How to Stop Procrastinating
Welcome back, today’s lesson is a biggie. We’re focusing on procrastination and avoidance.
How often do you leave a big assignment or piece of work to the very last minute? Or, do you find yourself doing work over the weekend? Because your week has flown by and you have very little to show for it? Do you tell yourself that you work best under pressure?
I’m sure lots of you have done this—I know I have and do!
Procrastination is very common. But it’s a pretty hopeless coping strategy that we use to deal with imposter syndrome. For example, I do this because I’m worried my work won’t be good enough or I’m not good enough.
Procrastination can also go beyond work, affecting other essential parts of our lives. Avoiding a difficult conversation with a loved one only prolongs the conflict. And delaying a critical life decision can lead to staying small and safe for years.
Imposter syndrome was founded in 1978 by psychologists, Pauline Clance, and Suzanne Imes.
It is characterized by intense feelings of:
• Not being good enough or clever enough
• Being a fraud or an imposter
• And, that you’re going to get found out
Whenever those feelings come up, I want you to ask yourself, is this helpful to me, or is this detrimental? I also want you to think about two questions: “what is my imposter syndrome protecting me from?” and “what is it costing me in my life?”
If we’re worried about failure, we need to accept that failing is part of how we learn. We all fail—we all experience doomed romantic relationships, leave or lose jobs. We might have dropped out of university or not yet be working in our dream job while living in our dream house.
If you’re avoiding speaking up, doing a training course. Writing blogs, presenting, or telling people how you feel. Then your imposter syndrome might be stopping you from failing. But, it’s also preventing you from developing, preventing any growth, holding you back from new opportunities and experiences.
Gaining your confidence back once your inner critic tells you and convinces you that you’re not good enough, is hard. If you can imagine that you have a full allowance of confidence. But every time you get a negative comment or some lousy feedback. A little bit of your confidence allowance leaks away.
To tackle imposter syndrome and increase your self-esteem. You have to put better habits, processes, and boundaries in place to keep your confidence allowance fully topped up. Gaining confidence is about doing this daily.
So What Can You Do?
Learn to embrace failure: We all absolutely hate to fail. The task is to learn from each one to improve our skills and decision-making. Rather than letting our failures get us down. And reduce our chances of ever achieving success.
When we’re honest with ourselves about our own mistakes and weaknesses, and, we can confront them. We can begin to build up the emotional resilience necessary to tackle the next test.
Elizabeth Day is a writer with a podcast and a book called How to Fail. It’s great to listen to people talk about how they have failed in life because we don’t feel so alone in our failures. And, it’s also helpful to hear how they’ve overcome this and moved on.
Log your achievements: Get a new notebook or create a phone note and log your achievements. Keep all the good feedback you receive from other people; a thank you from a friend, a well done. Or a good job email from a boss, or the time your family told you they are proud of you.
Writing them down helps you to recognize them, which makes you feel good. Also, seeing your achievements written down shows you how far you’ve come, the impact you have every day, and how much you’ve achieved.
It’s your “I ROCK!” list. And, you do rock.
Call out your imposter syndrome: When that inner critic tells you that you’re not good enough, and anything you achieve is just luck—call it out. Try to acknowledge that it’s happening and separate your inner critic from the real you.
Name it and tell it to be quiet. Our inner critic generally comes from a parent or a caregiver. It could have come from teachers or bullies at school. If we hear negative comments or phrases when we’re young—we bring this into our internal dialogue. So, the reality is it’s not yours.
And, should you continue to listen to it? We all have an inner mentor too, so build this voice up and listen to her instead.
Practice gratitude: Focus on being grateful for what you have and what has gone well that day. Note down the things in your life you are thankful for every day. I do this at the end of each day; I make a list of five things I’m grateful for that day.
Be prepared: Gaining confidence is all about continued practice. So, prepare as much as possible. Practice every single presentation, read meeting minutes and make notes before every meeting, research the person you are meeting or emailing.
It’s important to keep doing things that challenge you. So that you can learn, improve and satisfy yourself that you can do it. This increases your confidence.
Look after yourself: Looking after yourself also helps you gain confidence. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, take time for yourself, exercise regularly, do meditation and eat healthily. Make this a habit.
If you feel good, you begin to improve your self-esteem and gain confidence.
Your task: Make a list of all the things you’re putting off, or that you’re anxious about. Rank them in order of difficulty or fear levels. Predict what would happen if you took action. Starting with the smaller and less frightful tasks, plan to make these happen and record how it made you feel, what you learned, were you right to be so anxious? What consequences does this have for the harmful view you have about yourself?
Facing your fears is the only way to prove to yourself that you’re capable and to feel stronger. I promise!
In our next lesson, we’ll look at people-pleasing.
And you’re doing just great, keep going!
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