Right now I’m doing something really important that terrifies me.
At the same time, I’m also tweeting compulsively. And checking every form of social media I can get my hands on.
These are not contradictory statements
While writing my business plan? I watched episodes of “Biker Mice from Mars*” on youtube for DAYS.
And then I would only write a line or two.
*Yes, I still love Biker Mice from Mars. And yes, I cycle around town going all “Rock and Ride!”.
My life, for the past 6 years or so
In the past I would spend every waking moment TERRIFIED of doing anything, distracting myself reading ALL THE INTERNET, and feeling guilt, guilt and more guilt about it.
Guilt, by the way, sounds like this: “you are the laziest piece of crap ever to walk this Earth. You will never, ever achieve anything and you will forever be a total loser. How can you be so useless?!”
After years of working with my stuff, I have shrunk the guilt.
And this is what I’ve learned
Procrastination minus guilt is not procrastination.
The less I guilt myself, the more I come back to this important work.
The more compassion and understanding I bring, the more I come back to my work.
The important thing isn’t that I leave… but that I come back.
Procrastinating is a sign I’m terrified about what I’m doing. Things are getting… “too real” and I panic. I chase after the Twitter for distraction and reassurance.
At that moment, I could make myself feel bad for “not doing what I should be doing”.
OR I could just acknowledge that this thing I’m working on is a BIG THING, A BIG SCARY REAL THING THAT IS ACTUALLY REAL… and then I can get back to work.
Here’s what I believe
I believe we constantly underestimate just how big a deal things are.
I know I do.
So many things are a real big deal
- If you’re writing a blog, you are putting your heart out there. That’s big.
- If you’re inviting your friend for coffee, you are opening yourself up for rejection and heartbreak. You’re making yourself vulnerable. That’s big too.
- Say you’re trying to get work done, but there’s all this stuff going on at the back of your mind, such as “how on Earth are you going to make money” and “why are you such a failure and why can’t you be normal like normal people”. That’s emotionally exhausting.
- Or you’re feeling vulnerable because you would like to be cuddled but there’s no one and it kinda sucks and you’re kinda hurting but you cannot even acknowledge that because coming face to face with the fact that you have needs you cannot meet is really painful.
Bottom line is, we are all complex beings and we tend to have lots of things going on.
And we almost always underestimate just HOW BIG A DEAL things are.
Now, I’m rewriting the pattern
Whenever I catch myself Tweeting compulsively when I should be working, I say to myself:
“Huh. I guess this is a much bigger deal than I thought it was…”
And I’m always surprised. Because it turns out almost everything is a “big deal” for me.
The next step?
Once you learn how big a deal everything is, you can prepare yourself.
When I know I’ll be going through something “big”, I give myself plenty of understanding. Plenty of room to procrastinate, to feel anxious and scared. Whatever it is I need.
And yes, I do get back to work faster than I would otherwise.