Intention-update vs. Intention-failure: What's the difference?

Not every changed intention is a failure of self-regulation. As one astute reader posted in a comment, we have to differentiate between updating an intention based on new information from simply failing to act on an intention. Let's take on this thorny philosophical issue.

Readers Drive Learning: Important Thoughts About Intentions and Choice

Readers' replies to "Zen, choice and procrastination" were insightful and stimulated further writing and learning on my part. Here are some important distinctions about changing our intentions or failing to act on them.

Second-hand Procrastination: How Your Procrastination May Harm Others

That's right, second-hand procrastination . . . when procrastinators finish their binge of work, social devastation lays all about.

Self-Forgiveness Reduces Procrastination

Some of our most recent research indicates that self-forgiveness plays a role in decreasing our procrastination. As the image says, "Forgiveness - we do it for ourselves to get well and move on." The interesting thing is that we may actually move on with the task we've been avoiding, like studying for that next exam!

East Meets West: Zen, Choice and Procrastination

I've been struck by the response to my posting about failing to follow an intention, like the story of sleeping instead of getting out for the early-morning run. Readers have said that I have it wrong. I see it differently. It's not about choice.

Older Fathers Take Note: A Reply to Paul Raeburn

As an older dad, Paul Raeburn's most recent blog, "More bad news on the risks faced by the children of older fathers" caught my interest. 

Return to Aristotle: Virtue, Self-Control and Even Some Greek Vocabulary

"So too we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts." Peter Ubel quotes Aristotle in the final paragraphs of his book, Free Market Madness, with an appeal that we "Return to Aristotle."

Closing the Intention-Action Gap

An employee intends to get to work on time, but rarely does. A friend says he'll pick you up to take you to the airport the next morning, but fails to show up. You tell yourself that you'll begin exercising tomorrow morning, but tomorrow comes and goes without exercise. What do you think of each of these brief scenarios? What makes them similar yet different?

Feelings Trump Reasons: Irrationality and Procrastination

The alarm goes off at 5 a.m. Why? Because you set it last night with the intention of an early-morning run. Instead, you shut off the alarm, choosing the pleasures of sleep over the benefits of exercise. Peter Ubel writes, "No one could call this choice irrational." Not so. I can, and it's an irrationality that we know as procrastination.

Why Kids Procrastinate

What do we know about parenting and procrastination? 

A Mixture of Frailties (Part 2): How the Pendulum Swings

I'm reading Dr. Peter Ubel's new book, Free Market Madness: Why human nature is at odds with economics and why it matters. It is excellent. It does for behavioral economics what Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink did for other aspects of social psychology. 

Optimism and Perceived Competence: Resilience Resources

The psychology of self-regulation includes a focus on personal attributes that make us less vulnerable to stress and its adverse effects. This includes notions of optimism and competence. To what extent are optimism and competence the same thing? When does competence trump optimism or vice versa as we cope in life?

Human Nature: A Mixture of Frailties

Some further thoughts on the problematic assumption of rationality.

Perseveration: The Deep Rut of Change Procrastination

Although we often think of procrastination as putting off a necessary task, procrastination can reveal itself in perseveration - sticking to a task long after we should have stopped. We stick to a well worn path even when we know this path doesn't lead to our desired destination. We make a deep rut in our lives and lack the courage to change.

Self-regulation Failure (Part 4): 8 Tips to Strengthen Willpower

Effective self-regulation is crucial to our personal success and well-being in so many ways. What can you do to maximize your self-regulatory strength?

Tweet, Twitter, Poke, Update: The Dark Side of Technology Use

Caroline Adams Miller has it right, I think. Social-networking tools like Facebook and Twitter undermine us. The late cultural critic Neil Postman had some straight talk for all of us about the role of technology in our lives.

Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. This saying is attributed to Freud. I don't know if he really said it, but it doesn't matter. The message is valid in any case. My adaptation of this classic phrase is "Sometimes a delay is just a delay." Don't beat yourself up.

Self-regulation Failure (Part 3): What's Motivation Got to do with It?

Tired, self-regulatory control depleted from an exhausting day that demanded non-stop self-control, we may give up and give in. Like a tired muscle, our willpower seems unable to do any more. However, with the right incentive we can exert our physical strength even with tired muscles. And, so it is with our willpower . . . it’s about motivation, isn’t it?

Resist Doing Things That Have No Meaning in Life

"This is scary advice, advice that can give you a difficult and interesting life." I am re-reading a favorite book, Radical Presence: Teaching as contemplative practice. I highly recommend this book to any teacher. My blog title and opening quote are taken from page 43 of this book. I think this advice has a lot to do with procrastination.

Self-regulation Failure (Part 2): Willpower is Like a Muscle

That's some bicep. If only our willpower looked so well developed. Given that recent research portrays willpower like a muscle, and one easily exhausted it seems, we may need to learn more about "willpower bodybuilding" or other strategies to bolster our self-regulatory strength and reduce our procrastination.

Kids Later in Life: "They'll Keep You Young"

As an older dad, I hear this a lot, "Well, they'll keep you young." It may be that people who encounter older dads don't know anything else (polite) to say. The thing is, the psychology of action and goal pursuit would indicate that they might be right. We're only as old as our life tasks.

Science, Free Will and Determinism: I Think We're Coloring Outside the Lines.

I suppose if there truly were free will I wouldn't be writing this. I certainly feel compelled to add to this discussion. My point, we're coloring outside the lines.

Self-regulation Failure (Part 1): Goal Setting and Monitoring

The simplest way to think about a self-regulating system is how your thermostat functions with your furnace. As simple as this may be, this model does speak to our own ability for self-regulation, and it's a good place to start this discussion about when self-regulation fails. 

Fear of Failure

It was an exciting day in our research group. Adam presented the preliminary analyses of his thesis data. His study provides some interesting insight into the relationship between fear of failure and procrastination. 

Approaching Success, Avoiding the Undesired: Does Goal Type Matter?

Approach-oriented goals involve reaching or maintaining desired outcomes. Avoidance goals focus on avoiding or eliminating undesired outcomes. Although both types of goals are common in our lives and both are functional, one goal-type is associated with more happiness than the other. I also think that there's something to learn about procrastination here.

The Last Lecture: Wisdom About Time Management

Stuck in the airport returning home from an emotionally exhausting day, tired and fighting an awful chest cold, my flight delayed to the wee hours of the morning, I stretched out on the seats in the waiting area with Randy Pausch's book, "The Last Lecture." His lecture, his life, has some important messages regarding our goal pursuit. 

Psychology and Why Evolutionary Theory Fails to Satisfy (Me)

Psychology has a lofty goal - explaining, perhaps even predicting, human behavior. Can we do it? I think this picture teaches us that it is unlikely that we'll meet this goal, at least at the level of the individual's life. 

"Don't Delay" Highlights: A Reader's Summary

Bloggers blog about everything, even other blogs. If you're new to the "Don't Delay" Blog, you may want to read this post. It's written by a reader, and he has done a very good job of summarizing some of the major themes in my postings to date.

Want to Start a Task Sooner? Make it Concrete!

A recent study published in Psychological Science reveals a simple answer to getting tasks done. Make it concrete!

A Recipe for Happiness or Procrastination?

A  story today in the New Zealand Herald reports that the CALM (Computer Assisted Learning Method) Web site allows students to download audio files that provide information about long-lasting happiness - ways to harness mental resilience, healthy relationships and finding meaning in life.