Tag Archives: goals

Procrastination = Attempt to Feel Good Now

I’ve been reading articles on procrastination to prepare for speeches I

Who is winning?

Who is winning?

will give in March 2017. I was particularly fascinated by “Procrastination: A Scientific Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating,” an article by James Clear, which suggests that procrastination is a result of our present and future selves being at odds with each other.

Our future self plans and sets goals. It can see the benefit of taking actions with long-term benefits. Our present self is actually responsible for taking action. And, guess what? It really likes instant gratification. It seeks pleasure in the moment and tends to make choices to avoid discomfort, thus is likely to procrastinate tasks that could cause discomfort in the moment.

Clear says that we value long-term benefits when they are in the future, not in the present moment. You can vow to go to the gym to get it shape and lose weight when you set your annual goals. Getting in shape and losing weight are in the future. Having to go to the gym or stop eating ice cream, tasks that are necessary to achieve your goal, are in the present. It’s easy to lose sight of those laudable future goals when your bed feels so warm and comfortable in the morning or you have a tasty treat in front of you. Thus you procrastinate getting regular exercise and making healthy food choices.

According to Clear, your present self is not likely to be motivated to avoid long term consequences because we aren’t connected to our future selves. That self seems so far away and impervious to current benefits and consequences of actions taken today.

One answer to the future/present self conflict offered by Clear is to make the rewards of taking action with long-term benefits more immediate. When the benefits of long-term choices are more immediate, you will be more motivated take action now.

Clear suggests that you can achieve this with “temptation bundling,” a concept that came out of behavioral economics research performed by Katy Milkman at The University of Pennsylvania. Temptation bundling involves combining a behavior that is good for you in the long-run with a behavior that feels good in the short-run. Some of his examples include: only listen to audiobooks or podcasts you love while exercising; only get a pedicure while processing overdue work emails.

Clear’s information offers a very plausible explanation for why so many people have great difficulty starting and sustaining an exercise program, losing weight, and accomplishing many long-term goals despite the best of intentions. Is your present self running the show? Is the result undue stress and failure to accomplish important business and life goals?

Are You Stuck? How Coaching Can Help

Are you stuck, unable to take a step forward because of fear, frustration, not knowing

Are you stuck and frustrated?

Are you stuck and frustrated?

what to do, not knowing how to do something, because your thoughts are spinning in your head? Coaching can help.

I recently worked with a woman who has ADD. She came to our coaching session feeling frustrated because she had tried very hard to get a number of tasks done that day and kept running into roadblocks. With each road block she became more and more frustrated. The frustration sent her thoughts spinning. She was having great difficulty figuring out her next step.

In our coaching we talked about what happened that day, the challenges, her actions, her attempts to make progress despite roadblocks. As we talked she gradually calmed down. That was no small feat. It can be difficult for the ADD brain to settle down once aroused by uncomfortable feelings. The act of putting her struggle into words that I could understand helped her look at her situation more objectively.

My role was to listen to her story, ask questions to clarify details, and help her identify her priorities. She went from feeling like everything was a priority, another common way that ADD shows up, to identifying two actions to focus on. Together we identified when she would do those tasks and followup actions to take if she ran into more roadblocks.

Two days later I got an email from this woman. She told me that once she took the first step, getting her cell phone working at the Verizon store, she felt better and was off and running. The first task we’d identified as most important was the block to further action. Once she got her phone fixed she wrote, “I did a number of other things on my To Do list and had a great time that night with friends. I went from feeling mentally exhausted to refreshed.” Plus, the next day she was so charged up from her successes the night before that she was motivated to knock off many more difficult steps.

Coaching provides a safe place to process current challenges and design actions with the support of another caring and interested person. When this woman took time out of her day to call me, having a supportive person on the other end of the phone created just the pause she needed to regroup, figure out what was most important and consider options for moving forward. Without our conversation she might have stayed stuck and spent her evening feeling frustrated and mad that she had accomplished  so little despite her efforts. Our coaching conversation made it possible for her to design a new game plan and take action.

Are you stuck? I invite you to schedule a free 30 minute Back on Track sample phone coaching session to explore the possibility of coaching as a resource and support to help you get moving to accomplish YOUR goals.

Lack of Awareness Affects Productivity, Creates Stuckness

One reason we get stuck and fail to make positive progress toward our goals is because it’s so easy to get off track and be totally unconscious of the fact that we jumped the rails. For example, I recently was working effectively and efficiently in my office when I encountered a computer problem. Because I hate to have anything not working properly, I began trying to solve the problem. You know how that goes. It’s like going down a rabbit hole–many twists and turns, much time wasted, and still no resolution.

At some point along the way it hit me that I was wasting valuable time and not making progress on tasks I wanted to get done that day. When I weighed my options I realized solving that problem at that moment was a choice, not an imperative. With that hit of awareness I was able to change course and get back to work. Had I remained unconscious about the time I was wasting, as many people do, especially people with ADD/ADHD, I could have lost the opportunity to get an enormous amount of important work done.

If you are prone to such side trips, getting caught up in things that are not top priority, becoming aware of when you are off track and aware of the ways you can be lured off track is imperative if you want to be productive. I got back on track because I have a good time sense and a strong drive to accomplish my goals. My sense that time was slipping away as I worked to fix the computer problem got my attention and made it possible for me to pause long enough to become aware of the choice I had regarding the focus of my efforts.

Another way to create the opportunity for awareness is to set an alarm on your phone to go off every 20 to 30 minutes. When the alarm sounds, consider it a cue to pause and notice whether or not you are doing priority work. If you’re off track you can then shift back to work that will make it possible for you to reach your goals.

A lack of awareness that you are drifting away from priority work leads to being stalled in your efforts to move forward and eventually to being stuck. You choose. Stalled and stuck or aware and moving toward your goals!

A great way to develop awareness of priorities, of what derails your efforts to be productive, and ways to keep yourself on track and moving forward is to work in partnership with a coach. Developing awareness is the first step in the coaching process and is the first step to better time management.

To learn more about coaching, email me to schedule a 30 minute free consultation to explore the possibility of coaching as a way to get unstuck and improve time management and productivity.

Want Clarity About Your Goals? Wash Your Windows!

How clear is your view of the new year?

Are you struggling with making an important decision? Want clarity? Wash your windows! I’m not kidding! The windows are the eyes of the home. If your windows are clean you can see clearly. When you can see clearly, you can think clearly. I am living proof!

For months I have been struggling to get clarity about the direction to take with my business. My coach has made several suggestions. They were good suggestions, but they didn’t resonate with me. I ran numerous options through my head, over and over. Still, I couldn’t get clear.

Then one day, while flopping around in my “not knowing” state, I looked at the windows in our home and shuttered. They were filthy. They hadn’t been cleaned since we moved into the house seven years ago. Every time the sun shone through them I was reminded that they needed to be washed. My thoughts also went to, “But, we can’t afford to have it done.” Talk about scarcity thinking! Yes, they were large expanses of negative energy.

Both Bob and I HATE doing windows. And, the cost to get them washed always seemed to be more than we could manage. That day, as the sun streamed through the accumulated grime of too many seasons of pollen and dust, I made the decision to call a window cleaning company to get an estimate. To my surprise the cost was reasonable! I immediately scheduled the window washing. That simple action cemented my commitment to clarity.

My car windows were also filthy. Smudged with dog nose prints, I felt irritated every time I got into my car. One day I couldn’t stand it anymore. I drove to the closest grocery store and bought window cleaning wipes. I cleaned my windows right there in the grocery store parking lot. I couldn’t tolerate the lack of clarity a moment longer.

The day after I washed the car windows I met with a woman who helps me with marketing my programs. As we talked I was amazed to find that I knew exactly how I wanted to change my business and what projects I want to pursue in 2012. It was as if a dam had burst and the ideas came pouring out. After my marketing friend left, the ideas kept streaming out into a mind map and outline of my plan. I also felt a physiological rush of energy that couldn’t be explained by caffeine. The coffee I had that day was decaffeinated!

It’s the perfect time to get clarity about where you want to go in the new year. And, it’s also a great time to get your windows washed, since we’re about to head into the season of cold temperatures, gray days and challenging weather. You don’t need the irritant of dirty windows. Commit to clarity! Get your windows cleaned and watch your vision of the new year crystalize!