Why My Projects Failed, Despite Working Really Hard

Dean Paarman
March 25, 2021

I'm going to cut to the chase: Hardworking people, even workaholics, can still be procrastinators.

The challenge is for these indefatigable people is to realise it. Their particular type of procrastination is obscured by their commitment to dealing with their demanding schedule.

I'm doing it. I'm working at full tilt.

There is nothing more I could do to ensure the success of this project.

Definitely no laziness here!

If you are a person that is extremely dedicated to putting in the hours to see a project accomplished, but somehow despite your best efforts you are still never actually able to make a success of things, then you might be a "Busy Worker".

Welcome inside my head

Being a Busy Worker is an awful state of being. You feel like you are doing everything right, but not getting anywhere. If you go on long enough you either give up or bury yourself in more work because you are absolutely determined to succeed.

Yet the harder you push the farther you get from the success you are chasing.

It's torture.

I know this feeling well, because I ploughed my 20's into many failed projects. My desperation for making something succeed drove me deeper and deeper into workaholic mode. Until at 29 I had an emotional breakdown due to burnout.

The problem was that I didn't see myself as a procrastinator.

Once I became aware that I was actually procrastinator, I could start to make changes to my life that really made a difference.

Awareness is the first step of solving any problem, but for somebody who suffers from this particular type of procrastination, it is absolutely crucial.

To help you identify if you are a "Busy Worker" like I was, I'd like to invite you inside my head on a little bit of a journey. I have been using introspective writing to solve all sorts of personal problems. Figuring out that I am a procrastinator was no different.

This following text is a real-life copy-paste journal entry that I would like to share with you.

Am I really procrastinating?

I am a very hard worker. I like to put in the time. I can sit at a computer for hours and let the world pass me by. I can go the entire day without getting up or eating.

When I'm in the zone, the world around me can go to hell and I'm just sitting here getting the job done. But the truth is, I am a procrastinator.

Most people that know me, wouldn't say so. My friends, family, and colleagues are more likely to call me a workaholic, but in reality, I'm what you call a "Busy Worker".

Essentially, this means I'm always busy, constantly working on stuff day in and day out. But all too often, I'm putting off what is really important work, the stuff that makes the big difference, quite often, the stuff that makes the money. And I wonder why I have financial insecurities!

But you see, I'd like to believe that this whole thing about me being a procrastinator is all just a misunderstanding, or actually better yet that it's not my fault, because I didn't know that I was doing something wrong. In fact, I thought I was doing everything right. I've always believed that hard work equals success and I'm fully committed to success. So therefore I work hard.

I want to be proud of myself.

When people ask me one day, how did you become so successful Dean? I will be one of those famous entrepreneurs who gets to say: "I worked my ass off."

And so that's exactly what I've been doing, working my ass off. That's what I did throughout my entire twenties. Head first into tons of projects that went nowhere.

And with so many failed business attempts in my life, I slowly grew bitter towards it all. I thought the system was just rigged against me. That I had bad luck!

But instead of giving up, I just worked harder and harder. I subscribed to the idea that we make our own luck. Working your ass off only pays dividends at the end. I'm in the middle of the game now, and I have to carry on fighting because victory only comes at the end. But the harder I pushed, the more the unrest swelled in me. I fought hard to suppress that bitterness. The feeling that was in me was that the system is rigged and I'm on the losing end of the deal.

Still, I kept at it harder and harder and harder because I know that if I do this I am going to eventually, inevitably succeed.

But no, I was so wrong.

I was doing it all wrong.

All this way of thinking ever got me was burnout and debt. I treated success like a destination: "suffer now and reap the rewards later." Only the suffering was completely unnecessary.

Actually worse, it was the reason I wouldn't be successful.

I have to let this go.

I've come a long way from that mindset. I came to realise that I need to take responsibility for my ignorance, because hard work will not lead me to inevitable success. Especially if that hard work has been busy work all along.

I focus on unimportant work.

But my real problem, the thing that really hurts me, is that I make unimportant things important.

Every email, phone call, task person, project, anything that requires my attention is always the most important thing that I need to do right now. I have a completely biased mindset.

I guess the system was rigged against me, but it was my own system.

When everything was always important, it was the perfect excuse that I needed to put off the scary work. I'm talking about the meaningful work that out of your comfort zone stuff, the success stuff, the stuff that I am petrified to do.

But I just don't have the time for all of it!

There is so much to do.

And so I'd pick the fucking easy stuff, because that's just as important to me. I'm such an asshole because I sacrificed hours of my life just sitting here neglecting my health.

I haven't eaten all day to day again, an all for what?

So I can be busy?

Busy for who?

Who the hell are you doing this for?

This show? This masquerade?

Actually it's worse than a masquerade, because that would mean I only look busy, but I'm not posing. I'm not fucking around on Facebook before the boss comes in. I'm actually answering emails, building pages, developing ideas, making videos. I'm really actually doing the stuff that needs to get done.

I feel lost.

I'm lost because I can't tell the difference between important and unimportant work anymore.

All I know for certain is that I do not have enough time to do it all.

I want to revive that old spirit in me that could keep going, even though I thought the system was rigged against me. Because now that I know it actually was, I have a new opportunity.

I'd like to tell myself right here and right now that there is a solution to the despair of being a "Busy Worker". And the solution is so simple.

All I need to do is prioritise my tasks.

The Lesson from my Journal

This block of text was taken directly from my journal. It was an honest talk with and to myself about how I feel about this topic.

It was the moment I took charge and made the necessary changes.

It is important to note that the solution I came to (i.e prioritise my tasks) is very simple in words, but there is more to understanding it.

I have obviously come a long way through understanding my own procrastination, where it comes from and why it happens. Since writing these journal entries I have dramatically changed the way that I work, the way that I think and the way I live my life.

It was a journey of discovery and implementing work processes that assisted this conclusion. I would like to assist people who may be in the same position as I was.

You don't need to struggle through this on your own.

If you are interested in going on your own journey then start by taking this quiz and learn a little more about the type of procrastinator that you are.

Start your journey to beating procrastination

Find out more about the type of procrastinator you are, and the reasons behind why you procrastinate.

Dean Paarman

About the author

Enthusiastic, hungry for skills, easily motivated and passionate about people, the outdoors and creative projects.

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