photo by Doug Waldron
I have read a lot of articles on tapping/EFT and procrastination. Almost every article talks about the first thing you should do is to name what could go wrong or what is the penalty for taking the action. I can see that if you cleared the emotional charge around these pitfalls how it could help you to move forward. The problem I have is I have no idea why I don’t want to do these tasks. I know they are important. I know they are needed. I know they will improve my life. I can’t figure out why, even on a subconscious level, why I think these are bad steps for me to take. How else can I use tapping to get through this procrastination?
I have heard from my clients and I have seen in my own life the biggest reason that we don’t have the success we want is our own procrastination.
The question above states it correctly: The fastest way to get past procrastination is to find what could go wrong or what penalty is associated with the action, but sometimes this is not possible. When you find yourself procrastinating but you can’t figure out why you are procrastinating, here are four things you can do to help get past the procrastination.
Break The Task Into Steps
One of the reasons that we don’t start a project is because we aren’t clear on exactly what we need to do. Because we are unclear about this on a subconscious level it can feel unwieldy, overwhelming, or just plain confusing.
Merlin Mann recently said something really interesting on the Back To Work Podcast. He said (to paraphrase), that if something takes more than one step it is not a task, it is a project. The example he gave was putting up the Christmas tree. It feels like one small task, but you have to get the tree out of storage, clear the space the tree is going to go into, and put the stuff that was in that space somewhere else. AND, we haven’t even considered decorating the tree yet!
Suddenly, the one line on the to-do list “put up the Christmas tree” is a much bigger task. Subconsciously, we know there is more to it, but since we are unclear what the steps are, it just feels bigger. Bigger means it is going to be harder than we thought. It is easier to just avoid bigger.
If you have a task, no matter how small, that you can’t seem to get yourself to do, come up with a detailed list of the steps. This will make the project much more manageable. You will recognize that it can be done quickly or you will realize that you don’t have to do it all right now, but there is some of it you can do now.
Tapping would look something like this:
I have this task that I just don’t want to do…I know that if I break this task up into smaller pieces that I am going to be able to see that it is not that big of a deal…right now part of me knows that it is just bigger than the one task I am saying it is…even if I don’t know exactly what all the steps are…by taking a few minutes to think about this task in steps I am going to be able to get it done…I know I can figure out the steps[take a few moments to come up with a list of steps and then continue tapping]
I can now see that this task isn’t as complicated as my subconscious thought…I now have a plan of what needs to be done…even if I can’t do all of these steps right now…I know what the next step is…each of these steps are manageable…and if one of the steps isn’t manageable and I procrastinate away from it…I can repeat this process…and break those steps down into smaller steps…this is possible…I can do this
Think Of Something You Failed At
Many times we have a hard time doing a task because there is part of us that feels like we have failed before and we are going to fail again. This can be hard to pinpoint because we might have failed at a relationship in the past and now we are trying to clean our house. I know that seems like a very extreme leap, but I have seen such wild connections with my clients.
When this happens it is very difficult for us to make the connection between these two extremes, therefore making it hard to tap on the original failure. When this happens it is possible for us to tap on failing in the past without having to know the exact manner in which it might be tied to this moment.
To do this start by thinking of something small that you failed at recently. It could be a meal that you burned, someone you forgot to pick up, or something you didn’t complete on time. Tune-in to as many of the details as possible. Pay attention to how you feel now about the situation. Tap on something like this:
I have made mistakes in the past…I hate when I make mistakes…I look silly…I look foolish…I look like I can’t do anything…but I have made many mistakes in the past that haven’t been the end of the world…Even when it feels like it is the end of the world…it wasn’t really the end of the world…I thought it was much worse than it was…as I look back now it just seems a little silly…I know there are times when I am not going to do everything right…but I can recover from these mistake…when I give something a try I am going to learn in the process of doing it…and I am going to do better the next time…I give myself permission to be easy with myself as I try new things…I don’t have to do them alone…I can make this happen… in the past where things didn’t work out perfectly…but it worked out in the end…that can happen again.
After doing this, try the task you are struggling to do again. Most times you will be able to easily start the task. If not think of another past failure and tap on it. Even though these past failures are not directly related to what is going on, the tapping will help free our subconscious up from it’s misperception that imperfection is unacceptable, and this in turn will make taking action easier.
Is It A Priority?
We can say something is really a priority, we can say something is very important, and we can say something needs to get done, but do we really mean it? In the business world companies talk all the time about their core values as a business. They will choose things like integrity, quality, and customer service. In many cases these are just empty words that might seem like a good idea but the company isn’t really taking them seriously day-to-day.
The only time a company takes these values seriously is when they can state why they want this goal, there is a budget for it, there is a due dateand there is someone who is assigned to be in charge of making it happen. Otherwise they are just paying lip-service.
The same can be true for many of our tasks that don’t seem to get done. We can state that working out is a really good idea. In a concrete way we can name why it is a good idea. We might even tell others that working-out is something we want to do. Working-out can be on our to-do list every day, but if it isn’t really a priority it is never going to get done.
Here is how you can determine if a task is something that is a priority or if it is something that you are just paying lip-service to and therefore can just be crossed-off your list because your are never going to do it. Think of the task you are struggling to do and answer these four questions (also, write the answer out):
- Budget/Resource: What are you willing to commit to achieve this goal? I am not talking about just financial resources, but also your time and your emotional energy. Some tasks are only going to take a little time while others are going to require you to carve out time regularly (like working out a couple days a week). Clearly name what you are willing to do for this task.
- Due Date: When does it need to be done by? It is amazing how powerful a deadline can be.
- Responsibility: Are you willing to take responsibility for it? This is something to consider seriously. Are you willing to say, “I am taking responsibility to do [insert task]”? If you aren’t, then the task is never going to get done.
- Why do you want to do it? This is an important question. Often times we say what we want to do without giving any thought as to why we are doing it. It is hard to lose weight, but it becomes easier to work out when we are doing it to make sure we are healthy to be around for our children. What do you get from doing this task? How does your life change by doing this task?
After you answer these four questions you can do one of two things. One, you can realize it is something that you don’t want or need to do and it has ended up on your to-do list for some other reason. If this is the case, kill the task. Or secondly, take your answers and read them out loud as you tap. This will clear resistance and you will be doing the task before you know it.
What Is The Worst Thing That Could Happen?
The question, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” is a very powerful reframe. I love using this when tapping with clients by pointing out really ridiculous outcomes that are not going to happen. For example, let’s say you want to ask for a raise, but can’t bring yourself to do it. Here is a way to tap for it:
I want to ask for a raise…but I am worried it is going to go badly…I know that when I ask for a raise the building is not going to blow up…I am not going to drop dead of a heart attack…my boss is not going to run out of the room screaming and yelling…I am not going to be fired on the spot.
Are all of those extreme? Yes, but when we tune-in to the absolute extreme it is going to take some of the power out of our fear. Even when we don’t know what might go wrong we can name a thousand really bad things that aren’t going to happen. Give it a try. Just start tapping and name the things that aren’t going to happen.
- The world is not going to end
- You are not doing to die
- All hope and love are not going to be eliminated
- Puppies are not going to die
- Children are not going to cry
- The BeeGees are not going to get back together
Yes it is laughable, but you will feel easier about what you would like to do.
The most import thing to remember when you are procrastinating about doing a task or taking a step is to not get frustrated with yourself. When we get frustrated we are compounding the problem. Not only are we not doing what we want to be doing, but we are also feeling bad about it. Be easy with yourself. Take a deep breath and try one of these steps and you will start moving towards your goal.