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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The Simple 5-Step Plan to Avoid Distractions

Avoid distractions with these 5 simple stepsWe live in the era of distractions.  There is no doubt about this.

The number of distractions we face each day seems endless. When we get mired in the larger web of distractions, including the internet, busywork, errands, e-mail, and shopping, we can lose sight of the activities, people, and actions that will bring us happiness, satisfaction, and contentment. We get sucked into short-term distractions and quickly forget what really makes us feel good.

What is the cost of being overly distracted?  The costs of giving in to distractions are many.  We may lose:

  • our sense of self-efficacy
  • our free time
  • our sleep
  • our money (think shopping sites)
  • our safety while driving
  • our connectedness with others, including our children and our friends
  • our way (literally)
  • our time to plan our projects mindfully
  • our time away from various digital devices
  • our organized self (because we don’t have time to put things where they belong)
  • our grade point averages
  • our learning opportunities
  • our time to exercise
  • our time to create new things and experiences
  • our sense of calm
  • our time to be relaxed

What keeps us in a distracted mode? It seems there is more pulling us away from our work and focus than pulling us towards it. We can be stuck in distraction zone because:

  • we don’t feel confident about moving forward
  • we are too tired to concentrate well
  • we are afraid of missing out
  • we think we have to cover all of our bases all of the time
  • we have never been very good at maintaining good focus
  • we are addicted to the streams of information that social media and services like Netflix provide
  • we have difficulty stopping ourselves once we start something
  • we have become accustomed to not getting things done efficiently, so we don’t clearly see the time wasted when we’re distracted

If you’re currently struggling to separate from social media, clutter, minor matters, or other distractions, I have a few suggestions for you to consider.  If you implement these 5 simple steps on a consistent basis, your difficulties should start to wane.

The Simple 5-Step Plan to Avoid Distractions

1.  Make sure you have one priority focus.

Get real with why you are where you are.  If you are a student, remind yourself of your purpose.  If you are an employee, remind yourself of your aim at work.  If you are an entrepreneur or a freelancer, decide how you want to maximize your productivity.  I have found this to be a particularly hard trick to master, as I like to flit and float among several different ideas and projects all at once. When I’m honest with myself, I know I get my most meaningful work done when I know what my priority goal is.

2.  Write your plan down.  

There is something magical that happens when you write things down.  Use that magic to connect with your purpose, to focus your attention, and to get the distracting, unformed thoughts out of your head and onto paper.  Writing your plans down will do you a world of good.

3.  Be brave in the face of your lack of understanding.

So often, we become stymied by what we don’t know.  Instead of freaking out about not knowing what to do, decide to see the moment as just one part of the entire experience of getting something done. When we accept that there will be gaps in what we know, we will be able to stay the course better while working.  We can steel ourselves against the sudden impulse to flee the discomfort of not knowing what we are doing.

4.  Separate work from play/distraction.

Being able to separate work from play is one of the great keys to beating Procrastination.

When we allow distractions like Facebook into our workspace, we instantly mix work and play.  When we do this, both work and play get diluted.  We no longer get the bang out of our work, and we no longer get the pure joy out of our play.  And we find ourselves adrift in the distractibility zone.

Practice isolating work from play, even if the work and play times are very brief.  Work single-mindedly for 15 minutes.  Play for ten minutes.  Rotate these periods if you like. Expand them as you like.  But don’t mix them together.  Train yourself to resist being distracted.

5.  Have a sense of gratitude for your work.

Although the distractions these days tend to be enjoyable, light-hearted, or connecting us with friends and family, deep down inside we are aware that our greatest feelings of satisfaction come when our intentions match our behaviors.  When we let ourselves drift away from our focus, we lose control of our sense of purpose and our sense of agency.

Let’s get a handle on the distractions in our lives.

There is no need to eliminate distractions.  We need them to pass the day, to make things light, and to enjoy ourselves when things get rough or stressful.  That said, many of us natural-born Procrastinators will benefit from sharpening our ability to focus and to manage distractions more effectively.  Find the clearest, cleanest, most efficient way to move through the day.  The payoffs will be worth the effort.

Related:  The 30/30 App: A Free Tool to Boost Your Focus and Productivity7 Tips to Help You Become a Master Scheduler

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7 Ways to Stop Anxiety from Blocking Your Productivity

Learn how to block your anxiety before it blocks you!One of the key strategies I teach to help people improve their productivity and to fight their anxiety is this:

SEPARATE YOUR FEELINGS FROM YOUR WORK AS BEST AS YOU CAN.

This is not to say that we should not care about our work.  It’s that we should not care so much that we become entangled by our worries and erratic thoughts. When we feel anxious, our creativity and our productivity can become blocked.

If our work gets tangled up with our fears and feelings so much, how can we separate them from each other?  Tough question.  Here are my 7 answers:

1. Be the gardener of your thoughts.   Maintain a peaceful, calm landscape in your mind.  Sort the productive, healthy thoughts from the upsetting and disconcerting ones. Do this diligently and with care. This quote from Robin Sharma suggests how: “You have now learned that the mind is like a fertile garden and for it to flourish, you must nurture it daily. Never let the weeds of impure thought and action take the garden of your mind. Stand guard at the gateway of your mind.”

2. Understand that we concentrate better when we are not at peak anxiety.  Although some excited energy is needed to create, when we are fraught with anxiety our creativity and productivity suffer.  Never confuse being hysterical with doing good work.

3. Keep your focus trained on the present moment.  Every time we worry, we take our focus away from the task in front of us.  You can easily check this by seeing if your thoughts are wandering to things you have already done or something in the future you don’t have control over.  Practice refocusing your attention on what is happening at the present time.

4.  Build a plan of action.  If you are feeling trapped or cornered in a not-so-good arrangement or predicament, try to figure out what thoughts and actions created this situation.  Did you miss a meeting or an update?  Did you feel too embarrassed to ask for help?  After you determine what happened, build a plan to free yourself from the confined and restricted feeling you have.  It often takes a simple text, phone call, or conversation to find relief.

5. Don’t cramp your own style.  Don’t hide what you have to offer to the world. You can always scale back, but you can’t get back what you miss out on by being a wallflower, or by being silent, or by pretending you have nothing to say.  By releasing what you have to give, you’ll experience a feeling of satisfaction, which becomes motivation to do more so you can continue to feel better.

6. Instead of focusing on being perfect, take risks and be brave.  Anxiety and perfectionism are cousins.  They are cousins who are no fun and who don’t get out very much.  Decide to leave your anxiety and perfectionism at home today, and go out with a more adventurous attitude.  Try the new program.  Go for the more enticing option.  Give a compliment to someone you are interested in.  You will be okay.  See how different it feels to be moving and grooving.  Keep close to that feeling of being active because it is a surefire way to steer clear of Procrastination.  

7. Develop a mantra to use when you feel anxious.  Turn your fear on its head. For example, if you are worried about making a fool of yourself in public, craft a mantra to keep in your mind when you’re out in public.  Instead of telling yourself “I’m going to say the wrong thing,” remind yourself of your new mantra, which is “I am going to connect easily and well with the people I meet today.”  You’re going to speak to yourself anyway, so you might as well be kind and supportive!

Try this for yourself.  Here’s a worksheet [a free PDF download] I created to help you put all of the steps above into action.  The worksheet includes a section where you can design a mantra to combat the negative statements that may be preventing you from moving forward.

Click here to receive the MINDSET MANAGEMENT WORKSHEET to help you get on your way today!

Anxiety is a mighty foe.  Make sure to keep yourself fit against anxiety by treating yourself well, making good decisions, and being open with others when you need help.  You can minimize your anxiety and make more room for productivity and joy.

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6 Simple Steps to Resolve Problems Quickly [+ a Questionnaire to Get You Started]

Find a way to resolve some open-ended issues today.What unresolved problems do you have in your life right now?  How much distress are you under because of them?  Let’s find a way out and forward.

Procrastinators tend to sit on piles of problems.  Unfinished projects, undelivered mail, ideas unfulfilled.  One way to reduce your reliance on Procrastination is to manage and to resolve your problems as quickly and as mindfully as you can.  Get clear on your what your intention is and the routes to solving your problems will come into view.

Consider these 6 suggestions for prepping yourself to jump on your problems before they get the better of you: 

1.  Adopt an active mindset.  Decide that you are the captain, the boss, the manager, the leader, the architect, the designer — whatever it takes to help you step into an active mindset.  When we take an active role in resolving problems, we tend to think of better ideas, because we are more engaged and invested in creating a good outcome.

2.  Communicate what needs to be said.  As a psychologist, I have seen so many times how we can delay the resolution of both minor and major matters through our lack of communication.  We’re afraid to appear too eager, too pushy, too interested, too direct, and — heaven forbid — too bossy.  Instead of worrying how you are going to look, think about what you will feel when you and your partners get to the finish line.  Train your focus on the finish line and then communicate clearly to get there.

3.  Surrender to your negative feelings.  Yes, I did say “surrender,” but I don’t mean give up.  We are all susceptible to negative feelings and worry about the future.  So accept that these feelings exist and decide that you can move past them anyway. That is what I mean by surrender.  When we constantly revisit our worries, we cannot develop clarity on what actually needs to be done to resolve the problem.  Don’t get sidetracked. Keep yourself focused.

4.  Protect your ability to focus fiercely.  Unresolved problems are a drain on our focus because we think about unfinished business until it is done.  Become a warrior prince or princess and do away with the obstacles (Facebook, Netflix) and gather the information and tools you need to craft your plan of attack.  Why all this talk of fierceness?  Because you have things you want to get done.

5.  Believe that you will be okay.  We hang on to tasks, decisions, choices, and drafts of e-mails as if our lives were hanging in the balance.  For the large majority of things, life is not hanging in the balance.  Try to be more realistic and make a decision or choice that will help you resolve your issue.  Have faith that you will survive the outcome.

6.  Decide that you want to be done.  Many times things linger because we allow them to — unpaid bills, unreturned library books, etc.  Once we decide we want to be done with these things, we manage to get them done.  But wanting the task completed seems to be a prerequisite to doing the legwork.  Commit to being done with your problems and then see what needs to happen next.

When we become active problem solvers, we end up finding there are fewer problems to be solved over time.  You have the power to change things in your own life today.  Here’s to all of your efforts in that direction.

P.S. READY TO TAKE YOUR PROBLEMS ON?

I’ve developed a free PROBLEM SOLVING QUESTIONNAIRE to help you analyze your own situation.  The prompts in the questionnaire will encourage you to look at the obstacles in your way so you can clear them out of the way.  Enjoy.

Click here to receive the PROBLEM SOLVING QUESTIONNAIRE to help you get on your way today!

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Try This 5-Point Technique to Conquer Your Fear of Moving Forward

Try this 5-point technique - WPWhen I work with clients, I hear about a lot of fears.

Those fears never scare me.

You know why?  Because I have no idea whether those fears will become real or not. Please remember me telling you “I have no idea” the next time you think of asking me about what negative things will develop if you decide to move forward.  Because that is the truth.

I can’t say your fears won’t come true, but I can say from 20 years of being a psychologist that our worst fears tend not to come true.

So instead of getting all worked up with my clients, I try to help them to get active. Or to get calm.  Either state — active or calm — is way more beneficial than the state of being terrified.  Way more.

Don’t let all of your precious time be taken up by unrealistic fears and dreamt up worries.

Your fears and worries are just indications that you are about to embark upon something new, and you have feelings about making that change.

Instead of thinking the action is so frightening, start to look at your fear as being the obstacle.

Change your mindset about fear.

Know that fear is just a feeling about something.

We are going to change your mindset.  Instead of using all of your resources and thoughts to avoid the perceived danger, we are going to head towards the fear and break it down.

Here’s the 5-Point Technique to Conquer Your Fear of Moving Forward:

1) What was it about the original idea that made you afraid?

2) What particular fears do you associate with going towards the idea?

3) What risk do you need to take in order to conquer your fear and move forward?

4) What tools do you have right now that would be useful in moving forward?  Communication?  Planning?  Brainstorming?  Interpersonal support?

5) What would be the benefit of breaking away from the fear you have?  More time?  More flexibility?  More sanity?

Now set a deadline — yes an actual deadline — for taking action against your fear and towards the task you want to accomplish.  Imaging yourself bulldozing everything in your way to get done with the task instead of imagining yourself as a vulnerable, helpless newbie with no resources or experience.

Use the enjoyment and relief you will feel after completing your goal to carry you directly into your next efforts for making positive change in your life.  Don’t lose momentum.

Momentum is a powerful force for against fear.  Fear is a powerful force against change. You have all the power in the world to make your choice about which force you’d like to align yourself with more.

Bonus Material!

You know what happens when you drop your fears?  You become FEARLESS.  Cool trick, right?  If you’re interested in even more ways to ensure that worry does not interrupt your plans, get your free resource below:

Get the 5 RULES for steering clear of worry here [free download]

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20 Simple Strategies to Stop Your Procrastination [+ a Free Download]

20 Simple Strategies My goal today is to be simple.  Simple tends to get things done, I think. Procrastination operates by making things more complicated: 

  • Instead of dealing with just our present-moment tasks, we have to deal with the ones we are behind on too.
  • Our minds become ultra-cluttered with self-shaming thoughts, like, “Why didn’t I start earlier?”
  • We become confused and preoccupied with how our lateness is going to appear to the people who are waiting for us to turn something in.

So let’s reverse engineer this game and consciously decide to tackle our Procrastination by making things more simple.

Here are “20” simple strategies to stop your Procrastination:

1. Think of three problems that Procrastination causes you.  Take a look at the biggest problem of the three and strategize how to get rid of the original reason you Procrastinated there.

2.  Make an agreement with a person or a group to begin a task you’ve been stalled on.

3.  Talk to someone who doesn’t know you have been Procrastinating and let them in on your struggle.

4.  Listen to an inspirational podcast on your commute to work and use the information from that podcast to get moving.

5.  Get away from your to-do list and make room for getting something done that is more important to you than your average to-do list item.

6.  Cancel something relatively unimportant in your schedule to get yourself some breathing room and actually get things done.

7.  Change your environment.  Improve your attitude by moving your furnishings around or getting the clutter out before you set down to work.

8.  Change the tools you use.  Don’t consider your smartphone your best tool of choice, as it can be such a source of distraction.  Try using the world’s best tools, pen and paper, to rework how you work, at least for a few hours.

9.  Take care of something personal first, before embarking on your work.  For instance, schedule your next visit to your doctor, then use that momentum to make some work-related calls.

10.  Decide that your Procrastination is the only thing getting in your way of making progress.  Then dismantle your Procrastination piece by piece until you clear your path to working smoothly.

11.  Review your self-talk and refuse to take “no” for answer.  In other words, think about how to do your work, not all the reasons why you can’t.

12.  Develop a routine.  You can make one up on the spot to ease the start-up anxiety you have before doing something new or daunting.

13.  Do your task at a regular time each day or each week.  There will never be a good time to do laundry.  Laundry is the definition of argh.  But it can be handled sanely and quickly if you schedule it in.

14.  Make sure you insert something enjoyable in every day.  When we get caught up in Procrastination, we tend to crowd out enjoyment in favor of suffering.  Put the enjoyment back in your schedule and don’t feel guilty about doing so.

15.  Make sure you start off on a positive note.  So often we approach to-do tasks with a feeling of dread instead of gratitude or acceptance.  Try working with gratitude and acceptance to smooth out your ride.

16.  Break down the project you are Procrastinating on into individual sections and start addressing the smallest one.  Continue on until each section is completed.

17.  Avoid saying the following: “I have no time,” “I’ve wasted so much time,” “I’ll never get finished in time,” “I can’t believe I didn’t use my time better.”  Save yourself gobs of time in the process.  Enjoy being #gobsmacked.

18.  Make a new commitment to yourself that you will not harm yourself any longer through your Procrastination.  Proceed accordingly.

19.  Stop early in order to save yourself time for something else.  I’m stopping at Strategy #19 to demonstrate how cutting things short can save you a minute or two here and there.  It’s okay.  Everyone is going to survive.

Your BONUS for making it through the list — a free worksheet!

Here’s a WORKSHEET to help you plan and get started

Now the rest is simple.  Take the strategy that seemed to fit you the best today and run with it.  You will survive.  Let me know how things turned out when you’re through.

News to Share

If you are interested in joining the truly lovely Procrastination Coach Facebook Group, please let me know by visiting this link and sending me a message requesting to join. Thank you as always for following Procrastination Coach!

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2 Ways to Make Starting Easier That Have Nothing to Do With Motivation

Start.

The following post is brought to you by my new friend, Shaun Flanders of Zero to Habit. Shaun kindly reached out to me after I made a comment on someone else’s site, and that sparked a great, mutually-supportive blogger relationship.  I hope you’ll take a moment to visit his site, which is packed with his thoughts on how to get more out of life without stress or strain.  You can see how we might get along.  Enjoy.

Jane is an old friend. She’s married with two kids and works full time. She wants to start exercising consistently so she can look and feel better, be a good role model for her kids and have a longer, healthier life. She’s started and stopped working out more times than she can count. Now, it’s been months since she’s exercised and she’s starting to feel pretty crappy about the shape she’s in.

You could say Jane quit because she didn’t have the willpower, motivation or self-discipline to stick with it. I’d flip that around and say the reason Jane quit is because she didn’t start.

Starting is the most difficult and fragile part of any habit. I say that because, when you really think about it, starting isn’t a challenge we get to overcome once, the very first time we do something. Rather, we have to start every single time.

Somewhere along the way there was a day Jane didn’t start getting her exercise clothes together. She didn’t start driving to the gym. She didn’t start taking the first step on the treadmill. And every day since then, she hasn’t started with any of it.

In a way it’s semantics, but I think it simplifies things. Jane doesn’t have a “starting problem” and a “sticking with it problem.” She just has one thing she needs to focus on: getting really good at starting. Having one thing to do can feel a lot easier than having many.

You Don’t Need to Be a Magician to Be a Good Starter
Have you ever told yourself “I need to be more disciplined,” “I just don’t have enough willpower,” or “I wish I was motivated like other people seem to be”?

The thing about that kind of negative self-talk is because it feels awful, it is demotivating and self-perpetuating. It makes you feel crappy, and because you feel crappy, you’re even less likely to start that thing you’ve been putting off.

The other thing is it just isn’t true. Motivation, willpower, and self-discipline are fleeting and unreliable. Everyone struggles with them to some degree. And for those of us who struggle more, staying motivated, being disciplined, and having strong willpower can seem like some kind of magic trick that we don’t know.

A better approach, and the one I recommend to my clients, is to expect your motivation, willpower, and self-discipline to abandon you. Then build a plan for success that is based on things you can actively do.

The Way Forward to Successful Starting
You do things you remember to do, you’re able to do, and you want to do badly enough that you’re willing to make the required effort.
We’ve already established that your “want to,” or your motivation, isn’t reliable. So you have to work with other parts of the equation. The two things you should focus on are maximizing “remembering” and minimizing “effort required.”

Remembering
If your strategy for remembering is to “just try to remember,” then there’s a really good chance you won’t. It’s a simple thing, but it’s a big deal. Treat it like one.
Do specific things to automatically bring your new thing into your attention. In habit-speak these are called cues or triggers. Here are some cues I’ve used successfully in my own life and with clients:
  • Visual cues: Put your running shoes on the bathroom floor right where you stand to brush your teeth so you can’t miss them. Print out a calendar and write “I DRINK 8 GLASSES OF WATER” across the top, put it up on the wall at work so visually it’s right next to your computer monitor, then cross off each day as you go. There are countless other cues you could develop. Come up with a couple that work for you. Simple is best.
  • Involving other people:  Recruit someone to start your new thing with you or join a group already doing your desired activity in order to keep it top of mind. You won’t want to let other people down, and the social interaction will make the experience multi-faceted, extending beyond the action itself.
  • Tech tools:  Schedule your thing in your calendar, set up a reminder on your phone, or use an app like Productive for iPhone.
Making it Easier
You need less motivation to do easier things. Counteract unreliable motivation by making starting easier. Here are my two favorite ways:
  1. Come up with a small version of your thing to do when your motivation is low. If Jane wants to run a mile 3 times a week, she might pick a small version like just running to the end of her block and back, or walking a shorter route through her neighborhood. Sure, the small version won’t give her the same physical results on that day as running the full mile, but she probably wasn’t going to run the full mile that day anyway. By doing the small version she’ll have done something vs. nothing. And importantly, she’ll have kept exercising in her life, even on a tough day. Think “Consistency over intensity.”
  2. Recognize that there’s all this other stuff you have to account for before you can start to perform your intended task. Usually, these things hide under the surface, quietly distracting you. Bring them to the surface by writing them down. Then you can knock them off one by one, making starting easier and gaining momentum with every step.
          Common examples include:
  • Getting clear on specifics: Saying, “I’m going to start working out again” isn’t going to get Jane very far. It leaves too many questions unanswered — What kind of exercise is she going to to? On which days? At what time? With whom? Where? “I’m going to start running in my neighborhood every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after work with my neighbor Pam” is a specific plan she can follow through on.
  • Doing the prep: Jane may need to coordinate with her husband to be home early on her workout days so he can watch the kids, recruit Pam to run with her, and scout out a route through her neighborhood.
  • Getting the gear:  If Jane hasn’t already got the running shoes, clothes, water bottle, distance tracking app for her phone, etc. that she wants to use, she’ll need to get them before she can go for her first run.
To recap, remember three simple points to make starting easier:
  • Motivation is fleeting. Enjoy it when it’s there, but don’t rely on it. Plan for success without it. And don’t beat yourself up for not having more motivation than you do. You’re just fine.
  • Nothing happens until you remember to do your thing. Take simple steps to bring it into your attention as often as possible.
  • Make starting easier by giving yourself a small version of your thing to do when motivation flakes on you, and by making a simple list of the little things you need to do before you can start.
Then start. Easier said than done, I know. But hopefully you’ve gotten an idea or two here that will make the doing a little easier as well.
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Shaun Flanders is a student and teacher of starting habits that last without relying on willpower or motivation. Visit his site at zerotohabit.com to see more of his work, including case studies showing how he’s helped people start new habits that, over time, will help them achieve their dreams and accomplish the things that are most important to them.

 

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