A Simple Meditation to Beat Procrastination (aka the Monkey Mind)


Everyone procrastinates from time to time. But sometimes, it’s worse than other times. I attribute my procrastination to a monkey steering a ship. The monkey doesn’t really know what it’s doing and it always will steer towards instant gratification.

If you don’t learn how to subdue the little monkey, it will always make your decisions for you. And if that happens, your life will be very hard and painful. But how do you beat the monkey? How do you take control of the little monkey? First let’s talk about procrastination.

What Causes Procrastination?

Procrastination is usually caused by one of three reasons. One, it could be caused by a pain/pleasure response system in your brain. Or, taking the action will be more painful than not taking the action. It’s pretty simple, but kind of how our brains work. It’s obviously more pleasurable to sit down with a piece of cheesecake and watch TV, than to write an essay. But that is only instant gratification. And that is how the monkey operates.

In the moment, the cheesecake and TV sound genius to the monkey in us all. The monkey can’t see the long term results of what happens with choosing cheesecake over work. To the monkey, the easier and more pleasurable something is, the more likely the monkey will choose it.

Second, the fear of failure often stops people from taking action. It’s easier to not do something, than to fail at it. That way, the person can say, I didn’t even try, so I failed on my own terms. If I actually tried, I would have succeeded. Nothing could be further from the truth. The failure lies in not taking action.

It’s Important to Take Action

Taking action and making mistakes is necessary for success. It’s how our brain works. It needs to fail its way to success. The process is what is known as the failure, feedback loop. Through failure, the brain learns what not to do. Only then can it choose a different response so it can go forward and try something new. The process is repeated until the desired result is achieved.

The monkey in us all doesn’t understand any of this. It only knows that if something hurts, it’s best not to do it. And that goes for something that is a perceived pain like failure as well.

The third reason that a person usually procrastinates is because of a belief issue. It could be that someone believes they aren’t good enough. It could also be an ability issue or a belief that is not in alignment with the action that needs to be taken.

How Do You Beat Procrastination?

Usually it’s when your brain kicks in because one fear overcomes another. That’s when you push past the fear of failure. And that really happens when the fear of loss comes into play. Also, if a desire is strong enough, it can overcome the fear of failure and pull you past it. That is the healthiest way to overcome procrastination, but it takes total clarity on what you want.

Guided Visualization to Beat Procrastination

Imagine for a second you have a project that needs to be completed. It’s off on the horizon, and the monkey is at the helm of your ship. The monkey isn’t paying attention to the deadline, it’s looking at everything else besides it.

It’s looking at TV. It’s jumping off the steering wheel and eating food. It’s playing, it’s sleeping and doing everything it can do, besides looking at that deadline. All the while, the distance between your ship and your deadline is getting closer and closer.

Suddenly, the deadline is approaching fast. It’s only a few days away. And the panic monster wakes up. It can see the deadline and how close it is. It knows the consequences of the deadline and how bad it will be. So it rushes over and scares the monkey off the helm. The monkey runs off and the panic monster scares it into a cage. It locks your monkey brain in a cage and stands guard, so you can take control of you ship.

Continue with the Visualization

You actually turn the ship around and go back to where you are now. Your deadline is back on the horizon. But this time, your panic monster has your monkey locked in a cage and is standing guard. You are now steering you ship and can start taking the right maneuvers to make sure when you hit the deadline there is no need to panic.

Basically, you now have the power to take control of your own life. You can get started on your project immediately. Instead of living completely in the moment and being driven by instant gratification, you can see into the future. You know how bad it will be if you procrastinate, and you know how good it will be if you take action.

monkey-mindThat’s the visualization in a nutshell. It’s worked for me and I hope it will for you too. Being a writer and someone who works online, my motivation to work, has to come from self. I’ve been studying motivation and how to overcome procrastination for years. This has been one of the most effective visualizations for me to date.

Overcoming the Fear of Failure

It’s simple, you don’t overcome the fear of failure. You actually embrace it. You learn to appreciate your failures, knowing that with each failure comes a learning that will help you get the results you’ve always been looking for. 

(Image Source 1) (Image Source 2)

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