What is the secret to helping people move from paralysis to productivity? I believe that getting un-stuck involves some combination of developing good daily habits, aligning time with priorities, conscious strategic planning and getting connected to a community of support and accountability. That sounds pretty simple, but the hard truth is that changing behavior serves as the mechanism to force whatever is really holding a person back to bubble up to the surface. In other words, while at least 30 minutes of working every day on what it is you’re trying to accomplish will make you more productive than not doing anything at all.
For most people I work with, the inability to be “selfishly” productive for at least 30 minutes each day boils down to perfectionism, fear of humiliation, criticism, harsh judgment, failure, or a very long tape of negative messages that plays in a continuous loop. Such paralysis is pervasive and can keep people from starting (or finishing) their projects because nothing is ever good enough. Sometimes our perfectionism, fears, and negative “tape” have already deemed our thoughts worthless before we can act on them.
Although internal forces can paralyze you, it’s also the case that society as a whole can often exacerbate perfectionism, inspire fear or trigger the negative tape to start playing. By that I mean whenever we tell others what we’re up to, it’s almost a guarantee that you will be critiqued, challenged or even blocked! For some, this might be invigorating, but oftentimes, it’s not. Friends, family and colleagues can exaggerate minor errors, pounce on your slightest flaw or make personal attacks for the purpose of boosting their own ego.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not immune to getting stuck myself! In fact, I often don’t blog as much as I would like because I fear that no one will want to read what it is I have to write so there are some days when I may not even bother. But the ideas keep rolling in and hearing back from my readers, or even friends with similar happenings, really puts things into perspective & encourages me to write more.
When I come up with ideas for blogging, I sometimes experience a stream of negative thoughts. “Who’s gonna read this?”, “Is there anyone else out there who feels the same way I do?”. My negative inner “tape” can be self-critical and even discouraging to me! This means I have to become even more consciously aware of my inner-critic’s non-stop negativity. Only after recognizing this, can I do something about it. Who would want to face that every morning?
Becoming aware of your own negative “tape” can help you challenge the following questions:
- Are these messages true or false?
- Where did they come from?
- What positive messages could replace them?
The point of all this is to let you know that if you find yourself stuck, you’re not alone! All you need to do is set aside some time every day (ideally the same time every day for consistency sake), get clear about what exactly you need to do during that time and just do it! And if perfectionism, fear, or any negative “tapes” start playing, imagine yourself pressing the pause button and replacing your negative thinking with more positive thoughts. If you can make it through one week, then you can make it thru two. And if you can make it thru two weeks, you can make it three…..you get the point here. Only then will you begin to experience the benefits of this practice and that positive energy will carry you into the next week (and the next, and the next, and the next).
I hope that this week brings you the determination to work hard every day, the awareness to recognize your internal challenges and negative self-talk, and the strength to start a new and supportive inner dialogue.