Your Brain Is Tricking You Into Procrastinating — Here's How To Stop It (& Change Your Life For The Better!)

Do you put everything off — even the stuff that's good for you? You're not alone!

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How often do you wake up intending to start a new habit or change your behavior and by mid-day you're deep in procrastination?

If you've ever wondered how to stop procrastinating — or why you procrastinate in the first place — then you probably have good intentions to start something new and then end up becoming a procrastinator, over and over again.

RELATED: The 'Bad Habit' That Could Be Sabotaging Your Relationships Right Now


How often do you say, “Tomorrow I'm going to start my new exercise/eating/work plan …” But when the alarm goes off you think, “Oh wait, I meant the day after tomorrow."

You’re not alone. Lots of people try and begin something good only to end up asking themselves, "Why do I procrastinate?!" and desperately wondering how to stop procrastinating.

People are smart beings; it’s not that you don’t know what to do for greater health; it's that overcoming procrastination is hard. You know you need sleep, exercise, fresh, whole foods — and to avoid alcohol in larger quantities.

You know that scrolling Facebook negatively impacts your mood, or that sleeping with the phone too close to the bed is bad for you.


The excuses people come up with to justify all the things they're doing that they shouldn't be doing can get overwhelming.

And a lack of information, research, or knowledge is not why people aren’t changing their behaviors.

So why do people procrastinate on things that are good for them?

Understanding why you do these things will give you the tools to shift to decisions that are better for you. It will also empower you to see how your daily actions make a crucial difference in your risk of disease and the ability to increase your longevity.

Changing any piece of your daily behavior from hurtful to helpful makes a difference in your wellness. Most disease is not genetic. Therefore, the amount of control you have with your daily decision-making is exciting and empowering.


So why don't you do what you tell yourself you want to do?

Blame your brain.

Have you heard how your brain is wired for survival? I have. As a loving and trusting person, I assumed that my brain would act in my best interest.

That when given the chance, it would choose behaviors that would help me, or move me toward my goals. I even thought that when given the chance, my brain would choose behaviors that would make me happy or add joy to my life.

But that's wrong, wrong, wrong.

Your brain has a "motivational triad." Its goal is to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve energy.

As far as your brain is concerned, if you lived through yesterday, it was a successful day. It essentially says: “You’re alive? Let’s do that again.” Rinse and repeat. And it doesn't bother learning how to not procrastinate since what you did worked.


It doesn’t matter if you spent a good portion of the day on the floor crying or lying around procrastinating and feeling like crap about yourself. You lived through the day and that’s a win.

Your brain doesn’t care if you gain weight, if your relationships tank, or if you’re depressed because you’re not living in alignment with your goals.

Your brain looks at your track record and says, “Look, you lived through yesterday. Let’s keep that up.”

Your inner warrior may say, “But I was miserable. I didn’t do what I said I’d do and I over-shopped or over-ate.”

Your brain will retort, “Yeah. And as I said, you’re still alive. Success for me."


Blame it on the brain. It's why you push snooze, overeat, or pour that extra glass of wine. It's even why you stay in a job you don't like.

RELATED: 7 Ways To Stop Procrastinating — Even When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

Choosing something different — learning how to beat procrastination — goes against the brain’s triad. It takes energy, it's uncomfortable, and it's not pleasant.


Yet you must choose differently and stop procrastinating to change your life for the better.

There is more chronic disease now than ever before, and more people are on antidepressants. The obesity rate is going up while diagnoses for diseases such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, respiratory disease, and arthritis are all on the rise as well.

Why? It’s not due to your genetics.

You have an overabundance of concentrated pleasures. These are things that I call "false pleasures" because they feel like self-care but are actually self-sabotage. This can include staying up for one more TV show instead of getting sleep, pouring that glass of wine so you don’t have to think about your difficult day, or eating something with high sugar to “get through the day."


Your brain got you here, but as you look around and see the chronic disease, stress, and state of your society, you'll see it's no longer serving you.

As Brooke Castillo points out, “Our brain’s motivational triad is now killing us. In order for our society to evolve, we must do the opposite of what our brain desires.”

You must rewire your brain.


You must do the things you know are good for your wellness. You must resist pushing snooze when your brain tells you to. You must go out for a walk when your brain tells you to sit on the couch.

You must choose to have the difficult conversation instead of turning to substances to dull your reality.

Which excuses is your brain telling you to keep procrastination going? Where is it seeking false pleasure? Where is it avoiding discomfort (aka growth)? Where is it saving energy?

You are in control. Not your brain. Your brain tries to convince you to stay stuck, to procrastinate. But how does that feel? Where does that get you?

Everything starts with awareness, so when you know how to stop procrastinating, you can finally change your life to make things better!


RELATED: 5 Ways To Stop Procrastinating & Get More Done

Susie Pettit is a mindfulness-based cognitive coach and the host of the weekly podcast: Love Your Life Show. Sign up for Susie's Weekly Wellness Newsletter.