Resolutions and procrastination

Posted by Denise Welsh on October 01, 2015  /   Posted in Procrastination

Procrastination follows 1st of January resolutions, just so.

Resolutions are what will finally change our bad habits and dissolute ways, for good. We swear we’ll be better, forever … until procrastination sets in ’round about the 23rd of the month.

However, there’s a feeling around these days, of Autumn being the new time for new beginnings. Will this alter our dance with procrastination or the timing when idling kicks in?

Autumn begins the new school year and businesses will still be getting back into gear after a staggering of summer holidays. Maybe it’s that hazy memory of school daze that prompts the urge to start new projects, or to approach work tasks with new focus and vigor.

However, as with January resolutions, projects fledged in Autumn require a commitment to following through in order to get past the ‘great idea’ phase … through the ‘swamp of despond’ phase …  to the final finished project/product/outcome phase.

The trick is getting from ‘NOW‘ – the ‘great idea stage’ to ‘THEN‘ – the ‘completed project stage’. We need to get to the successful outcome of at least one of our ongoing projects. Yeah, carry on writing that book!

Writer's block – Procrastination

The problem is, mid-project, in the liminal space where nothing is yet fully formed, procrastination can creep forward, fluff out it’s tail and settle in and down.

So, how do we arrive at procrastination after starting projects with great enthusiasm? According to Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, Professor Windy Dryden Procrastination is putting off until later what is in your interests – as defined by you – to do today. Of course, both readers and writer will know that the important phrase is “… as defined by you”.

“As defined by you” points to the internal struggle we have over things that we have identified as being in our interest, which we then argue the ‘toss of a coin’ with our own true selves as to whether we do or don’t want to do them … whether we will or will not actually do them. You know what I’m saying.

Fallible humans … we have a tendency to seek comfort via the path of least resistance (my guilty hand is up and waving). This becomes a problem when our ‘natural’ inclination to procrastinate becomes a habit and then a lifestyle.

What could make this Autumn different? Take a few minutes for a ‘heart to heart’ with yourself to ask – and answer – two questions:

  1. What am I doing that is causing me the greatest difficulty in my life, my relationships, my business?
  2. What am I not doing that will make the greatest difference to my life, my relationships, my business?

If you are someone who has trouble focusing and getting things done, then your best route to addressing procrastination, is to choose one specific thing to work on over the coming days or weeks. Set a goal, or resolution towards this thing. Then, like brushing your teeth, or washing your face, give at set amount of attention to your project every day. See this goal through before you choose another.

Choose a project that is big enough to make a difference to you. Choose something that inspires you and that you want to do. Funny, how doing something you like can make all the difference to commitment. While the reverse is also true, that’s a topic for another discussion.

Take the little by little, bit by bit approach and choose a project which is small enough to be achievable. If you take on too much, you’ll feel overwhelmed and distracted sooner rather than later. Willpower takes energy and if you take on too much, it can snap back like a rubber band. Stretched too far, the rubber band may just break.

Aiming for just the right size, commit to making this one goal, your resolution, come true. Take an oath to yourself, make a vow to you. Notice whether, in your thoughts or feelings, some aspect of internal squirming takes place. Consider whether you believe you can or will be true to yourself. If there is doubt about your commitment, then that is where your work begins.

Remember … you are doing this for you. You are worth the effort of keeping on keeping on. If you don’t believe that – if another cupcake is more important than your figure or another shot of vodka is more important than your brain cells, then choose making your life and well being a priority as your first resolution.

And as you set about your Autumn projects, consider your focus and think of a laser beam. A laser beam is focused light which can be so finely focused that it can be used as a surgical instrument. As you become practiced at seeing your goal plans through to the end, ask yourself which projects would benefit from the full laser focus of your attention?

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