Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stop Fretting and Start Doing

Stop Fretting and Start Doing

How good does it have to be? This is a challenge I offer to many of the professionals I work with, who procrastinate and suffer for days and weeks, because they fear their completed projects won’t be perfect.

The fear of failure, disappointment and of disappointing others can be immobilizing and at times destructive for many of us.

In an effort to avoid this emotional discomfort, many professionals will look for something less stressful and less emotionally taxing to attend to. This re-focusing will afford short run relief, but will eventually add to the discomfort as the avoidance will inevitably raise their level of anxiety.

Each day a project or task is avoided leads to another layer of worry and anxiety as deadlines approach and procrastination increases. The beast grows until you fear it will devour you. Eventually you can’t avoid your worry as you ponder over and over the beginning, middle and end of the project that is never quite out of your mind and never quite started. As the deadline approaches you scramble, much the way fighter pilots race to their planes when a red alert is sounded. You muster all of your creative energy and work frenetically late into the wee hours and complete the assignment just as the final bell tolls. You experience a great sense of relief and feel emotionally and physically drained and promise yourself, “Never Again." You swear you will start earlier the next time something is due and complete the assignment with plenty of time to spare. And the cycle of what if and avoiding begins anew.

While this pattern of what if and avoidance can be frustrating, disheartening and destructive at times it does not have to eternally rule your behavior and moods. This pattern can be reshaped with mindful focus and a willingness to adapt new behaviors.   

Here are a few tips to get you started towards procrastinating less and being proactive more.

  •         Build momentum by breaking the task into steps and start with the one that seems the least onerous. Reward yourself at the end of each step. Rewards can be something as simple as a cup of coffee, 10 minutes to read an article that is interesting to you or a trip to the water cooler or as grand as setting a day to do something that is fun for you.
  •         Get a break from the stress by alternating the more and less difficult tasks. 
  •         Set a deadline to begin and a completion date and commit to that deadline by sharing it with someone who will hold you accountable.
  •         Commit some period of time daily to work on the project
  •          Review your progress at the end of the day or week with someone you trust.
  •        Take an inventory of prior consequences endured from efforts to avoid a taxing project and determine if it is worth the same level of suffering.

1.   Be honest with yourself when setting an expectation. Don’t commit to a task if you know it is so difficult or burdensome that you will never even tend to it. You surely will never complete it.
2.   That anxiety is a call to action. It will continue to grow as long as we avoid the situation and will subside as soon as we take control and become active.
3.   Ask yourself, “How good does this have to be to be good enough”?   

I assure the professionals I work with that few things in their lives will ever be perfect, but many things can and will be good enough.

Friday, January 6, 2012

How Long Will You Wait?

Your successes will be defined by the actions you take, not by the actions of others or the fates of the universe.

I hold this truth to be self-evident. How often do you sit in your wishes, your fears and longings waiting for the universe to bring change and good fortune to your doorstep? Many of us will sit for days, weeks, months and even years waiting for a desired life change or some type of emotional or physical relief.
I believe such change and relief only occurs after we take action that is intentional and focused. The power to positively affect your life comes from within, not from outside forces.

Contact Jim today for a complimentary 30-minute success coaching session.

This is the time of year that many of us will set well-intended goals geared towards self-improving, life enhancing change. I’m going to apply for that ideal job I keep thinking about, I’m going to get in better shape, I’m going to improve my health, I’m going to take that class I always wanted to take, I’m going to get better organized, I’m going to stop procrastinating and start doing, I’m going to stop feeling down all of the time, and everyone’s favorite, I’m going to start a diet and lose weight.  Often the mantra is I’m going to start at the beginning of next week or as soon as I-----. Too often we anticipate the arrival of a magical intervention that seldom arrives. I wonder how many of us will still be focused on our desired changes within the next few months.

Waiting to be rescued from inertia only assures the opportunity to continue waiting to be rescued. Success comes from focus, intention and the action that you take on a consistent basis.

If you are going to set a goal or make a resolution this new year let it begin with a commitment to take responsibility for your actions and for your successes.