Overcome the Procrastination Hurdle

Why Procrastination Hits Just As We're About to Reach a New Level (and What to Do About It)

Why does procrastination often set in just as we're about to reach a new level in our business, career, or ministry?

Recently I was talking with a friend of mine. He started a YouTube channel during the pandemic as a fun side hustle. His goal was to reach 1,000 subscribers and 400 hours of watch time, the minimum to start earning ad revenue. 

He didn't tell anyone about this side hustle. He just decided to try it for fun and see what happened. He didn’t know if it would go anywhere, but he thought it would be a fun pandemic project and an opportunity to learn new skills. The best-case scenario, he thought, was that people would find the content valuable, subscribe to the channel, and he would earn some passive income.

For a while, he posted a new video every week. He got a few subscribers and some thoughtful comments, encouraging him to keep going. He did this for several months. Then life got busy, other priorities took over, and posting new videos moved to the should pile. ("I really should post another video.”) For months this weighed on him. 

Six months passed in the blink of an eye (as it does), and, to my friend's surprise, his subscribers doubled. He was within reach of his goal of 1,000 subscribers. He knew if he posted a few more videos, he could reach his goal. 

But he continued to procrastinate. Why?

Recently I asked him what was holding him back. He told me he was afraid of failing. "Failing what?" I asked. It was a side hustle. He didn't need the money from the side hustle. No one knew his YouTube channel existed so no one would know if it didn't work out. If he had no risk of financial loss, no chance of public embarrassment, and no risk of any kind that would negatively impact his life, what was it about failure that kept him from achieving his goal of 1,000 subscribers? Especially when he was so close?

As a Christian Productivity Coach, I often work with clients who have experienced some success in their business, career, or ministry. Then, just when it's time to break through to the next level, procrastination sets in and holds them back from reaching the next level.

So what can you do when this happens to you? Here are practical steps you can do to break through the resistance and achieve your goals. 

Find Your Focus. 


We procrastinate when our finish line is unclear.


Years ago, when I ran an agency, I talked to a client who wanted to hire us to manage his marketing. He had a lot of passion for his business and an optimism that was contagious. His product was good, and he had experienced some success, but he was stuck. He wanted help attracting new customers and growing his business.

I asked him how many sales he wanted to make over the next year. "As many as I can!" he replied. I asked who his target market was. "Anyone who will buy!" I loved his enthusiasm but didn’t take him on as a client. Why? Because without a clear definition of success, any win will feel like not enough. When we can't define success, we can't measure success. If we can't measure success, if we have no wins that we can see, we’ll get discouraged and procrastinate. 


Without a clear definition of success, any win will feel like not enough.

We need clearly defined long-term and short-term goals. (Clearly defined does not mean set in stone. Goals may change. But when we clearly define our goals, we can take steps forward.)

If our long-term goals are:

  • I will buy a house. 

  • I will lose 30 pounds.

  • I will build a $100,000 business. 

Then our short-term goals might be:

  • I will save $5,000. 

  • I will work out five times this week.

  • I will launch my first product. 

We need both to define success. If we have long-term goals but no short-term goals, we’ll have a dream without a clear plan to get there. If we have short-term goals but no long-term goals, we will lose the "big why" we need to keep going. That's why we need a simple, clear action plan for both. 

My friend with the YouTube Channel had a clear short-term goal (get 1,000 subscribers) but no clear goal beyond that. Beyond 1,000 subscribers, he had no idea what was possible. Would he just continue to make videos forever? For what? There was no internal motivation for the short-term goal without a clear long-term goal.  

Choose Your Story.


We procrastinate when we tell ourselves the wrong story. 


One thing that keeps us stuck when we're about to break through to the next level is a fear of failure. But failure is often nothing more than the story we tell ourselves.

Failure is often nothing more than the story we tell ourselves.

Let's say that you’re a small business owner and you have a goal to attract ten new clients in a month. You attract only four. What's the story that you tell yourself?

  • I'm no good at this. 

  • I should do something else.

  • I'll never reach my revenue goals.

  • So-and-so is better at this than me.

  • I should go back to (a situation you already got free from).

  • Maybe God never called me to this. 

But what if you signed four new clients and told yourself a different story?

  • My business is growing.

  • People value my work.

  • I’m learning how to better connect with, and serve, my ideal customer. 

  • I am getting smarter about how to run my business.

  • I'm grateful for my clients and excited to help them achieve their goals. 

Same goal. Same result. One feels like a failure that keeps us stuck. The other feels like healthy progress. The only difference is the story we tell ourselves.

The story we choose informs our view of who we are, what we're called to do, and even our faith. The story we choose will determine our resilience to overcome obstacles and finish strong

Ask Better Questions.


We procrastinate when we ask the wrong questions.  


There's an adage that says, "if you want a better answer, ask a better question." When we imagine failure, we tend to ask worst-case scenario questions, which always lead to fear-based answers. 

In my friend's case, he realized that he had attached building another income stream to building wealth. If the channel was not successful, the story he told himself is that he would have recklessly wasted his time when he could have done something more productive. 

His internal questions included:

  • What if this is all a waste of time?

  • What if I never earn any money from this?

  • What if I never get to 1,000 subscribers?

  • What if I get to 1,000 subscribers, but then only make a few cents a month for all this work?

When we identified these internal questions, it was easy to see why my friend didn’t feel motivated to post a video. These questions are momentum killers. Although it's wisdom to count the costs and assess the risk of our decisions, but focusing on questions that lead us to fear-based answers keeps us from accomplishing our most important work.

Focusing on questions that lead us to fear-based answers keeps us from accomplishing our most important work.


When we ask momentum-building questions, we change our inner narrative. Instead of feeling discouraged and defeated, we gain self-awareness, develop problem-solving skills, create action steps, and move forward. (This is why hiring a coach that can help you ask better questions can help you reach your goals faster.)

As my friend and I talked it through, I asked him a series of questions. I’m sharing this conversation with you to help you identify momentum-building questions you can ask, too.

  • "Do you enjoy making videos?" Yes. 

  • "Do your videos help people?" They seem to, yes. 

  • "Are you learning new skills?" Yes.

  • "Is learning new skills a high value for you?" Yes.

  • "Do you have to do this forever?" No.

  • "Can you make a new decision at any time?" Yes.

  • "Can you just focus on the next goal post (1,000 subscribers) right now?" Yes.

  • "Do you know what to do to get to 1,000 subscribers?" Yes.

  • "Do you have everything you need to do those things (time, resources, ideas)?" Yes.

  • "What's your next step?" Post a video.

  • "Do you have a topic?" Yes.

  • "Do you know how to execute that topic idea?" I'm unsure about how to do something I have not done before to make it work.

  • "Can you figure out how to make it work?" Yes.

  • "How will you figure it out?" I can _____ ( he listed the action steps). 

  • "When will you complete and publish it?" Monday. 

By changing the questions, my friend was able to take action and publish his next video. 

Take Action 


Five questions to reflect on this week.


If you feel like the fear of failure is keeping you from moving forward, here are a few questions to prayerfully reflect on this week:

  1. What is my clear definition of success, short-term and long-term?

  2. What does failure look like?

  3. What's the story I tell myself about what failure says about me?

  4. What momentum-killing questions am I dwelling on? 

  5. What momentum-building questions can I ask instead?

You've got this. I'm cheering you on.


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