I caught myself trying to procrastinate on writing blog this morning. I wanted to watch Netflix the One Apprentice series instead of writing. Prior to this intruding menace, I’ve planned out today’s schedule last night. Since I have a full 6 hours of uninterrupted dedicated work time today, I was secretly elated like yay! I can finally focus on getting some materials out for social media posting.
Then unknowingly, came my “monkey brain” and it sneakily whispered to me that I deserve some rest because I’ve been VERY hardworking (hahaha) for the past weeks, but my “work brain” disputed that I can’t rest until I’m done with my overdue writing. What a bummer! I have not sat on my couch longer than 30mins since December 2023. I’ve been ploughing the fields of work and family like a farm cow. I know there are machineries nowadays, but nothing beats the human artisanal touch don’t you think? haha
And so, this is just an introductory to my internal monologues which built up to my daily experience of being me when it comes to tasks which I dread, which are so challenging; they require superpower effort and to add oil into the fire, I can’t see nor feel immediate feedback aka results. Argh! Even writing this now evoke a sense of heaviness in my chest.
If you think being a mental health practitioner will make it easier, NO… It ain’t getting easier! I’ve accepted this whole conundrum that I can’t run away from this despicable human nature that time and time again trying to bypass the hardwork by getting away with just doing what I like. But I can say, it is easier for me to spot my tendencies now, where my signal will go off Beep! Beep! Beep! “Procrastination detected! Intervention needed!” hahaha. This is pun intended and pretty much my reality.
I know what is important to me, my value (values can be a 2-sided blade if we are not conscious and flexible) of curiosity, of knowing the result when I tried my best. My standard for success to try my best, putting all my energy and focus into my tasks and failure is in not trying. So, the sense of achievement comes from my best effort. Sounds promising isn't it? I am not focused on the goal (noun) but my goal is in the attempts(verb). That I can say is a pretty good shirft of mindset. And yet! I got derailed!
So, what went wrong? When it comes to really executing my beliefs in actions, I gravitate towards my default which is to avoid disappointment which then leads to not doing what I plan on doing. This is so prevalent; it happened just a moment ago when I’m supposed to start writing after sending off my son to school and having a big hearty breakfast (that’s what I planned in my planner too last night). I’ve got all the tasks scheduled nicely. There are no external distractions at all. And BAM! The silent enemy lurking in the shadows leapt out from the dark and made it’s first attack! Procrastinate!!!!!!!
I’m writing this as I struggle to get back on track with my writing. Writing is something I wanted to challenge myself since the 3rd quarter of 2023. Life was a bit mundane then, with just work and family tasks. I was being comfortable, the only thing I did consistently was to upgrade my skills set at work and that was going through trainings and trainings and trainings. At one point during the year, I stopped and questioned myself, “When are these trainings going to be enough?” “Is this going to be the rest of my life?” Ouch!
Then, a little lightbulb lighted in my mind. Maybe I should do something that I really dislike which also can be beneficial to me and to my work? I’ve always admired people who can write freely to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas with inhibited grace. I wonder whether I can even be 10% of their talent. So, this was the spark that lighted up my challenge.
I guess I started with a bang! Like fireworks shooting up the sky. Ideas which were in my mind were rapidly rushing out into my writings. I unloaded my thoughts with speed that I didn’t know I had, it was exhilarating to experience it. The problem now is I don’t know what to write anymore (I know I’ve not written much). Suddenly, I lost my inspiration, I doubted my writing, I convinced myself that no one would want to read my blog.
My fire just died and the residual amber is making its descend from the sky with a whoosh…! I used to research for topics of human experiences which readers can relate to, which is not too psychobabble-ish, not too dry, and maybe something that is helpful that anyone can have a little bit of takeaway to use for themselves. Just a lighted small light bulb will keep me going. I get inspiration from my interactions with people and my observations. But now, I couldn’t find interesting topics to write, my thoughts aren’t flowing, it’s sluggishly dripping with sliver of tainted ideas. Not a good enough subject matter to write.
Progressively, this thought pattern comes back to my self-monologue of “You’re not interesting enough for people to know, you have so little substance aka You’re not good enough.” And true enough, I believe it 100%. So, here comes this endless vicious cycle of complex emotions versus beliefs versus values versus actions like clothes tumbling inside the washing machine.
Long story short, I’m writing to tell you that it is normal to experience setbacks in the form of self-defeating thoughts, old habits, or overwhelming expectations. These are all real, you’re not churning up excuses to get away from doing and completing your tasks but you’re trying to protect yourself from potential external threats which might not happen to begin with and yet will have the tendency to hurt you internally.
Here. I would like to share some tips which I personally use to psyche myself into getting back on track when I got derailed:
1. Find your "not so cooperative" core belief and keep it in check - I’ve been constantly working on understanding myself through inner work of my own core belief of not good enough [Watch out for my next blog as I just found my next topic]. I’ve painstakingly traced it back from my childhood, examined it piece by piece, understand it from my own lived experiences and its functions towards my own well-being. Then I gave it a safe space to stay inside my internal world, I allow it to exist, I did not fight it. For me, this is a way to honour myself, an acknowledgement of all that I’ve gone through. Also, when I get derailed, I know where it comes from.
2. Identify/detect the culprit aka the block/the cycle - for me, I wasn’t congruent with my set plan which set the sensor off. It is also a good tip to write down your plans in a planner/notebook so you will immediately have an alarm when you get distracted by the block.
3. Set a default reminder which you can freely access in your mind – for example, the goal is not just the destination; the process is fun too. You may craft your own unique reminder which works for you.
4. The power of support – I called up Gen, my trusty partner. I was vulnerable with her, told her about my block. She listened and validated my experience and reminded me that I can learn from my experience. I do know that, but… At times like this I just needed a lift from someone. A temporary crutch I call it.
There you go, I hope this helps in your journey of busting procrastination. Feel free to use any of the tips which you deemed is helpful. Till we meet again at my newly found topic, I wish you a lesser resisted route and a whole lot of fun!