In this video, I talk about the three basic reasons why we procrastinate. It’s important to get clear about what’s going on inside you when you’re avoiding doing something. Once you know what’s happening within you, you can focus on clearing the underlying issue with EFT. Continue reading Why Do We Procrastinate? Three Basic Reasons…
In this post, I’ll continue discussing the issues that hold us back from really going for our dreams, from really pursuing the things that we know will inspire and fulfill us. In my previous post, I talked about procrastination and how it relates to perfectionism. In this post, I’ll go deeper into that discussion, revealing the layers beneath our tendencies toward procrastination and perfectionism: the fear failure and the need for love and approval of others.
Two Kinds of Desire for Excellence
In my last post, I talked about how perfectionism is often a mask for us to avoid the anxiety of finishing something that we’re working on and putting it out into the world. At this point, you may be saying to yourself, “Well, I just want my work to be the best it can be before I consider it done and ready to share with others.” That makes sense, to a point. However, there are two kinds of desire for excellence that I’d like you to consider. One is motivated by a creative impulse, the aspect of us that gets an inspiration, an idea in our heads of something that we want to create and we want to realize that vision and bring it into the world. This feels exciting, inspiring, and it motivates us to action.
The second kind of desire for excellence/perfection comes from a need for approval, love, and appreciation, from ourselves and from others. We hold a standard up for ourselves and we tell ourselves that once we reach it, that’s when we’ll actually be worthy of love and acceptance; that’s when we’ll actually be worthwhile as a person. This is the slippery slope, the tricky part that you should really be aware of. Often, we may not even be consciously aware that we’re doing this to ourselves. Here’s how to tell: you’ll know when you’re coming from this place when thinking about your goal creates any level of anxiety in you.
Level III: Fear of Failure
That anxiety is coming from a fear of failure. Fear of failure encompasses so much more than those three words seem to convey. We are afraid that if we do not fully realize this vision in our heads, the absolute perfection of what we want to create, and if it does not meet some kind of external standard of perfection, often defined by other people, then we will not be worthy of all the love and appreciation that we deeply desire.
Level IV: The Need for Love and Approval of Others
There are so many layers to this. Beneath the fear of failure is a deep desire for others to love and approve of us and what we do. We want this because we have given away our power. We think we need others to love and approve of us in order to feel good about ourselves. We have placed these barriers, we’ve created these hurdles that we have to jump over (and sometimes they’re huge chasms that we have to leap across) in order to give ourselves permission to feel lovable and worthy as a human being.
Thinking about all of this, is it any wonder that we procrastinate on our dreams? Holy cow, with so much at stake, it’s a wonder that anyone gets anything done.
So now, we’ve talked about the four layers that hold us back from reaching for our dreams with consistent action: procrastination, perfectionism, fear of failure, and the need for love and approval.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what you can do to fix this. In my next post, I’ll tell you about some very effective ways to let go of these patterns and give yourself permission to really go for what you want and freely express yourself in the world in whatever way you are inspired. Plus, my self-help program uses EFT to help you release yourself from these exact issues and a variety of others that may be holding you back from achieving your dreams. You can learn more about my program here: Your Inspiring Life
In my last post, I started talking about why we have so much difficulty really going for the goals that inspire us. I think that there are four key levels to this that take us deeper and deeper into our core issues. I’ll cover the first two of these in this post: the closely related issues of procrastination and perfectionism. Once we recognize these patterns and free ourselves from these tendencies, we open ourselves to a whole new level of unconditional well-being and fulfillment in our lives. Once we let these go, following our dreams with passion and enthusiasm will naturally flow from the source of inspiration and well-being within us. And the first step is recognizing how these tendencies affect us in our own lives.
Level I: Procrastination
Outwardly, we find ourselves procrastinating and getting distracted by the little mundane tasks that we need to do each day and by the tempting ease of surfing the Internet or watching TV. Sinking into blessed oblivion, as they say. You’ll know when you’re using these activities as an excuse and distraction from what you really want to do because there will be a vague sense of dis-ease about doing it. And when you’re done, the anxiety will come back. But if the goal is something we really want, why are we procrastinating about it in the first place?
Level II: Perfectionism
I think that the reason we procrastinate is that we are putting an intense amount of pressure on ourselves to be absolutely perfect from the very beginning. I actually think the idea of “perfection” is a risky one to play around with. The problem is this: how do you objectively define perfection? I think we have assumed that at some point we’ll look at what we have created and say, “Ah yes, I see that this is absolutely perfect and it is ready to share with the world.” Now, I’m sure that that does happen sometimes. But if we are procrastinating because we are putting a lot of pressure on ourselves about what we need to come of it: approval, appreciation, love, etc., there’s a lot more at stake at finishing whatever we’re doing. So, from my perspective, not finishing and perfectionism are just different forms of procrastination that let us avoid our fear of putting ourselves and our creations out into the world.
If we keep working and working on something until we get to that is elusive destination called “perfection,” we may never get there.
In my next post, I’ll talk about two different motivations that drive us toward excellence and how one of them is helping you and one is holding you back. I’ll also go deeper into the issues that hold us back from following our dreams. Beneath the procrastination and perfectionism, there is a fear of failure and a deep need for the love and approval of others. And awareness of this is the first step in changing things for the better. We’ll talk about all this next time… see you then.
Learn about my self-help program here: Your Inspiring Life
I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday and we were talking about our goals and how to get ourselves to take the next step to make our dreams a reality. I told him about how I’d recently created my first YouTube videos by giving myself permission to do it badly and seeing what happened. (If you didn’t see those posts, you can read them here).
My friend is working on structuring a seminar on a topic that has really inspired him and helped him in his life. He really knows what he’s talking about on this subject and has tons of information about it and his presentation keeps getting more and more detailed and informative. Actually, I think this is a gentle, sort of secret way for him to actually write his book about this subject, without really calling it that at this point. I think that’s his way of getting past the intimidating ideas we all tend to have about “writing a book.” Anyway, it’s a great strategy and it’s working for him. His creativity is flowing and he’s writing a lot.
It Just Needs a Little More Work…
He really has come a long way toward achieving his dreams. However, when it comes to the outline of the seminar he’s putting together, he keeps tweaking it and working it, rephrasing this and that to make it perfect. I know I’ve done the same thing with my own projects; maybe you have, too. Now, of course, some of this is absolutely necessary because it gives us time to work out exactly what we want to share and how. However, I think it may also be that we are letting perfectionism delay us from finishing our projects, because once they are done, we will have to move on to the daunting task of actually sharing them with the world. It’s interesting how we hold ourselves back from fully going for our dreams like this. And it got me wondering about the deeper reasons why we would do that.
What’s Holding Us Back?
There are so many little shadow issues that emerge when we get ourselves closer to a goal that we really want but that stretches us beyond our comfort zone. If there wasn’t the stretch to it, we would have done it long ago. But why do we feel this discomfort about something that really inspires us? I think it’s because we invest so much of our future happiness in this goal. In order to achieve it, we know it will require us to open up in new ways to the world and these thoughts activate intense fears about what would happen if we failed. When it comes down to it, I think that the intense fear of failure is what’s really behind our perfectionism.
In my next blog post, I’ll explore the relationship between procrastination and perfectionism. I’ve got some interesting ideas about that and about how to overcome these issues that I’m looking forward to sharing with you in my next few posts. So, see you then!
Live Your Dream. Your Inspiring Life
I’ve been wanting to get started making videos for my blog and YouTube but I just couldn’t seem to get myself going on it since the holidays. But I had a breakthrough yesterday. I was talking to a friend of mine who is a really wonderful potter. We were talking about how it seems to be difficult to set aside the time to do what we really want to do… for me it’s making some videos on topics that really inspire me and that I want to share and for her, it’s making pots on her wheel at home. There’s always something else to do first… the dishes, check email, and for me, I have this thing that I have to be in the “right mood” to do it. Even though I have all the tools and understanding about negative beliefs holding us back, I just hadn’t thought about the underlying issues that were keeping me from going forward with making videos.
But as I was talking with my potter friend, I realized that making videos is just like doing pottery: you have to be willing to start by making pots that will probably fall apart and fly out the window to begin with. I used to do pottery years ago and I really loved it, but I do remember that the number of pots that actually go from a lumpy blob of clay to a beautiful finished pot is pretty low in the beginning. I still loved it, I loved the feeling of it, and I just accepted that the pots that fly apart are just a part of the process of getting to the ones that are beautiful.
And as I was talking to my friend, I realized that making videos is the same thing. I have to be willing for the first videos I make to be just like a pot that gets a wobble and then flies off the wheel and into oblivion. It’s all part of the process of getting comfortable with the medium, of learning how to center myself, and eventually, I’ll make a great video.
So, for some reason, this was the idea that really helped me get through the barrier of getting started on my videos. I realized I was putting a lot of unspoken pressure on myself to get it right the first time. “Gotta be efficient and start getting videos out there right now!”
Procrastination = Perfectionism
I realized that this is just another reflection of perfectionism and procrastination, which are two sides of the same coin, really. If we expect our first pots to be perfect from the beginning, it’s likely that we’ll find a lot of other things to do before we get started, because that’s just not realistic and it’s too much pressure. It’s setting ourselves up for failure. And that’s no fun.
So, of course the part of us that doesn’t want to feel bad says, Well, I’m not doing it. But I’m not going to come out and say it directly, because I’ll get in trouble if I do. I’m just going to subtly make suggestions like, don’t you need to do the dishes? You haven’t checked your email yet, maybe there’s something important there. And wasn’t there something else you needed to do first? And on and on.
The Big Shift
So, yesterday afternoon, I told myself that I was going to just make some videos that I was totally willing to let fly out the window. They could be absolutely terrible and I would still have a good time. Because I know that these first ventures into this new medium are likely to be a little goofy and awkward to begin with. I’ll get there eventually. And I’m sure that with some practice at the wheel, I’ll find that they get easier and easier. And better and better.
I remember when my friend first started learning pottery, she would have days where she didn’t make one finished pot. The clay would not cooperate and it was a frustrating, disheartening experience for her. But that was all a part of how she got to where she is now. She stuck with it, let herself have those days, and now she has her own growing pottery business and she can create a lot of beautiful pots in one session.
What To Do About It
We can all get there with our chosen creative expressions. We just have to be willing to sit down and let the first ones we create not be perfect. It all begins here.
If you want to get over procrastination about something you’ve been wanting to do, look at how you’re expecting yourself to be perfect right out of the gate. Then give yourself permission to let go of that pressure and just explore and have fun with what you’re doing. Give yourself permission to let a whole lot of pots fly out the window. As you do, you’ll really get started on the path toward getting that perfect pot that you want, or video, or writing, or painting, or whatever you’re wanting to create. And you will get there. Imperfection will eventually lead to the perfect kind of perfection, if you let it.
Update on My Video-Making Progress
It totally worked! I recorded my first video the same day I wrote this post. Yay! And my video didn’t even fly out the window. You can see it here (it’s about EFT: what it is and my perspective on how it works): So What Is EFT Anyway?
Sometimes, all it takes is a little awareness and shift in thinking to move us forward. I did need to do a little tapping just before putting it up on YouTube though, had some butterflies about it. It turned out well for my first one though, don’t you think? Funny, when we give ourselves permission to do something badly, we make room for ourselves to do it pretty well.
Let me know what you think of this post and of my fist video by leaving a comment below or comment here.
In my next post, I’ll give you some tips on how to use EFT to overcome procrastination and the shadow aspect of it that we sometimes don’t even realize is there: perfectionism.
See you then! And thanks for reading.