“Your problem is you are too busy holding on to your unworthiness.” ~Ram Dass
In this short series we’ve looked at a variety of sources and drivers for our procrastination and most of them have centered on the task itself… too big, not prepared enough, getting it perfect. But the biggest challenge I see with clients is all about the OUTCOME. I am regularly amazed at the myriad ways that people tell themselves that they are not ‘worthy’ of the outcome that they are avoiding. Either they never start, or they quit part way through, because they believe, deep down, that they don’t deserve a better outcome. The loving relationship, the better work-life balance, the better home, the neater back yard, the stable finances: somehow, all of these things belong in other people’s lives but not theirs. Either they’ve been told that they’re not worthy of a better life, or that other people’s wellbeing is more important than theirs, or that they’ve mismanaged situations for so long that they need to be sentenced to perpetual disappointment, frustration and unhappiness. Whatever the driver may be, many people simply don’t believe that they deserve a better life and sabotage their own chances of getting there. It’s as if the ‘less than ideal’ position they experience today is exactly what they deserve.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Ask yourself: Is your procrastination more about the prospect of actually having the better outcome than the challenge of the task itself? Here’s a few home truths about your ‘rights’ to a better outcome or life:
a) This is your life, no one else’s. You have the right to decide what’s best in your life and you are the only judge of how your life should be.
b) Self fulfilment is not the same as selfishness. It’s OK for you to have needs and wants and to take steps to achieve them for your own wellbeing.
c) Other people’s opinions of your life are not your problem. Their views are based upon what they experience, want and need, rather than the best outcome for you. That includes them criticizing you for even trying to achieve. Your own positive instincts are probably more accurate than you think so go with your gut.
d) Others will want you contribute to their wellbeing or betterment but that shouldn’t come at the expense of your own. Life is a menu of options and you get to choose what you put on your own plate. You don’t need to accept what others try to have you take on, just because they want you to. Any outcomes need to match your goals too.
Let’s be clear, you do have the right to your own life with better outcomes and to take steps to make it happen.
There are some simple steps that you can take to break out of the self-doubt that is holding you back. Think of them as antidotes for procrastination that can help to get you started:
- Take stock of your reality. If you weren’t comparing yourself to others, how would your life rate? Which areas look pretty good? Which areas would you change? What steps can you take to do that?
Change the way you talk to yourself. Think and speak in positive, but realistic, terms:
- I deserve the life I want and I’ll work it through to get there
- It didn’t work this time, but I’ll keep going until it does.
- I’m still learning. Each time I get it wrong is one step closer to getting it right.
- I’m so proud of myself for sticking with this!
- Make peace with now. Embrace and make peace with where you are, and your journey toward something new will feel much more peaceful, rewarding, and satisfying. Don’t leave your current state with purely negative thoughts, they’ll only stick with you and end up in your new state too.
- Get your attention off yourself. Think, instead, of how good it will be to have the right outcome and focus on that. Even better if the outcome has benefits for others too. Focus on how your new reality benefits you and those around you.
- Swap ‘want’ for ‘should’. Penelope Trunk says “Should is the American way of putting ourselves down in the name of the need to impress other people.” Get to like and want the outcomes you are avoiding. Let yourself be pulled towards them and stop pushing yourself at them. If you have a sense of deserving an outcome, it will be easier to achieve.
- Catch yourself doing it right. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and even they had some failures along the way too. So, get started and catch yourself in the act of achieving the small steps towards the bigger goals. Notice that your successes only bring joy to you and to others and the world is better when you are.
So, it really doesn’t matter which outcomes you’re avoiding. If you truly believe that they are right for you, it’s time to kick out self-doubt and get started.
You can have the life you want… but your journey doesn’t need to be alone. Invite others to contribute to your achievements. If it’s well intended they will help willingly. Of course, you can always give us a call at Epiphanies to support you through life’s bigger changes.