It may help to think in terms of two fundamental types of procrastinators: one is tense and the other is relaxed. 

The tense type often feels both an intense pressure to succeed and a fear of failure, while the relaxed type often feels negatively toward his/her work and blows it off or forgets about it by playing or socializing. This denial-based type of procrastinator avoids as much stress as possible by dismissing his/her work or disregard- ing more challenging tasks and concentrating on “having fun” or some other distracting activity. For the moment, they have what seems like a happy life.

The tense-afraid type of procrastinator may be described as feeling overwhelmed by pressures, unrealistic about time, uncertain about goals, dissatisfied with accomplishments, indecisive, blaming of others or circumstances for his or her failures, lacking in confidence, and, sometimes, being perfectionistic. The underlying fears are of failing, lacking ability, being imperfect, and falling short of overly demanding goals.

This type of person thinks that his or her worth is determined by what he/she does, which reflects his/her level of ability. He/she is afraid of being judged and found wanting. This kind of procrastinator will get over- stressed and over-worked until he/she escapes the pressure temporarily by trying to relax, but any enjoyment gives rise to guilt and more apprehension.

Procrastination appears to be based on fear: fear of success, and/or fear of failure.

Fear of Success

Fear of success may sound completely irrational, but can be very real in that the person is afraid that if they do well, then they will be expected to continue to achieve and take on more responsibilities. This is so terrifying to them that they hide their ambition, act as if they don’t care, and may really want to do poorly.

Others may avoid being successful for fear they will lose friends or become a threat to others. For example, it’s commonly thought that, “Men don’t like women who are too smart, have more degrees than they do, are better looking than they are, or who can beat them at sports.”

Others refuse to give up procrastinating and refuse to strive for success for fear of becoming a workaholic, or of becoming arrogant, demanding, competitive, or boring and socially isolated. They may feel that work is endless; that it will never be done.

A few procrastinators may fear success because they’d feel guilty, as though they didn’t deserve it.

Fear of Failure

Of course, if we are self-critical and feel inferior, we will avoid doing many things, especially competi- tive activities. Not trying is a form of failure, but not as painful as actually trying and failing.

The only failure is the failure to participate.

If you have set very high or impossible goals – as a perfectionist would – you are likely to feel overwhelmed. Perhaps that is why, strange as it seems, perfectionistic procrastinators often have low confidence in their ability. By procrastinating, such a person avoids, for the moment, the dreaded expected failure (and guarantees doing poorly in the long run).

If you dread finding out just how able you are (and dread having others find out), it may seem wiser to put off putting yourself to the test than to run the risk of trying one’s best and only being average. This is especially crucial if you believe a person is more worthwhile and lovable if he or she is really smart or talented. Procrastination, in this special case, may enable us to believe we are superior in ability (while another part of us fears being inferior), regardless of our performance.

As you can see, procrastination may strengthen a person’s feelings of inferiority or superiority.

To Your Success;

Lee A. Arnold


The Lee Arnold System of Real Estate Investing

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