I've got a confession to make... its taken me a few weeks to sit down and write this post, which is highly ironic as I'm going to be talking about procrastination. It's also ironic because I'm a life coach and we're supposed to be the epitome of productivity and positive go-getting - right? Well, whilst I work to get my clients motivated and on the get-go in their lives I'm still human and it can take some time to get my own momentum up to warp speed.
Writing blog posts is cathartic, and the subject matter will always find you whether it's something that's come up in a client session, or something that's generally going on in your world, and this post is no exception. You see time and time again for my clients - and more recently for myself - is the issue of not getting done the things that will take the right steps needed towards the future we design for ourselves. So this post is dedicated to the dreaded procrastinator; or rather how to master the art of getting your mojo back!
I'm sure I'm getting a few ears pricked right now because whenever I talk about the issue of procrastination there's an audible 'Yeah, I'm really suffering from that right now.' So, what is procrastination, otherwise known as 'Help! I can't stop playing Candy Crush?' Well, the Wikipedia definition that seems to sit well is that it's:
'The practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the "last minute" before a deadline.'
Ahem, yep, that's me - can I get a big show of hands out too there if that's you?
OK so we know what it is, but I'm more interested in knowing what's behind it as that's where we can change up. So where does procrastination stem from, and what can we do about it? Here's 5 likely procrastination culprits and what you can do to tame the beast:
Fear of failing
Fear overall has the biggest part to play when it comes to holding off on those actions that we know we should be doing. I can work with clients on mapping out their deepest desires to a point where they get whipped up into a frenzy of excitement about their bright shiny future only to be kyboshed by the fear of f*cking up. And it's a biggie. Until we get OK with failure then it can be difficult to hold hands with our destinies. You can read more about learning to fall in love with failure in a previous post.
Fear of jealousy
Seems an odd one, but it's quite common. What will people think of us if we really did get that amazing job? Or really earned as much as we secretly desired? What would your friends say if suddenly you were jetting off round the world to glamorous locations living the life you have always dreamt of?
A couple of things could be going on here; one could be that you are letting other people's models of the world hold you back, or you could be worrying too much about what you think they might think of you. Either way, get out of your own way and step up to the situation; talk to them about why you're doing is so important and that you would love their emotional support. Recognise that other people will think differently to you, and if that doesn't work then get focused about who you spend your time with. It's super important to find that emotional and empowering support for your journey.
It may not be what you really want
Check in with yourself that what you are working towards really is what you want. Toughy right? However, it may be that whilst you have all the best intentions the goal you are working towards is incongruent to your values and is not ecologically sound. Get real and do a thorough review to make sure that what you are working towards works for you and those who are going to be most affected in the 'round. Also do a values sense-check by listing out all of those things which are really important to you in your life. If you're finding that there's too much conflict between your authentic self and what you're working on then it may not be what would really work for you.
Are you stuck in a comfort zone?
Ah, comfort zones, sound all cozy right? Hmm, you could just stay in bed for that hour longer? Or you could just go straight home rather than heading to the gym because it's been a tough day right? Maybe staying that extra hour at work instead of working on your love project feels like the right thing to do because you're just too damned busy? Hold up one minute - let's look at what's going on here - just how much are you keeping yourself where you are because it's simpler to stay put?
It's time to shift the borders of your comfort zone and get into the stretch zone by doing one thing, just one thing, that could move you forward. And then another and another and keep going until you really hit your stride.
It's all just too overwhelming
Feeling overwhelmed is a big part of staying put and in that comfort zone. The task at hand just feels so bloody massive. If that's the case then chunk it down. List out of all the little things that make up the whole, and I mean everything, even if it doesn't seem directly related to the task at hand. (Post it notes could be your best friend here). Put things in order of what's most important, what's easiest, what's most difficult, what you need help with, and what you can pass over to someone else. Then start getting them done, even if it's one thing each day it's a sure fire way to get on your way.
If all else fails you could try some more creative ways to get on with the good stuff, I've heard of other such extremes such as tying yourself to a chair to get on with a task, or turning off your internet connection to stop the distractions. Whatever works for you, as long as it does, then that's only a good thing, right? Now, go forth and conquer!