We all have the one friend who stresses us out, or that one client who pushes all the wrong buttons or the big passion project we would love to work on.. Add to that the chores we dread, and it’s a recipe for unhappiness, frustration and a serious lack of motivation. But it doesn’t have to be!
Step 1: Get rid of thoughts and to do’s that drain you (and how to know if you should stick it out or discard)
Before we automatically start discarding, let’s not assume that because something stresses us out, we should discard it. It’s worth reflecting that sometimes we dread the things we actually love the most – perhaps because so much is at stake when one is emotionally (and financially) invested.
For example. Actors choose that profession because they love acting. But many also suffer from significant stage fright. Does this stop them from acting? Very rarely! Actors also know from experience that once they say that first line and the play starts rolling, stage fright inevitably goes away. And they’re ‘in the zone’.
Professional actors also prepare well. They practice. And practice again, learn their lines and learn to rely on little tricks and prompts, if they freeze up.. Repetition does bring reward in the form of successful outcomes and new confidence. Even though sometimes the nerves never go away. (The rewards simply outweigh them.)
The same happens in a large spectrum of professionals. Teachers have to get up in front of a class and give a lecture. Stage fright and gut-wrenching fear. Policemen and policewomen have to get out there and deal with highly-volatile domestic situations. Yes, sometimes it becomes too much, and people quit. Actors give up after thirty years on the stage. But why?
This is where understanding comes in: Because the payoff is no longer there.
One could look at almost any situation and tap into the FEAR side of things, which is where walking away and quitting dwells. Or one could choose to focus on the positive side, where the actor brings the house down after a staggeringly poignant performance and wins accolades and an award. The author gets a seven-figure movie deal. People write to tell her they love her novels.
Sometimes people give up because they haven’t experienced a payoff yet. That type of giving up comes from unrealistic expectations – which often include the expectation (and pressure) to achieve premature results.
But the real problem with giving up or hating the task in this sort of case is not the task itself. It’s not ‘procrastination’. It’s not ‘fear’. It’s the tricks our mind plays on our perceptions. So, before you give up or start discarding activities and goals, get clear about the reasons behind the fear, if fear is what you are experiencing.
Fear is an insidious saboteur, it’s also our greatest teacher.
If there is a big reward at the end of the rainbow that keeps you doing the thing you dread then you don’t need to drop it: You need a mindset reset. You need to make a conscious decision to focus on the reward and shove fear out of the way. Reset your focus on a successful outcome. Set yourself up for a more satisfying pay-off.
Fear does have its place. It gets adrenaline flowing, which in turn makes us hyper-alert and ready.
Never let fear take over and actually stop you from doing things you love, or dream of mastering – the thing that normally would get you out of bed in the morning if you could be assured of success.
Step Two: Overcoming Procrastination
Fear is a feeling, but procrastination is nothing more than a habit. It’s one you’ve created and it won’t just go away on its own, even if you’ve done a mindset reset. So, now you have to break this habit by substituting a better one.
If you really want to continue making public speeches or writing your great novel, be aware that it will be necessary to create a new habit of actually performing the task, in order to break the acquired habit of procrastination. Here is a proven formula for succeeding.
Find an Accountability Buddy —Call a friend or in-person work colleagues and use them to help keep you accountable so you don’t procrastinate.
Minimize the task. Whatever you long to do but keep procrastinating over has likely become a huge snowball in your mind. Every time you avoid it or procrastinate, the snowball rolls further down the slippery slope and builds up momentum. Before you know it, the thing weighs a ton and seems bigger than you are! Many people find it helps if you break the project you’re afraid of into small steps and tackle each step one at a time. And if this doesn’t work, try the following process.
Use visualization. Imagine a hot sun coming out. Imagine the snowball melting and collapsing. See the water running away through little channels in the snow. Look at it and see it’s actually small snowball now. and as you pick it up, it has disappeared only leaving a few cool droplets in your hand.
Now tackle your task.
Use a timer.
Don’t sit down to write fifty-thousand words. If you’re fighting the urge to procrastinate, promise yourself you will write five hundred words first – or even one hundred words – before you hang out on Facebook or Netflix.
Reward yourself with a little break at the end of that fifteen minutes, but don’t Facebook-binge for this reward. Do something else, like making a cup of tea or calling a friend.
Step Three: When and How to Get Rid of Toxic Relationships and What to Do with Relationships you “Have” to keep.
We’ve all experienced toxic relationships. People who make us feel bad about ourselves. People who sap our confidence. People who put us down – often under the guise of “joking”. People who argue, take offense at small things, rain on our accomplishments. People who are exceptionally high maintenance.
Friendships and other relationships have their ups and downs. But what is the difference between a toxic relationship and someone who is temporarily going through a bad time?
Someone going through something usually has a trigger, it can bring you down temporarily, but it shouldn’t feel like an attack on who you are – on your very identity.
You don’t owe it to anybody to stick around and suffer bad behavior. It’s your right – even if they are going through a crisis – to say, “Call me when you work it out”, and walk away.
That’s not to say you will: Just that you are not obliged to stick around. And no one has the right to judge you for doing what you feel is best for you.
That being said, there are times you should seriously consider letting go of chronically toxic relationships.
Here’s the true secret to shifting interpersonal dynamics: You can’t change someone else, you can only change yourself. As long as you are giving your power to another person by complaining about them and allowing them to victimize you, you are enabling them and preventing them from having a motive or reason to face their problems.
Step 5: Setting Boundaries
Setting boundaries can be one of the toughest things especially with people closest to you. Feeling resentful is an indicator that a situation (or person) is problematic. Listen to that feeling, and respect it! It’s telling you the truth. It’s telling you that you are doing too much or doing something that you didn’t want to do something and now feel trapped.
If this sounds like a familiar situation, realize what’s behind your inability to say “no” and stick to it.
Here are some common causes:
- Wanting to be liked
- You find it hard to be assertive
- You have trouble being direct
- Saying “no” but not knowing what to do next when people ignore it. Saying no is just the first step.
- Having a hidden payoff
Here are three powerful tips:
- Don’t say ‘sorry’. You don’t owe anyone an apology for refusing to inconvenience yourself.
- Never try to explain – it’s guaranteed that a manipulative person will make you feel you’re being unreasonable and argue you into a corner.
- Use the “broken record” technique: Just keep repeating (without explaining), over and over, closed statements such as: “My plate is full right now. You need to find someone else.”
- Saying “no” but not knowing what to do next when people ignore it. Saying no is just the first step. Or find an equally firm statement that feels more comfortable to you.
Being assertive will feel very wrong, the first few times – but do it anyway! It’s the “Act as if” philosophy. (It does get easier – and you’ll probably have to act on your threat to leave or hang up only once.)
Ditching Your Shoulds is a practice that once mastered, is life-changing.