As we head into the last quarter of 2022, you may be feeling the pull to end the year on a high. Perhaps you started the year with good intentions and plans…but other things got in the way?
But the reality is, there is always something that will get in the way.
If you’re looking for perfect timing, or the ideal conditions, then chances are you could be waiting for a while. And although feeling prepared will help your confidence, procrastinating and letting time slip away, will eat into your confidence even more.
It’s a cliche that “we always regret the chances we didn’t take”, but regret and frustration from not taking action can really eat away at self esteem. And it impacts how likely we are to put ourselves forward for things in the future.
Recognise where you might be holding yourself back by waiting, and ask yourself whether waiting is actually serving you in the long term.
If not now, when?
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Planning and preparation can help us to anticipate problems, and give us the chance to make adjustments if we see something on the horizon which could be a problem.
But we can also become too distracted or focused on the ‘what ifs’…and end up creating new problems for ourselves.
Trying to find that balance can be hard. We want to do our best and avoid any pitfalls, but in doing so, we lose sight of the here and now. Maybe we appear distracted or not interested in what is going on around us. Or we freeze and can’t take action, because we’ve built up all of these scenarios of failure in our minds.
Try and notice how much time you spend on the ‘what if’ scenarios…and whether you’re thinking too much about what ‘might’ happen, rather than what ‘is’ happening.
Being able to recognise these thought patterns is the first and most important step.
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How conscious are you about your behaviour?
If you’re someone who is actively going after a goal, then you are probably already aware of the impact of your behaviour. You should have an idea of the input required to get you to where you want to be, and are taking steps to modify your behaviour to get you there.
But often we go about our daily lives, just ‘getting things done’. We might not give a great deal of thought to it.
In CBT, the role of our behaviour is key to understanding not only why we have certain issues, but also how we might be maintaining them.
In other words, how we behave might be contributing to the fact that the problem doesn’t seem to be getting better.
You might notice for example that if you are feeling low in mood, then you might start cancelling plans or you might not have the motivation to do things you used to enjoy. Things feel more of a chore than usual.
Or alternatively, you might recognise these change in behaviours as an indicator that you’ve been taking on too much and need to rebalance.
This month, I’m looking at some of the common behaviours that can have a big impact on how we feel…whether we’re conscious of them or not.
Identifying behaviours that might be impacting or holding us back, is a key first step in making change. But with a few small tweaks, they can make all the difference.
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I happened to notice that today is “Fight Procrastination Day”. That’s a great topic for a post I thought…if only I could get round to writing something. I jest of course!
But it did get me thinking – has procrastination become a bad word? The idea of nominating a day in which we all dress up as superheroes to wrestle with our wandering minds and distractions left me a bit confused. It’s like when you were a child at school and were told to stop staring out of the window and daydreaming (that’s a whole other blog post!).
Procrastination is often seen as coping mechanism which we use to avoid (consciously or unconsciously) events or actions which we perceive to be challenging. We’ve all experienced it – knowing we need to make an important phone call but we keep putting it off, or needing to meet a deadline but we can’t get started. Often it is because we are focussing on the possible outcomes and we start to project our fears onto how it may play out…what if I give my opinion and they don’t like it, what if I submit this work and it’s not good enough. It can become problematic when we repeatedly avoid or delay situations by giving in to those fears. It can affect how other people view us, and it also leads to greater frustration and doubt within ourselves.
But I also think that procrastination can be helpful. It’s like having an inner alarm that sounds when we are about to do something new, and makes us that little bit more cautious. When we have something that is really important to us, taking that pause to think about what we are going to do, and considering it’s possible implications can be a good thing. Listening to those fears can highlight where we need to do a little more preparation or learning, which can in turn increase our confidence. It can stop us going gung-ho into situations and not giving it our best attention or efforts. And it can also help flag up when we are getting into something that we might not be entirely on board with. Often in these fast paced times, we do things on autopilot, and have little time to sit and reflect and think, actually is this job/relationship/whatever making me happy?
Whoever said ‘procrastination is the thief of time’ may well have been on to something…but spending time on something which isn’t truly meant for you, can be equally as wasted.
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