Tag Archives: Procrastination

Tackling Someday Head On: Achieving Dreams with Confidence

  • Someday Lesson: If you can’t fully commit to busting your Someday then how important is it to you really?

Aunt Owwee on flickr.comYou know what? It doesn’t matter what you want. It doesn’t matter what reasons you have for not following it. If you’re not pursuing a dream you say you want, then you have to ask yourself the question How much do I really want it?

Marie understands this. Her biggest Someday is finishing her degree she admits to only maybe wanting it. She feels that she should really want it but she’s burnt out and only kind of wants it. That makes any forward progress a chore and the moment something becomes a chore resistance kicks in.

Think about your life – what are you doing because you feel you should want it? Or I should say, what are you not doing even though you feel you should want it?

Johnny, despite saying that he wants a career in clean-technology, lacks confidence and lets his poor work habits and procrastination stop him. Tie that into his fear around not having enough money and bam! he’s completely blocked. He can’t move forward because he’s scared it won’t work out (based on past experience) and yet he wants to move forward because it’s supposed his dream.

What situation in your life is like Johnny’s? Where do you claim to want something but then let fear stop you?

When Michelle contacted me to become a Lab Rat, she mentioned that she fights her weight. She focuses on everything else in her life and ignores her weight. She doesn’t apply for jobs because she’s not happy with the way she looks. She says “it’s not fair!” about her size. And yet she knows it’s a whole lot easier to stay exactly as she is. It’s more comfortable to complain than to act even though the inaction makes her feel resentful and angry with herself. She’s waiting for it to be easy.

What aren’t you tackling because it’s too much work?

Helen has a similar challenge. Yes her life is great, but she lets her health get out of control. She knows that certain foods are bad for her and that she doesn’t get enough exercise, but she doesn’t make herself a priority. Work fills her life and she lets that dictate all the other things she does. Rather than making a conscious choice at every meal to eat well, she goes on autopilot and lets whatever at hand go into her mouth. She chooses the comfortable (although more unhealthy) option of sitting in front of the computer rather than going out and getting exercise. Even though she loves her home and her village, she’s not connected to it the way she is to a city like London which energizes her to be active. At home she curls up in her nest and hibernates.

Are you connected or disconnected from your environment? Are you actively engaged or on autopilot?

Now let’s turn to Joyce who desperately wants to get back to writing. She has had two books published but has writer’s block for her current projects. She says she wants to focus on her writing and yet in her list of Somedays Joyce wants to do a bit of everything, from advocacy work to moving to another part of the country. And with each new idea she takes herself farther away from her writing Someday. With so many projects that seem to have an equal importance to her, all of which are time consuming and emotionally draining, Joyce can’t choose any single one to work on.

How many projects do you have on the go at any one time? How good are you at prioritizing them?

And then finally we have Kristin another Someday-writer. She’s never made the effort to pursue her dream of supporting herself with her writing because she had a secure job that was safe. In her one of her hugely successful writing courses, 25 year writing veteran Holly Lisle says “SAFE never starts.”

SAFE can keep you locked up in your house, never daring to step foot outside the door. It can keep you locked in a job you hate that has no future, just because you’re afraid if you walk away you will never work again. SAFE can kill your hopes and dreams by telling you they were never worth pursuing, that you were never good enough to make them real, that you were only kidding yourself.

Where are you choosing safe over happy?

Basically it all comes down to excuses and because you’re getting something out of your inaction. For every single one of the Lab Rats that “something” is hope. As long as they don’t move forward, as long as they don’t follow through on their dreams they still have hope that the dreams will come true. Thing is, no matter how much hope they have, if they don’t act they’ve already failed.

It’s like being afraid to ask for help. Most people don’t ask for help because they’re afraid the other person will say no, and yet by not asking for help the answer is already no. In Spanish they have an expression “El no ya lo tienes” which literally translates to “The no you already have it.” If you ask or if you try then you have the possibility of the yes. But you have to do something.

Taking Action

So, what could each of the Lab Rats do? What could you do?

What are you not doing even though you feel you should want it?
Do you really want it? And if you don’t which is the “lesser evil”? Stopping or seeing it through? Sometimes you’ve reached a point where dropping the project makes no sense. On the other hand you might think it’s worth finishing when really you’re just flogging a dead horse and it’s time to accept your losses and walk away.

Where do you claim to want something but then let fear stop you?
Stand up and shout “I want this!” Or drop it and go find something else that you’re really passionate about. Can Johnny actually say that about his career in clean-technology? Think about people like Madonna or Gandhi (yes, I’m actually putting Madonna and Gandhi in the same sentence). Neither one accepted no. They wanted to fulfill their dreams so much they went out and did what they had to do (guided by their moral compasses) to achieve it. Of course, not everyone wants the same sort of world-influencing dream, but if you can’t say with 100% confidence “I want this” then why are you wasting energy, time and money pursuing it?

What aren’t you tackling because it’s too much work?
Human beings are inherently lazy. It’s a blessing in many cases. If it weren’t for our laziness we’d still be living in caves working hard all day long just to get enough to eat. However, there’s a dark side to laziness – inertia. It’s always harder to get started than to keep going. So, despite our desire to change we stay on the same path, repeat actions that do nothing to advance our dreams (or even hinder them) and then complain that we’re not seeing progress. If you truly want to change, you have to get active. Put your laziness to good use and find a way to create a new habit that will carry you to your dream in the same way your current habits carry you away from it.

Are you actively engaged or on autopilot?
One of my favorite phrases here on the blog is “life is choice” – from the decision to get up each morning through to going to bed at night (well for me the last one isn’t that much of a choice – my body just shuts down at some point and I get no say in the matter). Helen lets circumstances dictate her choices. It’s easier to go with the flow than to make active choices that might inconvenience other parts of her life. Getting out and getting exercise means not working quite so much. Taking time from work means the renovations on the house take longer and vacations can’t be as exotic as she would like. And so on and so on. If you grew up in the 1980s you might remember a series of books called Choose Your Own Adventure. Life’s like that – full of choices with consequences. Are you going to decide what action you take or will you let some invisible author make those choices for you?

How many projects do you have on the go at any one time? How good are you at prioritizing them?
Multitasking has gotten a bad rap in the past century. Ever since the industrial revolution specialization and finding your niche have become the ideal to pursue. However, not everyone is so single minded. Some people have so many interests and so many brand new ideas every day that they can’t function trying to be specialized. And because no one has ever taught them to deal with all these ideas flooding in, they become paralyzed and so do nothing. Fortunately the author Barbara Sher has brought back the renaissance approach to life in her book Refuse to Choose. If you’re someone who likes to do it all, this book provides a way to handle all the ideas that throw themselves at you like a group of puppies in full play-mode. Joyce sounds like she needs this book. How about you?

Where are you choosing safe over happy?
Sometimes safe is important – for example in the basic needs of life, but beyond that safe does nothing but block our desires. Don’t risk, don’t stand out, don’t be different from anyone else. As long as you choose safe over happy then you’ll always feel unfulfilled and happiness will always remain out of reach. Happiness requires risk. What are you willing to risk to gain happiness?

Your Personalized Someday Assessment

How did you do answering the six questions above? Are you as blocked about your life as the Lab Rats are?

If so then it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to reach out and ask for help. You want to live more and to achieve your dreams. You don’t want to live on autopilot. You don’t want to go through life on autopilot and unconscious.

It’s time to wake up, take control of your life and make the changes you want to make.

By doing nothing you already have your no, so why not try for yes instead?

All you need to do is fill out the Personalized Someday Assessment and I’ll help you bust your Somedays and create the life you want.

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Actively Involved in Change Mentoring vs Coaching

  • Someday Lesson: A mentor provides active assistance by pulling you up past your obstacles.

Laram777 on Flickr.comAt the top of this page in the menu, you’ll see the word Coaching but in reality I’m not a Coach. I’m a Mentor.

I don’t encourage and let you develop your own path through a series of sometimes oblique and sometimes direct questions. I use my own experiences and my unique ability to see patterns where others don’t see them to tell you like it is.

After seeing patterns in your life that you may not, I make suggestions so that you can change those patterns and create new ones that clear your life of Somedays and open up your future to the life you want.

You’re here at Someday Syndrome for a reason – you want to live more. You want to take action of some sort and kick the procrastination habit. You want to change your life and create the freedom to choose exactly what your future will look like.

This process can happen slowly or quickly.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a pretty impatient person. Changing a lifetime of habits can take another whole lifetime and I’d rather actively live the changes than spend a long time discovering them.

For that reason I created my Someday Syndrome ebooks and services. I don’t want you to spend years finding the blocking patterns in your life. I want you to stop talking, stop analyzing and stop waiting. I want to get you doing, living, choosing and feeling happier with your life.

So, I prod, I poke and I offer my (sometimes rather strong) opinions.

Am I right all the time? No.

But by being just as active as you are in the change process, I open up a discussion that provides you with a place to tell me what you really do want rather than what your fears, habits and personal blocks try to get you to do.

Someday Syndrome clients really want to change. They don’t just talk about it. They want to take action but don’t know how.

You understand that, don’t you? You have a dream, or maybe just a sense of wanting something better out of your life, but you have no idea how to achieve it.

You’re also someone who likes to think things through. You don’t want to deal with a phone call or face-to-face meeting where you can’t think about what you say first.

I get that. I’m a writer and believe that writing out your thoughts, your desires and your committed actions makes them more real.

But I’m not passive and I’m not oblique. I’m direct and I demand action.

And for that I don’t call myself a Coach. I’m a Mentor.

A mentor is someone who has already gone through it all and wants to show others how do it without making all their mistakes. That’s me (and believe me, I made a lot of mistakes by putting off my Somedays).

It’s time to take the next step in your Someday Journey. Time to take action.

And the action I ask from you is just a simple one. Fill out the Personalized Someday Assessment form and let me provide you with two complementary mentoring sessions via email to show you exactly how much progress can be made when you work with a mentor rather than trying to muddle through on your own.

Because you don’t want to live with Someday Syndrome your whole life, do you?

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The Difficulty of Doing: Janice Cartier Interview

For the final Someday Interview in its current format, we have an interviewee that I’ve been pursuing for months. Janice Cartier, an artist from the Garden District of New Orleans displaced and dealing with what happens when life as you know it explodes, who also paints breathtaking images with words, wasn’t sure at first she could do the interview. I nagged, cajoled and begged. Finally she gave but said:

“But Alex… I may not have answers, I am still in process.”
“That’s fine Jan, we’ll do it in November. Creativity, I‘m focusing on creativity then.”
“Creativity?” she smiled quietly, “Yes, I can do that. “

And then she thought:

Somedays? Hm…That’s a bit tougher story… And it was.

Before we get into the interview itself let’s take a deeper look at Janice’s process because what Janice went through coming up with the answers to this interview exemplifies exactly why I run Someday Syndrome.

The lesson is sometimes the doing of something very difficult to do. The interview was at 7,000. It took me all day yesterday and the day before to get it to 3,000. Editing and writing hell. And today to get it to 2000.

I had to work, break, work, unkink, work, curse, work, check word count, all day long. And stay with it to the exclusion of all else. Because somewhere in the doing of this, with your template, with your questions, and artistic creative process, that intersection… somewhere in that was a problem for me… and a key. A clue. A knot to unravel.

And I had to find out what on earth it is. It’s a simple interview for goodness sake… I think I found it, and it was more than one thing really. Honestly, I am laughing a bit and shaking my head and unkinking my shoulders with a discovery I just made and a decision… to ask you to read it and help with the editing, help with the polishing, so it comes out in the sincere and helpful way it is intended, and carries the value of context as well. Helps your audience with their creativity.

Taking the overwhelming amount of information and choices we have available to us and narrowing it all down to the essential and the precious. That’s what Someday Syndrome helps people do. It’s a process, it’s a struggle and it’s monumentally rewarding journey.

Thank you, Jan, for being such an amazing person and painting us a beautiful picture for the final Someday Syndrome Interview.

Jan CartierName one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
I came across a note to myself, while working at my desk the other morning, in my active projects notebook: “Deer Tracks” collage. It’s a comprehensive, exciting plan for a different kind of piece. It has some names, some influences, written on it, ink drawings, and ideas for the piece…it’s the kind of thing all artists have around…our conceptualizing bits of this and that. I thought I had made this plan last spring. It’s tied to the current work, the huge “Deer Tracks Nearby” monumental watercolor, but the ooh-ahh notes I made are from four years ago: August 3, 2005.

Seeing the date brought tears and I looked again at the second name on the plan. Passed my fingers tips over it. Felt the sheer eagerness and risk taking ambition of what I had written. The zeal of new, fresh, adventurous work. For a moment I was right there again. I saw his face. Felt his presence. In that moment, in that space. In that bloom of new thought, new ways to work, new direction forward, and working anywhere near or with John T. Scott some more… I remember planning to do whatever it took to do that.

But John is dead. There will be no working with John. And this project? A few weeks after my pen made those marks, Katrina hit. Pillars in my life fell in that storm, or shortly after. And in second waves. One close friend after another… work, personal life…public… collectors…colleagues…loved ones… opportunities…It stuns me even now. Even my source material, the land I paint, became inaccessible to me.

So the tears come. But I only let them flow for awhile. I miss them. These marvelous people. This incredible place and my relationship with the coast. The rich ties to community. Walking my brick paved sidewalk. Moments big and small. Yep. Pity party material alright.

Even our worst behaviors fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
Becoming masters at process is invaluable for artists. Things occur again and again until we deal with it. If we are resisting something, or emotional about it, there’s probably a decent reason why. It’s the same in studio process. If you can’t solve what you are after one way, take a look, experiment a bit until you come to another aha moment. Ask questions of the stumbling point. That’s how you break through.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity part. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
I acknowledge that things are more than a little out of whack. That’s reasonable. Some people know that I was right there, right in the eye of the storm in that “sliver by the river” when the storm hit. What people may not know is that where the heart of my painting comes from is exactly where that storm made landfall near the Pearl River. Every facet of my life was disassembled, tumbled and tossed. I lost a disproportionate amount of people I am close to in such a short period of time. But I made a decision some time ago not to just survive. I want my whole creative self intact. So I work everyday toward that.

The most important question any artist can ever ask or answer about that is this:
“Did you show up?” Seriously, not one single thing creative thing can happen good, bad, or indifferent if you don’t show up, fully present, and give it your best shot on that day in that moment in that space with what you have at the time.

I have a few extreme encouragers to help get me through, or to laugh with when I need a laugh. And I have some fabulous ghosts, the spirits of some fantastic people right here in my heart.

But I want new whole experiences, too. So that, being able to go out there fully and take it all in again. That’s a powerful incentive. So when it is important enough and you know why it is, you choose it. You show up there.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
Boots and saddles moments. Get in the boat, jump on the Jet Ranger kinds of now we talking…moments. Love them.

We are sensitive souls after all. What makes us creative and richly engaged in the studio is the very thing that makes us vulnerable outside of it. It’s a matter of finding balance. Of letting some things go and acting on others. I love that moment of powerful intent, acting on it. Prepping for it too. What’s happens now after the storm sometimes is I will jump right in, know it’s fantastic full speed ahead, and hit a wall I did not know was there when I set out. Ouch. So it takes figuring out where the fault lines are sometimes and overcoming them.

It feels great to overcome those. I can tell a huge difference from even a year ago. An exciting tickle, the tingle of just being in it, just being there, in that place that is so you. Your creative self at play is one of the best parts of self. My creative self keeps leading me back to me. Into those boots and saddles moments.

Like returning to “Deer Tracks Nearby”. That is a huge and wonderful thing for me to be doing. Right at the center of my heart. It is a challenge, but it feels…scrumptious, in spite of what I have to do to do it.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
Hm, good question. I need constant updating to see, is this or that true now? Can I do this now? What do I dare wish for now? Things like that.

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
I am trying to shorten steps. Get back to the level I need to be at to actually exceed it. Complete work. Find new distribution, new clients. It isn’t easy. Everything is tinged with a poignancy that I have yet to find a way around or over, so through seems to be the path. And of course the economy is what it is, not to mention the gate keeping landscape in flux. But I am looking for ways to leapfrog some steps and not lose any quality or richness. Make sure that I let go of anything that creates an obstacle that doesn’t have to be there.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Avoid it? I don’t know of a way to avoid the kinds of things that just happen in life. If you notice I am not on a coast at the moment, not because I wouldn’t like to be, I would, but I have to settle some health issues, find some way to decrease sensitivities to mold and environmental things like that. Irony, huh? And I have to face that I may not get to ever really go back.

I never expected ever to have to do so much so all at once. Devastation is truly a real thing for me. 90, 000 square miles inside and out…everything I touched… Takes a little time. So give yourself time. Protect that inner self. It’s where the creation comes from. Not the surface. Not the circumstances. Make some peace with being in process. And that that is very much okay.

Transitions by nature are uncomfortable. They are those places in between, but they can also hold riches, discoveries, things that help us get to the other side. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. We all need it.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for?
Technical help. Referrals. Cash.

Actually, it helps to have another perspective to shorten steps, or to hold your hand, a soft place to land, help to stop the nightmares or the stupid fears. I mean it’s silly, I would jump into a helicopter and hang out over a barrier island in a second but updating my WordPress site terrorizes me, presenting my portfolio to one more glazed over gallery owner wears me out and trying to compare myself on paper to others seems absurd, irrelevant to me. Resumes seem…not to cover it.

I want ways to shorten those steps or throw the book out. I passed a line of experiences some time ago that just makes it very hard for me to conform. Just let me get to the creating part. Just let me find home again, or maybe just let me have the ability to roam.

Help me sell my work, or consult on any and all things creative. I am very good at that.

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Controlling Control Issues: The Lab Rats Look At Who’s In Charge

  • Someday Lesson: If you let others control you or if you try to control others your own dreams will always stay out of reach.

Foxtongue on Flickr.comControl.

Such a loaded word, no? Control-freak, self-control, lose control, keep control, the situation is under control.

What does it really mean though? In a positive way it means taking responsibility for what’s your business, like your health for example. If you aren’t in control of your health, who is? Your doctor who has a hundred other patients to worry about?

Negative control lurks at the two extremes of taking responsibility – taking none or taking on responsibility for other people when you don’t need to.

When people say they don’t have time to do what they really want to, or say that no one allows them to follow their dreams they lean to one of the two extremes in the control continuum.

People who live with a habit of extreme control (either too much or too little) don’t pursue their own dreams because they either pursue someone else’s dream or try to force others to follow what they think is the other person’s dream.

I used to be a mix of the two, taking on too much control in a business situation and handing too much control to other people in my personal relationships. I’ve since learned how to run the control maze more quickly, being more assertive in relationships and letting go of my business perfectionism.

Let’s see where the Lab Rats fall:

Michelle

Michelle falls on the too little control side of the equation. She lets her family make her responsible for her sister’s life from chauffeuring her about to giving her money. And at work although everyone else is cross-trained, Michelle is the only one who does her job, so she gives her boss personal contact when she’s supposed to be taking time off. Plus she gets way stressed before and after time away from the office prepping and recovering.

She’s known her boyfriend since they were young and has always let him take the lead. Usually it’s no problem, but Michelle’s now beginning to assert her desires and her boyfriend is shocked, to no surprise. After so long of giving control to her boyfriend, the change to more personal control leaves him shaken and angry because Michelle is changing the “rules” of their interactions.

Marie

Maries goes to the other extreme and chooses to take on too much control of other people’s live to the point that if she doesn’t do it, nothing happens, from her mother’s life to work to relationships. The only place the extreme control has a positive result is with her health where insistence on her part revealed nerve damage and a vitamin deficiency that no one initially believed because they weren’t looking for it.

The most damaging part of Marie’s controlling nature is with relationships as she says:

I am very demanding. I expect the best of people and that people will use all their talents and abilities in life. I don’t understand the sitting by the sidelines mentality. I tend to be the alpha partner but will share control if the other person is deemed thoughtful and competent.

These last four words stand out for me and leave me wondering what Marie uses as a measuring rod. Sharing control happens naturally in most cases and isn’t something that gets doled out based on some internal worthiness score.

Reading Marie’s responses, I wasn’t surprised at her lack of progress on finishing her PhD. Submitting something that she’s been working on for so long for validation from a group of outsiders is a form of giving up control that must feel close to impossibly scary for her. Much easier to linger and not get anything done and not relinquish control. Better to have nothing to show than open up to possible criticism and judgment.

And in Marie’s case, the situation is made worse by hostile faculty members who will be reviewing her dissertation, doubling the reluctance to submit. When the validation isn’t going to come, why bother?

Helen

As a self-aware control freak, Helen has been working on letting go. In her family she feels that outside of her mother, if she doesn’t make arrangements to see each other, no one would make the effort. In her friendships, however, she has achieved a decent balance shedding people who only want to take or expect her to run their lives. Instead of using her controlling nature to take charge, she uses it within herself to maintain a balance of give and take in relationships. And at work she’s discovered a love of mentoring and helping out people who ask for assistance as a way to channel her love of control to create positive outcomes.

Her biggest control issue is around health, which isn’t surprising given that Helen volunteered as a Lab Rat to learn to control her body better. She’s bounced from too little control to too much control with changing sizes, suffering from bulimia, going on starvation diets and doing extreme training regimes. She’s recognized the unhealthy patterns and has recently turned to meditation and acceptance instead of self-critical control to maintain optimal health and body image.

Johnny

Johnny and his wife have a good relationship with lots of communication, so they know how the division of labor breaks down and neither feels either too controlling or too passive when it comes to each other and their children.

In general, Johnny doesn’t believe that his procrastination problems come from control. At work and in friendships he feels a certain level of obligation, but that’s normal and is a natural consequence of committing to a contract or something like his garage band.

Joyce

Joyce has no control issues either. She’s a single mother on disability with a mother who has begun to suffer from Alzheimer’s. Joyce is aware of what she needs to do but doesn’t overreach and start controlling other people’s lives except where she must (as with her son who is still a minor and her mother who’s unable to manage on her own).

Like Johnny, Joyce’s procrastination doesn’t come from control, so she runs through this particular maze without any confusion on which turns to take.

Kristin

Kristin suffers from the control issues that many women do. In her family she’s had to learn to stay out of her siblings’ lives if she wants to avoid conflict and with her husband she does the lion’s share of household chores because doing them is easier than complaining to him because they aren’t done or getting stressed because there’s no milk and the laundry’s piling up.

It’s not a great situation, but sometimes we just accept the other person’s personality and interests as they are and get on with living. When the baby comes, however, Kristin might find that she just doesn’t have the energy to do everything and her husband might need a good kick in the butt to step up and help out.

The problem could be this: Kristin’s better at household management than her husband, so he lets her do it, rather than making the effort himself. It reminds me of a friend who worked as a delivery boy and got around town fine but if anyone else was in the car with him, he had no idea where he was going and depended on others to navigate for him.

As you can see, the control maze has many routes through it. Some like Joyce and Johnny run right through without having to consider their paths, while the other four get waylaid by others (or themselves) distracting them as they make decisions about which turns to make.

What path would you take?

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A State of Self-Awareness: What Goals Do Your Actions Serve?

  • Someday Lesson: Without self-awareness, personal growth won’t happen.

Elizabeth/Table4Five on flickr.comMost people think that getting over procrastination involves a famous slogan that politely tells us to get off our collective asses and start working – just do it.

However, it’s not that simple. If you don’t know why you procrastinate or what goals, desires and fears are working in contradiction to one another, no amount of just doing it will produce any results. Since understanding comes from self-awareness, for the second exercise in the ebook I’ll Get Around To It Someday, I asked the Lab Rats to monitor themselves for a few days looking at what actions they took and what goals each of those actions served.

Now, when I say “goals” in this instance, I don’t mean the thought-out planned goals. I mean the unconscious outcomes that we bring about by letting our actions just happen without conscious choice.

For example, I know that I have a tendency to fritter when I really want to be highly focused and that frittering serves a goal of avoiding hard work. That’s a part of who I am and that avoidance is just as much a goal as getting a book published one day. You can see however, that these two goals contradict one another, but by being aware of them, I have learned how to manage them so that they don’t interfere with each other.

The Lab Rats, however, haven’t reached that point yet. They’re at the awareness stage and this week we look at what goals they drew out of the exercise.

The Wrong Maze

Before we get started though, a side note. I wasn’t sure how many of the Lab Rats would actually get through this particular maze I set them, so it came as no surprise that two people decided not to enter it. Nor did it surprise me who were the two non-maze-runners.

First was Helen, whose life is more or less how she wants it and is highly busy, tracking her workday down to the quarter hour. Shoehorning in another tracking project to her already busy schedule was just not going to happen. But that’s okay – in Helen’s case I’d ask her to stop a moment before starting any task or choosing any piece of food throughout the day. And that question is:

How does doing this make my life better?

By asking herself that question, she creates self-awareness for all her actions but doesn’t need to actually track it. And if she asks it for everything she does, it will become a habit and will help her stop making less-than-healthy choices.

Who else didn’t submit? Marie – the dissertation student who admitted last week to a full-on procrastination problem. Marie knows what the problem is: she’s self-sabotaging due to doubts about her future, but like most normal people, she has no interest in facing this self-sabotage. Asking Marie to track her actions for a week asks her to face her self-destructive behavior full-on and honestly that’s not going to happen either – nor will it be very effective in curing her of her procrastination. Much better to let it go for a week and continue on with other exercises, coming at the problem from a different angle.

Now let’s take a look at what (positive and negative) goals our other Lab Rats pursue on a day to day basis.

Johnny

Johnny would like to set his days as mornings for work and afternoons for planning his career. Unfortunately the career planning part holds a lot of uncertainty and fear, so he creates other activities to distract him from actually getting there.

His conflicting goals are as such:

  1. Find a career he’s passionate about.
  2. Avoid the huge knot of emotions the first goal generates.
  3. Get work done enough to feed the family.

Despite not really wanting to work at the last goal, the “feed the family” part is usually enough to get him moving on it even if he takes a long time to get around to it.

With the first one however, right now the protective avoidance keeps him from pursuing his passion. In his original notes to me Johnny confided that this sort of behavior happened regularly in the past – he would want very much to accomplish something but would procrastinate about it so much that he wouldn’t get it done.

Think of it as the little boy who has a crush on a little girl, but since he can’t deal with the overwhelming emotions concerning the girl, hits her and teases her instead of talking to her.

Joyce

In looking at the goals served in a typical day for Joyce, one major issue jumped out at me. Almost every single one of her goals serves obligations and not desires:

  1. Pets’ wellbeing
  2. Family’s wellbeing
  3. Son’s education
  4. Business obligations
  5. Networking
  6. Joyce’s education
  7. Obligation to her body’s pain
  8. Obligation to her nicotine habit
  9. Friend’s wellbeing
  10. Desire to write

Obviously Joyce cares about the well-being of those around her; but in a typical day, almost all of the activities she does for reasons other than personal desire. Yes, Joyce chooses to smoke, but after many years of doing so her body has created an obligation – if she wants to feel good during the day, she needs to smoke. The (unhealthy) obligation is to her body’s cravings.

Only her own schooling and her writing speak directly to her needs and often she reaches the end of the day too tired to write, so even that goal doesn’t get served.

In last week’s worksheet however, Joyce didn’t mention a lot of these obligations because they are things she chooses to do and wants to do – which is great – but they don’t serve her needs directly[?] – which is not so great.

As we move forward with Joyce we’ll look for ways for her to find more time for her private goals.

Michelle

Michelle tracked a whole week and discovered that her actions are completely governed by the needs, wants and reactions of others. It wasn’t a heartening realization for her, but an important one. It means that Michelle will likely make faster progress through subsequent mazes because a few small changes will likely produce rapid results.

An obstacle I do foresee for Michelle, however, is one that a commenter on a post last week discovered – that family doesn’t appreciate changes, even if the changes are better for everyone in the long run. Because of that Michelle will face a good deal of pushback from people who are used to how she is just as she is.

On a positive note, Michelle is so poised to make big changes in her life. Her comments show a high degree of self-awareness. She knows what she needs to change – she just hasn’t done it yet. Once the mazes give her a few decision-making and choice-making tools, she’ll just start plowing through the changes into the life she really wants.

Kristin

Like many people with nine-to-five jobs, Kristin spends very little time at work actually working. That often happens for people who work in a time-based business world. Instead of focusing on results, employers look at time put in at the office.

Looking at her schedule, Kristin felt ashamed for not getting more done, but acknowledged that this is the point of her signing up to be a Lab Rat – to implement the changes.

She also realized that some of her goals serve the needs of other people who may not even care if she helps their goal and may even prefer that she work towards her own goals first and not focus on the needs of others so much..

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Flexible Structure: Being Creatively Strict with Myself

  • Someday Lesson: Changes need to be monitored for results or they’re meaningless.

Ingorrr on flickr.comNovember is Creativity Month here at Someday Syndrome and if you remember from my post at the beginning of the month, I decided to test my creativity by getting more organized and disciplined.

Specifically I created a daily schedule designed to make sure that I not only get everything done but also when to do it.

Flexible Structure

The reaction I got from many people about being so structured was: I couldn’t possible stick to a tight schedule.

Well, I discovered that neither can I. But you know what? That doesn’t matter. Despite changing up my supposedly unchangeable schedule, every single day I managed to get the majority of the things on my action list done.

For example, yesterday at 8am I pulled out the Wii Fit Board to do my daily exercise but discovered the batteries were dead. Instead of cutting out my exercise, however, I plugged the batteries in to charge then pulled one of my afternoon tasks up and worked on that instead. I then exercised later, getting both tasks accomplished in spite of the major obstacle.

Without my schedule, I would have simply trashed the idea of exercise and frittered the time away.

Recognizing Failure

The only thing I failed at was the revisions for Someday My Ship Will Come In. By tracking my success or failure with each of my tasks I made myself aware of this lack of progress. If I hadn’t been tracking my goals, I could easily have ignored it (which I’m very good at) and then something very important to me wouldn’t get done.

Why am I not doing the revisions? Two reasons:

  1. I put it at the end of the day after having spent a good part of the day already writing.
  2. A lack of passion. I’m a starter – I love new things and new ideas. Going back and revising or revisiting a project bores the crap out of me.

So, what will I do?

First off, I’ll change my attitude. Instead of seeing the ebook as a revision, I’ll consider it a new project for which I already have a lot of the materials prepared. By playing this mental trick with myself, I’ll no longer dread the idea but see the challenge in creating a new (and amazing) product that blows the old one out of the water in awesomeness.

As for the scheduling problem, this week I’ll move the time for the “new” ebook to right after lunch before I do my blog reading. And I’ll end my workday with something that does excite me which is the continued tweaks on the website.

Helping Develop Self-Awareness

Speaking of website tweaks, I have a new tool to share with all of you.

When I talk to people about Someday Syndrome, so many say “I think I have that!” but up until now, you couldn’t know for certain without opening up your life to examination by contacting me and asking for help.

Now, however, Someday Syndrome offers a new tool – the Someday Assessment – which tells you not only if you suffer from Someday Syndrome, but what type you suffer from!

Plus it’s easy and takes no more than five minutes to answer.

So stop wondering if you have Someday Syndrome – find out for sure!

Because knowing the problem is halfway to solving it.

P.S. Wondering what’s happened to the Someday Interview series? I’ve temporarily retired it while taking the month to apply come creative thinking and come up with a new version – one that everyone can participate in!

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I Want To vs I Need To: Finding the Cause of Someday Syndrome

  • Someday Lesson: Although no one has only one Someday, there’s usually one that’s bigger than the rest.

Marco Bellucci on Flickr.comNo one has only one Someday. As complex beings we all suffer from Someday Syndrome to greater or lesser degrees in a wide variety of areas in our lives. Each week as I go through the results of the Lab Rats’ worksheets, I will choose one particular issue for each person. It likely won’t be the same issue each week, instead touching on all their issues at some point during the process and looking at progress in their Someday Journey.

This week we start off by exploring what I see (from what they sent me) as the Someday that most challenges each Lab Rat. It comes from an exercise in which I asked the Lab Rats to look at the goals in their lives through two filters: “I want to” and “I need to” in relation to their family, their work, their relationships and their health.

With six Lab Rats, I saw a wide variety of issues but one thing was common to all: a lack of motivation to pursue even things they wanted. This lack of motivation is the exact reason why I created the I’ll Get Around To It Someday ebook and worksheets – to give people passion to carry them through the periods where they can’t get themselves to do something even when it’s a goal they want with all the passion their body, mind and soul can muster.

Helen

Helen has everything else more or less in great shape but for her she procrastinates like hell over her health. To her it feels like hard work without any fun. And working hard on her body doesn’t produce the same sense of self-validation and self-reward that working hard in business or in other less personal areas of her life.

As someone with similar health problems that Helen has I know exactly what she’s going through – this too remains one of my few Somedays – and will work along with her so that we both clear out the procrastination.

Johnny

Johnny’s big passion is music – but he knows his skill puts him at hobby level and he’s tired of just putting in time at work to live for the evenings and weekends. His great procrastination comes from finding that job that excites him enough to break free of his procrastination habits.

Some gurus say to find your passion and then the money will follow, while others say work doing whatever you need to and find your passion elsewhere. Johnny’s tried both and neither has worked so far. He’s therefore taking this Someday Journey to try to merge the two extremes and create or find work that includes enough passion to not procrastinate and to produce results but at the same time leaves him energy for his family and hobbies outside of the office. He hopes to find it in becoming an expert in the green-economy.

Joyce

From Joyce’s first worksheet, I saw a strong distinction between things she wants to do and things she has to do. Although all the Lab Rats looked at their need-to-do stuff versus their want-to-do stuff, with Joyce the former is blocking the latter. For example work-wise she wants to get paid to teach seminars, but knows to do so she needs to promote herself. And because the promotion is a need instead of a want it won’t happen no matter how much she wants to do seminars, promotion just won’t happen.

I used to suffer from a similar strain of Someday Syndrome and learned what works best for me in this regard. Joyce however is not me, so before I start tossing out suggestions, we’ll wait a bit and see what direction the next few worksheets take her.

Kristin

Combining her lack of interest in her job with her recent pregnancy, Kristin has pretty much checked out. Her focus right now is on her body, her baby and her relationships. She sums up everything about her job with:

  • Things I want to do:
    • Develop my writing career.
    • Spend more time building up my blogs
  • Things I do because I should:
    • My day job.

Since the baby situation is temporary (as all pregnancies are), we need to focus on what Kristin will do once she’s given birth and finished her maternity leave. Clearly she has no interest in returning to her day job, so over the next few months we’ll create habits for Kristin where she does indeed build her writing career.

Marie

Facing a crisis of past choices, Marie’s not sure she wants the profession that comes at the end of her dissertation. She’s found that many people in her field are bitter, backstabbing and negative and that’s not who she is or who she wants to associate with.

Not surprisingly therefore, what was once a passion has become a chore and even though she’s supposed to write on her dissertation every day, nothing happens and she stresses herself out about rival studies or other situations that might render her work invalid.

She’s reached a point in the dissertation where there’s no going back. The only option is to finish it but the big questions blocking Marie from continuing are: Why and How.

I think many people who devote so many years to something like a dissertation can identify with Marie and I’m certain her journey will touch the lives of many readers.

Michelle

Michelle lives for other people. It’s not what she wants, but it’s a habit she’s created with good intentions and now can’t break without causing chaos in the lives of those around her. Her sister relies on her to keep her from feeling lonely. Her colleagues rely on her to hold their hands instead of focusing in her own work. And her boyfriend’s mother relies on her for transportation and a clean house. Plus Michelle puts the opinion of her extended family concerning her health and eating habits before her own.

This problem is a common one, especially for women. Society socializes women to put themselves after everyone else but it’s not healthy. Think of all the women on valium in the 60s and 70s and all the women on Prozac now. Instead of medicating herself until she accepts the situation, Michelle’s made the decision to find what she really wants and then learn how to implement the changes without creating too much chaos.

Your Guided Tour

What Someday are you not getting around to? Don’t you think it’s time to stop putting off your dreams and time to start pursuing them?

With a Guided Tour of the I’ll Get Around To It Someday ebook you get a more detailed version of the Lab Rat experience, with all the accountability and none of the public exposure of all your Somedays.

Buy NowClick here to find out more about what the ebook can do for you, or click the button on the left to order your Guided Tour today for only $199US – that’s nine weeks of email coaching for half my usual coaching rate.

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