In my quest to be consistent, I am beginning to see a personal pattern that threatens my brand. Sometimes I procrastinate to the point that my activities no longer have the impact they would have had 1,2 or 3 days earlier. Or, even worse—not delivering at all, which is clearly a brand killer there is no coming back from. This is where I want to delve into the WHAT.
What is creating this behavior?
After some reflection I have come up with a brief list of why I procrastinate:
- I am bored with the task
- I feel overwhelmed by the size of the task
- People may discover I am an imposter
- I feel overwhelmed by the ask of the task
- I might fail
Except for the first bullet, they are fear-based reasons. How many of us choose to let fear drive us to employ procrastination as our consistent behavior? So not only do I need to work on creating habits that support and encourage consistency, I have to work on changing my mindset to that of someone who embraces the discomfort of a little fear and takes the leap.
My best friend, Kim, and I have this ongoing joke about how clean our closets are when there is a task we are procrastinating on. Years ago when Kim was working on her master’s at Marquette, her advisor told her to pick a topic she was incredibly passionate about because she would most likely be sick to death of it by the end of the program. You can probably guess Kim wanted to do anything but work on her thesis towards the end. Once when I called her to check up on her progress, she proudly told me she had cleaned out both her entry and linen closets, which hadn’t been done in years. I called her out on it then, and now when asked a question about something we don’t want to work on, we say, “Have you seen my clean closets?”
The only way to overcome this behavior is to build discipline. Luckily there are lots of different methods people employ, you just need to pick the one that works for you. I am currently working with a colleague to help me be accountable. Kind of like when you hire a personal trainer to make sure you show up at the gym, I am making sure that I am “showing up” in completing the goals and tasks I have set by having a daily standup at the beginning of each workday. We keep it to no more than 15 minutes and we have prepared by setting our 6 Daily goals before the call. Eventually, when the discipline muscle is able to lift on its own, I won’t need this stand up, but until then I require this structure for my accountability.
I once saw a movie called, Defending Your Life, the premise being an afterlife way station where you stand trial for being afraid. Those who lived fearless lives get to proceed on. Those who lived life in fear get to go back and try life again. While the movie is actually a comedy, I did take it to heart.
I slowly began taking the less traveled path when offered options. I moved to the Czech Republic for one year and stayed for four. After that, I lived and worked as a successful freelancer in Germany for four years. Even scarier, I moved back to the States, started a new career, bought my first house, traveled to Manila for two months to train offshore resources, all within a period of nine months. Sounds like I got this fear thing by the horns? Yeah, not so much. Those pesky voices, usually sounding something like a surly 15-year old girl, are truly hard to muffle, much less stifle.
Those of you who know Darren Fisher knows he likes to say you need to get “comfortable with the uncomfortable”. I might have gotten comfortable with the path less traveled but I still struggle with uncomfortable. Let’s face it, no one likes to fail. But, what if you use the experience to learn from it, did you really fail? Just like when you SPEAR, you reflect and realign. Sometimes I even realign a success because I think of a way I can improve it right now or do it even better next time. Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Getting out of the way
If I am going to get this consistency thing down and successfully maintain it, the first thing I’m going to have to do is get out of my own way. I can’t let years of experienced procrastination get in the way of my goals and dreams. I need to give myself the time to reflect on why I am procrastinating, boredom or fear, and get beyond that. Then, I can actually get to the point of how to be consistent and maintain it.
Are you ready to do a little self-reflection of why you are getting in your own way? Need help? Let’s talk! We are SPEARity, a local Milwaukee leadership coaching firm that specializes in business coaching, executive coaching, and leadership development training.