Psychological Value of Making Plans
Is an emotional anchor weighing you down?
Have you ever wondered why people procrastinate? It’s really an interesting dynamic. Is it because of boredom, frustration, fear of failure, fear of rejection? Is it due to ADHD, passive-aggressiveness, internal or external demands, anxiety or depression? Generally, people procrastinate to avoid or postpone tasks that cause distressing emotions. However, this type of relief is only temporary because it is stressful to know that undesirable tasks still loom in consciousness.
Do you wonder if you are just lazy? I consider laziness a symptom of depression. Then it contributes to lack of motivation, which in turn, breeds procrastination. Quite a self-determining cycle.
Everyone might procrastinate at times. The real issue is whether it interferes with your quality of life. According to the McClean Hospital e-article, Why You Put Things off until the Last Minute (Dec. 2022), “…if you find yourself continually procrastinating, and then regretting it, you could be caught in a negative cycle.”
Is there a way out of a negative cycle?
Yes, of course there is! But change requires effort. You probably have ingrained habits. Are you willing to put forth effort and hard work to help yourself?
What are the psychological values of making plans?
- Structure and purpose: To-do lists help to visualize what you would like to accomplish. They offer direction.
- Problem solving skills foster a proactive mindset: This puts your brain in action. You can create step-by-step methodology tailored to your needs, interests and preferences. You can be resourceful by reaching out to others for their expertise.
- Psychological anchor: Once you have a plan in mind, you create a psychological anchor that allows your mind to relax.
- Positive reinforcement via brain’s reward system: When you experience a sense of accomplishment, your own brain rewards you with Bravo! Job done! You have no need to rely on someone else’s accolades.
- Time management: By investing time in creating a plan, you actually save more time for other interests. This is a good way to stay focused, on track and to self-regulate, especially if you find impulse-control challenging.
- Roadmap for the future: Having a plan to refer to gives you something to look forward to and instills hope. This is a positive approach to combat anxiety and depression.
- Supports stronger social network: We are social beings, so planning to include others in your life contributes to your mental well-being. It facilitates your ability to bounce ideas off others and thus provides a mirror to reinforce your thoughts and feelings.
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness supports deeper understanding of personal values and priorities without interpretation or judgment. This spurs growth in confidence, self-compassion and the capacity to trust yourself.
When to seek professional help for procrastination?
Now after having read this article you think, “Someday I will have to do something about my procrastination,” then you are already admitting that you are prey to procrastination. A psychological intervention may be helpful. Through Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), you can examine what prevents you from achieving your goals. A therapist can help you look at irrational thoughts, self-doubt, and perfectionistic tendencies and assist you in replacing them with more effective attitudes and behaviors.
Whether you decide to implement some of the ideas discussed in this article on your own or with the guidance of a psychologist, you are on your way to relieving your own stress and anxiety and living a more productive and happier life.
Moral of planning: Grab the life preserver and cast your anchor!