Sunday, March 3, 2013

You Can't Do It If You Don't Try by Stephanie Michels

Funny how we always find excuses about why we can't do something.  Maybe it's something as simple as staying within a budget or as complex as doing our income taxes, but we can think of a million reasons why we can't do it. However, we seldom look at the situation and examine why we feel it is so daunting. It could be a lack of self-confidence, but sometimes, it's a form of procrastination.

I'm the Queen of Procrastination, so I was interested in a video seminar I recently happened on. Carol Look discussed some of the hidden reasons for procrastination. It gave me some insight into why I do what I do, so I thought I'd share her four main reasons with you.

Some of the top reasons we procrastinate:
1- Fear of Failure
This is considered to be the biggest reason for people to put off doing something. In the case of our writing, if we never finish a book, we will never run the risk of being rejected. We can happily tell ourselves that we are   writers, but just haven't been able to finish our story due to (fill in the blank with your favorite excuse). Sure, there are times when things legitimately keep us from writing, but the excuse can only be used for just so long. At some point, you need to look at your excuse and ask "what am I really afraid of?"

So someone doesn't like your book, so what? Even the biggest name authors get panned now and then. As for rejections, most big name author were rejected many times before finally landing a contract. It's a rarity for an author to get accepted by the first publisher they contact. even if your work is rejected, you can use the feedback to polish your story, make it better, then send it to the next name on your list.  

2- Fear of Rocking the Boat
Many people are afraid to attempt something (writing, painting, singing, going for a job promotion) out of fear that succeeding will change their relationship with friends, co-workers, or even a spouse. If they get that promotion or book contract, will their spouse be uncomfortable making less than you? Will  friends be jealous and drop them?

Believe it or not, this fear of how others will perceive you often lurks behind procrastination. It causes people to think if they don't go for their dream (whatever it might be), they won't risk losing the people they hold dear. The assumption here is that you have no control over what happens to you, but that's so wrong. You control your life. Communcation is important.  If you think your success could cause a problem with your spouse or friends, discuss it. Get the questions out in the open.    

3- Fear of Change
Much like fear of rocking the boat, fear of change can also be a key factor in procrastination. However, unlike the fear of how others will perceive you or react to your success (rocking the boat), this fear is more personal. Fear of Change causes a person to worry that their success might require them to change their lifestyle or force them to move from their comfort zone to self-promote, etc. On the one hand, the person dreams of the possibilities, but on the other, they fear those changes.

If this is stopping you, face it dead on. Much like the last reason, this fear is rooted in the belief that you have no control. Again, that's wrong. No one can make you do what you aren't willing to do.

4- Fear of Success
Oddly, some people actually fear success. Maybe they fear they'll never be able to repeat their success with a second book or song or painting, etc. Maybe they fear they'll get their promotion then prove to be incapable. Maybe they dream that publishing a book will change how the world perceives them but procrastinate in case they get published and nothing changes. Maybe it's a combination of Fear #2 and #3. Whatever it is, this very real fear also can cause a person to procrastinate attempting or finishing a project.

All these fears remind me of the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his first inaugural speech: There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Once you identify the fear, you can control or change it. Unless it's spiders (or clowns, Chris). Those are a whole different thing.

As for me, I'm still trying to figure which fear is behind my procrastination. I can see parts of all of these in me at times. It's too much to decide right now...I'll think about it tomorrow!  :)

Keep writing!


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