You know the feeling all too well.
You’ve got a day off, and you’ve committed to yourself that you will make significant progress on your big creative project. Or finally finish the website for your business.Or revamp your eHarmony profile.
But somehow… the end of the day comes… and you still haven’t done what you said you wanted to.
Guilt gives way to self-shaming. And shame is the perfect excuse to eat a tub of ice cream while you binge-watch Gilmore Girls for only the 60th time. Which leads to more guilt. And more shame. And an unfortunate physical episode induced by a lactose intolerance you really don’t want to admit.
Your dreams and desires are so close to your heart, they almost hurt. You have a shot now at making them happen … and still, you procrastinate.
How can you beat this destructive pattern and feel the sense of pride, accomplishment and joy that result from taking one more step into your destiny?
1. Recognize the real issue
So often in these situations, we ascribe our motives for procrastination to pure laziness. Maybe you were told you were lazy when we were young. Or perhaps you’re a high-achiever who deep-down thinks anything less than 150% is laziness. (Which is another issue altogether!)
Regardless of why you are thinking these thoughts … it’s important to recognize that they are thoughts. Which does not make them either real or true. It simply makes them a product of your mind.
Your brain is a survival machine. Any time you get close to doing anything big, scary or potentially vulnerable … it will do everything it can to dial you in and pull you back.
So those thoughts that flood your mind? About the dishes that need to be done? About why now isn’t the right time to finish that next step toward your Big Dream? About why you probably aren’t capable of having what you want anyway?
That’s not laziness. That’s fear. Your brain wants you to feel fear and pull back into the safe zone. There are two kinds of fear your brain might be playing on … and you can read more about them both here.
2. Be kind to yourself
Okay, so you’ve come to recognize that it’s really fear—and not laziness—that’s driving your procrastination on those tasks that could get you much closer to your Big Dream.
It would be easy at this point to self-shame and self-judge. To indulge in thoughts like: “I mean, fear? Who lets fear get the better of them? Oh wait, I do …. because I’m such a loser …” etc. etc. etc.
This isn’t really helpful. And it won’t help you move past the negative emotions to create the positive experience (and positive emotions) associated with finishing the tasks you wanted to finish. So instead of indulging in the shame … another tricky brain tactic for keeping you stuck in a very safe zone … try something else.
Acknowledge the fear you feel and tell yourself it’s okay.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling fear. Absolutely nothing wrong. In fact, it means you’re breathing, you’re human, and your brain is doing its job as a survival mechanism. It’s also okay that you didn’t realize what was going on earlier, and have let your brain auto-pilot your decisions for so long.
It’s all really okay. And in letting yourself off the hook for it … you can begin to circumvent your brain’s attempts to keep you stuck and small.
Which brings us to point #3 ….
3. Trick your brain
If you’re going to win the battle for your Big Dreams and stop procrastinating, you’re going to have to beat your brain at its own game. For this, I like to psych my brain out. Or essentially, trick it.
The next time you have free time to take your next step toward your big dream, tell your brain it’s no big deal.
That’s right. Take the “bigness” or the “scariness” out of the whole proposition by letting your brain know that what you’re doing doesn’t matter. It’s just play. You’re just exploring and experimenting.
If you tell yourself over and over that “I’m just playing around” … you can approach the task with a softer, gentler, more curious attitude that doesn’t get hung up on making details perfect.
“I’m just exploring/experimenting” is one of the best phrases I keep repeating to myself when I feel that sense of fear around actually engaging in a task that will move my Big Dreams forward.
The more I treat what I’m doing as play, the more fun I have, the better results I get, and the less my brain tries to lob all its excuses at me. Because if it’s not “real” (in your mind) it’s not scary and potentially threatening to your safety. By removing the big-ness and emotional weight of the task … you let your brain (and yourself) off the hook from overthinking.
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What about you? How have you beaten your procrastination on your next steps to your Big Dream? Share that with me below in the comments.
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