This is a letter about procrastination.
I am going to take a pause in writing about the twelve steps to talk about something that really affected me this week. And has been affecting me for several weeks.
I committed to speaking at the Alive event in Ibiza back in July. This event is coming up in October, so very soon!
And I hadn't booked my flights or anywhere to stay once I got there. As the event drew nearer with each morning the dreadful stomach-sinking feeling that I still hadn't done it got worse. The thought was the first thing that popped into my head as soon as I woke up. It started to feel almost as bad as when I used to wake up with a hangover and have to face the fact that I had woken up feeling guilty, shameful and ill again. The mental load of it hanging over me started to feel as pervasive as the thoughts that I used to have around the will I / won't I drink today cycle. And I haven't felt like that for a very long time. I am talking over four years!
I knew I was going, the talk is written, my name is on the bill, as it were, on all the marketing. I would never let Lydia and Charlotte the organisers down and pull out, it's just not the way I operate. I have even bought the dress I am going to wear.
So why did I procrastinate for so long?
The answer is I let fear in.
Fear of not having enough money - I let the media narrative that is currently being led by the ‘cost of living crisis’ permeate into my brain. I didn't let the covid fear-mongering in, but the current money fear-mongering has seeped in. I had to remind myself that it is just a narrative and I can turn it off.
Fear of not being good enough - ‘they won’t miss me on that epic lineup - they are just being kind by giving me a slot to speak - they might even be relieved if I don't turn up, blah blah blah"….I needed to turn that off in my head.
Fear of failure - “If I don't go I can't completely mess up the talk because of nerves”
Fear of travelling alone - I am not the bravest on an aeroplane and I do have a tendency to get lost, so I tend not to go away alone, especially abroad.
I let all of this fear in and I let it creep into me like a vine crawling up around veins and taking hold until it felt like it was crawling around my heart and clamping itself around it like a vice. Much like the weeds in my garden are threatening to take down my clematis plant. (must sort that out next!)
I had a coaching call with my dear friend Lisa, we coached each other. The tears came as I surfaced what was really holding me back. We worked through the fears and I asked her to hold me accountable for booking by the end of the week. I had booked by mid-week.
The next morning I woke up feeling free, hopeful, excited even. I am now looking forward to the trip. I am trying not to berate myself too much that I didn't just book the damn flights in the first place. And I am committing to not letting myself do this to myself again.
The mental load simply isn't worth the price (I have mouth ulcers and a cold sore to prove the stress physically as well)
And the freedom and excitement I feel now isn't something I want to put off again.
5 tips when you are procrastinating
Eat the frog - there is a saying ‘each the frog first thing in the morning’. Do the thing that you least want to do first, to get it out of the way early.
Don't distract yourself with busyness - my laundry is so up to date right now! If we are very busy, which I am sure we all are, it is very easy to use that as an excuse to not do the thing that we really need to do. The thing that we have been putting off.
Write a list - there is research to show that when we tick something off a list it gives a hit of dopamine. Does anyone else write things on a list that we have already done, just so we can tick them off the list - I know it's not just me!
Ask for help. Have you simply got too much to do and you're feeling overwhelmed? And when all else failed, I had to reach out to a fellow coach for:
Coaching! The above tips are all very well, but I had to explore why I really wasn't taking action. I had to surface all the fears that I have outlined above. I talked through the real possibility of pulling out. In partnership with my coach, we came to the conclusion that if I didn't go, I would have the most awful FOMO. By not doing the thing I had committed to do, and really wanted to do, that is in service of the life I am working towards, I would be giving the universe a very clear message, that I am not committed to my own goals. And there was no way I was going to do that. I am very grateful to Lisa for the coaching and for Charlotte for the virtual hand holding while I did eventually get around to booking those flights! Just need to sort out how the hell I am getting to the airport…
Oh and a bonus one, I heard on a podcast this week that the background noise of cafe sounds can improve focus, so I am going to experiment with this and other sounds and I shall report back!
As I write this I am very much enjoying Coffee Shop Vibes on Spotify - particularly the ‘Train Cafe Ambience with soothing music London to Paris.’
If you're procrastinating on something that is really important to you and you need coaching through it, then you know where I am!
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