5 Fundamental Reasons People Sabotage their Own Immigration Goals Through Procrastination

In yesterday’s blog post, we noted that even though some individuals or organizations will receive the most persuasive reasons to start their immigration case, some of them will continue to say “I will do it tomorrow.”

It’s as if they have a mental block, something akin to writer’s block for a writer or putting yips for a golfer.

For some reason, some individuals or organizations won’t–seemingly can’t–start their immigration case(s) until they are compelled by some serious, impending government action.

What is the underlying cause that prevents some people or some organizations from acting until it is too late or almost too late?

To answer this question, let’s look to the field of behavioral economics. There are number of answers from this field. We’ll look at five of them now.

As humans, all of us unwittingly make many irrational decisions–including saying “I’ll start my immigration case tomorrow.” Many of those decisions are driven by following conditions: myopia, the status quo bias, loss aversion,  the present bias, and the optimism bias. Let’s take a very brief look at these drivers of bad decisions, these causes of sub-optimal results.

  1. Myopia

Myopia is the tendency to set aside the long-term view in favor of the shorter one. People regularly fail recognize the years-in-the-future impact of their present immigration inaction.

  1. The Status Quo Bias

Status quo bias is the bias evident when people prefer things to stay the same by doing nothing  or by sticking with a decision made previously. This bias shows itself even when only small transition costs are involved and the importance of the decision is great.

  1. Loss aversion

Loss aversion is encapsulated in the expression “losses loom larger than gains.” It is thought that the pain of losing is psychologically about twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining. The basic principle of loss aversion can explain why the prospect of a penalty is often more effective than prospect of a reward in motivating people.

  1. The Present Bias

The present bias refers to the tendency of people to give stronger weight to payoffs that are closer to the present time. when considering trade-offs between two future moments. It may explain why an individual with a limited amount of money may decide to spend the money on a consumer product that he can enjoy immediately, instead of an immigration case that will not bear positive results for many months.

  1. The Optimism Bias

The optimism bias reflects the phenomenon that people tend to overestimate the probability of positive events and underestimate the probability of negative events. For example, we may underestimate our risk of being in a car accident or getting cancer relative to other people. A number of factors can explain unrealistic optimism, including  our perceived control over events.

Now, all of this talk of bias and bad decision-making and mental shortcomings may seem gloomy. And it is gloomy, to some extent. The world does appear a lot brighter when one has an inflated view of oneself,  one’s capabilities, one’s rationality.

But when we recognize our shortcomings, we come closer to seeing the world for what it really is. And, with a more realistic view of ourselves, we get much closer to achieving important goals, including immigration goals.