What are some of the things that prevent anyone from feeling good. One of my biggest obstacles is procrastination. Why? By putting off something until some later time I am constantly ruminating about it. How hard this task will be! How long it will take! And then thoughts of failure begin to creep into my thinking. Recently I stumbled across a book by Neal Fiore called, “The Now Habit.” And his simple advice has helped me a lot.
Fiore writes: “The fear of judgement is the key fear that stems from over-identifying who you are, your worth as a person, with your work. From this fear follows the counterproductive drive toward perfectionism, severe self-criticism, and the fear that you must deprive yourself of leisure time in order to satisfy some unseen judge.” Wow! That nails it pretty well for me.
Procrastination is not a moral failing or character defect I have been carrying around with me all this time but actually a drive toward perfectionism because of the fear of criticism of some unseen judge. Some call this “ego ideals” which are often unattainably lofty goals that are often unstated and as a result become the constant and unremitting inner critic that says, “You can’t draw. You can’t write. Who do you think you are anyway?” And this inner critic stops us in our tracks.
So what do we do. Fiore says that we need to first expose this inner critic.
Fiore’s approach is built upon the concept that the human spirit is strong and resilient and that rather than focus on our character defects we should cherish and savor the strengths and gifts that we have. One of the first things Fiore suggests is to keep a procrastination journal which at first glance just seems so negative. But the key to really growing and overcoming these life sucking challenges is mindful awareness of the problem as it is occurring. That is exactly what the journal is meant to do.
So once I named this challenge, obstacle, hurdle to a full life: Perfectionism, I needed to become aware of its presence the moment it showed up for me. I wanted to understand in that moment just exactly what I was thinking and feeling that lead me to procrastinate. I picked up a 3-pack of Moleskin Journals. I wanted something that would easily fit into my shirt pocket or pants pocket so that I would have it with me when and where the procrastination urge hit me. I wanted to be ready with pen and paper in order to log it. I was excited about being able to watch this thing in action, this pervasive dread that had been ruling my life unawares for so many years.
Here’s how perfectionism is an insidious plague in our lives according to Fiore: “Perfectionistic demands lead to - fear of failure - PROCRASTINATION - self-criticism - anxiety and depression - loss of confidence - greater fear of failure which leads to - stronger need to use PROCRASTINATION as a temporary escape.”
Ok. For all of you who share my problem of procrastination. Start journaling. This is the first step. There are a few more to come. Stay tuned.