My take on procrastination

This is gonna be a really long post. Procrastination got me wondering for a while now and here is what I came up with after lots of reading and examining my habits and attitudes.  

Procrastination is not about the ability and it’s not even about the approach. It is about the emotional blocks you have either acquired or were born with, and they are holding you back  from taking the actions. Identifying and understanding them is the key. On the contrary, various tips, advices and strategies on how to “beat procrastination” will not last you long. Because beating something involves fighting, resisting, disliking and denying, which leads to more anxiety and guilt rather than the opposite.

What does help procrastination and sort of dissolves it, is becoming fully aware of why it has occurred in the first place, and then continuously spotting that short time gap in which you have a free will to decide whether to fall into the trap or not.

Here is what internet has to say about the root cause of procrastinating.

  1. Resentmentc37aace17addbd4a2d6777f31c54708f
    In short – we procrastinate because  we “resent” either the action itself or the final result and we are avoiding the task by all means, since deep down we believe we don’t have control over it anyways.
    This didn’t resonate with me at all, but if it sounds relevant to you – have a look at this article: http://startyourworknow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/List-Of-Reasons.pdf
  2. Fear of success
    Fearing that with the success there would be new dilemmas and unnecessary changes, such as learning new skills due to the career advancement, moving places or having to choose between your friends and professional life. Again, didn’t resonate with me much. Plus, “fear of success” is not such an accurate term. It is fear of possible changes rather than success, and people fear changes because they might not know how to adapt to them, which makes it a fear of failure, really. And this leads us to the next point.
  3. Fear of failure
    Now this hits home. Everything I’ve been struggling with summarized in couple of slides and it goes like this: procrastinators hold a belief (consciously or not) that their skills and therefore, the work they produce, is a direct reflection of how worthy they are as a person. That is, if you produce something of a poor quality – you have little value as a human being.

This does sound quite harsh and no wonder that our mind is searching for ways to avoid facing such “reality”. Quoting one of the procrastination websites:
“You try to overcome this (facing failure that is equivalent of being worthless)  by procrastinating  – since the product delivered at last minute cannot be a true assessment of your skills.”(http://startyourworknow.com/course/module1/ )

In other words, your ego is trying to protect itself from pain and suffering associated with such a failure.  I have also come to realize that holding a belief that ability is fixed is the root cause of the root cause. Your achievements are the result of your skills that are fixed. Therefore, bad results will reveal to the world that you were born not smart enough or not fit enough or anything else not enough. This is how I used to think and what hit me lately is the understanding that putting effort is what actually makes a difference. 884b8e949ec7c319330662a361dcf0cf

Emphasizing the importance of effort over inborn ability (although not ignoring it completely) is what does it for me whenever I have even a remote thought of not following through with my plans.

What does it for me
Quotes. Quotes work as written reminders to readjust yourself, to put yourself in the right mindset and to stay committed to the new good stuff. In case with procrastination, and in case if your cause is same as mine, the good idea would be to search for the quotes that remind you that ability is not fixed and that in no way failure indicates you’re a bad person.

“Output can be made better with a little bit of effort.”
I also caught myself thinking that to achieve something, to “get somewhere in life” you need to put a gigantic amount of effort in one big lap and then you’ll be a king sitting on the top of the hill and everything will be great till the end of time. Such a view is not only quite far from reality, but is also damaging. Instead, it is better to adopt this approach: every little effort counts, every little effort brings you closer to the desirable outcome and certain amount of energy you put into something generates you rewards that are more than that “certain” amount. Great world that we’re living in, eh?

“The primary reason for failure is that people do not develop new plans to replace those plans that didn’t work.” (Brian Tracy)
Particularly relevant for someone who knows procrastination far too well. Often we set unrealistic (and vague) goals in order to compensate for all the procrastination we’ve been doing so far. There is that tiny little chance that we will accomplish all of the 15 things we have put on the list in one day and then we will rule the world once again. The problem is that it’s not gonna happen.

The solution is to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for all the wasted time, the work that wasn’t done, the guilt, the shame and the anxiety. And start anew. Create a new plan, fail couple of times, start over and repeat the cycle until you found what works for you.

And instead of suggesting that you’d be your own judge of how to achieve this, I suggest you search the entire internet or hit the library and look for systems and approaches created by other people who have their shit together. Try them all, mix and match and come up with your own super personalized but easy-to-follow system for setting goals and making to-do lists and alike. This won’t solve procrastination altogether but it will come in handy when you’re in that gap where you can either fall for it or break the cycle. Breaking the cycle is extremely easy when you know exactly what to do. And you should know way before the crisis hits. In other words: “There are only two states you can be in when facing difficulties – prepared or unprepared.” If you’re procrastinating think about getting prepared and start really enjoying your life guilt-free.

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How to get unstuck

For me feeling stuck mentally also involves being stuck physically. I might spend several days in bed, thinking about all the things I could have done but didn’t; and all the things I have done but shouldn’t have. Now, that is a real trap because the more you dwell on your past and “could haves”, the further away you are from being happy at any given moment.

The key here is to get practical and move away from this cycle as soon as possible. When you find yourself in the same situation repeatedly, I believe,  you have to learn something from it (and, perhaps, pass it on to other people too) in order to progress. What I have learned from feeling stuck is that it’s you who put you there, so it should also be you who help you out. Through trial and error I have identified 5 things that helped me out, and hopefully they will do the same for you.

  1. Get moving
    The most logical thing to do when you’re stuck – is to get moving. It can be absolutely anything. Just get yourself involved in some sort of physical activity. You can start off by washing dishes or hoovering and then proceed to more fun things like yoga or jogging. It does not have to be challenging at all and can last as little as 5 minutes. The point is to switch from “thinking” to “doing” mode.

    36515a5872a90442f530844421213273
    Image by http://www.unstuck.com/

    If you’re keen on yoga in particular – you can check out this video (along with the whole channel): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnHTeHAZQhM. It requires very little effort and is quite enjoyable to follow.

  2. Connect with the people around you
    Another thing that I find helpful is to go outside and talk to people around you. Other people have dreams and aspirations too. And since all of us are different, at this point of time they might be in a much better place than you are and have much more energy, enthusiasm and motivation. Being around someone like that can serve as a reminder that life is still exciting and that there are still many interesting things for you to do. Try to embrace this positive  energy and get back into the flow.Relative to the topic, this book might  be worth looking at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Win-Friends-Influence-People/dp/0091906814

    Image by https://365daystounstuck.wordpress.com/
    Image by https://365daystounstuck.wordpress.com/
  3. Hack your routine
    Sometimes a thought-provoking information is all you need. Find a way to implement this into your daily routine and reap the rewards. For example, once in a while you could watch something like TED talks instead of your favourite TV series or download Omvana (http://www.omvana.com/ ) for inspirational speeches and guided meditations on the go.Think about what in your daily routine might be letting you down and replace it with something stimulating instead.
  4. Set an attainable goal
    You don’t want to just get unstuck but also prevent it from happening in the first place. One way to go about is to set a small attainable goal that you know you can stick to in the long-run. For example, I have committed to practicing 15 minutes of meditation daily. Doesn’t seem too big, but having something to be proud of (even if it’s this small) can serve you well at the times when everything else fails.Here are some suggestions:
    Meditation: http://www.omvana.com/meditations/six-phases-meditation-by-vishen-lakhiani
    Body brushing: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7955/why-you-should-start-dry-body-brushing-today.html
    Coconut oil pulling: http://wellnessmama.com/17951/coconut-oil-pulling/
    Target your well-being and don’t put too much pressure.
  5. NEVER BLAME YOURSELF
    If all of your attempts to get yourself out of the blue fail – never blame yourself. Blaming yourself will only reinforce the negative pattern, add to worries and make you feel guilty. Treat yourself in the same way as you would treat a good friend – with love, compassion and understanding and keep trying.

    54f8b57de393b0f3350a35bf65b6c056
    Image by http://konyvszibilla.blogspot.co.uk/

Obviously, being stuck doesn’t feel great and, normally, I would try to identify the root cause of it to eliminate the issue altogether. However, sometimes it is way more productive to just get moving without asking yourself too many questions. After all, feeling the way you feel might not be attributed to a single big cause. It might be a range of small negative influences added up together and the best thing you can do is to tackle one small task at a time and stay positive! 🙂

 

9 Things to Consider to Live a Happier Life

This is my very first attempt to write an article and the first thing I would like to draw your attention to is this list of 9 categories that can help you organize your goals and aspirations.bfc313d4901a65e12bbe32a039a541a4

I have known about visualization for a while now. It is easy – you just leave all negative emotions behind you and focus on the emotions you would experience if you would already have all those things you desire. However, the things that I desired were scattered all over the place and constantly switching my attention from one to another was distracting. There was no system to it and I like it when there is a system: a mind map, a plan or a simple a list, something that makes everything fit together in a nice neat way.

So one day I came across this YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lKjv1QMy1o) and it made perfect sense. The categories listed in it were not exactly the way I would put it but it inspired me to create my own list and it goes like this.

1.Health and Fitness
How fit you would like to be? Maybe you would like to lose some weight, or gain some muscles or maybe you are already in a perfect shape and would like to keep that up. Visualize yourself being strong and energetic and enjoying the way you look. Maybe go beyond and set some more challenging goals like being able to do a hand stand or run a marathon.  Food is also an important aspect of your well-being, but this is a whole separate topic.

2. Knowledge and Skills
This category is all about what you would like to learn.  Do you wish you were better with people, or knew history of Egypt or had a degree in science? Anything would do. Name it and start crossing things off.958b99bb64599a7b8c94c27a93af6f55

3.Random Experiences
Now, this is my favourite one. Think about crazy things you always wanted to do but for some reason were always postponing them. They don’t have to make sense or fit in with your normal daily routine. These are just to make your life a bit more exciting. Here is what I have: gamble in Las Vegas, stay at underwater hotel and drive a bright green Lamborghini. All highly unlikely but who cares. Go as crazy as you can.

4.Emotional Balance
This one is pretty important. Think about how you would like to feel throughout your whole day. Can anybody make you feel otherwise and how easily? Perhaps, you could incorporate simple daily practices, like yoga and meditation (or anything else that makes you more in control of your emotions), to bring you more peace and joy.

5.Your Love Life
No one can predict who they are going to end up with and when exactly that is going to happen. However, what we can do is outline what qualities we are looking for in a partner, how we would like to be treated and what are our deal breakers. I, personally, would also set some not-to-be-crossed boundaries and keep them in mind too.

6.Your Social Life
How rich you would like your social life to be? What type of people you would like to be friends with and what would you like to learn from them.17729_10206164732382414_2638788907319869625_n

We all know that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with so let those people be completely awesome and fun.

7. Finances
How much exactly would you like to earn on a monthly basis? Would you like your income to grow and how fast? Don`t be modest. Calculate the amount that is just enough to lead a comfortable enjoyable life and have a bit to spare.

8.Career
How can you bring value into the world and how far are you willing to go. What is your ultimate purpose and what impact will it have on people around you? This sounds quite serious but this is what career is to me. Something you are good at and something that makes our planet a little bit better. Very cliché but, nevertheless, true.a682fdfd4850e88c2200c7f2fadbff17

9. Quality of life
Last but not least. Quality of life refers to the things you would like to be surrounded with and environment you work and live in. Imagine a perfect house you live in, stylish outfits you would like to be wearing, places you go for holidays and so on. This sounds quite materialistic but I believe living in a comfort is as important as other non-materialistic goals.

Next step:
Now that you have gone through all of these and have a rough idea of what you want your life to look like – think about the things and people you are grateful for. Nice colourful clothes you are wearing, awesome people that greet you every day or simply a cup of ridiculously tasty tea you had in the morning. Being grateful creates a solid base for attracting more of the experiences you desire and, therefore, brings more joy and bliss into your life 🙂