Imagine the scene: I am sitting at my computer at my kitchen counter drinking a luke warm cup of coffee that I have heated up 5 times and it is now bitter as hell, but the first draft of my course is complete. I have sent it to five trusted collaborators who are taking the time to read through it and provide feed back.
With a dramatic sigh, I snap my Macbook closed and climb off the bar stool and crack open a can of paint that has been calling my name. It is 4 days till Thanksgiving and I am painting the first floor of my house.
Cut to Christmas Eve, scrolling my email on my phone. Closing out of the app with annoyance, because glaring at me in my inbox is the feedback I requested that I hadn’t yet read.
You might be surprised to hear that 1) that course never launched (probably not surprised), and 2) this is a common problem for me.
Hello, my name is Pam, and I am a CHRONIC AVOIDER. There is nothing I love more than tackling organizational projects and painting my house when I have really important business related sh^t to do.
I am a master rationalizer and quite adept at convincing myself and everyone I know that I am doing the right thing by gutting the bathroom, cleaning out my closets and redecorating my bedroom.
But I know the truth, the truth is, when things get hard, I avoid the hard and vulnerable tasks by coming up with productive projects so I can feel better about myself.
Just last week I was grabbing my slippers out of my closet in the midst of working on marketing strategies and SEO for my website (things I don’t love), and I thought, “man I need to vacuum all this sand and dirt out of my closet and I should donate all those clothes I don’t wear!” I then realized what was happening, it only took 4 seconds and I slammed the closet door and ran away!
So you may be thinking, how? How do I recognize and move past my thing that keeps me stuck and avoiding the hard work?
Maybe your thing is “productive” tasks, maybe its the back hole of Facebook or Instagram, maybe its a game on your phone, maybe it’s reading, learning new things or something else all together.
The bottom line is, we tend to avoid that which is hard. Because failure is scary, and so is success.
So how do you go from being sucked into your thought stream, to slamming the door to your avoidant behaviors so you too can be annoyed by coding that doesn’t work?
Here is a list of strategies I use and teach my clients in order to overcome the avoidant tasks.
- What are you avoiding? What is your trigger?
Figure out what is hard and scary for you in business and life. What is outside of your comfort zone and how does it show up in your life?
Pull out a note book and ask yourself, what are the things about my business that I feel super confident at, the things I would consider my calling? Once you have gotten clear on your jam, now ask yourself, What terrifies me? What is THE thing that if I could skip it and still be successful I totally would?
This will offering you insight into the triggers to avoid.
- What are your avoidant tasks?
Clarity is important here, what do you do when you are trying to avoid the uncomfortable?
I find it more challenging to identify things that one might consider “productive.” It’s much clearer to notice when you are playing Toon Blast, than it is to recognize that folding laundry and putting it away is actually you avoiding the challenging tasks.
A key thing to realize, when you are willingly doing something that you normally avoid (cleaning the bathroom, for example) you are likely avoiding.
Your avoidant tasks will likely have a category, knowing the category is half the battle.
- Practice Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a structure meditation practice that pairs observation with focus and allows you to see more clearly what you are doing when you are doing it.
A regular mindfulness practice will aid in slowing your reactions down and allowing you space to see when you are engaging in avoidant behavior.
- Stop it Already!!
This is the basic goal right? To stop avoiding and get to work. This happens through changing the patterns, literally re-wiring your brain.
An effective way to change your story, is through the utilization of Mantras. When you have gained clarity on what you are avoiding, and learned your avoidant tasks, then you can use mantras to counter the fear, insecurity or self-doubt that has us avoiding in the first place.
A mantra is simple a positive statement that counters exactly the insecurity. I Am Capable, I Am Confident, I’ve Got This.
Connect with friends and people that support you, and will help hold you accountable.
Post on social media, text a friend or share with a group your struggle. Give yourself a time line. Ask your supports to check in with you. Work with a coach, enroll in a program or join a group on social media that is doing the stuff you do!
Most important, each time you catch yourself avoiding, don’t freak, don’t beat yourself up, simply practice challenging yourself. I promise, things will start to shift.