Monday, January 22, 2007

Don't Procrastinate - Just Do It!

I've been putting off writing this article for weeks, now. Every time I plan on sitting down to write it, I find myself distracted by something else that catches my attention. A few minutes ago, I was temporarily distracted by the bright idea to surf the net for articles about procrastination. I almost got sucked into spending a half hour or more reading about procrastination and fear, instead of writing about procrastination and fear! Fortunately, I recognized what I was doing, and quit after about five minutes. Otherwise, this article would never have gotten written!

Like many others, I must confess that I have very strong procrastinator tendencies. Okay, forget 'procrastinator tendencies' - I am procrastination personified! If you don't believe me, just ask my mother. She'll tell you that, and a whole lot more about me than you'll ever want to know! Like that time there was a squirrel in the house... but I digress.

The truth is that, in many cases, I procrastinate because I'm afraid. Now, exactly what I'm afraid of depends on what I'm putting off doing. In the case of this article, I've procrastinated because I was afraid that a) I'd sit here at the computer and no words would come out, and b) that whatever eventually did come out would be lame, boring, poorly written ca-ca, of no interest to anyone other than myself and the handful of people I bribe regularly to say nice things about me. At other times, I'm afraid that something really good will come out of it that I'm not sure I can handle. Fear of success can be as paralyzing as, or sometimes even more paralyzing than fear of failure. Success usually involves change, and let's face it change is scary!

'So what do I do about it', you ask. Just do it. Don't worry about it being perfect, or awful. Don't fill your mind with "what-ifs" and visions of others pointing and laughing (or not laughing, if you're performing stand-up comedy). Sit down, and just start. You don't even have to do it all at once. Break it down into more manageable pieces, if need be, and do a piece at a time. One of my favorite expressions that I use with my clients is "baby steps" – taking small actions and steps towards your goal. Even small actions are better than not taking any action at all. (Oh, and if you've never seen Bill Murray take "baby steps" in "What About Bob?", rent it! It's hilarious!) Once you start, you'll build up a momentum, just like I did when I finally sat down and started writing this article. Then, before you know it, it's done!

Oh, and about that squirrel… back when I was a junior in high school, my best friend and I came home early after a day out with my mother and aunt, to find a squirrel in the house. He (or she) was perched on my bedpost, to be exact. We tried to lure it out of the house with pieces of peanut butter bread, to no avail. We went out with some friends, but I left my mother a note about the squirrel. To this day, she believes that I lured that sucker into the house. It's now twenty-four years later, and she still has the note! Talk about scary!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

De-cluttering Your Life for the New Year

I've been involved in a rather massive cleaning and de-cluttering project in my apartment for the past few weeks. It's amazing how much stuff I've accumulated over the past few years here. Even more amazing is how much of it is just plain clutter that is taking up space in my home and my life! Letting it go and getting rid of it has been extremely satisfying. It has also made room for things of beauty which bring me joy.

So, too, it is with our lives. We hold onto people, relationships, jobs, habits and other items which take up space in our souls and drain them of energy. We avoid clearing them out and getting rid of them either because they're familiar, comfortable and safe, or because we "might need them someday". If they're anything like half the stuff I finally tossed, "someday" never comes, or by the time it does, you can go out and get a new one.

Now that a new year is upon us, it's a great time to clear out the old so that we can bring in the new.

People and relationships: Clear out the energy vampires in your life who drain and/or exhaust you. Spend more time with the people in your life who support and energize you. Cut back on the amount of time you spend with drama queens, constant complainers, whiners, "meanies", and "gimmes". Start saying "no" to people and committments that no longer fuel you. It'll feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but it will make room in your life for more fulfilling relationships.

Jobs: If you're stuck in a dead-end job that stresses you out, doesn't challenge you, or leaves you feeling like a zombie at the end of the day, the New Year is a good time to hunt for a new one. Update your resumè, cruise the want ads, and see what else is out there! Staying at a job just because it's safe and secure (if there really is such a thing these days) will eventually suck the life out of you!

Habits: Pay attention to the amount of time you spend on habits and pursuits which add nothing to your life. Many of us know the lure of "Collapse", and how one game turns into "just one more game". Before we know it, we've been sucked into hours of trying to get to the next level. Same with "junk TV". I am totally guilty of this, and know from my own very personal experience just how addicting "Starting Over", "Springer", "Maury", and "Judge Judy" can be! I'm not suggesting that you quit computer games and "junk TV" altogether (especially since I know I could never do it myself), just to spend more time doing things that bring you joy.

By de-cluttering your life, you'll have more time and energy for activities which enhance your life and feed your soul in the year ahead.

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