Do you have a shit-list you’re avoiding? I’m going to guess you do. It’s that list full of things you want and need to do but they always invite fear and overwhelm into your life. And we all know what happens when these two get invited to the party; they bring along procrastination as their +1 and everything goes downhill faster than a bobsled.
From past experience, we know allowing this trio to co-exist results in an unproductive environment. Despite this knowledge, we continue to create excuses as to why we should put things off today and deal with them “tomorrow.” We tell ourselves we’re too busy. Too inexperienced. Too young. Too old. We tell ourselves we need more money. More information. More education. More time.
The problem with this tactic is that the convenience of tomorrow is always available. And when our excuses lose their standing, we just find another one to use.
If you’re tired of procrastinating and feeling overwhelmed, you need to focus your attention on the ringleader—your fear.
The core purpose of fear is to protect you from feeling physical or emotional pain, to steer you away from dangerous situations and to help you avoid anything that may threaten your well-being.
However, allowing fear to control your actions and decisions doesn’t always reap beneficial results. More often than not, it just slams the door on your untapped potential and steals away your happiness.
To illustrate my point, here are some examples of how your fear may surface and the negative side effects that follow when you listen to it:
- You have an idea for a new product or service but you fear no one will buy it. You fear it won’t be good enough to warrant the purchase price. You fear people will think it’s a rip-off and declare you an imposter within your industry.
- You want to host a webinar to share your expertise but you fear no one will show up. You fear people will find the webinar boring or useless. You fear you’ll stumble over you words. You fear people will judge your appearance and your personality.
When we rent out this much head space to our fear—in order to protect ourselves—we often react by doing nothing at all. Instead, we file those ideas and dreams into a “one day” folder and shift our focus elsewhere.
This decision results in a loss of income, loss of self-worth, loss of growth, loss of confidence, loss of motivation and so much more. I don’t see anything beneficial in these results do you?
As I mentioned in my perfectionism post: what you feed grows. So by putting off what you could be doing today until “tomorrow,” you tighten the rope on your fear and hold yourself back even further. You create more space for those uncomfortable feelings of overwhelm to exist. And you increase your dependency on procrastination as a coping mechanism.
This is why you need to pull your fear aside and deal with it head on. It’s the only way you’ll pull yourself out of the unproductive state you’re in. Once you’ve silenced your fear, it becomes much harder for overwhelm and procrastination to survive.
How do you silence your fear?
You need to have a conversation with it. I know this sounds a little out there but go with me here okay? You need to throw questions at your fear until the only option you have left is to get started on whatever you’re procrastinating on.
Let’s take a look at how that conversation with your fear might unfold. For this example, we’ll pretend you have an idea for an eBook you want to write and put out there for sale.
You: Why am I not taking the time to flush out my idea for this eBook so that I can start writing it?
Fear: Because you want the eBook to be perfect; so you need to do more research and planning before you actually start writing it.
You: But have I really been planning out my eBook? I haven’t even put together an outline for it. Why?
Fear: That’s not true! You’ve read a bunch of articles on how to improve your writing; how to get pre-sale buzz going; how to launch a product successfully; and what content delivery platform is best. That’s planning!
You: Okay, but I’m spending a lot of time on stuff I could figure out later, such as how to launch it and how customers will buy it. Wouldn’t it be best to just write the eBook first? My goal is to get it out of my “one day” folder. I should focus on that.
Fear: True. But you’re kind of of overwhelmed by all the advice you’ve read. You need to take a break and let it all sink in. Once you do that, you’ll be able to re-focus yourself and get started.
You: Hmm…so it seems all the time I spent reading articles didn’t really help me move forward. The goal right now is to just start. Let’s pretend I didn’t do all the research, what’s stopping me from starting today?
Fear: Because what if you put in all this effort and people don’t buy it. What if people don’t feel the eBook is good enough to warrant the price? What if they come after you demanding a refund and share with everyone it’s worthless and that you shouldn’t be trusted?
You: Aah, so the real reason I’m stalling is because I don’t think I’m good enough to even write an eBook? Because I’m afraid I’ll fail.
You: I’m making a whole lot of assumptions right now based on something I haven’t even started or allowed myself to explore. What if people DO buy it? What if people DO think the price is good enough. What if they don’t ask for a refund and in fact, ask me to write MORE eBooks?
Fear: So you’re trying to tell me I might be wrong?
You: Yes. This isn’t a life or death situation. It’s an eBook. It’s time to just get on with it and see what happens.
FAST TRACK TIP: you could also cut to the chase and just tell your fear to fuck off. Sadly, this doesn’t always work and you need to pussyfoot around and have “the talk”. Relationships are often complicated like that.
When you corner your fear and see it’s doing more harm than good, dismissing it becomes much easier. With each rebuttal thrown back at its negative commentary, you take back the power it’s been given and tip the scale towards action. The more the scale tips, the harder it becomes for your fear to swing it back in its favour.
Want to challenge your fear?
Pull out all those ideas and dreams you have filed away in your “one-day” folder; pick the one you’re drawn to the most (you may need to base this on looming deadlines or priority scale) and then have a conversation with your fear to get to the bottom of why you’re procrastinating.
Don’t allow that conversation to end until the next step includes some form of action towards completing that idea or dream.
It doesn’t matter how big or small that step is. The goal here is to just start. Once you start, the sense of relief and accomplishment that follows will fire up your momentum to keep going.
If you find your fear is resurfacing throughout any of the steps, strike up another conversation and silence it again. It’s a conversation you may need to have often, but it’s the only way you’ll move forward.