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“What you resist persists.”—Carl Jung
Would it surprise you if I said that I have been procrastinating about writing this entry? Coaches fall into the procrastination trap too! Here’s a little secret: we didn’t become Life Coaches because we’re naturally brilliant at Life. Largely we became coaches because we know first-hand how hard it can be to “get it together”.
What is procrastination? Many of my clients face it every day. [pullquote]Procrastination keeps you from being present, and places you forever behind the 8-ball. It keeps you from experiencing life.[/pullquote]Procrastination is the phenomenon that suggests that everything else is more important than what you’ve just sat down to do. (Sitting down to write this entry, for example “required” first that I file my nails, get another cup of tea, price out the latest MacBook Pro on the Apple site, see what exhibits are available at the MET and check the weather to see how much time I have to enjoy this sunny day.) What is that? ADHD? What is it about simply doing what we’ve stated we want to do?
Well, I can tell you want happens for me: When I sit down to write, I hit a rebellious streak and want to leap out of my chair like my buns are on fire! “I could be doing something “fun”!” my inner 10-year-old complains. Suddenly, I feel trapped, with rarely a thought about how taking this action will offer me greater freedom when I’m done.
In fact, procrastination is the trap because it prevents you from accomplishing and keeps you yearning for the time of completion. Procrastination keeps you from being present, and places you forever behind the 8-ball. It keeps you from experiencing life.
[pullquote]Taking action now will offer me greater freedom when I’m done.[/pullquote]
What are you feeling when you sit down to a task and find yourself filing your nails? Are you pissed off? Lonely? “Bored?” (I put “bored” in quotes because “boredom” is really a mask for another feeling. Often it’s anger, sadness, or fear that’s beneath the “boredom”… What is it for you?)
While humans are complicated beings, there is one thing about procrastination of which I am clear: we often procrastinate about the things that are the most important to us. That important thing represents a part of ourselves that we are a little afraid to live out. Not because it’s a “bad” thing, but because it’s a really “good” thing.
When we work on our resumes, or send in applications, or write, or create art, or put together business plans, we’re stating in some way that we are worth the effort. We are standing proud, at least in our own living rooms, and claiming something powerful about ourselves. We are saying “I matter”. “I matter enough to follow through on this. I am important enough to take this time and do this thing. I am nervous about stepping into that role, and I am capable of doing it. This is my life. This is my goal. I am taking a stand… now.”
(Powerful words those… so much so, that it may be time to make another cup of tea… Which I did…)
[pullquote]Procrastination is about distraction…[/pullquote]If procrastination is about distraction, what is it you are wanting to be distracted from? What is it that you don’t want to feel that sends you flying out of that chair? If you can understand what that is, you are well on your way to becoming more focused.
As Carl Jung said, “what you resist, persists”. When all our energy is going into not feeling something, you can bet it will keep showing up until we do.
The “trick” with procrastination is in first catching yourself “there”. When you do, rather than beat yourself up, or go into a panic, follow these steps:
- Take a quick inventory of your feelings around the project, and allow yourself to feel them. For example, “I’m pissed off because I don’t want to do this.” Allowing that it’s true, that you’re pissed, (or whatever), you can decide to move forward or not.
- Explore if now is the time to be working on it or are you actually procrastinating about something else? If now is the time…
- Call to mind a friend who gets things done. Ask yourself, “How would they approach this task? What would be different if I did it the way they would do it?” (If possible, consider asking this person to be an accountability partner for you… OR hire me!)
- Do a “3-Part Breathing Exercise”
Through your nose:
• breathe in for a slow count of 4,
• hold for a slow count of 6,
• exhale for a slow count of 8, repeat several times until more clear.
Always infinite possibilities… Always your choice.