Procrastination—Everyone Talks About It, but Nobody Does Anything

Think about the task of writing an article such as this one. Imagine the time and energy it might take a person who procrastinates to: 1) think about starting the article, 2) put it on a ‘to do’ list, 3) talk about doing it, 4) promise themself to start it tomorrow, 5) promise themselves to definitely start it tomorrow, 6) promise…well, you get the point.

As the midnight deadline for the article draws near, imagine the stress the writer must feel as she brews a pot of coffee and prepares herself for a couple of hours to research the topic, organize the information, create an outline, come up with a dynamic opening line, write the article, rewrite the article, rewrite it again, print it out and rewrite it one more time. And, of course, the whole time beating herself up for waiting so long to begin or telling herself she isn’t good enough anyway and the article will be a bust. “If I only had more time!”

Sound familiar to anyone? This is procrastination in full bloom. Delays, broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. Feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem creep in. Worry. Fear. Stress. Overwork. You know the drill.

Procrastination isn’t good for anyone. So why do so many of us do it? We procrastinate on such matters as filing income tax and completing holiday shopping, but also with everyday tasks such as straightening our desk, cleaning out the garage or starting a new project at work.

The more difficult, inconvenient or scary we perceive the task to be, the more we procrastinate. We craftily come up with semi-convincing self-talk that makes the delay appear almost reasonable. But in the end the process is self-defeating and causes all sorts of problems for us, not the least of which is stress.

Fortunately, as with many other self-defeating behaviors, procrastination can be overcome. The following are a few remedies to start you on your way.

1. Set goals. Decide what you want and what needs to happen to get it. Be specific. Create a realistic and attainable timetable.

2. Commit. Make a contract with yourself. Tell a friend, co-worker or coach about your plan. Accountability is a great motivator

3. Set priorities. Make a list of things that need to be done in order of their importance.

4. Get organized. Have the right tools and equipment to do the job. Make lists. Keep a schedule or calendar.

5. Chunk it down. Don’t let the whole of the project overwhelm you. Break it down into small manageable steps and work on one piece at a time.

6. Use positive self-talk.  Stay focused on what you do well. Replace excuses with rational, realistic thinking.

7. Reward yourself often and generously for accomplishing even the smallest of tasks. Celebrate your accomplishments

The place to begin is right where you are. The time to start is now.

 

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

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Emotional Resilience: Bouncing Back in Stressful Times

Major disruptions.  We all experience them at one time or another. We get fired, laid off or passed over; a loved one dies, leaves or gets in trouble; a project stalls or gets cancelled. The list, unfortunately, is endless.

For some, the impact of these hard times is overwhelming. Recovery, if it comes at all, can be painfully slow. Others show resilience and are admirably able to glide through these times fairly easily, bouncing back to a normal life again quickly. Resilience—the strength required to adapt to change—acts as our internal compass so we can resourcefully navigate an upset.

When unexpected events turn life upside down, it’s the degree to which our resiliency comes into play that makes these “make-or-break” situations an opportunity for growth. The good news is that each of us has the capacity to reorganize our life after a disruption and to achieve new levels of strength and meaningfulness. Though it’s easy to feel vulnerable in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, life disruptions are not necessarily a bad thing because they help us grow and meet future challenges in our lives. It’s a lot like a bone that was once fragile or broken, and is now strong from being used.

So how can you become more resilient? Here’s a look at seven key characteristics of people who demonstrate resilience during life’s curve balls.

A Sense of Hope and Trust in the World
Resilient people rely on their belief in the basic goodness of the world and trust that things will turn out all right in the end. This positive attitude allows them to weather times when everything seems bleak and to look for and accept the support that is out there. This approach toward the world gives them the ability to hope for a better future.

Interpreting Experiences in a New Light
The ability to look at a situation in a new way (a skill called “reframing”) can minimize the impact of a difficult situation. Resilient people take a creative approach toward solving a problem, and don’t always use an old definition for a new challenge.

A Meaningful System of Support
One of the best ways to endure a crisis is to have the support of another person who can listen and validate your feelings. Knowing that others care and will come to our support decreases the feeling of isolation, especially when tackling a problem alone. It’s important to choose people you trust. Don’t be surprised if it takes several friends, each of whom can provide different kinds of support. Resilient people aren’t stoic loners. They know the value of expressing their fears and frustrations, as well as receiving support, coaching or guidance from friends, family or a professional.

A Sense of Mastery and Control Over Your Destiny
You may not be able to predict the future, but you can tackle a problem instead of feeling at the mercy of forces outside of your control. Resilient people know that ultimately their survival and the integrity of their life values depend on their ability to take action rather than remain passive. Tough times call for you to tap into your own sense of personal responsibility.

Self-Reflection and Insight
Life’s experiences provide fertile ground for learning. Asking yourself questions that invite introspection can open a door to new understanding and appreciation of who you are and what you stand for. Giving voice to your thoughts and feelings leads to insight and helps transform the meaning of a problem into something useful. Resilient people learn from life situations and do not succumb to punishing themselves because of decisions made in the past.

A Wide Range of Interests
People who show resilience in the face of adversity are those who have a diversity of interests. They’re open to new experiences and ideas. Because their lives are rich and varied, it’s easier for them to find relief from the single mindedness and worry that often accompany a crisis.

Sense of Humor
Have you ever had a wry laugh during a difficult situation? The ability to see the absurdity, irony, or genuine humor in a situation stimulates our sense of hope and possibility. Humor has both psychological and physical benefits in relieving stress because it encourages a swift change in your perception of your circumstances—and when your thoughts change, your mood follows.

When you look to improve these seven areas now—rather than when adversity pays a visit—you’ll be able to bounce back more quickly.

Author’s content used under license, © 2010 Claire Communications

 

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Align your life with things that matter most

Inside each of us is a deep need to experience a sense of meaning in our lives, a sense that we add value, a sense that our life matters, that it is truly significant.

I recently had the pleasure of leading fourteen enthusiastic and impassioned women in a group coaching program offered through my church. Together we journeyed through a process which increased our self awareness while gaining clarity of direction and discovering ways to refocus, aligning with God’s unique purpose for our lives.

It has been exciting to watch these women, myself included, take steps to live more intentionally and stay focused on the priorities which support meaning and fulfillment.

A key component of this process included creating a personal mission statement.  While initially the idea of a mission statement does not generate overwhelming enthusiasm, the result it provides consistently proves itself to be invaluable. 

Awareness of your unique purpose, mission or life-calling becomes a powerful tool for supporting your ability to stay aligned with the things that matter most in your life.  It can serve as a guide for making meaningful decisions in life and work. It provides an effective means for prioritizing your time and attention.  Who couldn’t use a tool like that!

Have you created your unique personal mission or purpose statement? If not, I urge you to consider it.  You will be surprised at the direction and clarity it will bring to all areas of your life.

Wishing you much success on the journey!

Carla Paton

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Keep Distractions From Hijacking Your Time

It’s amazing to me how easily everyday distractions can hijack our time. Sometimes, it’s a seemingly innocent distraction that we invite in to break up the monotony. Other times, it’s an urgent phone call from a colleague or family member that causes us to unexpectedly stop what we’re doing or shift direction. Before we know it, our good intentions for the day/week/year have fallen to the way side.

With so many demands competing for our time, it’s important to develop an effective way to maintain focus, manage distractions and stay committed to progress.  In my life coaching practice, I have seen many people succeed in this area by creating clarity of their mission, vision and values. The following are a few of my favorite tools and methods for achieving this.

  1. Create a personal mission statement.  Your personal mission identifies how your God-given gifts, talents and passions are intended to make a difference in the lives of others.  A clearly articulated mission statement can be used to evaluate and refine your activities.  It serves as a guide for making meaningful decisions in life and work and gives you a powerful tool for prioritizing time and attention.  Awareness of your mission or life-calling, will support your ability to stay connected and committed to the things that are most important in your life.
  2. Develop a clear vision of what you want to accomplish and notice what makes it meaningful.  How does it inspire you? What about the outcome is compelling for you? If your vision is less than compelling or lacking in inspiration, what adjustments could you make to improve it?
  3. Identify your core values and the role they play in directing your decisions.  Which values do you honor most often and which hold true for you regardless of circumstance?  Aligning with your core values will help you create a mental image that inspires you to stay committed and on task.
  4. Create realistic goals or milestones, both long and short term. Define your goals with language that creates a vivid mental picture of what you desire. Writing down your goals will increase clarity and provide accountability. Review your progress regularly and adjust when needed.
  5. Set boundaries with your time and attention. Don’t let the urgent, the convenient and the immediate distract you from the important.  Consider creating a “stop doing” list, along with your “to do” list.  Setting clear boundaries will assist you to achieve more by doing less.

You can’t always prevent or control your circumstances but you can control the way you react to them. When the unexpected or unavoidable happens, having a clear understanding your mission, vision and values will help you maintain focus and manage distractions while continuing to make progress on the journey.

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