Sunday, December 7, 2008

Procrastination, fear of failure, fear of success

En français
For a long time I have been procrastinating on things that really matter to me, that is : learning Korean, learning the kanjis and writing my thesis (some programming projects as well), playing violin...
Of course we are in December and my thesis is due for September so no real problem here, no emergency. The main problem is I wanted to start writing for months and I felt really awful for not doing it and always say : "I will write it, tomorrow, next week, before Christmas, later..."
I spend lots of time telling myself that I was so lazy, that learning the kanjis with Heisig is so easy, that doing my exercises in Korean and read is so fun. What the hell is wrong with me ? Why can't I just sit down and do it ?
I am so lazy and so bad and ....
And that's the main problem... what I'm telling to myself is the problem.
To solve it I had to understand where that was coming from and the reason why I was procrastinating.

The main answer is that I have a mixture between fear of failure and fear of success...
All my life, people have been expecting me to be smart, and bright and do every thing without any difficulties.
When I was doing something, if I wasn't good at it, I always get bad answer... "Why did you do that ? Why didn't you try harder ? You're so lazy... You can't do anything right..."
If I was doing something very well, it was never good enough...
When I was coming back from school proud of myself for having the best mark, the only answer I get was : "You still made a mistake to question 5, how comes you didn't know the answer"
Once I was performing for an exam and passed it well, I can still hear my mum say to me how good the other girl was compared to me.
Even now, I was scared of starting writing my thesis cause my supervisor told me that I'm not good at writing and that it's gonna be hard.
People are always expecting things from me, like some of my chinese friends who expect me to be able to write/read in Chinese.

But some very rare people don't, some are encouraging me, like my friend from Taiwan who is so impressed cause I can write my name in Chinese and my friends in Korea and Japan who encourage me each time I'm writing something in Japanese or Korean and some more... they know who they are anyway :)
Each time I was answering ; "That's nothing, everybody can do that, I should know more than that, I'm not working enough, I'm so bad".

But now I realized that that's not true, not everybody can do that, what I know today is great... I want to know more and I will (not I should already know more).
To them I want to say thank you !!!
Thank you for never expecting me to be perfect and thank you for liking me exactly the way I am (even when I'm really weird and stupid) Thank you for getting worried when I'm not doing fine instead of telling me that there is no need to worry about anything because I'm just too smart to fail and have never problem with anything. I have problems with thing and I need to work hard to fix it like everybody else. So thanks you guys for really being my friend and not the friend of "the girl you think I should be" and being disappointed when I'm not.

So why exactly do I procrastinate ?
Because I'm afraid of doing something wrong. Because I'm afraid of not finishing what I start. Because if I delay the things to do I can always say that I didn't have enough time to do it properly. Because I'm afraid to be judge on my best work as if it was a judgment on myself.
Basically to protect myself.

So now I know all that, I know why and where it comes from. And I don't want to procrastinate anymore... I want to do my best, and no matter what people will say it will be OK. I found in me other ways to protect myself by being nicer to me instead of being my worst judge.

I started to write two days ago, last Wednesday. I'm not afraid of what me supervisor will say when I'm gonna give him my first draft, because I'm gonna give it to him long before the dead line so after his comment I will have plenty of time to make it better.
I start learning the hiragana again, and if I'm not able to write and read them as fast as French and English it doesn't matter because it took me year to do that in French and English... why should it be different for other languages ?
I'm just human.

Now that I know all that... no matter what I do I'm gonna do just fine...
And you too are gonna do just fine :)
So just start, one small step at a time and keep on starting, the finish will take care of itself.

If you also have some problems you can try that book : The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play
and read Khatzumoto's post.


  1. Ah, procarastination will be the death of many people, hehe.

    Anyways, you're right. Nobody is perfect. I can understand about the part where people expect so much of you. Especially parents, they should be happy that we try hard in order to do good.

    I procrastinate too, but it's become a habit that I don't really know the reason. Maybe someday (soon hopefully) I can slowly do things early.


  2. I think the book I mentionned really helps, it gives technics to be sure to get things done and help you realised why.
    I think most people procrastinate for some reasons just I'm more a fighter than a victim so I always try to find solutions before things get critical (especially I really need to write my thesis).

  3. Lol. I always seem to want to do something else other than doing work. I would think; 'I should make dinner first' or 'I should do the laundry...' :\ that you mentioned it, I have to think of something for my junior thesis >_<

    Okay~ I'll tell you when it arrives. Thank you~! ^^

  4. Maybe you can try thinking about you're feelings about your work and how other peeple makes you feel about it.
    So you will realise why you always want to escape it and maybe face the problem.

    In generale if I've got fast things I can do like cooking, laundry, cleaning... I do them before I start working so that I won't think about it while I'm working and can concentrate more easily.
    You can try to time-box your work as well - I generally go between 30 min and 1 hour - and give yourself a reward at the end of the working time.
    I use other things I have to do or candies...

  5. Hi Linda,
    I got your little bunny earlier this week. Sorry for getting back to you so late, I didn't have a chance to get online for a while.
    He's so cute (I'm gonna make his gender male, hehe) and your work is so good O_O Thank you so much for the cute card too ^^
    <3 Jen

  6. Hi, Happy new year.
    That's good that you get it, I'm happy you like "him".
    I was in France for the last two weeks so I couldn't access internet either.