I often hear people label themselves as being lazy, undisciplined, unfocused, and habitual procrastinators. What many people don’t realize is that there is an underlying reason for their continued procrastination and inability to walk their talk, and it has little to do with laziness or a lack of discipline.                                                                             

Let me provide some context and discuss human values, because they are the foundation and chief driver of human behavior.

Every human being, regardless of background, gender, culture, skin color or age, lives moment by moment by a set of priorities or a set of values, areas of life that they perceive are most to less important to them. This “hierarchy of values” is completely unique and fingerprint-specific to every individual.

Your hierarchy of values continually evolves and changes, but at any moment, you have a set of highest values that you live your life by. For example:

  1. The more important a value is – the higher it is placed on your hierarchy of values – the more spontaneous disciplined and ordered you will be in relationship to it. 
  2. The less important a value is – the lower it will be placed on your hierarchy of values – the less disciplined and ordered you will be in relationship to it. 

The hierarchy of your values dictates your perceptions, decisions, and actions, your behavior and ultimately your destiny. What’s highest on your list of intrinsic values dictates your destiny, it reveals the areas in which you are most reliable, focused, disciplined, it’s the areas of your life where you’ll be taking action and achieving your goals. 

The higher you go on your hierarchical ladder of values, the more you tend to identify by those values and the more likely you are to be spontaneously and intrinsically inspired from within to take actions on them. 

The lower you go down the ladder, the more likely you are to require extrinsic or external motivation to get it done, because you tend not to identify with that value. 

Your ontological identity revolves around your highest value. 

In my case, my highest value is teaching. If you were to ask me, “Who are you” ontologically, I would say that I am a teacher because that’s what I am intrinsically inspired from within to do.

Suppose you met a woman dedicated to raising children and asked her the same question. In that case, she may say, “I’m a mother,” if that is her highest value, even though she works as an I.T. entrepreneur.

So, your identity revolves around what you value most, and whatever is highest on your list of values, you are most likely to be spontaneously inspired from within to fulfill it. 

If you require extrinsic motivation to do what you say is important, what you say is important isn’t likely all that important to you. 

You are unlikely to need extrinsic motivation when doing something that is deeply and truly inspiring to you.

Anything you require extrinsic motivation to get done is low on your values. Anything that you’re spontaneously inspired from within to do is high on your values

Any lack of action on your part is therefore likely not because you are lazy. Understand that you’re only likely to procrastinate on things that are not important to you. If it were truly important to you, you would be most likely to get it done.

Many people are falsely labeled either by others or by themselves. In many cases, they compare themselves to other people, inject the values of others, cloud the clarity of their own values, lose sight of who they are, and expect themselves to live in values that aren’t truly important to them. 

This is often the result of a fantasy that they’d like to be just like someone else and end up minimizing themselves relative to the people they put on a pedestal. Then, when they can’t sustain living in someone else’s values, because it’s not possible, they beat themselves up and label themselves as being a failure, lazy and a procrastinator. That’s not true – it’s just feedback that they’re likely not being authentic or not living congruently with their own highest values.

Procrastination is therefore valuable feedback you can harness to help you return to high-value and high-priority tasks.

You are designed to procrastinate, hesitate, and frustrate on things that are low on your values.

If you pursue what’s truly important to you, you won’t tend to run the story that I you keep procrastinating or self-sabotaging, or that you can’t stay focused. Those are labels created by people who don’t understand human values, or because they don’t want to acknowledge that something they perceive to be important to them, isn’t that important to them.

Anytime you are not focusing and acting on your highest priority actions, or pursue what’s truly important to you, you’re designed to self-depreciate or beat yourself up. You’re designed to have those symptoms. You’ll spontaneously act in your highest value if you’re setting a goal that’s truly congruent with who you are. 

When you hear yourself saying I “got to” do this, I “have to” do this, I “must do” this, I “should” do this, I “ought to” do this, I’m “supposed to” do this, or I “need to “do this – that isn’t you speaking in your head – it is some outer authority you have subordinated to. 

Likely, you’re expecting yourself to do something that’s not important to you, are injecting the values of some external authority, and expecting yourself to live outside your own values, which is self-defeating. As such, you’ll tend to label yourself and beat yourself up. 

It is wise not to waste your time on goals that aren’t truly important/congruent with your highest values.

  1. Anytime you expect yourself to do something that’s low on your values, you’re likely to beat yourself up. 
  2. Anytime you expect yourself to do something that’s high on your values, you’re likely to build your self-worth and confidence up, build incremental momentum and achievement, be confident in yourself, and increase your self-worth.

The magic happens when you realize that the hierarchy of your values dictates your destiny and when you begin setting goals that are aligned with your highest values, that’s when you take the brakes off your life and hit the gas pedal with purpose, vision, clarity, and inspiration.

When you can do what you say, walk your talk, and build self-worth in your highest values, you tend to build incremental momentum, which is an unstoppable game.


  • Dr John Demartini

    Human Behavior Specialist, Educator, Internationally Published Author and Business Consultant

    Demartini Institute

    Dr John Demartini is a human behavior specialist, a polymath, philosopher, international speaker and published author. He has recently been awarded the IAOTP Top Human Behavior Specialist of the Year as well as the IAOTP Lifetime Achievement Award.

    His work is a summation of over 299 different disciplines synthesized from the greatest minds in most fields of study today. His extensive curriculum focuses on helping purpose driven individuals master their lives so that they are able to more extensively serve humanity with their inspired vision and mission.

    To find out more visit: www.drdemartini.com or search for Dr John Demartini on your favorite social, podcast or media channel.