Anticipation Versus Doing
Have you ever had something on your to do list that you kept putting off because whenever you thought about it, you got cranky? Then, when you actually got it done, you thought about how it was no big deal, and wondered why the heck it took you so long to just do it? It's never actually the expense report, packing for your trip, cleaning your home, making a store return, paying your bills, etc. that makes you irritable. It's your thoughts about doing those things that put you in a foul mood. The anticipation is almost always worse than the actual doing. I know that whenever there is something I tell myself I don't want to do, when I eventually do it, I feel a huge sense of relief. So, why do we put things off if it feels so icky? It's because we create stories that hold us back. When we think we don't want to do something, we feel bad, and then we usually don't take action, so the task lingers, and we keep thinking about it, which keeps us feeling crappy. So, like always, it's your thoughts that are bringing you down.
Many people think that they have problems getting things done. They label themselves as procrastinators. When they think about how they can't get anything done, they feel badly about themselves. When they feel badly about themselves, they do things like sit on the couch and watch TV, or overeat, or surf the Internet. The result is that they don't get things done, therefore proving their original thought that they can't get anything done. It's a vicious cycle.
I recently took a course so I would have some new tools for my Life Coaching practice. It was empowering, amazing, enlightening, and all the good stuff that comes along when I learn new concepts in this field. In order for me to get an additional certification there were a few requirements. One of the requirements was submitting a video of myself. We didn't get much more direction than that, so I put it off for a while because my thoughts were having a field day with this one. That little evil voice in my head (that we all have), said awful things like: "You don't know how to make a video." "You don't know what to put in the video." "You need to wait until you get your hair cut, so you look good in the video." "I hate hearing myself talk." "You're going to look old/ugly/tired if you don't pick the perfect time to make the video." "You don't have time to make a video." "I can't memorize things anymore, and I'm no good at winging it." "My video won't be as good as everyone else's." (Surprise, you're not alone when it comes to doubting yourself!) Anyway, all of these thoughts were just excuses. Not only that, those thoughts made me feel dreadful. When I felt dreadful, I didn't create my video. There was a whole lot of nothing happening except me finding more reasons not to get it done, and feel crappy every time I thought about it.
Fortunately, I have done a ton of work on myself and am aware of my thoughts. I knew my thoughts were holding me back, and so I noticed them and eventually decided not to believe them. I changed my thoughts to things like: "I want to get this project done." "I'm better at most things than I give myself credit for." "I am enthusiastic about the things I will talk about in my video, and it's going to turn out great." "I will look fabulous in my video." "I can, and always have done anything when I set my mind to it." These thoughts made me feel confident, and I then found the motivation to get the job done. And, guess what? Not only did I feel relieved once I sent it off, I loved the way it turned out, and truly enjoyed watching it. I felt proud, and excited, and laughed at myself for putting it off for so long.
The next time you have something you want to get done (or tell yourself you "have to" get done), and you find yourself feeling terrible every time you think about it, pay attention to your thinking. What are your thoughts about the task? Chances are they are negative thoughts. Remember, just because you think something, doesn't mean it's true…just like I thought I didn't know how to make a video, and then I was able to make one. Clearly my thought was not true, and it was preventing me from doing the project. Try and come up with better feeling thoughts like, "I won't have to think about this anymore if I just get it done, and that will feel good." If you can come up with thoughts that make you feel better, you are much more likely to take action, and get the job done. Then you can move on, feel good, and enjoy your life!