Learn How to Challenge Your Fears So You Can Fully Live

Challenge your fears so you can live to your potential

Are you worrying about a bunch of different fears right now?

Are you always figuring out which worry to manage next?

Do you tend to start your questions with the two words “What if…?”

If this sounds like you, stick around for a bit because I have some encouraging words for you.

I know how many people are consumed and overwhelmed by the number and weight of the fears in their minds.  Not too long ago, I was one of those people myself.

I used to:

  • not know that I was anxious at all because I was always anxious
  • go to bed every night stressing out
  • wake every morning stressing out
  • fear other people’s disapproval
  • fear causing others trouble
  • fear not performing adequately
  • not make decisions by myself for fear of picking the wrong option
  • not socialize a lot because I was too swamped with work and exhausted from worry

Being shrouded in fear had some good aspects, including…

Nope.  I change my mind.

Being shrouded in fear really was not good for me at all.

Starting as a patient in psychotherapy at the start of my graduate school training was the turning point in my relationship with my fears.  With the support of my therapist, I:

  • learned how to identify individual feelings (instead of experiencing them as one globby mess or denying them entirely)
  • learned how to speak about my ideas and needs directly
  • became more confident academically and socially
  • developed stronger and healthier relationships
  • became comfortable living in the present moment
  • became comfortable with myself

When I accepted who I was, I became less inclined to gravitate towards my anxiety and fear for comfort.  I began to tackle my procrastination full on and to engage more fully in the matters of my own life.

That’s most of my story.  Let’s see what you can do to change your own relationship to fear.

6 Reasons Why Fear Should Not Be the Dominant Force in Your Life

  1. If you let yourself be guided by your fears, you will always be headed towards your least-preferred outcome.  You think you are prepping yourself to avoid being disappointed, but in the meantime, you are actively excluding the possibility you might be overjoyed by success.  
  2. We miss out on the benefits of our relationships.  When we predict that people in our current lives are going to hurt us like we were hurt in the past by other people, we end up interacting with those new people only part way.  New people in your life want to interact with the fully present you, not the former version of you.  Open yourself up to create new, mutually beneficial relationships.  Try trust instead of fear.
  3. When we lead with our fears, we forget we are capable of handling whatever happens.  All the progress we’ve made in learning how to cope, using our resources and intuition, and relying on our support network goes out the window when we lead with our fears.
  4. We miss out on the richness of new experiences.  New interactions are dulled or not even seen when we are busy focusing on our anxieties.  The next time you have a new experience, make sure you engage with a clear mind and heart, so you can get the most out of the experience, without the distortion fear brings.
  5. We don’t want to become accustomed to living in fear.  Fear always wants to take more of your well-being if you let it.  Most of us will always have a little bit of fear, but we can make sure we live in conjunction with our fears instead of behind or under them.  Use your power to direct your actions, to follow through, to communicate clearly, and to get things done.
  6. We cause trouble for ourselves.  Fear is confusing to us.  We distort situations, project our fears onto other people, and end up in conflicts that would be unnecessary if there were clear communication and a trusting atmosphere.  Let’s avoid relying on our fears for guidance, and trust ourselves and those around us instead.

How to Lead with Hope Instead of Fear

Life is a constant interplay of up and down.  We try to prevent ourselves from being hurt by the down moments by anticipating them.  We end up hurting ourselves by putting our fears front and center all of the time.  Fear ends up blocking our clear view.

[Tweet “We sacrifice so much when we assume our fears are well-founded.”]

In order to change this fear-based approach, we need to rely on a little faith and hope we will be able to handle whatever comes our way.  Let experience guide you rather than the constant stream of fears that runs through your mind.

If that sounds scary to you, realize you will be more prepared to face the future when you have all of your faculties in place, in the present moment, unencumbered by fear and distraction.  Showing up, without fear, will enable you to reap the benefits of your own natural resilience.  You can do this.  You can do this without getting exhausted, stressed, or disconnected from yourself.

Avoid living with the feeling of being in fear and enable yourself to be the unique, creative, grounded, and attractive person you are.  Fully yourself and open to the fullness of life.

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How I Easily Save Time Each Day

Save TIme Every Day with the Moment App

In my work recovering from my chronic procrastination and in teaching others to do the same, I have found that learning how to save time is essential.  When we use our time mindfully, we are better able to resist the lure of procrastination and we are able to find more satisfaction across each day.

The more we figure out ways to save time, the more we feel:

  • empowered
  • calm
  • focused
  • capable
  • centered
  • grounded

But there is more. 

The more we learn how to use our time mindfully, the less we feel:

  • distracted
  • harried
  • overwhelmed
  • incompetent
  • out of time

Time appears to expand when we are mindful of our time and when our focus is clear.  The opposite happens when we fall behind schedule, are worried about the future, and feel unclear and overwhelmed about what to do next.  Time contracts when we feel stressed.

How I Easily Save Time Each Day by Using the Moment App

I had been hearing about the Moment App, a free tool that tracks how much time users spend on their phone.  I figured I should give it a try, since I’m game for any productivity-enhancing app.

I approached it with some resistance — the resistance of seeing how much time I was ACTUALLY spending on the phone.  You might know what I mean here.

I made it a promise to myself to go through with the experiment by announcing on Instastory that I was going to use the app.  That sealed the deal.

Then I worked a full work day with the Moment App tracking my phone use from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 pm.  The results were: 

1 hour and 24 minutes of screen time and 19 pickups

The results didn’t blow me away (either in a good or bad way), so I decided to continue using it for a few more days.

Now those results I paid attention to. 

I initially saw my phone time go way up — probably because it was the weekend.  And it went up substantially.  Enough to make me take note. 

Then after another few days, I realized the extra self-awareness I had because of the Moment App encouraged me to curb my phone use.  My self-awareness was now switched to “ON.”

Whenever I just wanted to linger on the phone a little longer I didn’t. 

When I had no specific reason to pick up the phone I didn’t. 

Bam.  That right there probably saved me an hour a day.  Pretty sweet.

I encourage you to move past your own resistance to looking at your own behavior and life.  I highly recommend the Moment App, but if you have some other way to examine your actions more closely and to save time that works for you, do that. 

I’d say there are few investments better than those that rescue your time.

Enjoy having more time and more freedom in your day.

Before You Go

What will you do with all of your new-found time?  Take advantage of the time you will save with the Moment App.  I’ve designed the TIME TRACKER sheet to help you plan your actions and ensure you’ll feel good about what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day.  The TIME TRACKER sheet will encourage you to be strategic about your planning and to be mindful of what you do and don’t do.

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How to Get Back on Track after You’ve Lost Track of Time

Get past the interruptions and distractions

Are you wondering where your time has gone?  Even better, are you wondering what you can do to make sure you don’t lose any more time?  It can be very difficult to get back on track after an emergency or more general interruption occurs.  We can veer so far from our original intended actions.  The good news is, we can also learn how to protect ourselves from unexpected or unwanted time waste.

Instead of getting down on yourself and making it more difficult to feel motivated, have a set of strategies to cope with interruptions.  Coach yourself to restore your sense of focus and purpose as quickly as you can.

Here’s a quick list of 6 suggestions for how to get back on track after dealing with an interruption or distraction:

1.  Start by knowing what your general game plan is.  Before you start your day, sketch out a general game plan for how you would like things to progress.  I recommend you start with a copy of The Emergent Task Planner if you don’t already have a good system to organize and to track your daily activities.  Once you have an established plan in place, it should be easier to avoid disruptions and to get back into action if you face a blip in your plans.

2.   Figure out which factors tend to cause a break in your focus.  Is it boredom?      Working for too long?  Lack of sleep?  Too much alcohol last night?  Whatever the reason, note it well.  Devise a plan to reduce the occurrence, impact, and effect of these trigger factors when you need to get more things done.

3.   Accept and tolerate interruptions when they occur. Don’t add emotional drama to the existing drama of the event that caused you to go off course.  Life happens. Let it be.  Take a breath.  Start over again.  Also remember…just because other people are getting worked up does not mean you have to.  Stay the course.

4.   Lighten your schedule a bit if you can anticipate a series of interruptions or if you struggle with not being able to stay focused for very long.  Trim your schedule so you can feel the benefits of completing what you start.  Enjoy feeling accomplished, successful, and free.  You can always build your schedule up again if you need or want to in a few days or weeks.  Remember, you are the boss of your own time, so be a great boss.

5.  Use your evening time well. There is much ado lately about using our early morning hours well, but I have always thought the evening hours deserve recognition too.  Reflect on the day’s events at night time and make another game plan for the next day.  If you had to deal with procrastination or another type of interruption in your work, do a few minutes of what you originally planned to do.  Those few minutes of actively dealing with your work at night will set you up for greater productivity the next day.

6.  Forgive yourself quickly to recover more quickly.  You simply lost track of time.  You were busy.  You really meant to get more done.  It is okay.  Any of the reasons you lost track of time have got to be okay because now that time is in the past.  Gone.  Done.  Move forward again, the way you had wanted to.  You can still do it.  Remember, no drama needed.

There are many ways to get back on track after an interruption, so feel free to build your own set of trusty tricks and tips too.  Remember to be kind to yourself no matter what situation you find yourself in as that always makes everything easier to get through.

Want to try something new?

I’ve designed the One Page Personal Plan to help you make good on your intentions to get your important tasks and goals accomplished.  The One Page Personal Plan consists of sections for goal-setting and tracking your progress as well.  To get your free copy, please click the button below:

Please share this post if you feel it might be helpful to someone you know.  Thank you!

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What You Need to Know to Stop Procrastinating

What you need to know to stop procrastinatingWhat in the world do we have to do to stop procrastinating?

Procrastination is super sneaky and annoying.

None of us wants to procrastinate routinely, but many of us get trapped into the never-ending cycle of delay – stress – embarrassment – sleep deprivation – delay – stress – embarrassment – sleep deprivation.  We’re so spent it feels like we have no energy to do other things — especially new ventures which require creativity and clear thinking.

So why is it so easy to fall into a cycle of procrastination, yet so hard to escape from it?

Our false beliefs about how to get things done may be the reason we can never seem to stop procrastinating.  The following is a quick list of 5 common myths about productivity that tend to keep us wedded to procrastination:

What You Need to Know to Stop Procrastinating

Which of these 5 assumptions do you tend to make?  Keep tabs on yourself after reading them to make sure these false ideas don’t block you from being productive in the future.

  1. I need to be very anxious in order to good work.  We are taught as early as elementary school that doing good work is a good thing.  As we make our way through middle school and high school, our work becomes more complex, but so do our feelings about doing that work.  Somewhere on that journey through high school, we become anxious about a paper, exam, or grade, and then, lo and behold, we end up associating our work with stress.  We start feeling stressed before we work.  We can even feel stressed at just the idea of working.  And that is where procrastination walks in the door.  At first, it is an innocent delay, but then procrastination becomes more of a routine reaction to work.  So what’s the answer to this problem?  Realize you do not need to be stressed out to do good work.  We may actually do our best work when our minds and bodies are clear of stress and anxiety.  The next time you have an assignment or project you need to get done, decide what your first steps should be and get those done without creating extra emotional drama and distress.
  2. My work represents my value in and to the world.  This particular myth is probably the single greatest cause of procrastination.  When we believe our work somehow represents our value as a person in the world, our work becomes more than just work — it takes on too great a significance as the concrete symbol of how good or bad we are as people.  No wonder people refuse to finish their work and choose procrastination instead!  The good news is our work is not a full measure of our value as human beings.  It is not even close.  The solution to feeling this way?  The next time you have to get work done, address the work and what the work needs from you.  Don’t demand that the work reflect your value as a person.  Keep it simple, straightforward, and do your best, but don’t overwork it in any way.
  3. All of my work needs to be done perfectly.  This is a variation of item #2.  When we attach our self-worth to our work, we then force ourselves to make everything we produce top-notch.  If we don’t, then we risk facing blows to our self-esteem.  But again, our work does not represent who we are or what we are worth.  So how do you deal with your perfectionistic tendencies?  Do good work but make sure you don’t sacrifice your well-being in the process.  Push away any thoughts about how other people might react to your work.  They are going to have a reactions, but those are not yours to control.  Let your work stand for itself.
  4. I have to keep my problems getting things done hidden from other people.  When we feel badly about our actions, we try to keep them secret from other people.  Our intentions are pure, but we feel the need to isolate ourselves from people around us because we feel ashamed.  Problem is, when we become socially isolated, our procrastination takes over even more powerfully.  We no longer have someone to talk with, someone to alert to our difficulty, someone who can remind us everything will be okay.  Since procrastination blooms in an atmosphere of isolation, make sure you take specific action to reconnect with the people in your life.  Doing so will re-energize you and help you to regain your natural motivation.
  5. I will always feel shame and embarrassment about my procrastination, so there’s no payoff for trying to change my ways.  Thinking that we will never be able to stop procrastinating causes us to feel very negatively about ourselves.  This negativity prevents us from reaching out to others for support or advice or help.  It also makes the pressure we feel about our unfinished work even greater.  The good news is the idea that we have to remain in a shamed and embarrassed state forever is a big lie.  As soon as we make the decision to do anything within our power to move forward, the positive feelings begin to flow in.  If you feel stuck because of negative feelings, make sure you speak with someone who can help you feel better again as soon as possible.

So, are you ready to stop procrastinating yet?

When we realize the ideas that keep rattling around in our heads are erroneous, we get a little more courageous when it comes to fighting the impulse to procrastinate.

We decide we are going to keep our work:

  • simple
  • stress-free
  • good enough (and not “perfect”)
  • connected with the people who need to see our work
  • guilt- and shame-free

Sound good to you?  I thought so.

Adjust your mindset in order to get the things you need to get done done.  If you cannot at this time, please do not worry.  After all, worry is the whole reason procrastination is so powerfully addictive and why it so often seems like the best idea in town. Take the time to develop a more positive mindset, to feel less afraid about what work and working means to your self-esteem, and to have real patience and kindness for yourself.

It is possible for you to stop procrastinating soon.  It will be worth your extra effort.

Related reading:

What is the Most Important Factor for Consistent Productivity?

25 Questions to Help You Make Positive Changes in Your Life

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How to Perform at Your Best Even When You Have Anxiety

Hpw to Perform at Your Best Even When You Have AnxietyWhen I do coaching or psychotherapy with clients who struggle with procrastination, I almost always end up discussing the topic of anxiety.  Anxiety causes us to doubt our natural abilities, making us more vulnerable to procrastination and a whole host of other fears.

Anxiety is present when we fear:

  • moving forward
  • falling behind
  • never feeling good about ourselves or our work
  • never accomplishing our most significant goals because of the small stuff in the way
  • failing to reach our potential

We all need to learn to co-exist with our anxiety.  Anxiety will never totally go away because we need it to alert us to discomfort and danger.  But we need to build our awareness about how anxiety works in order to maintain a feeling of safety and consistency within ourselves.  We can do this through a daily practice of being mindful of what brings us stress and making sure we take enough action to keep our stress at manageable (and hopefully low) levels.

How to Perform at Your Best Even When You Have Anxiety

Here’s a straightforward plan to keep you steer clear of anxiety-fueled chaos:

1. Avoid seeing all of your undone tasks and unfinished things as one big pile.

Instead of ruminating over how much you have to do, start to tease out what it is that you need to do.  Do not take everything on your plate and turn it into a dark cloud trailing you around town all day.  It is more difficult to tackle everything than it is to tackle something.  When we have too many things to do, getting something done can be a huge plus.

My favorite tool for keeping my to do list manageable is the Trello app.  Take a few minutes today to try it out.  I think you’ll find it helpful for avoiding to do list overwhelm.

Related reading: 5 Secret Uses of the Trello App to Overcome Procrastination and Boost Productivity

2. Write everything down.

When we see what we need to do on paper, we can start to make a realistic plan for how to get the details taken care of.  When we just sit with the anxiety and start to freak out, we reduce our odds of being able to do anything at all. 

Take a small, doable section of your plan and write out your plan of attack.  When will you start?  How much time will you allow yourself to take?  What pieces of this plan can you put down on paper right away?  Don’t even think about the rest of the plan until you finish the first part.

I highly recommend you download a copy of the Emergent Task Planner to get your plan of action laid out.  It’s an elegant one-page planning sheet to help you sort out how you’d like your next day to go.

Related resource: The Emergent Task Planner

3. Be patient with yourself. 

When we are in a period of overwhelm, it is easy to feel drained and frustrated.  Frustration makes It easy to give up on our efforts to move things forward.  When we are feeling overwhelmed, we need to invest our efforts into having more compassion towards ourselves. 

Yelling at yourself will just make matters worse. 

Flinging your papers into the air will just make a mess. 

Believing in yourself and allowing yourself to move forward, despite your doubts and fears, will make everything better.

Instead of giving into the negative feelings, start to coach yourself into getting the next step done.  Relax your high expectations.  Have faith this period of difficulty will be temporary and will soon be over.

4. Focus on your WHY

Anxiety tends to crop up when we attempt projects that are most meaningful to us.  Anxiety also arises when we are trying to do something new.  Keeping our focus on WHY we are doing these new projects is one of the best ways to handle the anxiety that is competing for our attention. 

What is your WHY?  Your WHY might be:

  • your purpose in life
  • using your natural talents to help others
  • making the people you care about feel safe and loved
  • doing your best with the resources you have
  • finding new ways to solve old problems
  • enjoying each day fully

Our ability to change our perspective to get us through difficult times is a tremendous skill. Make sure you remember to use your own ability to reflect and to shift your mindset next time you feel you’re about to give in to your anxiety.

Recommended viewing: How Great Leaders Inspire Action TED Talk by Simon Sinek

5.  Remember that you are limitless

Anxiety forces us to focus on small quantities.  Anxiety forces us to focus on what we are afraid of, which can be a small fraction of what we might actually achieve.  Anxiety reminds us that we have limits and tries to make us believe we are about to mess those limits up.  Anxiety gives us a distorted view of what is really going on.  We can never see things for what they are when we are anxious.

So the next time you feel drained by your anxiety, focus on your abilities and potential instead.  Each and every one of us has the ability and the potential to succeed despite intense feelings of anxiety.  It is in our nature to do so. 

Man on a Wire is my all-time favorite movie.  I guarantee you will take a closer look at what you can accomplish with your one life after watching this remarkable story.

Recommended viewing: Man on a Wire

What’s next?

Why shrink ourselves down to smaller versions of what we might be?  Instead of quaking in our boots, let’s take a breath and move forward into what we might be.  Anxiety will have nothing on us.  And, instead of anxiety, we will be filled with different types of feelings, like joy, pride, satisfaction, and contentment. 

Let’s go.

Before you go

I’ve created a free download containing my top 5 tips for being able to stay on track even when you are feeling anxious.  Click the button below to get this list of helpful tips:

Get “THE 5 SECRETS FOR STAYING CLEAR OF FEAR” download now

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How to Cope with Your Fear of Change

Avoid getting caught in a cycle of fear and take effective action instead.Fear has a way of taking our spirits down.

When we fear our own actions, we cannot generate enough energy to think, to guess, or to push our thoughts forward.

When we fear others’ judgments, we cannot turn papers in, we cannot decide what might be best to say, we start thinking towards the average thought rather than towards the extraordinary.

When we fear change, we become even more anxious since we know our current situation of being locked in fear is not good for us.  We start feeling pressure in our chest, hopelessness in our hearts and minds.

What you need to know about FEAR:

Fear is a transient emotion.

Fear is not an accurate reflection of your reality if you are procrastinating.  If you are procrastinating, you are cut off from the present moment and the way things are flowing around you.

Fear tends to take up a lot of your psychological real estate.  This is something I learned from a supervisor way back when.  When we let fear go unchallenged, fear grows.  Fear starts to invade healthy areas of our functioning and brain space.  When this goes on for a long time, we become overly aware of our fear and we end up feeling like we don’t have much room or ability to get things done. 

Fear breaks our bonds with other people.  When we fear things, we inevitably become removed from important people in our lives.  We stop trusting that we’re okay or sufficient or fun enough.  Then we start to worry that others will reject or punish us for being somewhat less than what we are capable of being.

Fear makes us feel unsure of ourselves.  Instead of just taking care of things right away, we listen to our fears and then we decided all sorts of safety plans must be put into place.  We must look perfect, get the right gift, say the right thing, arrive looking calm and happy, exude the right vibe.  #welcometostresscity

Fear makes us feel unsafe around other people.

Fear makes us super fussy about unimportant and unnecessary things.

Fear makes us forget that we are all the same.

The answer to living entangled in fear is to get support and allow yourself to function as you were meant to — in flow, without excessive fear.

You may believe you no longer know how to live without the framework of fear.  I would say, your fear has taught you that.  You are the only person who can release yourself from the fear-based state you are in.  People may encourage you or inspire you, but only you can make that decision to make your next moment a turning point.  Once you have made that turn, you will feel more yourself.  You will feel your authority has returned.  You will see how open the road is ahead of you.

If you are alone and afraid of changing now, write down some goals you have been thinking about and some people you can connect with.  Then take an action in the direction away from your fear so you can feel yourself again.

You may continue to resist change because you have been in the habit of doing so for quite some time.  Talk yourself through the resistance.  It will be worth the effort.  Resistance just keeps you looping back to the same dead-end place anyway.  Try something new.  Do anything that breaks the chain that burdens you.  You will be just fine without your fear, I promise. 

If you are looking for a tool to help you make this type of change away from fear, I recommend you download The Jumpstart worksheet.  The Jumpstart will help you gain some traction against your Procrastination.

Click here to receive your free JUMPSTART PDF planner sheet to help you get on your way today!

Strategies for Coping with Fear are Everywhere

You’ve got a friend

I was stuck in a rut, not able to get much of anything done, for a month and a half at least, and I finally reached out and asked a friend for help. 

After a wonderful breakfast and a long chat and planning session with her, I felt free and light.

And then, I had the most productive day I’ve had all year.

All the things that came out of the conversation ended up on a list, and I attacked that list.

It was as if all of my locked up, can’t-do-anything feelings had vanished, and my pent up energy and frustrated productivity impulses took over.  It was like I was in turbo drive.

Sometimes it’s important to remember:

  1. friends are always good in a time of need
  2. we will have times of need
  3. it is not important to be constantly productive
  4. it is important to be patient with yourself when you cannot be productive
  5. we are always changing, even when we feel like we are not exactly blooming beautifully

The kicker is that my friend ended up having a really productive day too.  When we step outside of ourselves, we end up really seeing ourselves.

Connect to a Facebook Group

A fear-fighting resource we have are the many Facebook Group communities available. 

You can join a few, hang out in them for a while, and see which ones are most compelling or useful for you.

See if there are people in the group that you share interests or concerns with and see if you can connect with them. 

I invite you to join the Procrastination Coach Facebook Group.  It’s a kind, engaged group of people.  I’m in there frequently, posting and sharing new material and providing feedback and support to members. 

Consult with a professional

Sometimes we can be trapped in misery for way too long. 

I had the opportunity to enter therapy during college, but I did not end up starting it.  I could have used the support back then, but I didn’t know how I would be helped or changed by the experience. 

All things happen for a reason.  Just a few years later, I entered therapy as part of my first year of my psychology doctoral training.

That therapy experience was life-changing for me.

What might therapy feel like for you?

Whether it be a dean, advisor, mentor, coach, or therapist, talking with a trained professional will likely help you:

  • feel understood
  • feel supported
  • feel less at loose ends
  • feel more clear in your thinking
  • feel more clear in your heart
  • feel more confident in your actions
  • take action on the steps you have been needing and wanting to take for yourself
  • process thoughts and feelings that have been difficult for you to process on your own
  • open up to other people, not just your therapist

Write it all down

I’m a huge fan of writing things down. 

Writing things down helps me to:

  • sort out my thoughts
  • create more thoughts from those initial thoughts
  • see which thoughts I should pay the closest attention to
  • take action
  • avoid forgetting small and large details
  • plan out my schedule and upcoming events or projects
  • avoid using my brain as storage space for my To Do list

Writing things down makes things more real.  We are less likely to neglect things if we write them down.  We are less likely to assume they will go away magically if we write them down. 

Use this technique and get back to your handwriting roots — they are your earliest ones, after all.  Those roots reach way back to when you didn’t feel stressed out about getting things done.

Create something

  • doodle
  • dance
  • compose
  • create a mind map your priorities (try MindNode to do this)
  • start a walk with two friends
  • brainstorm with people related and not related to your work
  • view your situation in a brand new way — expand your view

Get the training and information you need

We can hold back from moving forward because we:

  • don’t want to spend the money
  • don’t have the time
  • feel we can’t fit anything else in our calendar
  • feel we the training experience might not be what we are hoping for

But getting information can spark our:

  • creativity
  • drive
  • direction
  • purpose
  • strategy
  • community

And who wouldn’t want that?

Fear tends to keep us from reaching towards our potential.  That is exactly why we should be mindful of when we start to hold ourselves back.  Use the resources available to you.  Find some new ones if you feel like you could use some more.  Avoid getting bogged down in feeling guilt, shame, and other energy-blocking emotions.  Remind yourself how creative, powerful, and free your mind and spirit truly are. 

Embrace the changes you are facing.  They will be more interesting and informative than your fear.

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How to Leave Your Negative Mindset in the Dust

Learn to leave your negative mindset behindProcrastinators are oftentimes victims of their own negative mindset.  Rather than coaching themselves towards success, Procrastinators lean towards doom and gloom, predicting humiliation and failure for themselves.  

It is no wonder then, that Procrastination tends to be a problem that continues without being corrected or halted.  The combination of negative mindset and Procrastination limits our natural leanings towards freedom and forward movement.  We end up being consumed with worry and fear instead of putting our heads down and getting our work done.  

What gives rise to a negative mindset?

The roots of a negative mindset can be found in many diverse areas:

  • low self-esteem
  • lack of self-confidence
  • growing up with overly critical parents or other authority figures
  • growing up in dysfunctional, chaotic environments
  • early notable academic or personal success which gives rise to anxiety about performance as the child grows up
  • depression

Negative thoughts certainly can occur on a daily basis.  We need to be mindful of when they dominate our frame of mind and outlook.  When we become mired in negative thoughts and negative predictions of future events, we short-circuit our own ability to think clearly and to act with the full power of our skills, intelligence, and resources.  

We begin to limit our own sense of freedom.  We begin to act as if we are broken, impaired, incompetent, or less than we really are.

Four ways to break free of a negative mindset

Fortunately, a negative mindset does not have to be a permanent part of your life.  Use the following four suggestions to avoid getting stuck in negativity:

  1. Evaluate the purpose of your self-dialogue.  Are you trying to scare yourself out of taking action?  Are you trying to convince yourself that you don’t have what it takes to more forward?  Be honest with yourself when you do this kind of evaluation.
  2. Question whether you want your negative thoughts to be true.  (I learned this technique from an Amy Porterfield business podcast.)   Look at the picture you are painting with your self-talk and decide if you indeed want this picture to become your reality.  If the answer is “no,” then change the words you are using to coach yourself.
  3. Learn how to generate action from your thoughts.  What could you replace your negative mindset and language with?  A plan?  A deadline?   A supportive person?  A goal?  A work sprint at a coffee shop?  Replace the anxiety that comes from negative thinking with some sort of action.  The replacement doesn’t need to be dramatic, big, or important.  It just needs to put you back in motion.
  4. Decide to give yourself the benefit of a balanced frame of mind.  Instead of walking around with an overburdened brain, decide to give yourself a break.  Allow yourself to approach every new challenge with an open mind and heart, without expectations of failure and with a presumption of eventual success.

Here’s a bonus technique to try

When you think about your next new challenges, ask yourself the question: “Am I working towards keeping my freedom or am I surrendering it?”  As long as you work towards your next action, you maintain your flexibility and your capacity to learn.  Once you decide to stay stagnant and to let that stagnation go on and on, you become more vulnerable to anxiety and stress.

Keep in mind that relying on Procrastination often puts your freedom and flexibility in jeopardy.  Make avoiding Procrastination a priority.  Learn to treat yourself well, in thought and in action, and the payoffs will keep coming your way.

If you are interested in getting some support in your efforts to adjust your mindset, please consider joining the Procrastination Coach Facebook Group.  You’ll find information, articles, and loads of support from me and the community within the group.  

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What Is the Most Important Factor for Consistent Productivity?

What is the most important factor for consistent productivity?Both procrastinators and non-procrastinators yearn to be more productive.  There are lots of strategies, tools, and techniques to assist us in our work and daily lives these days, but even with that assistance, many people find consistent productivity hard to achieve.

Why is this the case?  Why do we intend and want to be productive and to get our work done, but then have our actions get in our way?  So often our actions don’t line up with our original intentions.

I found the answer to this question in a conversation with my husband.

I talked with my husband about all things related to being consistently productive.  We had the opportunity to review what we thought were the most important factors for getting things done.  He is a project manager and an inherently organized and practical, and of course that means he’s the world’s exact opposite of me, a hopelessly disorganized and spirited psychologist.

But it turns out we think about consistent productivity in similar ways.

When he talks, he uses concepts like:

  • goals and objectives
  • execution
  • figuring out the scope of the project
  • assumptions and constraints

When I talk, I refer to concepts like:

  • tolerating your difficult feelings
  • making room for flow
  • developing a daily practice
  • dealing with your self-doubt and resistance

As you can tell, our relationship is bilingual.  We often see each other as originating from an alternate universe. 

What I realized from this conversation was we agreed on one thing.   We used the exact same language to describe that one thing.  I also realized that this thing is the most important factor in being able to develop a practice of consistent productivity.  That thing is — DON’T PERSONALIZE IT.

My husband would say, “It’s a project with a defined purpose with a beginning and an end.  Don’t personalize it.”

I would say, “Don’t personalize it.  It is a project, not a statement about you or your worth or value as a person.”

No matter how we say it, we both want you to get this message firmly into your head.

This is difficult to do because from a young age we are trained that work is important and that the better we do, the better we should feel about ourselves.  This association gets developed and reinforced over and over again as we grow up, and not just in academic environments.  That association may be useful in motivating us to get good grades in school, but the closeness and intensity of this association between work and ego can inhibit us from feeling free to work when there are high stakes involved, and sometimes when there is any work involved at all.

Let that association go.  Let it go.  #singitifyouhaveto

The benefits of being able to separate your ego from your work are many.  They include:

  • clearer thinking
  • quicker decision making
  • better judgment
  • better communication and discussion
  • less time waste
  • more room for creativity
  • easier collaboration
  • consistent productivity

Let your work be your work.  It stands on its own.  Don’t burden the work or yourself with extra meanings, messages, or expectations.  Do what needs to get done with your best intentions, motivation, and skill.  Be courageous and stretch yourself.  Invest yourself in making your work better rather than in needing your work to garner you some praise or acceptance.  And never let fear get in your way.  

You might even be able to get along well with someone who speaks a totally different language than you.

Related reading:

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How to Boost Your Mindset and Motivation

How to Boost Your Mindset and Motivation

I have learned over years of coaching and counseling many clients, that it is of utmost importance to understand the nature of a person’s mindset before trying to help them with anything else.  Without knowing what kind of mindset the client has and understanding how it operates, any efforts at behavior change will likely fall flat, or worse, be demoralizing and lead to even more frustration for the client.  

Taking a hard look at our mindset can be a tricky affair though.  We believe, in our heart of hearts, we are trying our best to keep ourselves at our best.  That makes it difficult for us to see how we might be blocking our own progress with the negative messages we sometimes give ourselves.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re curious about what your mindset has been doing for you:

  1. What messages am I telling myself? 
  2. How am I coaching myself — to succeed or to avoid failing?
  3. What kind of mindset to I possess — a positive, forward-looking mindset or a negative, fear-based mindset?
  4. What kind of future am I predicting for myself?  
  5. What factors in my past have caused me to feel the need to coach myself in this way?
  6. What do I fear when I think about letting go of my current negative mindset?  What do I think is going to happen?

Often the answers to the questions above are pretty frightening.  Frighteningly negative, that is.

For instance, the internal coaching conversation might sound something like this:

“Although you were a star student when you were younger, things have gotten a lot more competitive.  Your work better be better than you can even imagine before you put it out there.”

“If I finish my work and submit it, then I might actually confirm what I have been fearing all along — that I am not good enough, and that I am definitely not as talented as my friends clearly are.”

“I need to deal with myself incredibly harshly because that has gotten me far in the past.  I don’t know if I could even get anything done if I stopped being so self-critical.”

“I don’t really know what will happen if I change my way of doing things.  I’m too afraid to find out.”

The general tone of these conversations is strongly negative.  It also feels as if the conversations can only go one way — down into deeper negativity.  It is no wonder we can’t make new changes, get our work done, or concentrate well when we are steeped in negative thinking about ourselves and our future.  It would seem as if we lacked motivation, when really we’re just scared to act on our motivation.

A negative mindset insists that we keep ourselves rooted in anxiety and fear.  There’s little hope for real progress and growth when the negative mindset dominates our thinking.

The good news is, if you have a negative mindset, there are great ways to start looking at your situation in a fresh light.  Here are a few options:

  1. Read a book to be influenced by others’ experiences.  One book you might start with is The Secret from Rhonda Byrnes.  This is a book I recommend to clients who are mired in negative thinking and can’t seem to find another way.  The messages in The Secret tend to make you worried about having a negative mindset any longer.
  2. Find a simple place to start.  Since negative thinking tends to cause us to feel burdened, we need to find a simpler way of getting things done so we can feel the benefits of being active again.  You could take a quick walk around the block.  You could decide to study outside your apartment.  You could set a small goal that will take 15 minutes and get that goal accomplished.  Don’t let your thinking block you from the things you can do very easily and well.  
  3. Do something for someone else.  Send a text message to check in on a friend.  Meet up with someone for a quick lunch for fun.  Just get out of your own head.  Chances are you’ll find a more positive outlook if you do.  
  4. Declare a restart.  Remember that at any point of the year, month, week, or day, you can decide to do things a little bit differently.  No one has to know you are about to do a total reboot.  Just you.
  5. Find support.  If you feel like you are caught in your negative thinking pattern for the long haul, I urge you to seek support.  Time is too precious a thing to waste, and your life and sense of well-being are worth whatever efforts you might need to make to reclaim them.  Find a therapist or coach, mentor, or friend who might be able to lend their expertise and support to you while you figure out the best way to move ahead.  

There are so many options for you.  Unfortunately, it sometimes seems easier to stay hidden undercover where no one can find you than to show up as yourself.  It can feel too overwhelming to make changes even though you know you need and want to make them.

I want to assure you that your desire to feel better about yourself is the positive message you should be listening most closely too.  The internal knowing you naturally have will keep you grounded and safe as you go.  It will guide you into the new territory, both externally and internally, you’ve been meaning to see.

Before you go:

The Freedom from Procrastination Membership Program

If you are interested in receiving support from me in your efforts to combat Procrastination, I encourage you to consider joining me in my Freedom from Procrastination Membership Program.  The Membership Program has been up and running smoothly for about 3 months, and through it I’ve learned that the twin superpowers of having accountability and community can really supercharge everyone’s ability to make the changes they need to make.  For more information about the Membership Program, please read more here.

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25 Questions to Help You Make Positive Changes in Your Life

25 questions - WP

Have you ever wondered why it can feel so difficult to make positive changes in your life?

What I have learned from working with my psychotherapy and coaching clients over the past 20 years is this — None of us is lacking in desire to make positive changes.  It is the whole reason why people seek out psychologists and coaches in the first place. Always has been, always will be.

So, if the desire to make positive changes is not lacking, what blocks us from going forward with our plans and wishes?

My answer is PROCRASTINATION.

The more I think about the topic of Procrastination, the more I realize it underpins so many of our difficulties and problems.  Procrastination can be at the root of relationship troubles, financial predicaments, communication missteps, major health issues, and of course, productivity decline.

When we become a little too comfortable with Procrastination being a part of our operating system, we become vulnerable to its numbing effects.  As Procrastination lingers in our lives, we start to not see problems for what they are.  We start to not clean up simple messes.  We start to avoid communicating as effectively and promptly as we can.

And then we have trouble making sense of our situation.  Each of our difficulties starts to blend into the next, and we become unclear.  That is the block that prevents us from making positive changes even though we know we should or we want to quite badly.

25 Questions to Help You Make Positive Changes in Your Life

Ask yourself these questions in order to determine the extent to which Procrastination has entered into your life:

  1. Do you tend to feel overwhelmed when you look at your workspace?
  2. Do you feel like you have too much to do at any given time?
  3. Is it hard for you to focus because your mind is filled with thoughts about what you haven’t yet finished?
  4. Do you dread being contacted by other people for fear of what they’ll say?
  5. Are you self-critical?
  6. Do you feel you are efficient at getting out of your home in the morning?
  7. Is your bedroom a calm place to be?
  8. Do you feel panicky often?
  9. Is it difficult for you to relax?
  10. Do you feel like you cannot pay full attention to people who are talking to you because you are preoccupied with something else?
  11. Do you tend to be late to appointments?
  12. Do you fear failure often?
  13. Do you speak in public situations easily?
  14. Do you fantasize about having someone rescue you from your stress?
  15. Do you have difficulty letting other people know you need help?
  16. Do you have unfinished projects because you are trying to perfect them?
  17. Is it difficult for you to focus for more than 15 minutes at a time?
  18. Do you estimate time well?
  19. Are you afraid of being seen as incompetent or irresponsible?
  20. Do you have difficulty saying “no” to requests that don’t suit your needs well?
  21. Do you have difficulty saying what you mean in a direct manner?
  22. Are you involved in projects or activities that you feel are a waste of your time?
  23. Do you wonder why you spend as much time as you do running errands or shopping?
  24. Is your closet overflowing?
  25. Do you feel you have to tell people untruths to make them feel better or to make yourself look better?

I made the list of questions above to show you how the dynamics of Procrastination work.  They:

  • make us doubt ourselves
  • make us misspeak
  • make us off-synch with time
  • cause us to feel stressed
  • cause us to feel uncomfortable in our spaces
  • cause us to feel nervous when we are with people and when we are alone
  • cause us to feel distracted
  • cause us to feel insecure
  • cause us to feel exhausted
  • cause us to feel unfocused

To sum it up, Procrastination can be a very toxic factor in our lives and can prevent us from making positive changes.  We may think to ourselves, “Oh, I just have an issue with clutter,” but the single issue of clutter is a symptom of the larger issue of Procrastination and delayed action. 

Whenever we delay action, there is a consequence.  When we Procrastinate too much, we are forced to deny the consequences in order to feel okay.  If our eyes were really open, we would feel uncomfortable about putting so many things off into the future.

Procrastination causes anxiety.  Each of us should work diligently to keep anxiety at bay.  It’s just a killer.  A killer of creativity, of courage, of individuality, of spirit.  When you remove anxiety from your mind-space, you create room to make positive changes.

Yes, you can make positive changes too

Pick the ONE question that really jumped out at you from the list of 25.  You know, the one that made you startle or think twice.  

Make a plan to resolve that area of difficulty or unease and make that your focus.  Make it happen.  You will find yourself feeling relief once you make your problem disappear.  You will also set the stage for making positive changes (and not Procrastination) a habit.

If you need assistance, ask for it and seek it out with the right person.  Or a few people even.  It will be worth your time, energy, and resources to learn how to get rid of your Procrastination and to feel like you are in flow instead.  Go get ’em.

News to Share:

1.  I’ve been enjoying the cameraderie and engagement in the Procrastination Coach Facebook Group that has been growing steadily week to week.  If you’d like support for your efforts to defeat Procrastination, please join us in the Procrastination Coach Facebook Group.

2.  I recently compiled a group of 13 free downloads that are useful to Procrastinators who are interested in finding new ways to organize their morning, their plans, and their schedule (and more).  Register here to receive the password for all of the downloads in the Free Resource Library:
Click Here to Get Access

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