Most of us can relate to putting off cleaning up that pile of junk, delaying the bills, or trying to find the time for filing paperwork. According to psychologists and authors of Defenders of the Heart, Marilyn Kagan and Neil Einbund, these “I’ll get around to it later” dilemmas come from a place of fear—and it seems that perfectionists are more likely to be procrastinators because of their fear of looking like a fraud or not being pulled together.
But apart from the dread of falling short of perfection, there are other fears that cause you to spend more energy in delaying tactics than the tasks themselves. Some of them include: being embarrassed, being rejected, the unknown, conflict, success and failure. Kagan and Einbund offer some sound advice on how we can nip fear in the bud and take action, starting today.
1. Get a grip on the fear that keeps you from achieving the things that you’re putting off. Realise that F-E-A-R is False Evidence Appearing Real. Figuring out what you fear will help you complete the tasks you’ve been putting off. Some fears may include others being envious of you, being obliged to keep on going and not knowing if you can, separation from friends or colleagues or finishing the task that will only lead to more work.
2. Write out in detail the potential outcome as a realistic worst-case scenario for each fear. In all cases when you find you’re going into Procrastination mode, make this your mantra: Really, what’s the worst that can happen?
3. Visualise yourself doing the task, taking the plunge, making the change. If you can’t even picture it, the chances of you actually doing it are pretty slim. This technique is used a lot by athletes and actors. They practice or rehearse in their heads. There’s some scientific validity to this, because the brain uses the same neural pathways to imagine doing an activity as it does when you’re actually performing it.
4. Follow the ten-minute rule. Do all that you can on the task in only ten-minute increments. Doing things in small steps makes a larger task more manageable.
5. Tackle either the easiest task or the hardest one first—whichever you think will motivate you the most. You might want to get the tough stuff out of the way because it will all be a piece of cake after that. Or you could be someone who’s more encouraged by starting out small and building up to the most challenging undertaking.
6. Make it fun. Create an air of excitement around what you’re doing. And remember that you don’t have to do everything perfectly. Quite often the gratification is in the process rather than the end result.
7. Reward your efforts. Treat yourself to a movie or a massage after completing something you’ve been putting off. Or just take some time off to luxuriate in your new state of not having something hanging over your head that your really “ought” to be doing.
Putting life’s responsibilities on the back burner keeps you in your own head, constantly mired in discomfort. But when you stop procrastinating, the consequences are amazing. You’ll experience the ramifications on so many levels. You become available to grab at life’s brass rings as they come along; you stand the chance of fulfilling your dreams; you feel great about yourself; and most importantly, you’re open when it comes to establishing and maintaining healthy and dynamic relationships.
The dull ache, the drone, that has dwelt inside you and kept you from being present for yourself and others dissipates. Letting go of procrastination opens you up to opportunities in the work world and assists you in recognising the value of the people already a part of your life. You’ll go a long way towards ensuring that your life is not one full of regret for missed chances and longings for what might have been.
Compiled by Maria Dominguez from: Defenders of the Heart: Managing the Habits and Attitudes That Block You from a Richer, More Satisfying Life by Marilyn Kagan and Neil Einbund, Hay House, RRP $24.95, is available at all leading retailers. Visit www.hayhouse.com.au for more information.
Nick | Mom Most Traveled says
I agree with you about the fear, though I might call it dread instead. Many times I don’t want to get started on something because I think it’s going to be some long boring process. However, if I just get started then many times I find the task to be a lot easier than I dreaded.