Procrastination: Some thoughts on Resistance
Procrastination is a gift. It is a gift that is like a neon road sign direct from Las Vegas baby. You are avoiding something to be done, you are late, you are too busy, and it’s all about the ‘not doing’. The road sign is telling you that something is not right. Why else would you do everything possible to not be in the flow, be stressed or unhappy. Why would you do that to yourself?
What is the flow? For me, it’s that feeling you have when it’s all working out; the lights in the street agree to be green as soon as you pass them, you arrive at the dentist and they are waiting for you, your taxes are done, and it didn’t feel like a big deal, you even got your snow tires off before it hit 30 degrees. I mean, you are in the flow, and things feel right. You aren’t rushing or late, you just show up, you arrive not hassled and apologetic. You haven’t forgotten anything vital to your next meeting. It’s a state we all aspire to, reach at times, but more likely the slippery slope of procrastination greats you ever so often, or for some, really often. This is true for all of us.
How do I get that flow? More importantly, how do I manage these blocks and patterns that I see in myself? How do I manage the thoughts that make me feel like if I don’t have a handle on my own procrastination, perhaps I'm not a good enough coach? I think that the answer is the same for both me and my clients.
But first, I’d like to point out that many of us coaches are entrepreneurs, and creativity is an essential part of the character and core skill set needed as entrepreneurs. But the same holds true for those that are employed as coaches. We all use our creative energy as coaches because essentially, the co-creative process of coaching requires that we use imagery, metaphors and our imagination to coach successfully.
Creative people experience creative blocks; generously lumped into the ‘procrastination bucket’. Steven Pressfield in The War of Art calls it resistance. I am a card-carrying member of my very own procrastination brigade specializing in resistance. Being coached has shown me how very hard it is to maintain my ‘sweet spot’ of flow, and the humbling realization of how hard my clients work at getting out of their own way.
So the answer to procrastination is also a little reminder for my self and my clients. The first step is to deal. Look it straight in the face, see it for what it is, even if it’s not a shining example of my best moment. Then step back and realize I'm not alone in this. It’s a small comfort I know, but at least with practice, I'll have more compassion for myself and others. The point is to not spiral into the negative slippery-slope of frustration and self recrimination.
Then, when I realize I'm imperfect and accept it, realizing that trying to be an ideal or ‘perfect’ version of 'me' is highly unrealistic. The reality; it’s attainable some of the time, and with practice I can get better, but expecting myself to always keep it together is a sure way to let myself down.
I have managed to dig deep and see why I'm avoiding certain tasks. I realized it was two factors; one was my sense of self worth was allowing my fear to gum up my flow. I really think this is a hidden problem of confidence, because courage is confidence in action. Second, (and this is a big one) my commitment to myself is apparently spotty; it needs a tune-up big time!
There is more to procrastination, but being compassionate with myself is a first step.
Teaching my clients to forgive their short-comings, yet encouraging them to dig deeper into their patterns will help them break through. Yes, I can procrastinate and be a great coach, especially because when I tap into my humanity, humility and empathy as a coach.
Note: the original post I wrote for ICF Quebec, I have modified it here for the purpose of this Blog