Friday, January 27, 2017

ON CONQUERING PROCRASTINATION

When at all possible, work with your unique brain wiring, or biology. There are so many strategies, programs, and theories that profess to be THE answer to 'finally' conquering procrastination. However, the real best strategies are the ones that actually work for you. Period. There isn't one correct answer. 

The strategies that do work for you are often those you create on your own by continuing to tweak, adjust, modify and 'enhance'. You can only accomplish this through trial and error, mixed with a generous portion of creativity. And, you must be willing to experiment and fail. This is not only okay; it's a necessary and crucial part of the process.  The more you know about what does not work for you, and why, the closer you get to figuring out what does work.  

If a strategy dictates that THE sure fire way to overcome procrastination is by getting up at 5 am every day and working on what you need to accomplish before you even have your morning coffee, notice how it resonates for you. If you are so not a morning person or the thought of even uttering a simple sentence to someone before your first cup of coffee makes you twitchy, this method is unlikely to work for you. Do you know when your peak performance times are? If so, design your strategy around those times. 

When you hear JUST DO IT,  if you want to roll your eyes, growl and mumble expletives under your breath (or shout them) at the person who offered you this oh so useful tip, pay attention to that feeling. If this actually worked well for most people, there would not still be so many folks in serious pain from the high price they pay for chronic procrastination, which is compounded by their negative self-judgment since these 'simple' strategies don't work for them.  Also, if it does work for you with some things and not others, don't continue to try to use it for everything.  There is no universal best way and since we don't typically have the same reason for putting off each task, it stands to reason that we may need to apply various methods. 

If you know you work best in 15-minute spurts, do that! If you need to play oddly loud baroque music or Gregorian chants to get the dishes done or the laundry folded, or if it helps your creative flow, DO IT! If you need to dance while you vacuum or prepare for a meeting, then do that. If going to a coffee shop or the beach or the car wash helps you to focus to problem solve or get your thoughts together to make a plan . . . (you know what comes next) DO IT!

What works for you IS what works for you.  Be creative, keep practicing, keep failing, and keep starting again. Your brain is neuroplastic, so exercise it.  Lather, rinse and repeat, repeat, repeat. Practice makes progress. 



Monday, January 9, 2017

Rock Your Bottom?

A gradual sinking can prevent immediate awareness of having hit bottom. One day, you look  up and wonder how you got there. Are you even at the bottom? What does bottom look like? Of course it's relative, and in my opinion, bottom is simply as far as you will allow yourself to go before you do whatever is needed start to move from where you are.


As in every area of your life, comparisons are rarely motivational. As Teddy Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." Just as you define success for yourself, you are entitled, and perhaps even mandated, to determine what failure means. Does hitting the proverbial rock bottom mean you're a failure? Of course not! YOU are not a failure! However, you may have failed in one or more endeavor or area of your life. And that's ok - more than ok, even. Own it. Feel it. Deconstruct it. Embrace it. LEARN from it. Find all of the lessons this experience offers, and then use them to start over, try again, try differently or completely change the plan and even the goal.

Sometimes, delusion and denial can serve us for a time; often, we need it to keep us safe and functioning.  At some point, though, it just keeps us stuck.  And when we feel paralyzed or stuck and know we've been hiding (either from others or from ourselves) it's likely time to look within to see if there is something(s) we are resisting or at least failing to acknowledge. Since what we resist persists, and also robs us of precious energy, the first and most important action is to truly acknowledge that we have, in fact, been resisting, denying, ignoring or otherwise not dealing with what we know is so. There is simply no real movement before we take this step. Even if doing this feels really icky, painful, uncomfortable and heavy, it will weigh much less than denying its existence and carrying it around, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. What is that it? Whatever IT is for you.  We will all have more than one it throughout our lives. It will change and/or recur. And I submit that we cannot actually hit bottom until we wake up and own whatever it is we've been squashing down because IT has been squashing us down too. 

Your own hitting bottom need not necessarily involve drugs or alcohol, near-death, serious injury, hospitalization, incarceration, or homelessness, but sometimes it is that stark. It doesn't have to be.  Bottom for you may just be the day you look up and say, "How the hell did I get here and who is this person who looks like me but isn't?"  If you do find yourself in that place, after you go through whatever personal process is needed, then it's time to celebrate, because if you've determined that you've "hit rock bottom", there is only one way to go from there!  Perhaps you could put on some music and rock YOUR bottom! 

Friday, July 22, 2016

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR SUMMER

I was in my local farm market last week.  It was a beautiful day in July, a respite from the 93 degrees and high humidity of the previous few days.  The colors were vibrant, the sky bright blue, clouds light and wispy, and there was a slight breeze. However, most of the plants were gone, many of the tables were empty and the employees were rearranging them. 

My heart sank a little bit; I knew what this meant. They were getting ready to receive 'the mums'. I know it's somewhat past the time when people put in the their gardens, but it's MID-SUMMER and still July!  This is the time when people generally slow down, take it easy, go on vacation to the beach, spend time with family and friends and create and enjoy the little moments.  It's way too soon for MUMS! 

MUMS = Autumn & Back-to-school! 

I certainly didn't dwell on it, but it did dampen the moment, or more accurately, took me OUT of the moment. When I realized later on that it was still sort of lurking, (albeit quietly) in the back of my mind, I knew I had to make a choice to stay present to the here and now.  I do actually love autumn, and have nothing against mums, but I want to relish the summer while it's here.  When autumn comes, I will enjoy that as well, despite the knowledge of what season follows autumn. :-& 

I don’t know about you, but I’m very grateful for any reminder to just breathe, be present and to simply notice and appreciate the little things in life. When you think about it, what else is there? And, being present to what is as much as we can is not mutually exclusive with having hope and vision for the future or planning as necessary. The problem is that when we spend much more time in the past and the future than in the present, we aren't truly experiencing our lives.  On the flip side, having a dependence on staying in the moment to avoid dealing with the icky stuff in our lives also creates problems.  Like everything else, it's about finding the right balance. 

If you need a bit of evidence about the benefits and power of staying present, try this little exercise: 

Recall a few specific times in your life when you felt pure joy.  Just think of moments in time. They can be recently,  long ago or anywhere in-between. I predict that you'll find they were often, if not always, when you were completely present and aware right in that moment.  





Thursday, May 5, 2016

From SCARED to SACRED


Thoughtful Thursday . . . Well, only because it happens to be Thursday and I happened to have had this interesting thought, or really more like a 'noticing', the other day that hasn't left the front of my consciousness. (And if you had any idea at all about how many thoughts and ideas I have in any given hour, or minute even, let alone a DAY, you'd understand why I took this as somehow significant. 

Did you ever notice that simply by changing the position of one letter, the word SCARED becomes the word SACRED?

That gave me pause. I don't know why I never noticed it before. So I started thinking (dangerous, I know) Not being a particularly religious person, though fairly spiritual, I had to look up the actual definition. I do this pretty frequently, even when I know or think I know what a word means, to make sure it's being used correctly and to look for nuance. 

Everyone probably knows the most common meaning of the word sacred as it relates to religion, deity, and as a synonym for holy. Although I didn't learn anything new from my visit with Mr. Webster, the reminders were appreciated and resonant. In no particular order: 
  • devoted exclusively to one service or use (as of a person or purpose); 
  • entitled to reverence and respect; and,
  • highly valued and important 
We know, of course, that fear can be a huge obstacle. However, sometimes the particular way something is phrased can hit us in a different way than it ma have in the past. And sometimes, it's just timing. 

When I thought about the word sacred with its various meanings, and how being scared could be and likely IS in the way of my having or achieving certain things I deem highly important, I was a little bit surprised. It's not that I've never examined how fear has been or is an obstacle for me; it's that simply by changing the language, I looked at it a bit differently which was, and continues to be enlightening for me. It's a great reminder that changing our PERSPECTIVE can sometimes be the most effective tool we have. I've always loved words and language, so for me, this is just another reason to appreciate semantics. Nuance is important. 

If looking at this issue (how fear is in your way) changes at all when you re-phrase the question to How does being scared prevent or preclude the sacred in my life?, I'd love to hear about it. 

So, on a rainy Thursday morning, I'm raising my coffee mug to language, semantics and to creating more of whatever we hold as sacred in our lives!