I posted this photo and tip as part of Sophie Callahan’s 30 day rural business challenge on Instagram, and ever since then this blog post has been rolling around in my head – so time to get it out there!
How much time do you spend prevaricating, pondering, procrastinating and just generally mincing around something new before you finally commit to doing it? If you’re anything like me, it can be quite some time. I’m usually OK with the day-to-day and I’m really decisive on things where I’m sure of my ground – but face me with something new or scary and you’ll find me out there pacing with the best of them. “Well, that’s normal and natural’, I hear you say – “I totally do that too!” I hear you add under your breath…
It is normal and natural – an in-built need to assess the unknown has been indoctrinated since we all lived in caves, however I think the prolonged and repeated assessment of something, particularly when it stops you doing something, is a learned behaviour and one we can re-programme to a certain extent.
Now, some of you will be reading this and not getting it, you’re probably the type of person who is happy to dive in and see how it goes and make adjustments as things emerge – your self-belief gene is strong and this is where I think the brain retraining comes in for the rest of us.
Assuming that we have the resources, there are generally two reasons why we don’t commit to doing something:-
1) We’ve looked at it and it doesn’t feel right, there’s too much risk involved for our own personal risk level and every time we think about it, we have an uncomfortable feeling that makes us think we shouldn’t do it.
This is a protection instinct working well and we should probably listen – we’ve done the assessment, it doesn’t fit and we’re not willing to go there. We are usually capable of acting quite quickly on this one.
2) We’ve looked at it and it makes us feel excited, we really want to do it, but the self-narrative is telling us that we might fail, we’re not good enough, what will people think of us if it doesn’t go right (insert your own words here).
This is a protection instinct working against us, we’ve done the assessment, we feel we can do it but our self-doubt and fear of what others might think is preventing us from proceeding. This then becomes the circular conversation of “I really want to but I daren’t/can’t – but I really want to”
If you can relate to the second statement, then this is the one that you need to try and re-programme. This narrative is stopping you from doing something you want to do, sucking up valuable time in circular conversation and (if you’re me) boring your family and friends as they have told you to get on and do it countless times.
So here’s 5 tips from me to help with the re-programming:-
1) Write it down – an intent is always much better reviewed as it flows from your pen, so write down what you want to do.
2) Then write down why you want to do it – things like what is important to you about it, what a positive outcome will do for you. Reflect on these points as you write.
3) Then write down what’s stopping you doing it – again reflect on these points as you write and if you can see a solution for the point you’re writing – note it down. Is there anything on this list that, if you’re being honest with yourself, really stops you from being able to get on with your project?
4) Review what you have written above – own the reasons why you want to do it and acknowledge that there are solutions to the things stopping you.
5) Just do it…and if that internal conversation starts, then go back to your list and remind yourself why it is possible, how it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work straight away, mistakes are the best learning tools and what other people might think is not going to stop you. Remind yourself of another time where what you were about to do looked scary and it all worked out OK in the end.
This isn’t an overnight fix…you do have to be firm with yourself and keep slapping that internal narrative down and telling it that it is not going to take you down this time – I read somewhere once that a new habit takes at least 3 weeks of constant training to break in, so that’s a lot of reprogramming, but it is worth it in the long run.
If you’re in a group somewhere, then it’s great to put your intentions out there or just share them with a friend to help you keep your motivation, just do whatever you know you need to do to keep you focused on getting it done. If you know that you need to do this and it’s something that you just feel you can’t overcome then it might be a good idea to book in a few coaching sessions with someone like Rhea Freeman – nice juicy habit breakers like this are perfect things to point some coaching at – the accountability a coach will bring to you can be great for making things actually happen!
Anyway, enough from me for the moment, I hope you’ve found this useful – and if you do put it into practice, then I’d love to hear how you get on!