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The 4 Horsemen of Failure; procrastination, perfectionism, fear, overwhelmed.

In my experience there are four reasons above all else that stop you achieving and succeeding: procrastination, perfectionism, fear, feeling overwhelmed. This is a quick summary of each, I will go into more detail in each one in the coming weeks, although I may blog about other topics in between. Patience!


Procrastination is not laziness. I have no problem with someone making a deliberate choice to do next to nothing. Procrastination is where you are avoiding something that you know will benefit you. Procrastination starts when there is a mental block holding you back; I don’t know enough, I don’t know where to start, what if it doesn’t work. There is a fear factor in the doing of the task so you see the obstacles not the outcome.  Ask yourself what is that voice in my head saying to me? And then quash is with an emphatic “So what, nothing bad can happen”. Then get on and break the last into the teeniest manageable chunks and get on and do it.


Fear is very closely linked to procrastination (indeed it is often driving it) There will always be some fear when launching yourself into unknown territory. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown. There are two ways to respond to fear; use it to keep yourself in your ‘box’ your comfort zone which may actually be a place of pain but it’s a familiar pain. You are experienced in dealing with it. Too often we confuse fear with learning. You learn through experience, by trial and error. Get past the (often irrational) fear and a world of possibility awaits..


Gotta be honest. As a coach this one makes my heart sink quicker than just about anything. There are two types. Healthy (or adaptive) perfectionism and unhealthy (or maladaptive perfectionism). In the former you are naturally goal focused, take pleasure in achievement, have self belief yet are able to take on constructive critiscisms and use that information to improve. Unhealthy perfectionism is characterised by low self belief, never being satisfied with the outcome and therefore often never finishing a project. The maladaptive perfectionist will often react badly to anything perceived as criticism, taking it as a personal slight on their character. In extreme cases they may avoid even starting something because they know the outcome will not be good enough.

Feeling overwhelmed:

This is a form of anxiety, at its worst it can lead to stress and affect the body physically. Which is why it is common to lose your appetite or even in extreme stress situations you may find your breath laboured. All physical manifestations of what is happening in the brain. But in more common everyday situations feeling over whelmed leads to a feeling of paralysis, “I can’t think straight, I can’t work out what I should be doing first… so I won’t do anything.” The key here is to break the cycle, some people meditation; some physically remove themselves from the situation and go for a walk. The key is to take the smallest easiest task to hand and focus on that and only on that just to get your body and brain functioning as one again. By doing that you have regained control of yourself.

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