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Does this sound familiar? You wake up in the morning, have your coffee, read your list of important things to do today…. and just feel like turning round and going back to bed – or you vow to plough through your list, yet end up spending your day focusing on the easy, smaller tasks that feel safe and keep you busy.
This is procrastination – the state of mind that takes over when we feel overwhelmed and disorganised. I have been there many times and if you are reading this, my guess is that you have too, in fact you are probably feeling that overwhelm right now and hoping articles like this will at the very least give you some relief and comfort that you are not the only one… and if possible some kind of magic formula to stop feeling so stuck!
Sorry, but I can’t offer you the magic formula but here are some insights that might help with the relief part and shift some of that stuck energy…..
What is up with me?
I don’t know about you but I have had times in the past where I wonder what is up with me – why can’t I just get on with the things I need to do in the most logical order? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be just as efficient and organised as other people?
Yet, all of us procrastinate from time to time (yes, even those ‘other people’ who look like they have it all figured out!) – sometimes we aren’t feeling up to the task energetically or we don’t feel that inspired and that is ok. There are times when we just need to do something else that gives us that break or space from something, especially when we are working on big projects or tasks.
But there is something else here, something that is far more important than whether we get the tasks done or not and these are the ‘hidden gifts’ we can discover when we are feeling stuck.
Yes – I like to call them ‘hidden gifts’ because ultimately that is how I view them – the reasons behind this stubborn feeling of not being able to move forward can tell you so much about how you are ‘being’ in the world and uncover things that are holding you back….. and not just from getting through your ‘to do’ list but navigating life in general….
… and why are these gifts to us? Simply because having awareness of the real reason we feel stuck can not only give us a great sense of relief, it can also give us the opportunity to look at ‘why’ this is so that we can move forward when the time is right – and who knows what a positive knock on effect this will have on other areas of your life!
So let’s explore some of these ‘hidden gifts’ some more and see if there any any that resonate with you. You can then explore it more if needed or it may be as simple as choosing to show up differently in the world!
You think things have to be done perfectly
Have you ever felt that? If you can’t do something perfectly then you would rather not do it at all? This need to feel like we are perfect at everything stops us from doing and experiencing so many wonderful things in life – and what’s worse, we often don’t even know what ‘perfect’ looks like really, we just know that we aren’t it.
Constantly striving for perfection is actually impossible – there really is no such thing as ‘perfect’ in the pure sense. Once you do actually achieve what you think in your head is perfection, you will soon be comparing it to what someone else is doing and start to feel like you are ‘not enough’ again. Constantly striving for perfection only keeps you focused on one thing – failure.
So why do we do this to ourselves? Something to think about next time you feel this way – do you really want to spend your life being focused on failure over feeling good?
Fear of failure or success
This is a biggie for so many of us and so closely linked to this feeling of needing to be perfect as well which we discussed above.
Being honest with yourself about this one can be a great gift – often, when we delve into the reasons that we feel this way, we discover that they are not even logical and once broken down are so much easier to overcome.
Ask yourself what are you most afraid of – the task, the requirements needed to fulfil the task, the outcome, or possible failure? Perhaps it may go even deeper.
Maybe you are afraid you will succeed. Often, there is a tendency to sabotage a certain project because in succeeding, you are meeting the high expectation others’ have about you and your work which in turn places more pressure or responsibility on you. Fear of success is really all about thinking that you won’t be able to sustain something – it goes hand in hand with that fear of failing.
So if this sounds like you – really take the time to think about what you are missing out on in life because of these fears – fears that are usually irrational in the first place. Discovering this can really help to free yourself from the shackles that are stopping you from doing what you enjoy and love. Put feeling good about it all above everything else and do your best to enjoy the journey.
…… and if you do fail from time to time, what is the worse that can happen? We are all only human after all and mistakes can help us learn and grow in so many ways.
Fear of rejection or disapproval from others
Fear of rejection can be another reason why you cling to procrastination. This may originate from low-self esteem; or a lingering uncertainty within your own mind.
It is very easy to say that we shouldn’t worry what others think but as human beings, we are social creatures and in my opinion, totally ignoring what others think of us is extremely hard to do.
What we can do though is shift that balance – it should matter far more what we think about ourselves than what others think and if you are facing constant disapproval from someone, quite frankly, there is probably more going on with them under the surface than you would ever know about. Keep that balance above everything else – what you think of you is far more important.
It can also be generated from a past rejection which has resurfaced by the task itself – discovering this and realising that something that happened in the past is affecting you right now means you can work on shaking it off to take away it’s hold over you.
Ultimately, we need to stop placing so much importance on what others think – affirming confidence in your own abilities is the key to overcoming rejection. With practice, you may get that twinge of uncertainty but will be more able to remember who you are and what is important to you.
Is the timing right?
Sometimes we can’t push forward because the timing just isn’t right for us right now or we are just not ready and that is ok too. Sometimes we just need to learn something more or a certain opportunity just isn’t right for us to go for at the moment.
Learn to listen to your intuition. How do you feel about getting something done? If it feels off or just ‘not right’, then it might be time to reflect and rethink your plan.
If it’s because you need more knowledge or skills in a certain area to move forward, be honest with yourself and then make a plan to get what you need – is it something you can learn online? Do you need an accountability partner or coach to help you get unstuck? Often setting up the right support systems can make all the difference in helping you to see a way forward so that you can get that important project done.
It just feels too overwhelming to even start
Instead of pressuring yourself by including twenty or more things to do on your list, create small lists of five things to do. Managing your life in this way will make it easier for you to complete the tasks leaving you with a feeling of accomplishment.
Even making 1% progress each day is going to all add up and feels much more manageable. Just ask the question each day – what is my next step? Your higher self will find the answers for you if you just give it space and listen to what comes up. Inspired action really is the best action.
This is where you need to really consider if it is worth it – if this is something that is important to you, then find a way to get it done one step at a time. Do not allow anyone or anything to overpower you, your life and your achievements.
Here is an analogy which may help you. Food shopping requires a list, correct? Each time a product is placed in the shopping cart, you cross it off the list. What about the times you don’t make a shopping list (yes I do this a lot!) – the result is either forgetting important items or overspending and buying things you just don’t need.
Well, following the same procedure with other tasks in your life will lift the weight off your shoulders, and the burden will disappear. Without that list of just a few things that you will get done today, you are likely to forget the important stuff that needs to be done or you may focus on tasks that while away the time or are just not needed.
The secret is not to overload your mind with tasks that neither you nor anyone else can handle. Take it one step at a time.
None of us are perfect and nor should we try to be. If you have a huge task or project to complete that is taking up a lot of your time, make sure you give yourself some time off at some point. We all need to re-charge our batteries and giving yourself permission to chill out and have some fun once in a while may just leave you refreshed and energised enough to get things done with that amazing ease and energy that you were looking for.