Now if there was a world championship for procrastination I am pretty certain that I would win it hands down. However, my experience of putting things off has demonstrated that it is a pretty certain way of not getting things done. How do I know that? Well, I have tested putting things off pretty thoroughly, and the result of my tests (over a very long period of time and in many different situations) are conclusive, it is not a useful strategy! Now for me, this is a habit that I have had from a very young child. If I think back to those times, I probably put things off because I didn’t know how to do them. In my mid years, I would know how to do things but would worry about getting it wrong. In present day, I have learnt that I can construct things quickly and so I generally leave it to the end of the time available. Interestingly, I now see the energy of how things are created but that’s something for another day. In the meantime, let's head back to getting out of your head and into action. Procrastination is surprisingly common in people. The reasons for this are complex and can result in not completing the task and in some cases, not even starting it in the first place.These are all rational for the person involved and include:
Not liking the task because it is boring, frustrating, tedious, repetitive, pointless, facing something that they would rather not do or they feel is someone else's role.
Feeling uneasy or fearful because they are worried about other people’s opinions, being judged or feel out of control, backed into a corner, have a fear of failure or don't believe they have the necessary skills.
Personality traits such as easily distracted, self defeating behaviours, low motivation, perfectionism, lack of self belief or trying to please other people.
Experiencing mental and physical health issues that contribute to low energy, poor cognition or difficulty in focus.
Now this is clearly a complex issue. However, from a purely practical point of view, it is useful to be able to interrupt the process.
What is it that actually stops you from getting on with the matter in hand? Even if you know yourself pretty well it is useful to be specific. Try this exercise which ideally should be completed by yourself and when you are unlikely to be interrupted. You will need a pen, paper and something to time yourself with. Then
Set a timer for three minutes.
Very quickly, list all the reasons that you don’t get on with things. If it’s a struggle, stop, come back and try again when you are ready.
Finish listing when the timer goes off.
Give yourself a moment to analyse the list, then rate reasons in order of frequency. Rewrite your list to reflect this, the most co mmon at the top, most infrequent at the bottom.
Look at the list again and decide if anything on that list is legitimately useful — ie, logical, reflective, safeguarding, etc. If so, tick these items, If not, mark with a cross.
Take a moment to reflect on the list without judgement. This is you and your current pattern. It is what it is.
Once you have a clear idea about why you do something, you can begin to create a strategy. If behaviours are fundamentally useful, then acknowledge the thoughts rather than ignore them. This gives an opportunity to plan for expected consequences. Otherwise let go of whats not needed and find a way to manage learnt behaviours.
Let go of unhelpful things
There are very many reasons why we do what we do including cultural and learnt behaviours. This does not mean that you can’t change. However, you do need to be in a place where you are ready to move on. So how do you let go of things that you don’t need? One of the first things to do is recognise that you have a choice. If you made crosses on your original list, then these are things that you don't need. If you are ready to move on, it is time to release these thoughts and feelings. Start with acknowledging that it is quite OK not to be perfect, you are where you are now. If you find it difficult to let go of things you don’t need, try this quick visualisation:
Centre your energy
Spend a few moments observing your breath entering and leaving the body in it’s own natural rhythm
Now imagine that you can gather everything from your mind that is not useful in the here and now into a big fluffy cloud in the centre of yourself. Give it a colour and a form. Make this really strong.
Remembering that you don’t need this anymore, you can start to imagine, what it would be like if that cloud, drifted away from you now, taking with it everything from your mind that you don’t actually need to keep.
Imagine that with every exhalation, that cloud drifted away, further and further, gradually dispersing, disappearing into the distance, with all the energy transmuted into a beautiful magenta light.
Now let that light flood through you, replenishing all the energy thats been lost with its healing and calming qualities.
Spend a moment with those thoughts, returning back when you are ready, making sure that you are present in your body and fully centered.
Fake it until you make it
One of the very interesting things about the subconscious is whatever it hears you say about yourself is
basically perceived as correct. This is one of the reasons why everything you say about yourself is important. So then, this produces an excellent opportunity because it means that it gives you permission to run a different mindset. So lets just suppose for a moment that if I could win a world championship for procrastination, you are fairly convinced that you could give me a run for my money and be a very close second! We know that’s not a useful programme. There is a fabulous NLP technique that works on the principle of miracles. So, what if you woke up tomorrow morning and found that a miracle had occurred and you knew that you were amazing. With complete certainty and with no room for anything other than being amazing. What would that feel like? Just run that through your mind, you woke up and all of a sudden, you were amazing. Fabulous at getting things done, incredibly happy with all of your success and simply winning at life. Now take a moment to increase that intensity. Feeling amazing, certain that you are fabulous, winning at life and just all round incredible. Hold this thought really strongly for a moment, the more focus you give it the quicker your subconscious will catch on. It will actually start to change its unhelpful programmes because you have ordered the amazing programme now and it will run this instead. The more you reinforce it, the easier it becomes. Now take a moment to check how this feels - better? It is far easier than you would think to run a positive, helpful dialougue so you may as well talk to yourself in ways that are useful.
Three top tips for getting out of your head and into action, easy to achieve, it just needs you to begin.
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