Every so often, new research comes out that reminds us that, while we can control our behavior to an extent, a lot of it boils down to simple biology. The latest study in that department, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that our tendencies toward procrastination and impulsivity may be inherited.
Researchers analyzed 663 people from the Colorado Longitudinal Twin Study in same-sex twin pairs. Half of the participants were monozygotic, meaning they shared 100 percent of their twins' genes, and the other half were dizygotic, meaning they shared only 50 percent of their genes. The study focused on many personality traits, but the researchers focused in on both the participants' procrastination levels and their impulsivity levels (specifically, their tendency to give into cravings and their tendency to act without thinking). To do so, they looked at their answers to questions like, "When planning a party, I make the necessary arrangements far in advance."
In the end, the researchers determined three important findings: First, procrastination in general is a genetic trait. Second, there's a genetic correlation between procrastination and impulsivity—i.e., people who are impulsive tend to also be procrastinators, and vice-versa. And finally, people who exhibit this "genetic commonality" have more trouble working toward and reaching both short- and long-term goals.
Now, it's important to note that this data is correlational, not causational. That means that yes, people who are impulsive tend to be procrastinators and vice-versa, but that doesn't necessarily mean that one causes the other. It just so happens that they're linked.
So how does this info apply to you? If you find yourself procrastinating and being impulsive at work and in life, it could be genetic. And more specifically, you could be at a higher risk of not being able to follow through on your goals. That said, that doesn't mean that you should Lady GaGa yourself and validate any of your less-than-stellar work by telling your boss that you were simply "born this way." Rather, check out these tips on how to stop procrastinating.