They seem reasonable, and when face to face with the thing that which you must do but are dreading doing, your reasons, considerations and excuses seem absolutely justifiable. Not only are they justifiable, they seem pertinent and priority before you can get to work on the actual job at hand. I’m talking about spending hours perfecting your messaging or business logo before putting your effort into the real work: finding your clients! Or shopping for new fitness attire, when the only way you’re really going to lose that weight is by actually working out. Or as I did several weeks ago: roam far and wide on the internet to find a filming lamp and tripod before getting to work on the real task: filming and uploading the damn video!
It’s alright. We’ve all been there… thinking we’re being such good busy bee’s, but every 20 minutes getting distracted by something seemingly urgent. This procrastination, when looked at carefully, can be covering up a fear of some sort. Fear of failure or even fear of success. It can also be stemming from a need to be perfect before you begin; at it’s core the “I’m not good enough” belief. All of this “getting in your own way” is unbeknownst to you. It isn’t until you realize that you’ve been spending the last 20 minutes painting your toenails for that yoga class you’re trying on Friday because you want your feet to look cute that you see just how you’re getting in your own way. It’s a never-ending list of menial tasks and your own considerations for others that sabotage you taking real action right now.
What are reasons, excuses and considerations?
They are any thoughts or regard that stops you from taking action and performing a task. These are the most reasonable of excuses and considerations to you, and they’ve got you gripped by the ________.
“I can’t get the report done by Friday because my car is in the garage and my commutes are 1.5 hours and by the time I get home and cook dinner, I’m exhausted and have no time to work”
“I can’t commit to the gym right now because it’s not in my budget”
“I can’t work on my side hustle in the evenings because my kids and partner need me”
In an average day, your “getting in your own way” plays out a little something like this:
Your one goal for the day is to finish up an assignment for work. But of course, you had been busy with other things all week (and secretly dreading it) and so you left it to the last day. The time is ticking and the pressure is on. You’ve woken up early to get a head start on the day. However, before you can get to work on your assignment you figured you should get your blood pumping to your brain with a quick workout at the gym. There’s nothing more invigorating and energy-awakening than a HIIT class that’ll work you up a sweat.
You get home and feeling ready to start. You sit down, open your laptop. But before you can get your fingers on the keyboard you decide to make a coffee as that will keep the energy flowing. Run water, boil water, spoon coffee, pour water. Let sit 4 minutes, pour into cup. You sip some coffee, “ahhh…” that’s the spot.
You begin typing away a few sentences, then hitting the backspace. You write a few more sentences then hit the backspace again. After several minutes you’re still staring at a blank page. Somewhat frustrated you let out a snarl at your own incompetence. You decide it’s because you’ve got too much of a buzz.
That workout and this coffee is getting you rattled up, so much so that you can’t think straight. A good 10 minute meditation will do the trick. 10 minutes pass, you’ve grounded yourself and head back to the computer. You stare at the screen and attempt a few more sentences. The stomach grumbles. You haven’t eaten any breakfast yet and that workout sure burnt a lot of calories. You open up the fridge and realize you forgot to buy eggs. I’ll just hop out to the store for a few minutes, it won’t take long.
But as you’re at the store you realize there’s a hardware store just around the corner and it would be a good time to quickly grab the items for that light fixture you’ve been meaning to replace. At last, you finish your errands, and sit back at your computer. You flip open your laptop and place your fingers on the keyboard. Your phone buzzes on the table and it’s your boss, How’s the report going? Are you almost done?
Almost done! You type and send, feeling the anxiety kick in. The pressure to complete this damn thing grows heavier and heavier.
Have you experienced this before? Each task you believed would benefit and help you reach success in the task, but really were distractions to working on the actual task.
Performance and Action -aren’t they the same?
I used to think that I was a person who needed more time to complete things, that that was how my brain worked. When in reality, a lot of the time that I was spending was on different ways of distracting and self-sabotaging my progress.
Performance is the actions you take specifically to accomplish a given task or goal– nothing else! It’s not the hour at the gym you spent to psych up your energy, or the 10 minutes you take to center your mind. The real performance is when you’re in action: typing your ideas on a document, editing the report, coaching the client, lifting the weights, presenting the sales pitch, giving the speech to an organization. However, you can take a lot of action and look busy without actually moving towards your end goal.The key difference between being busy and in action and performance is that performance is when said actions have produced the end product/ the end goal. It’s when the goal or task now takes on a physical form–it’s tangible: the weight lost, the report signed and sent, the video uploaded, the post posted, the invoice sent. Get it?
Every other task from start to completion is all you. It’s all your tendencies that comes up, your stories, your beliefs of self, your fears. Your ways of procrastinating by going to the fridge to make a snack or picking up your phone to text. Your ways of beating yourself up by thinking your work isn’t good enough and that you’re not good enough. It’s your ways of self-sabotage by allowing tasks that are not applicable to getting the job done take priority.
Get to the point!
All I’m saying is pay attention to how you use your time from the moment you begin a task to the moment you complete. There’s a lot of gnarly stuff that comes up during task-time that seems important and urgent (and justifiable!), but actually isn’t. It’s a waste of time! It’s ways you are subconsciously avoiding the real task. The one that’s going to actually get you ahead in life. You can ask yourself, “is this action getting me closer or further away from the results I want?”
All that time that is spent on your reasons, considerations and excuses could be used on taking your goals to completion. Think about the time that would be freed up if what was once a 5-hour task could now be accomplished in 2. What would you do with 3 hours of free time? What would be possible if every lengthy and uncomfortable task you take on in your life from this day onward would take half the time of what it normally takes you? What would you create with that free’d up time?