“I’m trying to start exercising again,” said my new client. “It’s just not working and it’s making me crazy. Can you help?”
“Absolutely,” I replied. “But you have to quit trying. “What do you mean?” She looked confused.
“I’ll explain. But first, tell me if this is the crazy you’re feeling.
Every day you tell yourself that you are going to get started, and then you don’t. So you feel guilty and say you’ll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow comes and you don’t do it again, so you tell yourself how awful you are. Then you get depressed, and feel like a total failure, and even worse, it’s all your fault. It feels like a ten ton bag of rooks that you carry around all the time and success just gets further and further away. You feel hopeless and give up, or keep trying and not succeeding. Either way you feel guilty or ashamed. It’s called procrastination paralysis, and it’s why TRYING never really works in the long term.”
“OMG that’s exactly what’s happening,” she exclaimed. “How can I make it stop?”
I smiled, “You QUIT TRYING by deciding to DO IT or deciding to LET IT GO, even if it is just for now. Tell me why exercising more is important to you.”
“I really feel like I should; I’m getting older and I can feel it. I feel guilty that I’m not.” I stopped her right there. “Should and guilt are rotten motivators, they are symptoms of procrastination paralysis. I feel your motivation draining as you talk. Let’s reframe. Tell me what you would gain by exercising more.”
“I’d feel better physically and mentally, and build up some strength.” And how would that make you feel? (I could feel her energy lighten). “Great!” Is that worth letting go of TRYING and moving into DOING? “Absolutely.”
Congratulations! You’ve just gone from TRYING to DOING! How’s the bag of rocks now? “Wow, they’re gone. This is amazing.”
My client QUIT TRYING and started DOING when she changed her motivation from “Because I Should” to “Because I’ll Feel Better.” That was her first step. She could also have QUIT TRYING by deciding, “I don’t really want to do this now.” (This is really common when your motivation is based on SHOULD.) Either choice shuts down the bag of rocks feeling of procrastination paralysis that comes from TRYING rather than DOING or LETTING GO. The important thing is that she consciously chooses to focus on motivation that feels good to her.
We all struggle with procrastination paralysis. TRYING is totally un-motivating; it sets the perfect stage for failure and self-criticism; and it can go on for a long, long time if you’re not aware of it.
You know you’re TRYING rather than DOING if it feels like you’re carrying around a bag of rocks, and/or are really down on yourself.
Is it time for you to quit TRYING and start DOING? Call me to talk about your motivation and first steps.