Do you ever find yourself on the self-sabotaging loop of procrastinating over those things you know you need to or want to do? 🤔
Whether it’s a big project at work that you’ve ground to a halt with, a healthy eating or exercise goal that has lost it’s way, a DIY project that keeps looking at you, kickstarting finding a new relationship, or a total life overhaul… we can all get stuck.
So what is it that stops us just getting on with stuff?
Many reasons, of course. And many of them are valid, aren’t they? Like, I don’t have the time or headspace at the moment. I don’t have the money right now. I’ve got other priorities that need me. I haven’t got the energy. I’ll do it next week/month/later…
So there are some genuine reasons where the time just isn’t the right time.
Mostly, that’s not it though. Often, self-sabotaging procrastination isn’t quite as simple as it seems. And it’s rarely a case of just ‘needing to get motivated’ – like there’s a switch…albeit there is a switch, when we’ve got to the bottom of it…If we really want to get it done, we might need to get curious about why we’re not just getting it done.
Let’s say that someone has stalled at finishing renovating their house, and currently it’s half way to being finished but somewhere along the lines the project ground to a halt. To be fair, many things ground to halt in COVID-19, so first we could look at genuine restrictions that may have applied, like a shortage of materials and labour and the accompanying price hike that may have gone with that. So perhaps, it was a good idea to pause proceedings. Perhaps, what happened during this pause, is that clutter has now piled up throughout the house; maybe living without carpets has become the new norm; maybe all that stuff that’s inaccessible and bursting out of that spare room isn’t really needed anyway…but…despite this being the new I’ll-get-to-it-soon new norm, you also want the house finished…
Here are some of the less obvious reasons you might be stalling on the renovations…
🤔 One of our primary needs is to feel financially secure, so when that’s a particularly strong driver for us, whilst we could spend the time organising the house renovations, we might subconsciously or consciously feel guilty if we’re not ‘spending’ our time working and earning money.
So until we are comfortable that we have taken ownership of our financial status with our current income security, longer term security, and that we’re being realistic about what we comfortably want to spend and when, we won’t commit to the renovations. Another solution could be that if we feel more comfortable spending our time on work that brings in an income, it might be financially, mentally, and energetically more viable to pay someone to do the DIY whilst spending our time bringing in the income to finance it? Or not?
🤯 Maybe we’re feeling overwhelmed because it’s still such a big job and we can’t see how we will ever finish so we can’t get started at all. For those things that feel too big a job to ever imagine getting it finished, giving ourselves permission to pace it out by taking one doable bite size action at a time can move mountains. Honestly. Emptying one cupboard out is better than sitting on the sofa thinking that renovating the whole house will never get finished. Breaking it down into a one-tick-box-a-week schedule that we can commit to will give us the confidence to start and the encouragement to continue. Or, for those that prefer the all-in-full-on approach; schedule time off, write your plan of action, get the phone calls done, and dive full-on in.
🥺 Perhaps, there are things from the past that you’re struggling to let go of. All those bits of furniture, clothes, curtains, ornaments might be tied into a past that you haven’t emotionally or mentally yet come to peace with. Maybe you’re not as ready for your ‘new’ as you think? Is there anything weighing you down and cluttering your energy, by you mentally or emotionally not quite at peace with the past? Personally, I like to think of it as not so much needing to let go of the past, as much as accepting it and acknowledging that life has so much more in store for us…if we allow the space for it.
In terms of letting go of the old things, like everything in life, there isn’t a right or wrong approach to any of this. Perhaps, a useful way to filter what you want to keep is to ask yourself what purpose does it serve and does it meet that need? Does it uplift you or feel good in the space?
😶 Maybe we’re someone that struggles to ask for the support we need so rather than asking for help with the project, we try to do it all ourself when we genuinely don’t have the time or the necessary skills. If you do struggle to ask for help, I can assure you, that you, like all other human beings, are not past needing it sometimes, and that’s OK. I get that it can feel uncomfortable to ask, and I’d encourage you to ride out the discomfort of asking, and know that it gets easier with practice. You might also find, maybe, that when we allow others to help us, it is a mutually beneficial act of human connection. It turns out that not only is it in the giving that we receive, but that it’s also in the receiving that we give! Who’d have thought!
😤 Maybe we’re a perfectionist and have become overwhelmed with too many options. So, for the perfectionists in the house…I love a phrase I once heard, ‘satisficing’ – meaning, does this option hit the brief? Does it tick all necessary boxes? If it does, and you’re spinning in circles in analysis paralysis for fear that there might be a better option, then whilst, yes, there might be…see if you can satisfice with an option that’s perfectly OK (no pun intended) right now. Done is better than not done. Give yourself permission to do your best-right-now, knowing that you/it might always have room to be better in the future, and that’s OK! And as for the deeper layers of why we are perfectionists…that’s a whole other blog in and of itself so watch this space!
Of course, it might well be as simple as you’re just really tired right now and need to rest before you can take on anything else at all. What would it take to give yourself the time and permission to rest? All successful athletes recognise and schedule in rest as part of their high-performance strategy. Are you allowing yourself to do the same?
Whenever we find ourselves procrastinating, until we uncover the unconscious reasons we are not getting on with doing something, we will struggle to find the motivation to simply get on and do that which we think we want to do. If we don’t become aware of any unconscious needs not being met, then we will unwittingly keep self-sabotaging and procrastinating, often becoming increasingly frustrated with ourselves along the way.
Whatever you might be procrastinating about, ask yourself:
🤔 What are you gaining from not taking action and seeing this through?
🤔 What else are you doing instead of taking action, and what inner-need is this lovingly asking you to acknowledge before you proceed?
🤔 What doable schedule/plan could work for you?
💛 What support or advice might you need? Who do you need to ask?
🤔 Who else does taking this action affect?
💛 What will achieving this goal mean?
🤔 How will you feel when you’ve done it?
💛 If you trusted that it could get done, what next step would you take?
Perhaps, finally, and maybe the least likely reason that you’re not getting on with it, is that you really do just need to give yourself a talking to and a kick up the arse! 😎
Whatever you have been stuck with, I am sending you all my love and encouragement and am with you every step of the way! 💕💕💕