The month of August is starting to wind down. Most of us are back from our summer vacations and the school children are returning to their studies. It’s the time of year that many of us take stock of where we are and launch out into new projects. Labor Day is right around the corner and for me it’s the symbol of the switch.
For many years, the day after Labor Day was the start of school. Now it’s the start of autumn in my mind. In any case, Labor Day is symbolic for many of us; in much the same way as New Years Day is.
Time to restart something.
What is most in need of a restart in your life? Here’s mine. I have been dealing with several physical injuries over the past 3 years and there has been a huge impact on my exercise habits. The injuries are gone – or at least as gone as they are going to get – and yet I am still stalled on the exercise process. I’ve walked once or twice in the past few weeks. Nothing regular, nothing strenuous, really nothing much…
Procrastination has settled in, along with 4 bags of his belongings. So here is my public declaration: by the time you read this note, I will have restarted the exercise program. That will require writing it down, shifting some schedules and making the goals and benefits of getting back in shape crystal clear in my head.
If you are ready to join me in getting a grip on procrastination, this month’s issue of Life Adventure Notes is for you. Read through the main article to learn the 3 reasons people procrastinate. I believe my lack of exercise over the past few months fits into all three categories. Read on for tips on getting past procrastination and as you do, picture me jogging slowly in the early morning sunshine!
“I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.” Scarlett’s well-known final lines from Gone With the Wind have taken on huge proportions in our lives today.
Procrastination is a behavior that affects all of us at some point or other, and 25% of us are chronic procrastinators. It’s as though we’re saying, “The sooner I put it off, the more time I’ll have to catch up!”
When it comes to self-sabotage, procrastination rules. You intend to do something and yet can’t complete (or even start) acting upon that intention. You get lost in your own deliberations, making excuses to justify a delay. And you make this decision yourself; you can’t pass the blame on to anyone else. You undermine yourself, and sometimes in wasting too much time you can waste a lifetime.
Looking at this from one aspect, the fact that you can procrastinate shows you are in charge of making your own choices; that you are not a machine programmed to follow instructions without variation. You are a conscious being, and the self must choose to act. That’s the good news!
It also places the responsibility squarely on you. And procrastination can make you feel guilty, frustrated, incompetent, or depressed, and it can make you feel like avoiding those who are counting on you. And that’s our clue on where procrastination comes from: the emotions. While you may know intellectually what you ought to do right now, you don’t feel like doing it. So you focus on the short-term: feel good now, and worry about that task later. Short-term gain equals long-term pain.
There are three basic reasons people procrastinate. Most commonly, you avoid things you don’t like to do or that upset you in some way. A distasteful task makes you feel uncomfortable and you’d rather avoid the negative emotions.
Secondly, you might procrastinate because your intentions are vague or weak. Poorly defined intentions or goals can be part of the problem – and part of the self-sabotage. It is impossible to structure behavior against a poorly defined goal. Hence, you can put it off by saying, “I’ll figure that out later.”
Thirdly, you may be easily distracted and/or impulsive. You might think, “It will only take a minute for me to check my email, update my Facebook page, find that recipe, read that blog…” and before you know it, an hour or two (or three) has passed.
Goodness knows there is plenty in the world to distract you! Whether it is responsibilities at work, at home, or in your community, everyone wants your attention and commitment. The whole world is competing for your time and attention with marketing that is designed specifically for you. It is personal, appealing, and distracting.
So how do you overcome procrastination? One of the simplest and most effective solutions is to just get started – anywhere – on a task. The moment you think about putting off the next step, recognize that you are getting ready to procrastinate, to give in to feeling good…and also feeling guilty.
Start with baby steps. Aim for a little progress. Research indicates that engaging in some kind of action fuels motivation and changes perception of the task. You may find that it’s not as bad as you thought, and “a task begun is a task half-done!” Imagining how proud (and relieved) you’ll be when the task is completed is a strong motivator, too.
Transform feeble goals into effective plans for action. Be specific about how you are going to proceed: “In situation A, I will do behavior B to achieve the goal of C.” When situation A arises, you won’t have to think about what to do, you will already have decided that and won’t “need” to put it off while you “determine” what to do. The task then becomes a response, not a need to plan. Tell yourself exactly when and where you will act.
The solution to distraction lies in recognizing what distracts you and then either deciding to eliminate the diversion (“I will shut off Facebook while I’m on the computer.”) or declaring an intention to indulge it at a specific time once some work is completed. Again, research indicates that a little strategic planning helps support your resolve.
Changing habits takes time and practice… and patience. Pat yourself on the back when you have made a positive change away from procrastination. Be sure to keep your thoughts and feelings realistic and specific so that you don’t fall in to the “I’ll think about it tomorrow” pitfall.
Being honest with yourself about when and why you procrastinate will help you avoid that self-sabotaging behavior.
What are the specific tasks that you procrastinate about in your life?
Where do you need to develop more clear and specific goals to help prevent that type of procrastination?
How can you plan to eliminate distractions when you can least afford to procrastinate?
At Random ~From The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
Random is the instant a horse at full speed has all four hooves off the ground.
This is the original meaning of the word. It refers to the mystery of unbridled passion, to the lift that results from total immersion and surrender. In our age, however, random means without design, method or purpose. It refers to utter chance. It helps us dismiss whatever appears to be beyond the control of our will. If we didn’t author it, it must be accidental.
Yet our lives are full of unexpected surges of kindness that seem to come from nowhere. Just when you’re thirsty, a cup is gathered and passed around. Just when you are lonely to the point of snapping that bone way inside that you show no one, someone offers you a ride or steadies the grocery bag about to drop from your grip. Just when you feel nothing can raise your sad head from the lonely road, the deer stutter across the road in exact rhythm with Handel.
So what might we learn from the horse at random? Consider how all of its energy and desire mounts for the brief moment it inhabits itself fully, and in that moment, it flies. Only to touch down again. And to fly again. And touch down again. For us, the moment at random is the moment of holding nothing back, of giving our all to whatever situation is before us. In that charged moment, we come as close to flying as human beings can – we soar briefly with a passion for life that brings everything within us to meet our daily world.
I experienced this again and again in the many hospital beds I lay flat in while going through cancer. When I could hold nothing back – not tears, not pain, not frustration or anger – I found myself at random, off the ground, though I couldn’t get out of bed. And remarkably, it put me in the flow of the lives around me.
For just as pain in the body signals other cells to flood the injured area, our honest experience lived at random calls other lives to our aid. Just as blood flows from healthy parts of the body to those that are injured without either part knowing they will meet, so too in the Universal body. We flow to each other’s aid, often without knowing where we are headed. Mysteriously, the life force heals itself this way. And what we call “chance” or “luck” or “coincidence” is the circulation of life healing itself through us and in us.
INDIVIDUAL COACHING BY PHONE
Want to stop that feeling that life is passing you by?
Would you like to able to experience your life as an exciting series of adventures?
Would you like to feel more joy and achieve more success?
That is what I help my clients develop in their own lives. Working with a coach helps you overcome the challenges that can keep you from a successful life. Coaching gives you a companion on the journey; someone with whom to discuss events as they unfold and to help you move toward joy in the adventure. Developing clear goals, focusing intently and staying committed become possible.
If you aren’t sure and would like to explore whether coaching is right for you, please send an email to Janet@lifeadventurecoaching.com or call me at 828-691-4655 for a complimentary consultation.