Procrastination Soup

Procrastination Soup: When Putting Stuff Off Feels Like a Virtue

The aroma of homemade vegetable soup wafts from the kitchen to the office as I sit here and write. It’s a cold winter day, and I set time aside this morning to make something nutritious and wholesome. Good of me, wasn’t it? Not really.

Procrastination can take many forms, and it’s important to watch for that.

When you say yes to something, you automatically say no to something else. This morning, as I chopped all the vegetables to make this wonderful soup, I chose not to do other work that is admittedly much more pressing.

Virtuous procrastination has taken a very strange form for me lately. (more…)

My New Pessimism Control Gauge

I can be a regular Eeyore.

My natural tendency towards all things pessimistic could make me a poster child for the latest antidepressant. No one who knows me on a superficial level ever sees that side of me. They either see my optimistic side or nothing at all. The reason for that is simple, however: When my outlook is better, people see me because I leave the house. When I’m feeling particularly gloomy, however, I isolate. I stay here and ruminate.

I’ve recently discovered a new tool, however, that I’ve come to call my Pessimism Control Gauge. It’s very simple. It’s FOCUS.

Every moment is a new chance for me to shift my focus. When I notice what I’m noticing, this observation becomes very important. For example, when I’m feeling particularly out of sorts, I’ve learned to stop, look, and listen. Here’s how it goes: (more…)

Celebrating Imperfection

What would happen if imperfection were the goal rather than the thing to be avoided?

Perfectionism comes at a cost, and far too often, the cost is self-sabotage. Imperfection, on the other hand, can help us move toward goals in a celebratory fashion. We can actually have fun along the way!

Can you relate to this little story, below?

A former client of mine whom I’ll call Caron was paralyzed by perfectionism. She was enrolled in school at the time, and she would work at a frenzied pace and then sabotage herself. Caron would do one very mortifying thing: She would write a paper, complete it, and then in a fit of anxiety, she would delete the paper and start all over again.

Have you ever done anything similar to that? (more…)

On Getting Out of Your Own Way

Have you ever started working on a project that was really important to you, but then suddenly you just stopped?

Do you work on your ideas and then abandon them before completion, or do you finish them only after a Herculean effort at the end?

Examine your stories. You may find roadblocks there.

Stories are the collection of things you tell about yourself. Your stories involve how you look, how you feel around certain people, and what kinds of things you think you need to make your life complete.

Stories also include your perception of your abilities: things you do very well, and the things you might not even want to try because “you’re bad at that.” Your stories started a long time ago, and they have since become part of your identity. (more…)

The Undercurrent: Dealing with Sneaky & Mean Inner Critics

What drags you down?

My negative thoughts can attack me on even the best of days. They are so persistent and so effective that I have come to call them The Undercurrent.

The Undercurrent is a quiet, unseen, and vicious tug that is always running just beneath the surface of seemingly tranquil waters. It has a nightmarish component: In the river of my thoughts, there is a monstrous force that reaches up from underneath to grab my neck and drown me.

Whenever I want to do something I deem noteworthy, this negative “stop her now” energy lurks about, waiting to spiral me downwards to my untimely death.

There’s hope, however!

I’ve identified this B Horror movie drama as the scalding disapproval that comes from my inner critics. I have a whole bunch of them, and they are like guerrilla warriors, ready to ambush me when I least expect it!

That’s why I have to pay attention. It’s either that, or have my hopes and dreams slain by those tricky little soldiers.

Today, I won. I followed my dreams despite The Undercurrent. I didn’t drown; in fact, I’ve made small steps towards accomplishing my goals. Lately, I’ve been winning more often. I’ll share how. (more…)

The Clean Your Plate Club

Anyone over a certain age likely remembers some version of the clean-your-plate club. It’s a simple as it sounds:

Eat everything on your plate and then you get to belong to our club. Eat your broccoli, those mashed potatoes, your potato roll, and that gravy-covered meat there, too, even though you’re not even sure what it is.

In other words, you get approval for cleaning your plate, and maybe even a lollipop.

While I do not argue the virtue of eating your vegetables and I certainly don’t want anyone wasting food, I take issue with the psychological implications of feeling like everything on your plate must be consumed before you can do anything else.

Cleaning your plate in a metaphorical sense implies that you must finish your projects – no matter how many you’ve got going, before you can go out and play. In other words, there will be no fun till the work gets done. (more…)

On Blasting Through the Wall of Criticism

Real and imaginary critics abound.

If you’re trying to reach a challenging goal, you’re likely to hear a few voices in your head telling you that you can’t do it. Depending on how much attention you give those voices, the resounding echoes of their negativity can be overwhelming.

One of my clients described the criticism she hears while writing to be an enormous wall of criticism that simply will not allow progress to occur. Instead, she suffers, and thinks a lot about the criticism. Any words she writes appear to be pale echoes of what could be.

We’re working on blasting through that wall. Here are a couple of techniques we’ve found that actually work. Try them! (more…)