How many times have I heard this? As a parent I’ve heard it a million times, as a staff member in a school I hear it from the pupils (and sometimes from the staff) but I also hear it in myself and the clients I coach. That whinging voice just before I ‘have to’ do something ‘boring’ or hard. At that point anything else becomes more interesting…. cleaning, taking out the rubbish, finding that photo on my hard drive – the one I’ve been meaning to send an aunt, catching up on Netflix, looking out the window, checking ‘Rightmove’ for that dream property…. all in order to avoid doing that ‘thing’.
What’s more interesting is not the voice or what it’s saying but the emotion behind it. The feeling you get about the ‘thing’, maybe even the visual impression that comes with the feeling. Sometimes if we lean into this feeling or impression we can start to notice more. Maybe a discomfort and an overwhelm. The ‘thing’ might be too big in our mind’s eye, too large a goal to achieve or full of scary possibility and ‘what if…’s.
So, what can we do about this? What’s the answer? I usually know that I have to do the ‘thing’, there’s an inevitability about it. Sometimes I am simply able to put my ‘big girl’ pants on and get on with it.
But sometimes we need a little help….
1.Curiosity: Lean into the experience – notice your feelings around the ‘thing’.
As humans we are evolved to lean towards the negative, and that comes to the front of our mind – so the obstacles and fears become the biggest things in our vision. Notice how your brain is approaching this ‘thing’ – are the impressions of it and feelings about it becoming overly magnified? What story is your brain telling you about this ‘thing’?
- Clarity: What is the reality about this ‘thing’? Is it in line with your values and what you ultimately want? Is it a means to a goal that you desire? What’s the ultimate goal that this ‘thing’ will take you towards? Maybe it’s a work goal, or a better relationship, or an improved life.
- Lean into that outcome…visualise it….write about it….draw it….talk about it.
Lean into all the positives that this outcome will give you. This ‘thing’ could be the outcome itself or it could be a means to an outcome, either way it is part of the journey towards what you desire, it is a steppingstone on that path. Lean into how this makes you feel.
- Confidence: Once you have a clear idea of the positive outcome this ‘thing’ could take you towards we have the feelings in place to motivate us in a general sense. Now we can come back to the ‘thing’ – you know it can be overwhelming but it is taking you in a direction you want to go. How do you need to frame this to your brain to not be overwhelmed and stuck in the negatives? In other words what can you say to positively encourage yourself?
What might a nurturing parent say to a reluctant child?
When we procrastinate we often fall into the trap of berating ourselves for having not done something.
“Why haven’t you done it yet? You’ll never get there! You’re useless!”
It might feel like this would motivate us but in reality this makes us ‘not do’ even more.
If we can be the supportive, encouraging parent to our reluctant selves it can go a long way to get stuff done. What could be the carrot that takes you forward rather than staying stuck and beating yourself with the stick?
Show Courage and taken control
Take that first step and be encouraged by it to take the second step. Don’t look up at the journey beyond, just take each step and take courage from that. It can also be helpful to ask for support from someone else to keep you on track (I don’t like the work ‘accountability’) Someone to share your success at each step to keep going. They don’t necessarily need to do anything, just listen and encourage and notice your progress (this is where coaching can be super helpful)
So, there you have it. Curiosity can give us awareness and once we have that we can take the steps of Clarity, Confidence and Courage to take us forward.
If you want some support shifting your procrastination, get in touch!