Have you been putting off an important task?
Do you have something that you want to do or know you should do but keep putting it off? Do you keep postponing or coming up with excuses not to do something important?
If you are in this situation, here are my tips on how to stop putting off your important task and get yourself moving forward.
Work out what you really want
Sometimes there’s a difference between what we think we want and what we actually want.
There can be valid reasons for why we put something important off. One of the reasons is because we’re not sure if it’s what we really want.
In theory we might want to work for ourselves but the realities of being self-employed can be quite another matter.
Peer pressure from family and friends can factor into this equation. Your parents might want you to follow a particular profession, you want to please them so you find yourself chasing a career path you have no interest in. When you’re not invested in a course of action, you are more likely to resist making important decisions and doing the required tasks.
You might feel pressured by friends and family regarding getting engaged, getting married or when’s the right time to start a family (or whether you will start a family at all).
If you are constantly hesitating taking action on something or feel like you are doing something only to make someone else happy, take some alone time to think if it’s really what you want or just something you think you want.
Rip the band-aid off quickly
If you have ever removed a band-aid (or had waxing done for that matter) you know that ripping it off might hurt. Okay with the waxing, it’s going to hurt a lot but I digress!
If you remove a band-aid slowly you know that it hurts a hell of a lot more. You feel it pulling every hair and clinging to the skin. I’ll stop there because I’m sure you get my drift. Pulling it off slowly hurts more than taking it off quickly.
The same can be said for when we put things off. We drag out the pain. We tend to do this when we know a conversation is going to be unpleasant or confrontational.
Don’t drag out the pain. Be swift, get to the point, be professional (if it’s a work issue) and gentle (if it’s a personal one) but get it done.
Related post – How to Have Those Hard Conversations
Don’t rehearse too much in your head
If you are anything like me, you rehearse conversations or at least your part of the conversation in your head first.
Rehearsing in your head helps you know what you’re going to say. Sometimes it can help calm the nerves. Rehearsing is all well and good except when it goes too far. I strongly believe that we can over-rehearse.
I’m an over-thinker (with an active imagination – which is a great quality for a writer but not so great when I’m trying to work through a problem). Over-thinking can end up being more harmful than helpful in the long-term because your mind makes up problems than don’t actually exist.
Your mind, in an effort to think of every possible scenario, ends up making the problem seem much bigger than it really is. Not great for the nerves when you actually have to face the person!
Rehearse in your head but don’t go overboard.
Get out of your own way
Sometimes when we are putting something off, especially if it’s something we are emotional about we get in our own way.
We self-sabotage without realizing. Or worse we do it fully aware of our actions but don’t reign ourselves in.
We make things worse for ourselves, we make the problem bigger than it really is, we create a massive drama where there isn’t one.
All of our fears and self-doubt come running out to play. We obsess over our fear of failure, our fear of success, our fear of you name it. While this is quite normal, we can’t let these thoughts run around our mind unchecked.
We have to deal with the feelings and try to whip those suckers into shape, so we can get out of our own way.
Related post – Are You Creating Drama in Your Life?
Get all of your ducks in a row
If you are starting your own business, retiring or resigning from your present job (just as examples) – you need to have your ducks in a row.
I’m not sure exactly where this expression came from but basically it means that you need to have a plan in place for whatever change is coming. You have to have your finances sorted, any legal issues looked into and depending on what you are planning on doing – about a hundred other things!
Getting all of the important details covered will make taking the leap a lot easier – not to mention help with keeping your stress levels under control.
Get your finances in order
While this does fall under the get your ducks in a row umbrella, it deserves its own mention.
Whether we like it or not, money plays a big part in our lives so if you are going to make a major change make sure you have sorted out your finances first.
The fact that you don’t have your finances under control might be the key reason you keep putting off your important task or decision.
Be prepared to walk away
A couple of years ago I had a terrible work experience at a job I had just started.
As I was talking to a counsellor recently, the conversation turned to this earlier work situation. I was on six months probation and one of my bosses was treating me badly (that’s a massive understatement, but we will leave it at that for now). We were talking about what I could have done differently. The counsellor said something that stayed with me.
Turns out there weren’t many options. I said nothing or I reported her.
There was a very important caveat on reporting her. If I reported her, I had to be prepared to walk away from the job.
Being on probation meant that I had limited/no rights and that if I pulled her up on her bad behavior to management, I would need to be prepared to lose my job.
What’s my point? If you are putting off a big negotiation or putting off standing up for yourself be prepared that walking away might, in the end, be your only option.
Related post – How to Deal with the Emotions of Being Fired
Know your next step
A lot of the time the sole reason we put things off is because we don’t know what’s coming next.
Uncertainty can be scary. We don’t know what’s coming down the track (which let’s face it is pretty much the case for all of us everyday – yet we still get in and get stuff done).
If you are putting off something because you feel uncertain of the path ahead, tone down on the big picture thinking and concentrate on your next step. Focus on just that next step instead of freaking yourself out completely thinking about all the steps after that.
We know whats coming and we’re not thrilled about it
This is what it feels like when you have to break up with someone because the relationship is not working.
You know it’s going to suck, you know they are going to be hurt. You know they will feel terrible. If you love them but the relationship is not working out, you know you will feel terrible as well.
You also know that despite all that – it has to be done.
People often put this off as long as they possibly can because it’s going to be awful. Look at it this way though, the time you keep putting it off, could be time for everyone to cry their tears and start the healing process. Some people wait years to end something they know is not working. In the meantime you are wasting time (and everyone’s chance of meeting someone more suitable).
There’s no doubt that making those big decisions and doing the important tasks can be daunting.
It can be scary but it can also be exhilarating, liberating and wonderfully life-changing. That alone is reason enough to stop putting off your important task and get cracking!
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Do you have an important task or decision that you have been putting off?