DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 3 weeks ago
I often hear people label themselves as being lazy, undisciplined, unfocused, and habitual procrastinators. They also express feelings of frustration that they have a lack of follow through and despite external efforts to motivate themselves, continue to put off tasks and actions they perceive that they should, ought to, or must do.
What many people don’t realize is that there is an underlying REASON for their continued procrastination and inability to walk their talk, and it has very little to do with laziness or a lack of discipline.
Let’s take a step back so I can provide some context and discuss human values, because they are the foundation and chief driver of human behavior.
Every human being, regardless of background, gender, culture, skin color or age, lives moment by moment by a set of priorities or a set of values, areas of life that they perceive are most to less important to them. This “hierarchy of values” is completely unique and fingerprint-specific to each individual.
- The more important a value is – the higher it is placed on your hierarchy of values - the more spontaneous disciplined and ordered you will be in relationship to it.
- The less important a value is – the lower it will be placed on your hierarchy of values - the less disciplined and ordered you will be in relationship to it.
Your hierarchy of values continually evolves and changes, but at any moment, you have a set of highest values that you live your life by.
The hierarchy of your values dictates your perceptions, decisions, and actions, your behavior and ultimately your destiny. What’s highest on your list of intrinsic values dictates your destiny, it reveals the areas in which you are most reliable, focused, disciplined, it’s the areas of your life where you’ll be taking action and achieving your goals.
The higher you go on your hierarchical ladder of values, the more you tend to identify by those values and the more likely you are to be spontaneously and intrinsically inspired from within to take actions on them.
The lower you go down the ladder, the more likely you are to require extrinsic or external motivation to get it done, because you tend not to identify with that value.
Your ontological identity revolves around your highest value.
In my case, my highest value is teaching. If you were to ask me, “Who are you” ontologically, I would say that I am a teacher because that’s what I am intrinsically inspired from within to do.
Suppose you met a woman dedicated to raising children and asked her the same question. In that case, she may say, “I’m a mother,” if that is her highest value, even though she works as an I.T. entrepreneur.
So, your identity revolves around what you value most, and whatever's highest on your list of values, you are most likely to be spontaneously inspired from within to fulfill it.
Because my highest value is teaching. I spontaneously teach every day, seven days a week. I don't procrastinate, hesitate and frustrate in my highest values, but I am likely to procrastinate, hesitate and frustrate in my lower values such as cooking, driving and many administrative tasks. In other words, if it’s lower on my values, you’ll likely have to motivate me to do it.
If you require extrinsic motivation to do what you say is important, what you say is important isn’t likely all that important to you.
You are unlikely to need extrinsic motivation when doing something that is deeply and truly inspiring to you. It’s like children who love online gaming and will find every possible opportunity to do so. Their mothers are unlikely to ever need to motivate them to log on to their favorite game, but may need to motivate them with promises of reward or fear of punishment when it comes to bathing, brushing teeth, homework or any other activity that they perceive is lower on their hierarchy of values.
Anything you require extrinsic motivation to get done is low on your values. Anything that you're spontaneously inspired from within to do is high on your values.
Any lack of action on your part is therefore likely not because you are lazy. Understand that you’re only likely to procrastinate on things that are not really important to you. If it were truly important to you, you would be most likely to get it done.
Many people are falsely labeled either by others or by themselves. In many cases, they compare themselves to other people, inject the values of others, cloud the clarity of their own values, lose sight of who they are, and expect themselves to live in values that aren't truly important to them.
This is often the result of a fantasy that they’d like to be just like someone else, and end up minimizing themselves relative to the people they put on a pedestal. Then, when they can’t sustain living in someone else’s values, because it’s not possible, they beat themselves up and label themselves as being a failure, lazy and a procrastinator. That’s not true – it’s just feedback that they’re likely not being authentic or not living congruently with their own highest values.
Procrastination is therefore valuable feedback you can harness to help you return to high-value and high-priority tasks.
You are designed to procrastinate, hesitate and frustrate on things that are low on your values.
You are designed not to stay focused on those tasks in order to help redirect you back to what is truly most important to you; because what's truly important to you, where your identity is, is where your authenticity is.
If you pursue what's truly important to you, you won’t tend to run the story that I you keep procrastinating or self-sabotaging, or that you can't stay focused. Those are labels created by people who don't understand human values, or because they don’t want to acknowledge that something they perceive to be important to them, isn’t actually that important to them.
ADHD and values
For years, I have seen school teachers, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists label children as having ADHD. In every case that I have consulted in, once I have uncovered what the child is spontaneously inspired from within to do, he or she would show little to no signs of ADHD in that area.
One example that comes to mind is a child who had been labeled as having ADHD, and who I discovered loved to play with trains. In fact, he could play with trains for an entire day without a lapse in concentration, but would procrastinate, hesitate, and frustrate and become hyperactive on everything else that didn’t relate to trains.
Once his teachers began linking learning and activities to trains, his engagement level increased, as did his concentration. Why? Because he could see how each lesson helped him get what was most meaningful to him – specialized knowledge about trains.
People pleasers and procrastination
In some cases, people who don’t want to disappoint others or who would love to have everyone like them, agree to do something that is not congruent with their highest values. It’s a self-defeating cycle because they commit to doing something that's not really important to them, don’t feel intrinsically and spontaneously inspired to do it, procrastinate on it, and then beat themselves up for being lazy or unreliable.
Anytime you are not focusing and taking action on your highest priority actions, or pursue what's truly important to you, you're designed to self-depreciate or beat yourself up.
You're designed to have those symptoms. You’ll spontaneously take action in your highest value if you're setting a goal that's truly congruent with who you are.
However, you will likely hesitate, not take action and come up with excuses in your lower values because you're not willing to embrace the challenges or pains that accompany the pleasures in the pursuit of something that's not really important to you.
When you hear yourself saying I “got to” do this, I “have to” do this, I “must do” this, I “should” do this, I “ought to” do this, I'm “supposed to” do this, or I “need to “do this – that isn’t you speaking in you head – it is some outer authority you have subordinated to.
In all likelihood, you’re expecting yourself to do something that's not important to you, are injecting the values of some external authority, and expecting yourself to live outside your own values, which is self-defeating. As such, you’ll tend to label yourself and beat yourself up.
It is wise not to waste your time on goals that aren't truly important/congruent with your highest values.
- Anytime you expect yourself to do something that's low on your values, you're likely to beat yourself up.
- Anytime you expect yourself to do something that's high on your values, you're likely to build your self-worth and confidence up, build incremental momentum and achievement, be confident in yourself, and increase your self-worth.
Every week in my Breakthrough Experience, I help people identify their highest values and highest priorities. Once they understand what their hierarchy of values is, they often have a light bulb moment where they go, “Oh, no wonder I procrastinated, labeled myself, and self-depreciated when I was trying to do things that I now see were low on my values!”
That’s where the magic happens when you realize that the hierarchy of your values dictates your destiny and when you begin setting goals that are aligned with your highest values, that’s when you take the brakes off your life and hit the gas pedal with purpose, vision, clarity, and inspiration.
I'm not a motivational speaker. I have no interest in motivating you to do something that's not inspiring.
I'm interested in helping you live an inspired life by finding out what's truly important to you so you can start structuring your life according to what's authentic, instead of what you think it should be.
When you are able to do what you say, walk your talk, and build self-worth in your highest values, you tend to build incremental momentum, which is an unstoppable game.
You can turn whatever label you have of yourself into something extraordinary by identifying your highest values, prioritizing your life, and changing your perspective of what's important.
To sum up:
- If you can't see how some particular action is helping you fulfill what is most important and meaningful to you, you're likely to procrastinate, hesitate, and frustrate when considering doing it. You may even be labeled as “lazy” by other individuals who perceive in their higher values that it's something important to do.
- You can do amazing things with your life if you live congruently with what you value most. However, the second you try to live in other individuals’ values and need outside extrinsic motivation and reward and punishment incentives, then you’re likely to want to look for immediate gratification while also procrastinating, hesitating, and frustrating on anything that’s challenging or something you don’t want to do.
- Procrastination is often a symptom of trying to be someone you're not and doing some action that is not most important. As such, it’s valuable feedback to let you know that you’re not being you.
- Beating yourself up and self-depreciating is actually an essential feedback response because it’s letting you know that you're going in a direction of actions that's not necessarily your authentic self.
- When you take cognizance of that feedback, align your life with your highest values and begin living by priority again, your self-worth tends to increase, your self-image tends to go up, and you are most likely to begin feeling inspired, energized and vitalized.
I’d love you to join me at the Breakthrough Experience so I can help you organize and prioritize your values. In that way, you can set realistic goals in real-time, real objectives instead of fantasies, so you’re not limping your life and but instead taking prioritized action to create your inspired goals and dreams.
I’d love to help you identify what those values are and help you start structuring your life according and giving yourself permission to do it.
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