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Archive for November, 2011

We all have those moments in our lives where we procrastinate. Chances are that, when this happens, you find yourself being very critical of your ability to put things off. I want to offer you another strategy for dealing with procrastination; one which I believe can help you to make your procrastination habits work for you.

Understand it First:

Before you jump into criticizing yourself, take a step back and understand what is behind your procrastination. Here are some of the common reasons I have uncovered with my coaching clients and some proposed solutions.

1. You don’t understand the goal or desired outcome of the activity you are involved in. This may happen because you are not clear yourself or because the person assigning you the task has not been clear in delegating to you. In this case, slow down and ask yourself what it is you really want, get clear on your specific outcome and what you want as a result. If the task has been delegated to you, sit with the other person and clarify the expectations.

2. You are a perfectionist. When you are playing the perfectionist game you end up stalling. Perfectionism requires that everything is perfect before you begin, all your ducks need to be lined up! Because you also want a perfect outcome, you throw yourself into overwhelm. The cycle is a vicious one! To deal with perfectionism, break your goal or task down into ‘chewable chunks’ and deal with that bite-size piece first. This helps to manage the overwhelm and minimize the planning required. Once you experience success with the first bite, you will have the confidence to move forward.

3. You lack confidence or the no-how to perform the task at hand. This is not uncommon especially when starting something new. A great strategy here is to remind yourself that you already have a great deal of knowledge; you are just applying it in a different way. Take what you know and apply this to the new activity. Bite off that first chewable chunk and start one step at a time.

4. You feel like a fraud. You hesitate to continue or start something new for fear that someone else will think you do not have the necessary education or expertise. Again, using the previous strategy, remember your experience and your accomplishments and remind yourself that you are simply building on this. Feeling like a fraud is usually your ‘stuff’; your sense of what others think is generally not valid.

5. You have previously had a negative experience with something similar. The memory of that ‘failure’ is haunting you and you just can’t get started. This is where you manage your fear and shift it into setting an intention for success. For example, I have all the competence and skill I require to be a success in this project. This is a positive growth experience for me. The last experience taught me all I need to know.

6. What you have been asked to do places you out of integrity with yourself. It is not unusual that other people ask you to do something that is contrary to your core values. If you are sensing a growing uneasiness with a request, it is time to exercise your NO-How and simply refuse to take it on. This is where hesitation works in your favor – you are exercising your judgment.

7. There is fear somewhere down the line and it is not immediately obvious. Fear is a common thing and it can be fear of failure, success, or the unknown. If this is behind your procrastination, take the time to examine what your fear is. Ask yourself this important question, “what is the worst thing that can happen as a result?” When you name the worst case scenario it usually minimizes the risk as you realize the ‘worst’ is not really that bad (and generally doesn’t even happen).

Facing procrastination and staring it down is one of the best things you can do for your life and your business. It helps you to understand what is behind it and take the time to strategize just how to approach it. You do not have to stay in the procrastination zone when you take this approach as, understanding it, helps you conquer it and indeed, make it work for YOU.

As Ottawa psychologist and business consultant Nancy Morris teaches, learn to use procrastination to solve the issues you are currently facing and understand why it is happening. Procrastination is an opportunity. From this point forward you do not have to complain about it or criticize yourself for it. Simply take the time to analyze it and when you understand it, create a strategy for moving forward.

Until next time…

Betty

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Re-Programing

It is rare these days to find something truly inspiring on television which is why the ABC interview with Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut and shuttle commander Mark Kelly, totally captivated me when it aired November 13th. For those of you who don’t know her, Giffords is the congresswoman who was shot in the head outside a shopping center in Tucson, Arizona one year ago. The injury should have killed her but it did not. The injury should have rendered her helpless, perhaps even brain-dead, but it did not. Her indomitable spirit and her remarkable relationship with her husband have steadily led her through a course of recovery which is truly miraculous.

Neuroplasticity

Giffords journey is an example of what neurologists and rehabilitation professionals refer to as ‘neuroplasticity’ – the remarkable ability of your brain to recover from an injury and find other ways to perform the tasks it did prior to the injury. In other words, the brain re-programs its self and forms new pathways. You might be questioning the relevance this has for you. No one wants to experience the need to re-program by attracting the type of devastating injury Gabrielle Giffords sustained and yet all of us have aspects of our thinking which can benefit from re-programming. The example I most often refer to in the ‘ME FIRST’ work has to do with self-talk, re-programming the caustic voice of your self-critic into a voice which is uplifting, that of your self-coach.

From Critic to Coach

Where do you start? Begin by listening in on the tape that is running in your head. I refer to this as your elevator music – you are often only vaguely aware that it is playing until one day you become annoyed with it. Don’t wait to become annoyed; begin to notice what you are saying to yourself while you are alone, while you are driving home for work, what you are saying to your friends about your day and what you accomplished. Notice what you focus on. Do you only remember the things that didn’t get done on your ‘to do’ list, the hiccups in your day, or perhaps where you believe you ‘screwed up’. Can you even recall the highlights of your day, where you made a difference, the many things you accomplished? The critic brings you to the negative side of the equation.

Here is where your re-programing begins. Tell him or her that she is not exactly accurate, perhaps even outdated in their view of you. Be clear with your critic that you would rather hear more about the upside of who you are. Every time the critic steps in, smile and say, “unh-unh!’ and shift the conversation to your coach’s message. Your default system is the critic; you have to form a new neural pathway for the coach. Every time you re-program the brain learns and eventually the critic’s voice begins to fade and you hear your coach’s voice instead.

Make a Choice for YOU!

Gabrielle Giffords has had to fight her way back from the brink of extinction, learning to talk, think, feel, walk, and function again. She has been and continues to re-program her brain, teaching her brain new pathways everyday. Your job is the same, just easier.

First recognize that living with a loud and vocal self-critic does not serve you very well – it simply lowers your self-esteem and diminishes your personal power. You don’t want to play this way in the world, as the world needs you to play differently and to be powerful beyond measure.

Second, give yourself a great gift and begin re-programming your critic into a voice that builds you up, a voice that believes in you and respects you for who you are. You deserve it and you are the only person who can truly give yourself this gift. Re-programming begins with ‘ME FIRST’, then you attract respect from others. I encourage you to check out Gabrielle Giffords story and to be inspired by her. Then make a choice for YOU and begin your own re-programing process.

Make the shift from critic to coach. Start today as time is ‘a wastin’!

Until next time…

Betty

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