Sometimes it’s not life’s big puzzles that floor us.
Sometimes, it’s those thorny little tasks that hang around and finally exhaust us with frustration, maybe filing some paperwork that you’ve never had to do before or canceling an account you haven’t used in two years (but get billed for monthly!).
Too many of us assume that procrastination is driven by laziness or poor priorities. But pros who study this phenomenon suggest that putting tasks off is often a form of avoidance.
Have you ever let a piece of mail sit, not wanting to even find out whether it’s a bill? Or bad news? Or more work than you’ll be able to get done this week anyway? That anxious spiral there is exactly what experts mean by “avoidance.”
A lot of advice encourages structural solutions, liking breaking a job into smaller tasks or blocking time off your schedule to devote to it. If the problem is emotional, however, these rational approaches won’t help us cope. A different perspective might help.
Let past you off the hook. “This has been sitting here for months! What’s wrong with me?” you may hear yourself saying. You know the task could be short and simple, but you may feel dread with all the emotional baggage you’re dragging to it.
The past has already happened: you can’t go back, so embrace this moment as a fresh one. Whatever your next step is, that’s the important one.
Sit with uncertainty. Sometimes we avoid tasks because we feel uncertain. We may be afraid of something new and unfamiliar, or an ambiguous task may have morphed into a giant monster in our minds. Facing and accepting our feelings can be a great way to soften them before moving on.
You ain’t busted: you don’t have to “fix” your feelings.
Gather support. It’s nice to go for help when you need it, though. It could be that asking a few questions from a professional you trust would be enough. If the challenge is primarily emotional, calling a friend to vent may be enough to face the issue, which reminds us…
Remember that you’re not alone. Not only do you have a network of support around you, in all different forms, there’s probably also someone out there who has experienced something similar before.
What’s the lesson? Take (or find!) comfort, and do the thing.
Clients, if we can help you in any way as you’re doing the things, please write or call.
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