead to self-loathing, self-denial, and low self-esteem. Studies have linked chronic procrastination to acute stress disorder, hypertension, anxiety, neuroticism, irrational thinking, diabetes, and cardio-vascular disease. Why do people procrastinate? Findings range from a fear of failure to “choice paralysis”, from irrational beliefs to genes and DNA. Forestalling the balance between desires and the onerous task at hand, procrastination is linked to a need for immediate gratification. The clinicians and counselors of Improving Lives Counseling Services specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of procrastination and related behavioral and psychological disorders.

Is the brain wired for procrastination? As humans we are addicted to dopamine, a chemical produced by enjoyable experiences. In the battle between the limbic system (the pleasure center) and the prefrontal cortex (thought analysis) the task or opportunity that produces the most dopamine usually wins out. Researchers have found people who are highly impulsive or experience low self-discipline are often predisposed to procrastination. Their procrastination mindset is worsened by technology and society’s demand to make a choice, respond to an email, answer a call or respond to a text. Expectations of a “right now” society and an “attention economy” often prompts procrastination. It is easier to continuously scroll a social media site, than to accomplish a task or take advantage of an opportunity. Particularly if the task or opportunity could lead to embarrassment or failure. Even a simple task like choosing what restaurant to go to or what movie to see can induce procrastination. Is procrastination a lack of self-control? Because behavior is affected by age, culture, environment, and lifestyle, only a trained clinician or counselor can answer that question.

There is a thin line between creative procrastination and negative procrastination. Clinical trials have shown chronic procrastinators suffer medically, financially, and socially. Society’s jokes and anecdotes shroud the truth surrounding this disorder – most procrastinators are unhappy, unsuccessful people. Improving Lives Counseling Services’ staff of professionals offer cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of procrastination and other behavioral disorders. Live the life you were meant to live. Call us.