Procrastination isn’t about being lazy, it is about avoiding an emotion associated with the activity. It is an objection meant to keep us in place.
A small illustration. When I know that I am doing something I love, like preparing my upcoming live free webinar, The Secret to Your Writing Success, it feels right. I know there is a specific timeline and outcome, I have no problem diving in and doing the work. I can spend hours a day at getting the tasks done.
But there are times when I avoid doing what I love, like writing. I will give all kinds of excuses like not feeling like it, too tired, or I’m stuck. To the casual observer, it would appear that I am simply lazy, I don’t have the drive or determination to write. I tell myself the same thing which makes me feel guilty and ashamed, and drains my energy even more so I don’t write.
We’re not lazy, though. Our drive and determination is as strong as anyone’s.
Procrastination is an objection created by our inner saboteur.
An objection is when a part of us (the saboteur) prevents us from doing something, from staying motivated to complete a task, or from experiencing a state that we want. An objection is a negative conclusion that holds a limiting belief in place. It is a “cork in the bottle” that stops the flow of information or a shift into action. Objections are often spoken by parts of us (the saboteur), and spoken in negatives. They become our beliefs and conclusions.
Often the saboteur strikes when we emotionally or intellectually know something is wrong. In coaching, we say that everything, every action, when our bodies hurt or our minds or hearts protest, it is because what we are protesting doesn’t sit right with us, and that something is important and needs to be looked after. Just as our bodies hurt when something is physically wrong with us, so our creativity protests when something isn’t right with what we are writing. Either we have tied things up too neatly to go on; we aren’t as in love with the story as we should be; or you have an uneasy feeling about the agent you’ve queried.
There are other objections as well, the external objections such as: “I really don’t know enough about writing,” “This isn’t commercial enough,” “Nobody wants to read this.” These objections are often directed at our frustration with the business side of writing and because of that frustration, enforce our negative beliefs about ourselves and our writing.
To silence the saboteur, it is important that we find out what it is objecting to. When we figure out the objections, what the problem is, and what is important to us about that particular objection, we can deal with it. To do so, we need to open up a controlled dialogue with the saboteur.
In dialoguing with the saboteur, we find out what is important to us in our lives and about what we are working on.
For example. We are writing away, getting into the story, thinking this story is going to be great. All of a sudden, our Saboteur says “Hey. Glad you like it. Hate to tell you, but, nobody wants to read this.” And we start to believe our Saboteur because of the stack of rejections in our inbox and we ignore the acceptances we’ve received.
The objection is directed at the business side of writing. The marketability. The rejection. The failure.
Why is the business side important to us? Because getting published is our dream. Getting published, is success, is important to us.
Our negative belief about our writing, that nobody wants to read our work is reinforced and stops us from writing that story, from submitting it, and the pain of rejection.
Dialogue with the Saboteur and end procrastination
When you have a controlled dialogue with your saboteur, it looks like this: acknowledge the objection, acknowledge what is important to you, then tell the saboteur it is wrong and here’s why.
For example: The saboteur says you’ve never had an original story idea, so what makes you think you have one now?
You would say, “Thanks for trying to protect me. I know you think my idea isn’t original because you want me to write something different, that you think will bring me success. Here’s the thing, though. It’s not up to you. Your opinion doesn’t matter. Everyone is unique, and the way I tell the story is unique, I do have something original to say. Now shut up and get out of here!”
Check in with yourself or continue to procrastinate
Breaking the cycle of procrastination is hard. I get it. It is a lot easier to fall back on our excuses, our objections: I’m tired, I have not energy, I’m blocked.
I encourage you to take some time to check in with yourself. This doesn’t have to be a big long meditation session. It only has to take a few moments.
When you find yourself procrastinating, ask yourself what you are really objecting to. What is the underlying emotion you are avoiding? Fear, rejection, not wanting to hear other people’s opinions on your work because it means you will have to edit. Why are you avoiding that emotion or outcome?
In my upcoming free live webinar, The Secret to Your Writing Success, I will teach the three phases of the writing process that put success firmly within your control and help end procrastination. Click the link above to save your seat!
Until next time…