Do you ever notice how you are just resistant to some projects? You may have a 10 day deadline and you don’t start on it until day 5.
You think this will allow you to do some other stuff you’ve wanted to work on. The problem is you end up trolling the internet or doing stuff that doesn’t matter that much.
You’ve convinced yourself of the advantages of procrastinating and it backfires again and again. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a little procrastination, but when your procrastination starts stressing you out then you have a problem.
Last month I was on a deadline to interview 5 people by the end of the month. It was still early in the month so I wasn’t in a rush. Of course I kept putting it off. I finally started feeling stressed out, so I took action.
Stress always convinces me to take action. This deadline was no different. I set the deadline for the last possible moment. I should have set the deadline for a week earlier than I actually needed it. I know this is a bad habit, but for some reason I do it again and again.
Now that the interviews are done I laugh at my procrastination. Why did I put off the work? The interviews were fun and I learned a ton of new concepts from interviewing interesting artists.
I learned a few lessons I want to share with you.
Maybe you don’t want to do this thing. Yes, it’s that simple. I’ve had at least 5 friends tell me that they want to write a book and yet they have never done it. They like the idea of being an author, but in reality they just like the idea and not the work.
Acknowledge this resistance and stop wanting something that sounds good, but doesn’t light your internal fire. Why waste your time on this project when you could be using your superpowers to “wow” people with work that you care about? To help separate my emotions from this resistance I like to externalize this feeling by calling it my arch nemesis.
There are times when we can’t turn down a project. Maybe your boss wants you to do something that you hate or maybe you own your own business and you need to work on something that doesn’t excite you. So if you can’t say no, you must figure out a way to get the project done.
I’m afraid of rejection. It actually pains me to admit that. I want to believe that what other people think doesn’t matter, but it does. I wanted to interview intelligent people, and I wanted them to think that I was smart, funny, and interesting. So instead of just asking for the interviews, I was tempted to avoid the possible pain that might occur from someone saying no to my request.
You often hold back from starting that thing that you would love to do because you are afraid of what other people might think. You are a social creature and you want to be liked. Social rejection actually hurts, so even the possibility of social rejection makes us shy away from carrying out the action. It feels easier just to avoid the work.
Yes, it also sucks to work your butt off on a project only to have other people fail to reflect your enthusiasm. This type of rejection can hold you back from wanting to work your butt off the next time because you are afraid you may not live up to other people’s expectations.
I’ve written plenty of amazing stuff that other people didn’t like. Well, at least I thought it was good before I gave it to them. When I took another look I usually realized that I could have researched more information or improved a section to make the idea more clear. Whatever the problem with my writing was, the rejection of my idea helped spur me to improve.
The reality is that we need to practice feeling uncomfortable more often in order to do amazing work. I’m talking about the type of work that pushes us outside our comfort zone. The more we can pursue our passions and create uncomfortable feelings as a result, the more likely we are to create something that can make a difference in someone’s life. The only way to do that is to gently lean into the fear of rejection. Try breaking the action into small chunks (we’ll talk about this more later) so the action seems possible and even enjoyable.
You have to stop lying to yourself. You have to do this project and you can either hate the whole process or find emotional connections that allow you to sink your heart into the work.
So now you’ve accepted your fate and you can dig in, right? Nope, the resistance encourages you to keep putting it off.
You have to set a reasonable time frame in which to get your project done. If you know you can get a project done in 3 days and you have 7 days to do the project, then why wait until day 4 to get started? You have to remember all those times that you waited and stress came down on you like a hippopotamus.
If you need a little fun before you start the project, then start on day 2 and expect to finish on day 6. This honesty will reduce your stress and increase your happiness.
Develop a catch system
If you notice yourself procrastinating, what do you do to transition back into productive work? You must be more aware of catching yourself slacking off. If you allow yourself to procrastinate too much, you’ll never meet your deadline.
When I take a break on a big project day, I set a timer for each chunk of task that I need to complete. I refuse to let myself indulge in procrastination for too long if I have important work to do.
You must have a method to keep yourself on track. This takes self-discipline, but it’s worth the effort if you can significantly reduce your stress.
Motivate through small chunks
Too often I catch myself looking at a project as if it’s this giant mountain that I can’t overcome. When this happens I step back, take a short walk and think about the most important chunk of the project that I can do.
I only allow myself to focus on this one task. I put my huge list aside and ignore it for the rest of the day. I know it’s only going to make me feel weak. When I’m done with that task I go for a short walk and think about my next task.
I do this again and again and again, until my confidence comes back.
Release the bear hug
When you are procrastinating you are letting your fear bear hug your motivation. To deal with your project resistance, you must not be afraid of the consequences. If you are too afraid of what negative things will happen instead of the positive results of taking action today, then you’ll never get your work done.
What helps you overcome project resistance?
* Need help leveraging your superpowers in your business/career? Then check out my Superpower Coaching to see how I can help you.
* Tess over at The Bold Life has a great quote from Joseph Cambell. We have to stop waiting and starting enjoying what we have.
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