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TheLittleGuideToBeatingProcrastination, PerfectionismandBlocks:AManualforArtists, Activists,Entrepreneurs,AcademicsandOther AmbitiousDreamers


byHillaryRettig,http://www.hillaryrettig.co m lifelongactivist@yahoo.com
VERSIONINFORMATION Version1.0released12/10/07 AUTHORSHIP ThisebookisadaptedfrommybookTheLifelongActivist:HowtoChangetheWorld WithoutLosingYourWay(LanternBooks,2006).FormoreinformationonTheLifelong Activistpleasevisithttp://www.hillaryrettig.com. Idolifeandcareercoachingthathelpactivists,artists,entrepreneurs,studentsandother ambitiousdreamersbreakfreeofprocrastination,perfectionism,fear,negativityand otherblockstosuccesssothattheycanachievetheirlifegoals.Ialsohelppeople succeedattheirjobsearches(thatswhatthesubjectofmynextbookwillbe).Ifyoulike theapproachinthisebook,andthinkmycoachingwouldbehelpfultoyou,pleaseemail meatlifelongactivist@yahoo.com.Youcanalsoreadmoreaboutmycoachingand workshopservicesathttp://www.hillaryrettig.com. Ifthisebookhashelpedyou,and/orifyouhavesuggestionsforthenextedition,Iwould welcomehearingfromyou.Thanks,Hillary.lifelongactivist@yahoo.com WARRANTY Theinformationinthisebookispresentedwithoutwarrantyofanykind.Ithashelped

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manypeople,anditismysincerewishthatithelpyou,butIcantacceptresponsibility foranynegativeresultyoufeelyoumayhaveobtainedfromusingit.Ifyouaresuffering fromanintractableprocrastinationproblem,orpanicattacks,anxiety,depression, addictionoranyotherpsychologicalorphysicalcondition,pleaseseekprofessionalhelp beforefollowingtheadviceherein.Hillary LICENSE ThisebookislicensedundertheCreativeCommonsAttributionNoncommercialShare Alike3.0license,whichmeansyouareallowedtocopy,alteranddistributeitnon commerciallysolongasyouincludetheaboveTitle,Version,AuthorshipandWarranty statements,aswellasthisLicensestatement.Ifyouchoosetodistributeyouraltered versiontoothers,youmustpermitthemthesamefreedomtocopy,alteranddistribute noncommerciallyunderthesameterms.Formoredetailsclickonthislink: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/byncsa/3.0/us/. TEXTNOTES *ThroughoutTheLittleGuide,Iusethetermartisttorefertocreativepeopleofall types,includingfineartists,musicians,writers,andperformers,aswellascraftspeople, designers,andothercommercialorappliedartists. *IoftenusethewordstudenttoreferbothtostudentsIhavetaughtinclassesand workshops,andindividualsIhavecoached. *PleasenotethatalthoughthetechniquesdescribedinTheLittleGuideworkontheir own,youllprobablyachievebetterresultsusingtheminconjunctionwiththeMission ManagementandTimeManagementtechniquesdescribedinPartsIandIIofThe LifelongActivist.IdidntincludethosetopicsherebecauseIwantedtowritealittleguide thatfocusedjustonthetopicthatmostpeopleseemmosturgentlyinterestedin, overcomingprocrastination.Ido,however,occasionallyrefertotheimportanceof managingyourmissionandtimeinthisebook,andurgeyoutopickupTheLifelong Activisttoreaduponthosetopics.

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TABLEOFCONTENTS
PARTI.THEPROBLEMDEFINED 1.AnEarlyMorninginMay(orSeptember,orJanuary) 2.ThingsThatBumpUsOffOurPath 3.DespairandHope 4.TheProblemYouThinkYoureSolving 5.TheProblemsYouShouldBeSolving 6.Fear1.IntroductiontoFearandFearofChange 7.FearII.FearofFailure 8.FearIII.FearofSuccess 9.NoSuchThingasPureFailureorSuccess 10.DontCompoundFearWithShame 11.FearCreatesObstaclestoSuccess 12.TheMostImportantThingYouNeedtoKnowAboutYourObstacles 13.NonObstacles 14.BewareMythsthatPromoteandExcuseFailure 15.Perfectionism 16.Negativity 17.NegativityII 18.Hypersensitivity 19.Panic:TheFearAmplifier PARTII.THESOLUTIONS 20.FalseSolutionI:MeanMommy/MeanDaddy 21.FalseSolutionsIIandIII:SellingOutandStallingOut 22.FalseSolutionIV:Dithering 23.SolutionI:TheThreeProductivityBehaviors 24.PracticingtheThreeProductivityBehaviors 25.FiveSuccessTips 26.SolutionII:AProcessforOvercomingFearBasedProcrastinationandPanic 27.ToolsforChangeI:Journaling 28.ToolsforChangeII:TherapyandSelfCare 29.ToolsforChangeII:ACreatedCommunity

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30.FindingandCultivatingMentors 31.TheUltimateSolution(SolutionIII)toManagingYourFears 32.DevelopinganEmpoweredPersonality 33.WhatEmpoweredPeopleDo

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PARTI.THEPROBLEMDEFINED
Chapter1. AnEarlyMorninginMay(orSeptember,orJanuary)
Sohereswhathappens: Youhaveaplanletssay,towakeupat7;bewashedanddressedand breakfastedby8;atyourdesk,easelorotherworkspaceby9;workthreehours;exercise duringyourlunchbreak;eatahealthysaladatyourdesk;workfourmorehours;come home;eatdinnerwithyourpartner;workacouplemorehoursintheevening;andthen curlupinbedwithagoodbook. Butyoudontfollowtheplan. Maybeyouwakeuplateat8,or9,ornoon!Theplanistrashedbeforeyou evengetstarted. Or,maybe,ittakesyounotone,butthreehourstomakeittoyourdesk.Andthen, onceyourethere,youspendanhourorthreereadingthenewspaper,Websurfing,and makingpersonalcalls. Or,maybewhenlunchtimerollsaroundyoudontexerciseandinsteadofasalad eatagiganticsubmarinesandwichandthenspendtherestoftheafternoonfeeling sluggishanddontgetmuchdone. Etc. Procrastinationiswhenyougetbumpedoffthepathyousetforyourselfforthe day.Meaning,youstartthedaywithaplan,butsomehow,bythetimebedtimerolls around,youhaventaccomplishedsome,orall,ofwhatyouhadintended. Thereareotherdefinitionsofprocrastination,butIlikeminebecauseitreflects thenotionthat,ateverymoment,youremakingachoicetoeitherstayonyourpath(or schedule)orleaveit.Thechallengeofbeatingprocrastinationisthechallengeof resistingtheurgetoleaveyourpath.Thisisalsothechallengeofbeatingblocks,sincea blockisreallyanongoingprocrastinationproblemthatlastsweeks,months,yearsor decades. Thisebookwillhelpyoufigureoutwhatiscausingyoutoleaveyourdailypath, andwhatyoucandotostayonit.Itoffersnotone,butthreeprovensolutionsto procrastination:Iveusedthesesolutionsmyselfwithgreatsuccess,andsohavemanyof mystudentsandcoachingclients.Moreover,thesesolutionsworkfast.Studentswho

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employthemoftenshootaheadlikearrowsontheirgoals,eveniftheyvebeenblocked foryears.Illexplainwhythatissolaterinthebook.Fornow,justrelaxandreadon, andrestassuredthat,bythetimeyoufinish,youwillbemuchmoreempoweredtofinally defeatyourprocrastinationproblemandlivetheproductiveandhappylifeyouvealways yearnedfor.

Chapter2. ThingsThatBumpUsOffOurPath
Letssayyouplannedtobeatyourcomputer,workingonaproject,at10a.m.on aMondaymorning,butyourenot.Whynot?Theanswercouldbeoneormoreofthe following: *Gotuplate. *Quarreledwithyourloverlastnight,andkeeprelivingthequarrelinyourmind. *Aretootiredthecoffeehasntkickedinyet. *Aretoohyperdranktoomuchcoffeeandcantsitstill. *Aredistractedbytheweatheritsbeautifuloutandyoudlovetotakeawalk orbikeride. *Aredistractedbytheweatheritsawfulanddepressing. *Gotacall(oremailorinstantmessage)fromafriend,whoisdepressed(though notincrisis)andneededtotalk. *Gotacallfromafriend(oremailorinstantmessage)whoishappyandwanted tosharegoodnews. *Arereadingthenewspapereverylastwordofit. *AreWebsurfingorWebshopping. *AreplayingSolitaire. *Justrealizedthatitishighlyimportanttoworkonsomeotherproject. Or,ifyouworkinahomeoffice: *TurnedontheTVforaminuteandsawthatoneofyourfavoriteactorswas beinginterviewed,soyoudecidetowatchtheinterview. *Justrealizedthatthelaundrydesperatelyneedstogetdone! Thesearetypicalofthekindsofthingsthatcanbumpyouoffyourpath.Itsonly apartiallist,ofcourseyoucanprobablyaddmanyotherentriestoit.Thereare

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probablyhundredsofpotentialbumpsthatcanknockyouoffyourpath. Oneimportantthingtonoticeisthat,whilesomeofthesebumpsseemgoodor worthwhile(likecommiseratingwithyourunhappyfriendordoingthelaundry),and someseembadorfrivolous(likeplayingSolitaire),theyareallequallyunacceptable fromthestandpointofbeatingyourprocrastinationhabit.Youwillneedtolearntoresist theurgetogetsuckedintoactivitiesnotonyourschedule,nomatterhowimportantor virtuoustheyseematthemoment.Theoneexception,ofcourse,isemergencies,by whichImeanactivitiesthatcantbepostponedwithoutsignificanthurttoyourselfor others.Butevenwithanemergency,afteryouvedealtwithit,askyourselfwhetherit couldhavebeenpreventedbybetterplanning,orwhethersomeoneelsecouldhave handledit.Ifyouvegotanambitiousgoal,itisveryimportanttolearntominimizethe numberofpreventableemergenciesinyourlife,andtolearntodelegateasmuchas possible. IfitsoundslikeImtakingahardline,Iam.Ineedto,becauseprocrastinatorsare oftenadeptatrationalizingtheirdiversions.Obviously,ifsomeoneissickorotherwise incapacitated,weshouldhelpthem,buttowhatextent?Itsnotalwaysclear,andmany procrastinatorsmisjudge,sacrificingtoomuchoftheirowntimetohelpothers,even whenthoseothersarentparticularlyneedyorwhensomeoneelseisavailabletohelp. Thisproblemcanbehardtoidentify,muchlesssolve,becausethe(deservedly)virtuous feelingonegetsfromhelpingoftenoffsetstheguiltthattheprocrastinationnormally engenders. LookatYourCommitmentsWithaFreshEye Whenyoustartlookingatyourcommitmentsfromthestandpointofsomeone whoisdeterminedtosucceedattheirambitiousdreammeaning,someonewhomust usetheirtimeoptimallyfreshsolutionstoformerlyunsolvabledilemmasoften presentthemselves.So,forinstance: *Yourelderlyparentscouldprobablyfindsomeoneelsetomowtheirlawnand pickupthegrocerieslikeanotherfamilymember,orthehighschoolkiddowntheblock whoneedsafewextrabucks.Or, *Yourspouseandkidscouldprobablysurviveontakeout(orcooktheirown food!)afewnightsaweek.Or, *Yourfriendwhoneedsalotofsupportcouldfindothersfriendsoreven professionals,suchasatherapisttohelpprovideit. Ifyoudidnthaveanambitiousdreamthatyouwerepursuingontopoflifes ordinarydemands,thenmaybeyoucouldgetawaywithmowingthelawn,cookingall

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themeals,andtalkingforhourseachdaywithyourfriend.Butonceyouownuptoyour ambitiousdream,youareessentiallydeclaringthatyouwillbeveryparticularandself directedinhowyouspendyourtime,becauseyouneedtoreserveasmuchtimeas possibleforyourdream.Thisisindirectcontrasttomostpeople,wholetothers includinglovedones,friends,neighbors,coworkersandcorporationscontroltheirtime forthem. Almostallambitiousdreamers,forinstance,needtoreducethetimetheyspend ontedioushouseholdchorestoascloseaspossibletozero,sothattheycanusethe reclaimedtimeandenergytoworkontheirdream.Okay,ifyouenjoygardeningandit feedsyoursoul,thendontgivethatup.Butlaundry?Yardwork?Moppingfloors? Standinginlineatthegrocerystore?Totheextentyoureableto,findsomeoneelseto doit.Sendyourlaundryouttobedone,hiresomeonetomaintainthelawn(orgetyour spouseorkidstodoit),buyafloormoppingrobot,andhaveyourgroceriesdelivered.If youfeelfunnydoinganyofthat,getoverit:reducingyourhouseworkburdenisan investmentinyourself.Besides,itsunrealistictothinkthatyoucanspendyourtimethe samewaynonambitiousdreamersdoandstillaccomplishyourambitiousdream. Noneofthisshouldbetakentomeanthatyouabandonyourfamilyorfriends.It justmeansyouinvestyourtimejudiciously.Eventhoughyourenotmowingyour parentslawn,forinstance,youcouldstillbetakingthemtomedicalappointments:thats amuchhighervalueactivitythatisprobablyafarbetteruseofyourtime.Andeven thoughyourenotcookinghomecookeddinnerseverynight,youcouldstilldoita coupleoftimesaweek.Andeventhoughyourenotgoingtobeabletotalktoyour friendforhourseveryday,youcouldstillbeavailabletoherintimesofrealneed. Itcanbescarytochangethetermsofourinteractionwithsomeone,especiallyif wevebeeninteractingwiththemacertainwayforyears.(Doubleespeciallyifweve beentaughttosubordinateourneedstoothers,asmanywomeninparticularare.)People oftenreactbadlywhenwetellthemwecantdoasmuchforthem,orspendasmuchtime withthem,aswehavebeen.Often,however,ifwetakethetimetoshareoursituation, dreamsandneeds,theyaresurprisinglyunderstandingandeagertohelp.Sodontjusttell peopleyouwillbelessavailabletellthemwhy,andaskfortheirsupportandhelp. If,afteryoushareyourstory,somepeoplestillarentunderstanding,orare activelyhostile,thatsasadproblemtohave,butacommonone.Thatswhysuccessful peoplelearntosayno,andalsotodistancethemselvesfromunsupportiveortoxic people,eveniftheyhappentoberelatedtothem. Whatevertimeyoudecidetospendhelpingothersyoushouldbuildintoyour weeklyormonthlyschedule.Youshouldalsobuildintimebothforyourownrelaxation andforunplannedeventsandemergencies.Manypeoplethinktimemanagementisabout

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tryingtostuffasmuchaspossibleintoonesschedule,butitsnot;itsaboutclearingas muchaspossibleoffyourschedulesoyoucanwork,atacomfortable,nonstressfulpace, onyourimportantgoals. Tosumup:whateverbumpsyouoffyourpaththatisnotanunpreventable emergencyisprocrastination,nomatterhowimportantitmayseematthetime.

Chapter3. DespairandHope
Mostprocrastinatorstellthemselvesthingslike:Imlazy.Imundisciplined.Im afailure.Imhopeless.Ivegotnowillpower.Illneversucceedatanything. Manyartists,activists,andotherambitiousdreamerstaketheselfabuseastep further,framingtheirprocrastinationasamoralflaw:Imasellout,uncommitted, shallow. Manyprocrastinatorsleadadoublelife,pretendingtobehappyandproductive whilereallyfeelingbesieged.Theirboastsabouttheirhugeworkloads,abilitytowork underpressure,andconstantneedtopullallnightersareoftenjustacoverforshameand desperation;andoften,whenthingsgetreallyhotwhentheyareabouttomissaserious deadline,therebyrevealingtheirtrue,shamefulnaturetheycutandrun,abandoninga project,course,job,relationshiporothercommitment. Often,procrastinatorsbecomedepressedalmostassoonastheywakeupbecause theyknowtheyaredestinedtoprocrastinatethatday.Procrastinationcanalsofeelvery confusing.Atbedtime,youlookbackonthedayandcantfigureoutwhereyourtime went.Yourememberreadingtheheadlines,drinkingacupofcoffeewithyour officemates,watchingsometelevision,andsurfingtheWeb,butthoserandomactivities couldntpossiblyhavefilledtheentireday,couldthey?But,ofcourse,theydid.Thats whatCharlesDickensmeant,inDavidCopperfield,whenhehadMr.Macawbercall procrastination,thethiefoftime.Toaprocrastinator,itreallydoesfeelasifhisorher timeweresomehowstolen. Ifaprocrastinationproblemisseriousenough,andlastslongenough,itisoften calledablock,asinwritersblock.Anyonecanbeblocked,andmanypeople, perhapsmost,are.Sometimes,blockslastforweeksormonths,butoften,tragically,they lastforyears,decadesorevenentirelifetimes.Beingblockedisoneoftheworstfeelings intheworld;itdrivessomepeopletoabsolutedespair.

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WaitTheresGoodNews! Butwaittheresnoneedtofeelashamedordespairing!Whenoneofmy studentsconfessestoaprocrastinationproblem,Icongratulateher.Yes,congratulate. Hereswhy: *Procrastinationisanafflictionofambitiouspeople.Ifyoudontbelieveme,doa Websearchonprocrastination:youllgetlinkstohundredsofpagesadvisingyouonhow nottoprocrastinatewhenwritingyournovelorthesis,pursuingafitnessprogram,or lookingforanewjob.Theseareallambitiousendeavors,andpeoplewhopursuethem shouldbeadmiredeveniftheydoprocrastinate. *Allprocrastinators,nomatterhowthwarted,canboastatleastoneachievement: theyhaventgivenupontheirdream.Iftheyhad,theywouldntbeworriedabout procrastinatingonit. Toholdontoanambitiousdreamdespiteonesfears,andalso(frequently)despite discouragementanddisapprovalfromthosearoundusandsocietyitself,takesvision, dedicationandcourage.So,insteadofseeingyourprocrastinationproblemasashameful flaw,tryseeingitinsteadasasymbolofsomethinggreatwithinyou.Yeah,youvegot someworktodotorealizeyourfullpotentiallikewhohasnt?Butatleastyoukeep showingupandfightingthegoodfight. Anotherreasonnottofeelbadaboutyourprocrastinationproblemisthatpretty mucheveryoneprocrastinates. EversinceIbecameinterestedinprocrastination,afewyearsback,Ivemadea pointofaskingmanyofthepeopleItalkwithwhethertheyprocrastinate.Iveaskedvery successfulpeopleandpeoplewhowerelesssuccessful;peoplewithlongestablished careersandthosejuststartingout. Andguesswhat?Iveonlymetoneortwopeoplewhosaidtheynever procrastinated.So,prettymucheveryonehasdayswhentheygetbumpedofftheirpath. Everyonehasgoalsoften,thegoalsnearestanddearesttotheirheartsthattheyarenot makingprogressonasfastastheywouldlike.Itstruethatsuccessfulpeopletendto procrastinatelessthantheunsuccessfulonesthatis,Ibelieve,theverythingthatmakes themsuccessfulbutsometimestheydoit,too. Thisbookiswrittenspecificallyforartists,activists,entrepreneurs,academics andotherambitiousdreamers.Arethesegroupsparticularlypronetoprocrastination? Maybe.Asthelate,greatnovelistandteacherJohnGardnersaidinhisbookOn BecomingaNovelist: Theoreticallytheresnoreasononeshouldget[writersblock],ifoneunderstandsthat

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writing,afterall,isonlywriting,neithersomethingoneoughttofeeldeeplyguiltyabout norsomethingoneoughttobeinordinatelyproudof.Ifchildrencanbuildsandcastles withoutgettingsandcastleblock,andministerscanprayoverthesickwithoutgetting holinessblock,thewriterwhoenjoyshisworkandtakesmeasuredprideinitshould neverbetroubledbywritersblock.Butalas,nothingssimple.Theveryqualitiesthat makeoneawriterinthefirstplacecontributetoblock:hypersensitivity,stubbornness, insatiability,andsoon. Gardnerconsidersthosecharacteristicsvirtues,andsodoI.(Whathecalls hypersensitivity,however,Icallsensitivity.Idefinehypersensitivitydifferentlyand seeitasaproblem,asdiscussedinChapter18.) Letsalsonotforgetthatambitiousdreamerschoosetopursueexceptionally difficultgoalsotherwise,theydbeUNambitiousdreamers,right?Ordinarylifeis prettycomplexstuff,sayswriterHarveyPekar,butinadditiontothecomplexitiesof ordinarylife,ambitiousdreamerscanexpecttofacefinancialriskifnotprobable impoverishment;emotionalriskandrejection;lackofsupportfromfamilyand/orsociety; andstressfulworkingconditions.Andthatdoesntevencounttheinherentdifficultiesof thegoalitselfi.e.,theneedoftheartisttoperfecthercraftandsellherwork,orofthe academictofinishhisthesis. Manypeoplefleefromthesekindsofstresses,andI,forone,cantblamethem. Theproblem,however,isthatindoingsotheyalsofleefromtheirdreams.WheneverI teach,Iremindmystudentswhoareoftendeeplyashamedoftheirprocrastination problemofthemanypeoplewhohavegivenupontheirdreams.Weallsharea momentofsadnessforthosepeople,andthenIquietlycongratulatemystudentsfor perseveringintheirowndreamsdespiteallthedifficultiesandbarriers. Iwouldsimilarlycongratulateyou.

Chapter4. TheProblemYouThinkYoureSolving
Look,youreasmartperson.Acreativeperson.Adedicatedperson.Impretty sureaboutallofthat,oryouwouldntbeanambitiousdreamer,orreadingthisebook. So,howcomeyoucantsolvealittleprocrastinationproblem? Ifyourelikemanyofmystudents,thatquestionhashauntedyouforyears.One ofthemostfrustratingthingsaboutprocrastinationisthatitseemslikeitwouldbethe

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easiestproblemintheworldtosolveJustworkharder,Sally!when,inreality,itis oneofthehardest. Actually,thatsnotquitetrue.Anyproblemishardtosolve,ifyourenotreally solvingit. Huh? Imeanit:theonlywaytosolveaproblemistosolveit.Ifyoutrytosolvea problemusingactionsdesignedtosolvesomeotherproblem,oractionsdesignedtosolve noproblematall,butinsteadtomaintainthestatusquo,thenyouareboundtofail. (Whywouldsomeonewhoprocrastinates,andismademiserablethereby,wantto maintainthestatusquo?SeeChapter5.)Youcantryfromheretothemoon,harnessing allthebrainpower,creativityandpassionyoucanmuster,andyoullstillneversolvethe problem. Makessense,doesntit?Hereshowitappliestoyourprocrastinationproblem: Youprobablythinktherootproblemcausingyourprocrastinationislaziness,lack ofdiscipline,lackofwillpower,immaturity,lackofcommitment,orsomesimilar characterflaw. Butguesswhat?Itslikelynoneofthose. Firstofall,mostprocrastinatorsarenotIrepeat,notlazy,undisciplined,etc.In fact,mosttendtobedynamosinareasotherthantheonetheyareprocrastinatingin.One ofthepeculiartorturesofprocrastinationisthatweareoftenproductiveinareasofour livesotherthantheoneclosesttoourheart. Secondlyandyouwillhearmesaythisrepeatedlybecauseitssuchavitalpoint applyingnegativelabelssuchaslazyorundisciplinedtoyourselfis,froma problemsolvingstandpoint,worsethanuseless.Notonlydothoselabelsmisidentifythe problem,theyactuallymakethesituationworsebyunderminingyourselfconfidenceand predisposingyoutofailure.AsIdiscussinChapter20,parents,teachers,coachesand mentorsallknowthatcriticism,shameandblamedonotinspirepositivebehavioral change.Rather,encouragementandpraiseforanysmallsteptakenarethewaytogo. Andthatsnotjusttrueforkids;itstrueforeveryoneatanyage. Moreover,thefieldofexpectationspsychologyhasshownusthatpeopleoften liveupordowntothelabelsothersstickonthem;sothatifsomeonerepeatedlycalls you,oryourepeatedlycallyourself,lazyoruncommitted,youarelikelytolivedown tothatlabel.IllhavealotmoretosayaboutlabelsinChapter17,butinthemeantime stopnegativelylabelingyourself!

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TheMythofLaziness
Thinkofyourselfaslazyoruncommitted?InabookentitledTheMythof Laziness,learningdisabilitiesexpertMelLevine,M.D.,discusseshowmanycasesof lazinesscanbetracedtoundiagnosedoruntreatedlearningdisabilities,teaching failures,physicalproblemslikebadeyesightormotorcontrol,aninadequatephysical environment,orachaoticfamilylife.Oncethesecausesarediagnosedandaddressed,a personssupposedlazinessoftenevaporates.Levinesapproachhighlightshowjust importantitistocharacterizeyourprocrastinationproblemproperly. ******

Chapter5. TheProblemsYouShouldBeSolving
Moreoftenthannot,solving,orresolving,aproblemisarathertrivialexerciseonce weknowwhattheproblemis.GauseandWeinberg,AreYourLightsOn?Howto FigureOutWhattheProblemREALLYIs. Treatingprocrastinationasasymptomoflazinessoralackofdisciplinedoesnt workbecausethosearenotthecausesofprocrastination.Rather,theyaresymptoms,just likeprocrastinationitselfisasymptom,ofadeeperproblem.Thatproblemisusually either: 1.Youwerenevertaughtthehabitsofproductivework.Sincenatureabhorsa vacuum,thisprobablymeansyouveinsteadlearnedthedefaulthabitsoflow productivityornonproductivity.ThisresultsinwhatIcallBehavioralBased Procrastination.Or, 2.Fear:ofchange,success,failure,etc.ThisresultsinwhatIcallFearBased Procrastination. Often,peoplesufferfromboth. BehavioralBasedProcrastinationisarelativelysimpleproblemtodefineand solve,andIdosostartinginChapter23. FearBasedProcrastinationismorecomplex.StevenPressfield,inhisexcellent bookTheWarofArtdescribesResistance(hiswordforprocrastination)as:invisible internalinsidiousimplacableimpersonalinfallibleuniversal.Hesabsolutely

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right.UnlikeBehavioralBasedProcrastination,whichisusuallycausedbyalackof informationortraining,FearBasedProcrastinationiscausedby,asitsnameimplies, fear.Fearisunfortunatelyamajorforceinmanypeopleslives:itsoftenarational,if notoptimal,responsetothedifficultiesandstressesoflifeandanambitiouspath. ThePurposeofFearBasedProcrastination FearBasedProcrastination(FBP)isnotarandombadhabit:ithasapurpose, whichistokeepyoustuckatyourcurrentlevelofachievementsothatyoudonthaveto facethefrighteningconsequencesofmakingprogressonyourgoal. *Ifyoureawriter,artist,orstudent,FBPhelpsensurethatyoueitherneverstart yourwork,orneverfinishit.This,inturn,helpsyouavoidhavingyourworkjudgedand possiblyrejected.Or,judgedandaccepted,whichmayfeelbetterthanrejectioninitially, butcanbringitsownproblemsandstresses,asIdiscussinChapter8. *Ifyoureanactivist,FBPhelpsensurethatyoueitherdontdoactivismordont doitwell.Forinstance,itcouldleadtoyourinteractingmainlywithpeoplewhoalready shareyourviewstheinfamousechochamberproblem.This,inturn,helpsyouavoid havingyourviewpoints,andpossiblyyourself,rejected.Or,ithelpsyouavoidhaving yourviewpointaccepted,inwhichcaseyouwillhaveanewsetofchallengesand responsibilities. *Ifyoureanentrepreneur,FBPhelpsensurethatyoueitherneverstartyour business,orthatyouspendyourtimedoingthewrongwork,ornowork.This,inturn, helpsyouavoidthescarytaskofsales,andconsequentriskofrejection.Or,FBPhelps youavoidthestressfulandscaryconsequencesofbusinesssuccess,includingaheavier workloadandmoreemployeestomanage. *Ifyouareinabadrelationship,FBPhelpsensurethatyouneverleaveit.This,in turn,helpsyouavoidtherisksofloneliness,economicdecline(ifyourpartnerishelping tosupportyourlifestyle),rejectionbypotentialnewlovers,orafutureworse relationship.Or,iftherelationshipissalvageable,FBPhelpsensurethatyoudonotgoto couplestherapyortakeotherpositivesteps,thushelpingyouavoidthevulnerabilityand risksinherentintrueintimacy. *Ifyourestuckinabadjob,FBPhelpsensurethatyoueitherneverlookfor anotherone,orlookineffectually.This,inturn,helpsyouavoidhavingtodoafullbore jobsearch(ahighlystressfulexperienceformostpeople),possiblerejection,orthe chancethatyoullwindupinanevenworsejob.Or,ithelpsyouavoidtheconsequences ofsuccess,includingfindingajobthatmightbebetterinmanyways,butthatalso involvesmoreresponsibilityandstress.

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FearBasedProcrastinationsStealthyNature RememberallthosebumpswediscussedinChapter2personalcalls, newspapers,Websurfing,broodingaboutrelationshipsortheweather,etc.?Asyounow know,thosearenttheactualcauseofyourprocrastinationthecauseisfearbutthey aretheactivitiesweturntowhenweareafraid,andtheyservetodistractusfromboth thefear,andtheguiltyknowledgethatweareprocrastinating.Procrastinationhas,infact, anamazingabilitytodisguiseitself:thatisoneofitsmostpowerfulweapons.What couldbetheharmintalkingtoJanefortenmoreminutes,especiallyassheshaving sucharoughday?wetellourselves.Or:Wow,thelivingroomrugisreallyfilthy!Itwill onlytakeafewminutestovacuumit...Or:Oh,theresmyfavoriteactoronthatTVshow itcanthurttowatchforjustafewminutes.Or:Nopointinevengettingstartedbefore Ivehadmycoffee.Itallsoundssoplausiblewhichiswhyprocrastination,especially afterwevepracticeditforyearsordecades,gainssuchatoughholdonus. Atitsmostinsidious,procrastinationdisguisesitselfasaslewofproductive seeming,butnotactuallyproductive,behaviorsthatsuckupalotoftimeandgiveyou theillusionofprogress,butbringyounoclosertoachievingyourgoal.So,youspenda lotoftimedoingrelativelyunimportantbusyworkforyourbusiness,butdontactuallygo outanddothemostimportantactivityofall,sales.Or,youspendalotoftimereadingart magazinesandvisitinggalleries,butdontactuallypaint.Or,youkeepresearchingyour novelorthesistopic,butdontactuallygetaroundtowritingitoryoukeeprewriting thesamechapteroverandoveragain. Thiskindoffakeproductivityisoftenexacerbatedbyperfectionism,oneofthe fourmainhabitsofprocrastinationand,hence,oneofthefourmainobstaclesthat procrastinatorsmustovercometobeabletodotheirwork.(Theotherthreeare negativity,hypersensitivityandpanic.)Idiscusstheseobstaclesindepthinthisebook, startinginChapter15. Andletsnotforgetprocrastinationsothervaluabletool:itsabilitytothieve time.So,youspendthedayWebsurfing,textmessaging,listeningtomusic,playing videogames,andhangingoutwithfriendsor,alternatively,doinghousework,running errands,napping,andwatchingtelevisionandthen,allofasudden,itstenp.m.andyou haventdoneanyofyourimportantwork. AllofthisaddsuptothephenomenonPressfieldaptlydescribesasinvisible internalinsidiousimplacable...Itkeepsusstuckunhappily,forsure,butatleast safelyprotectedfromthepossibilityofevenmoreunhappiness. Itisclearthat,todefeatprocrastination,weneedtounderstandmoreaboutour

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fearsandourresponsestothosefears.Thatswhythenextfewchaptersaredevotedto thetopicoffearanditstypicalcausesandmanifestations.

Chapter6. FearI.IntroductiontoFearandFearofChange
Ourbravestorganizers...plungedintodarknessnotbecauseitwasstylishorbecause theywereproudpossessorsofatheorythatassuredthemthattheyweredestinedtowin, butbecausetheydecidedtoovercomefear,period.ToddGitlin,LetterstoaYoung Activist Fear,initself,isnotabadthingitcanhelpkeepusoutoftrouble.Justasitwas inourremoteancestorsinteresttobescaredofterrainlikelytoharborpredators,itisin ourinteresttobescaredofcertainriskysituations. Theproblemiswhenourfearsareexcessive,irrationalorotherwisean impedimenttoourgrowthandsuccessor,whenwerespondtofearinasuboptimalway suchasprocrastinating.Fearisoneofthestrongestemotions:scientistsevenbelievethat thereisevenakindofearlywarningsystemintheamygdala(thepartofthebrainthat governsemotion)thatallowsustoexperiencefearbeforeweveconsciouslybecome awareofthethingweareafraidof.Itmakessense:ifaleopardisabouttoeatyou,itsa goodideatofeelfear,andreacttothatfear,asquicklyaspossible. Thisearlywarningsystemmaybethereasonfearissuchadifficultproblemto overcome,andwhyitcanbesodisabling.Itshardtodoanythingwhenyoureafraid otherthantotrytoescapethethingthatisfrighteningyou. Ifyouhavetriedrepeatedlyandwithoutsuccesstobreakyourprocrastination habit,thenthereisagoodchancethatfearliesattheheartofyourfailure.Furthermore, youareunlikelytomakemuchprogressunlessyoufirstdealwithyourfear.Thegood newsisthat,onceyoudothat,progresscanhappenveryquickly! Below,andinthenextfewchapters,weexaminethethreemostcommonfearsat theheartofprocrastination:fearofchange,fearoffailureandfearofsuccess. FearofChange Akeydifferencebetweensuccessfulandunsuccessfulpeopleisthatsuccessful peopleinitiateandcontrolmoreofthechangesintheirlives.Theydecidewherethey

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wanttobetoday,thisweek,thismonth,nextyear,tenyearsfromnow,andthirtyyears fromnow,andtakeactionsdesignedtoachievethatresult.Unsuccessfulpeopletendto bemorepassive:theytakewhatlife,andotherpeople,handthem,andconsequently oftenleadunhappy,embitteredlives. Ofcourse,someonewhoisafraidofchangeisgoingtohaveahardertime initiatingandcontrollingit.Thatpersonmaybeasupercautiousorevenpessimistic, devilyouknowisbetterthanthedevilyoudont,dontfixitifitaintbroke,leave wellenoughalone,letsleepingdogsliekindofperson.Moreover,hemayhave perfectlygoodreasonsforthatmindset:peoplefromtroubledordeprivedbackgrounds, forinstance,oftenlearnthesekindsoflessons.Butitisnotamindsetlikelytoleadto successinanyambitiousendeavor. Asambitiousdreamers,wemustworkonourfearofchangeevenmorethanmost people.Thisisespeciallytrueofactivists,whosevocationisallaboutcreatingchange. QuotingGandhi,wemustbecomethechangewewanttosee.Confuciusagrees:To puttheworldinorder,wemustfirstputthenationinorder;toputthenationinorder,we mustputthefamilyinorder;toputthefamilyinorder,wemustcultivateourpersonal life;andtocultivateourpersonallife,wemustfirstsetourheartsright. Toachieveyourgoals,youmustovercomeyourfearofchange.

Chapter7. FearII.FearofFailure
Youhavetohavethecouragetofail.Russianpoliticalactivist,andformerworld chesschampion,GarryKasparov GarryKasparovisoneofmyheroes:aformerworldchesschampionwho,after retiring,wasnotcontenttorestonhislaurels,buthasdevotedhimselftofighting courageouslytorestoredemocracyinanincreasinglyauthoritarianRussia.Hedoesnot oftencometotheUnitedStates,soitwasatreatformetohearhimspeak,recently,ata churchinCambridge,MA.Theplacewaspackedwithmorethanathousandpeople half,itseemed,fromeasternEurope,andtheotherhalfnerdyguysclutchingchessbooks theywantedhimtoautograph.Hespokeonthedynamicsofsuccess,andthemainpoint hekeptcomingbacktowas:Youhavetohavethecouragetofail.Healsomentioned, Ihavewonhundredsofchessgames...andlostthousands. Iwenthomethinkingabouthowonedoesntbecomeworldchesschampion

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withoutbeingsupercompetitiveandabsolutelyhatingtolose,andyetherewasKasparov talkingabouthisthousandsoflossese.g.,failuresandhowtheywereessentialtohis success. Ifsuchafailureaversemancanhavethecouragetofail,socanIandsocan you.Especiallyifyouunderstandwhatfailurereallyis. Ifanactionwetakebringsustheresultwedesired,oranevenbetterone,wecall itasuccess.Ifnot,wecallitafailure.Thetroublecomeswhenweoveridentifywith ourprojects,conflatingtheirsuccessorfailurewithourownashumanbeings. Unfortunately,manypeople,andespeciallymanyprocrastinators,dothisallthetime. So,whenourprojectssucceed,wedontjusttellourselves,Wow,Ididthatsowell! Wesay,Imfabulous,brilliant,queenoftheworld!Andwefrequentlydofeellike queenoftheworld,atleastforalittlewhile. Now,Idonthaveaproblemwiththat.Mostpeoplespendwaytoomuchtime criticizingthemselves,nottomentionbeingcriticizedbyothers,andcouldusesome extraselfpraise.Themore,themerrier,asfarasImconcerned:justkeepittoyourself sothatyoudontalienateothers. No,theproblemisntwhenourprojectssucceed;itswhentheyfail.Thenthe reversehappens,andwedontjusttellourselves,Bummer.IguessIllhavetodobetter nexttime,but,Imsuchaloser.HowcouldIpossiblythinkIcouldownabusiness? MyfolkswererightImjustlazyandstupid.Suchnegativethoughtsarecrippling,and inmanycaseswearesoterrifiedofthepossibilitythattheyarecorrectthatwereally arestupidlosersthatwedontevendaretoattemptourdream. AsStevenPressfieldputsitinTheWarofArt,Resistanceknowsthatthe amateurcomposerwillneverwritehissymphonybecauseheisoverlyinvestedinits successandoverterrifiedofitsfailure.Theamateurtakesitsoseriouslyitparalyzes him. Manyprocrastinators,infact,haveitevenworse:theyarecomfortabletaking creditfortheirfailures,butnottheirsuccesses.So,failureisduetothepersonsown limitationsorineptness,whilesuccessisduetoluckorthesupposedlytrivialnatureof thechallenge.(Iftheprocrastinatorsucceededatit,afterall,itmustbetrivial.)Canyou imagineamoredisablingattitude? Mostyoungchildrendonthavethisproblem.Achildwhosetowerofbuilding blocksfallsdownwillcry,Itfelldown!notIfailed!Ifanything,sheislikelyto blametheblocksthemselves,orsomeotherkidwhohappenedtowalktooclosetoher tower,whichiswhyherdisappointmentislikelytobeonlytemporaryandsheisableto returnhappilyandconfidentlytoblockbuildingthenextday. Atsomepoint,weallmustlearntotakeresponsibilityforourfailuresandlook

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objectivelyatourpersonallimitations.Childrenraisedwithkindnessandinsightbecome resilientadultswhocandothiswithoutjudgingthemselvesharshly.Manyofus, however,werenottreatedsokindlybyparentsorothersand,asaresult,areunableto refrainfromharshselfcriticism.Thismakesusterrifiedofeventhepossibilityoffailure and,thus,unabletotakeappropriaterisks.Andsoweremainfrozen: *Wedontleaveabadjobinhopesoffindingabetterone. *Wedontleaveabadrelationshipinhopesoffindingabetterone. *Wedonttakeonambitiousprojects,ordontfinishtheprojectswetakeon. *Wedontmovetoanew,moreinterestingplace.

Inshort,weremainstuckinourruts. Givenprocrastinationsstealthynature,ofcourse,weusuallydonttellourselves wereinarut.Onthecontrary,weusuallytellourselvesthatwearetryingreally,really hardtoleavethejob,relationship,etc.Wejustdontdoaverygoodjobofit.

Chapter8. FearIII.FearofSuccess
Fearoffailureisanintuitiveconceptnoonelikestofail.Butwhataboutfearof success?Howcouldanyonebeafraidofsuccess? Considerthis:failure,atleast,usuallyhasthevirtueofleavingusinthesame placewherewestartedout.Success,incontrast,takesustosomeplacenewand unknown.Andthatisscary. Moreover,thenewplaceislikelytobebusier,trickier,moredifficult,more confusingandlesscomfortablethantheplaceweleftbehind: *Finishyourthesisandyouwillhavetoexperiencethejudgmentofyour committee,nottomentionthevagariesoftheacademicjobmarket. *Runasuccessfulactivistcampaignandyoullwindupwithmoreworktodo.As SaulAlinskywritesinRulesforRadicals,Intheworldasitis,thesolutionofeach probleminevitablycreatesanewone. *Getanewjobandyoullhavetomasterawholenewsetofrelationships, informationandskills. *Getanewrelationshipandyouputyourheartontheline. Successalsoalwayscomescoupledwithanewpossibilityoffailure.Theresno

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guarantee,afterall,thatyoullprevailatyournewchallenges;andyoucouldfallflaton yourface. Successalsoputsyouinthelineoffire.Artistsandacademicsbothhaveto enduretheirworkbeingjudgedbyexpertsand,sometimes,thewidercommunity.Andan activistwhosucceedsatacampaignislikelytobecomeatargetfortheopposition. Finally,andperhapshardesttotake,isthatyoursuccessmaysparkresentment andevenhostilityfromfamilyandfriendswhodontsupportyourgoals,orwhoremain stuckintheirownruts.Dontunderestimatethis:rejectionby,andalienationfrom,loved onesisacommon,andoftenveryhurtful,consequenceofsuccess. Success,inotherwords,isstressful,andsometimesgreatlyso.Childrenraised withkindnessandinsightbecomeresilientadultswhocanmanagethisstress,butmany ofuswerenottreatedsokindlybyparentsorothers,andcannot.Andso,wedonteven attempttosucceed. Ifsuccessissoriskyandstressful,whyevenbothergoingforit?InOnBecoming aNovelist,JohnGardnersays:Nothingisharderthanbeingatruenovelist,unlessthatis allonewantstobe,inwhichcase,thoughbecomingatruenovelistishard,everything elseisharder.Sameforalltheothertypesofambitiousdreamers. Onamoreprosaiclevel,successusuallybringsmonetaryrewardsevenforthe activist,whomayfinallyhaveashotatgettingacovetedfulltimejobinhismovement. Thentherearethesocialandspiritualbenefitsofsuccess:oneofthebestsituations anyonecanfindthemselvesinisaspartofacommunityofsuccessfulambitious dreamers.So,whileyournewsuccessfullifemaybebusierandmorestressfulthanyour oldone,itwillalsobericher(ineverysense),moreinterestingandmorefulfilling.Your newfriendsandcolleagueswillnotonlysupportyouthroughthestressfultimes,but encourageyoualongtoevengreaterheightsofsuccessandhappiness.

Chapter9. NoSuchThingasPureFailureorSuccess
Afewyearsago,duringthehightechboomofthelate1990s,Istartedahightech businessintowhich,overthreeyears,IsankeverypennyIhadsaved.Thisrepresentedan enormousfinancialhitformyfamily.Butthebusinessnevertookoffand,lookingback,I canseethatitnevertookoffbecauseofmistakesthatImade. Wasthebusinessafailure? Atthetimeitcertainlyfeltthatway.WhenthemoneyranoutandIhadtotakea

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job,Iwashugelydepressedandwhocouldblameme?Afterall,afewmonthsearlierI hadbeenvisualizingmyselfasatitanoftheneweconomy.Now,Iwasscrapingbyasa businesscoachatanonprofitagency. Butguesswhat:Idontseeitasafailureanymore. Firstofall,IlearnedavastamountfromthatbusinessfailuresomuchsothatI refertotheexperience,jokingly,asmyMBA. Second,thecoachingjobItookoutofdesperationturnedouttobeoneofthebest experiencesofmylife,anditchangedmylifeforthebetterinmanyways.Iturnedoutto bebetteratcoachingthanatmostoftheotherwaysIhadtriedtoearnaliving;Iwas helpingalotofpeople;andalsomystudentsandfellowcoachesturnedouttobesomeof themostamazingandinspirationalpeopleIveeverbeenprivilegedtoknow.Asaresult ofhelpingpeopleworkthroughtheirproblemsandblocksonadailybasis,Ifound myselfundergoingaperiodofrapidpersonalgrowthandlearning;andIwasevenable, inakindofextraordinarycoachsalchemy,totransformmybusinessfailure,along withpriorbusinesssuccesses,intousefulfodderformyclassesandcoaching,thus derivingrealandongoingvaluefromanexperiencethatatthetimeseemedlikepure failure. Ultimately,thechainofeventssetinplacebymybusinessfailureledtothe writingandpublicationofmyfirstbook,TheLifelongActivist,andmynew,wonderful andsustainablecoachingandspeakingbusiness. So,wasmybusinessafailure?Onlyinthenarrowestsense. StephenPressfieldtellsawonderfulstoryaboutfailureinTheWarofArt.After seventeenyearsoftryingtobreakintothemoviebusiness,hefinallywroteascreenplay thatgotproduced,foramoviecalledKingKongLives.(Ifyouhaventheardofit,you canprobablyguesstherestofthestory....)Wewerecertainitwasablockbuster,he writes;andheandhiscolleaguesarrangedforafancypartyafterthepremiere.Noone cametotheparty,however,andthenextdaythereviewswerescathing.Pressfieldwrites: Iwascrushed.HereIwas,fortytwoyearsold,divorced,childless,havinggivenupall normalhumanpursuitstochasethedreamofbeingawriter....Imaloser,aphony;my lifeisworthless,andsoamI.However,hewasquicklysetrightbyawisefriend,who said,Behappy.Yourewhereyouwantedtobe,arentyou?Soyouretakingafew blows.Thatsthepriceforbeinginthearenaandnotonthesidelines.Stopcomplaining andbegrateful. OnemoralofPressfieldsstory,andmyown,isthatthereisnosuchthingaspure successorpurefailure.Everyexperience,includingmybusinessandKingKongLives,is amixedbag.(NowyouknowwhyIfrequentlyputthewordsfailureandsuccessin quotesthroughoutthisebook.)Ofcourse,successisbetterthanfailure,butmost

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successescontainsomeelementofcompromiseorfailure,andmostfailurescontainsome elementofsuccess,evenifthatelementmaynotbeimmediatelyapparent.Sotheline betweenthetwoisnotnearlyasclearasmanypeoplethink. NoRegrets Inmycoaching,Iregularlyrunintopeoplewhofeeladeepshameforsome,or many,oftheirpastactions.Sometimes,thesinishavingdroppedoutofcollege,while othertimesitishavingremainedinanabusiverelationship,spentonestwentiesdrunkor stoned,orcommittedacrime(orcrimes).Often,thesinissomethingmostonlookers wouldconsiderrelativelyminor,ornotevenasinatalllikemystudentwhohadtostop doingvolunteerworkatherchurchwhenherchildbecameill.(Believeitornot,shewas deeplyashamedofthis.)Manypeoplearefilledwithshameforthingstheydidback whentheywereteenagersorevenyounger,orforthingsthatotherpeopledidtothem. AndinmanycasesthatIsee,peoplesshameandregretarekeepingthem frozenandunabletomakeprogressontheirgoals. Shame,guilt,regretandremorsearetoxic,anduseless,emotions.Theonly properresponsetoyourmistakesistolearnfromthem,worktoensurethatyoudo notrepeatthem,makewhateveramendsyoucantopeopleyouhavehurt,andmove on.Anythingelseanyshame,guilt,regretorremorsewontaccomplishanything, andcan,infact,leadtoaperniciousformofprocrastination.Sure,Icouldchooseto dwellonthemanymistakesImadeinmybusiness,nottomentionallthemoneyIlost. Butwhatexactlywouldthataccomplish?(Anonrhetoricalquestion:thinkaboutit.) Oncetherelevantlessonsarelearned,andyouvemadeamendsasbestascan,itstime tomoveon. ****** Exercise:FindingtheSuccessinFailure Reexaminesomeofyourworst,mostshamefulfailuresandseeifyoucan locatethesuccesseshiddenwithin.Giveyourselfcreditforthosesuccesses:youearned themthehardway.Andstopdwellingoveryourfailures:youveprobablydonethat enough,already,tolastalifetime. ******

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Chapter10. DontCompoundFearWithShame
Inmyexperience,manypeople,andespeciallymanymen,areashamedoftheir fears.Theyseethemasdisgracefulandasignofweakness. Idisagree.Ashumans,wearesubjecttodeath,disease,disappointment,loss, heartbreak,naturaldisasterandhumanmadedisaster,amongmanyotherafflictions.Fear is,inmyview,anentirelyreasonableresponsetothisreality. Thentherearethemanyhardships,risksandrejectionsoftheambitiouslife, whetheritinvolvesart,academics,activism,entrepreneurshiporsomeothergoal.These hardshipsandrisksgiveyouevenmorereasontobeafraid. Inotherwords,toparaphrasetheoldactivistquipaboutoutrage,Ifyourenot afraid,thenyouhaventbeenpayingattention. Sostopblamingyourselfforyourfearsandstartaskingyourselfthisquestion instead:HowshouldIrespondtomyfears? StevenPressfieldtellshowthelateactorHenryFondasufferedfromextreme stagefrightthroughouthislongcareer.Infact,hegotsonervousbeforeeverystage performanceandfilmshootthathethrewup.Thatsfortyyearsofthrowingup. Andaftereveryepisodeofthrowingup,heproceededtogivehisperformance. Thatshowtorespondtofear:notbylettingitparalyzeyou,andnotbywasting timeblamingyourselfforit,butbydoingyourworkandmakingprogresstowardyour goals. ****** Exercise:ExperiencingFearWithoutShame Taketwoorthreetasksyouhavebeenprocrastinatingonandforeachwritealist ofthenegativeconsequencesofaccomplishingit.If,forexample,youvebeen procrastinatingonvisitingadoctor,yourlistcouldinclude,Itwillcost$100,Shell givemeashot,andShemightdiscoversomethingseriouslywrong. Afterdoingthisexercise,twothingsmighthappen: *Youmightfindyourselfbecomingmoreunderstandingabout,andforgivingof, yourprocrastination.(NowonderIkeepputtingthisoff!)Thisisamuchbetter

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responsethancriticizingorblamingyourself. *Bywritingdownthenegatives,youmaydefusethem,sothattheyseemless scary.Youmayevenfeelmotivatedtogoaheadanddothetask.Ifthatsthecase,gofor it!Butdontfeelbadifyoudontexperiencethatmotivation,orifitquicklygoesaway andyourebacktofeelingstuckagain. Whateveryoudo,donotputyourselfdownforhavingfearsandanxieties. Everyonehasthem,includinghighlysuccessfulpeoplewhooftenconsciouslyor unconsciouslydevelopskillsandstrategiesforcopingwiththem.Thatswhatyoull learntodoinfuturechaptersofthisbook. ******

Chapter11. FearCreatesObstaclestoSuccess
Asmentionedearlier,oneofFearBasedProcrastinationsfavoritetacticsisto disguiseitselfbymimickingproductivity.Itdoesthis,usually,bygeneratingoneoffour characteristicantiproductivebehaviors:perfectionism,negativity,hypersensitivityand panic.IcallthesetheBigFourObstacles,astheyareveryfrequentlythekeyroadblocks betweenprocrastinatorsandtheirgoals.Mostprocrastinatorsarepronetoatleastoneof them,andmanyarepronetoallfour,soIdiscussthematlengthstartinginChapter15. Panicmeritsaspecialmention.Itsnotreallyanobstacleinandofitself,butacts asanobstacleamplifier,blowingyourfearsoutofproportionandincreasingtheodds thatyouwillretreatintooneoftheantiproductivebehaviors.Thetaskofdefeating fearbasedprocrastinationisfundamentallythetaskofovercomingpanic,sothat whenyouexperienceaninstanceoffear,doubtordiscomfort,youdonotget overwhelmedbyitandgetbumpedoffyourpath. Therearealsotwoothercategoriesofobstaclesthatarenotinthemselvesfear based,butthatareoftenpresentalongsidetheBigFour: ThefirstareLogisticalObstacles,whichareusuallycausedbysimpleignorance. Forexample: *Lackofaclearlydefinedmissionand/orpathtosuccess *Lackoftimemanagement *Lackofpreparation,skills,resourcesand/orfacilities *Lackofmentorsorothersupport

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Inotherwords,youeitherdontknowwhatyouresupposedtobedoing,orlack theskillsorresourcestodoit.Atypicalpersonsufferingfromalogisticalobstaclewould beabusinessownerwhodoesntrealizesheshouldbespendingatleasthalfhertime marketingandselling,andthusspendshertimeonlessimportanttasks.Anotherwould besomeonewritinghisPh.D.thesis,whotriestotacklethatgiantprojectontopofhis ordinaryschedule,insteadofruthlesslyclearinghisscheduletocreatethetimeand energyheneedstogetitdone. Commonsolutionstologisticalobstaclesinclude:doingmissionmanagementand timemanagement,organizingyouroffice,buyingsomenewequipment,takingaclass, andsettingupregularconsultationswithmentors. Onceyoucommittoovercomingalogisticalobstacle,itisoftennotdifficulttodo so.Ifyoudohavetroubleovercomingyoursifyouseemtolackthewillpowerto makethesolutionwork,orcantevenfindthetimetothinkabouttheproblemthenyou probablyalsosufferfromfearbasedprocrastination.(Thiswillbethecaseformost people.)Youllprobablyhavetodealwiththefearfirst,usingthetechniquesdescribed laterinthisebook,beforeyoucanmoveontothemoresuperficiallogisticalfix. TherearealsowhatIcallSituationalObstacles,whichinvolveotherpeopleor othercircumstancesoutsideyourfullcontrol.Atoughdayjob,heavyfamily responsibilities,andanunsupportivespousearesituationalobstacles.Soareadisability andserioushealthproblems. Situationalobstaclesareoftenthetoughesttoovercome.Theirsolutionsoften involvemajorlifechangessuchasswitchingjobs,leavingrelationships,altering lifestyles,compromisingononescherishedgoals,orcommittingtoindividualor couplestherapy.Likelogisticalobstacles,situationalobstaclesusuallyoccuralongside fearbasedprocrastination,andsoyoullfirsthavetodealatleastpartlywithyourfears beforeyoucaneffectivelystartchangingyoursituation.Butevenonceyouworkpastthe fear,youarestilllefthavingtodealwithsomeverytoughcircumstances.

Chapter12. TheMostImportantThingYouNeedtoKnowAboutYourObstacles
Themostimportantthingyouneedtoknowaboutyourobstaclesisthatallof themcanbeovercome. Itdoesntmatterwhoyouare,howyouwereraised,whatrace,religion, nationalityorsexyouare,orhowmuchmoneyyouhave.Allofyourobstaclescanbe

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overcome. Overcominganobstaclemaynotbeeasy.Itmaynotbefun.Itmaytakemonths, yearsorevendecades.Itmaytaketimeandmoney.Butitcanbedone. Yourhabitsofperfectionism,negativity,hypersensitivityandpaniccanbe overcome. Yourlogisticalobstacleslackofpreparation,information,supportcanbe overcome. Yoursituationalobstaclesbadjob,badrelationships,disabilityorchronicillness canbeovercome,atleastinpart. Illsayitagain:ALLofyourobstaclescanbeovercome. Byovercome,Imeaneliminated,minimizedorcompensatedfor.Youmay haveadisabilitythatyoumustlivewith,orhaveexperiencedaterriblelossfromwhich thehurtwillneverentirelygoaway.Butyoucanstillworktoatleastminimizethe negativeeffectofyourmisfortuneonyourfuturesuccess.Oneofmyheroesinthis regardisChristopherReeve,thelateactorwhowasparalyzedfromtheneckdownina horsebackridingaccident.Suicidalimmediatelyaftertheaccident,andafterwardunable eventobreathewithoutthehelpofarespirator,heralliedtobecomeacelebratedactivist andauthorwhoprovidedhope,helpandinspirationtomillionsaroundtheglobe. True,Reevewasamoviestarwhohadcertainadvantages.So,letslookatVictor Frankl,anordinary,noncelebritydoctorwhowasimprisonedinAuschwitzandother concentrationcampsduringWorldWarII.Helaterwroteabestsellingbookabouthis experiences,MansSearchforMeaning,inwhichhereportedthat,eveninthe concentrationcamps,Itwaspossibleforspirituallifetodeepen....Theintensification ofinnerlifehelpedtheprisonerfindarefugefromtheemptiness,desolation,andspiritual povertyofhisexistence.Inoneincrediblescene,Frankldescribeshow,inthemidstofa terrifyingnighttimeforcedmarch,hecalledupthememoryofhiswife,whomhehadnt seeninyears,andhowhermemorybroughthimpeace. Iunderstoodhowamanwhohasnothingleftinthisworldstillmayknowbliss,beit onlyforabriefmoment,inthecontemplationofhisbeloved.Inapositionofutter desolation,whenmancannotexpresshimselfinpositiveaction,whenhisonly achievementmayconsistofenduringhissufferingsintherightwayanhonorablewayin suchapositionmancan,throughlovingcontemplationoftheimagehecarriesofhis beloved,achievefulfillment. (FrankllaterlearnedthathiswifehaddiedinBergenBelsenin1945.) Franklteachesusthat,eveninthemidstofthemosthorrificoppression,wecan

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stillmaintainadegreeofcontroloverourthoughtsandmovetheminapositivedirection andthatdoingsocanincreaseouroddsnotjustforsuccess,butsurvivalitself. DidIsaythatallofyourobstaclescanbeovercome?WhatIreallymeanttosayis thatallofyourobstaclesmustbeovercome.Becausewhatotherchoice,really,doyou have?Failuretoovercomeyourobstaclesleadstoalifeofbitternessandwasted potential. Theprocessofovercomingyourobstaclesistheveryessenceofthehuman journey.Ifyouvebeenprocrastinatingalongtime,youareprobablydemoralizedand havelostsightofyourstrengths,talentsandvirtues.Onceyoustoprunningfromyour obstaclesandstartworkingtoovercomethem,youwillreclaimthosepositivequalities andalsoprobablydiscoversomewonderfulnewones.Thisprocessofreclamationand growthisoneoflifesmostawesomeandjoyfulexperiences. Remember:allofyourobstaclesmustbeovercome.

Chapter13. NonObstacles
Often,mystudentsraisepointssuchasthebelowtoexplaintheirfailureto pursue,ormakeprogresson,theirambitiousdream: *Idonthaveenoughmoney. *Idonthavetime. *Idonthavetransportation/aspareroominmyhome/acomputer/etc. Nothavingsomethingyouneedtosucceed,suchasmoney,timeor transportation,isnotanobstacle:itsasolvableproblem. Sostartsolvingit. Whenpressed,mystudentwithoutmoneycancomeupwithaplanforlowering herdailylivingexpenses,leavinghermoremoneywithwhichtopursueherdream.With hermentorshelp,shecanalsothinkupwaysshecanachieveherdreammorecheaply.If shewantstostartabusiness,forexample,shecansetupahomeofficeinsteadofrenting anoutsideone,andfurnishitwithused,cheapfurnitureinsteadofnew.Ifsheneeds equipmentorsuppliesshecantafford,shecanarrangeabarter,ortakeoutalowinterest businessloan. Loweringyourlivingexpensesisalwaysagoodidea,asitnotonlyleavesyou withmoremoneybutoftencreatesmoretime.Itcould,forinstance,allowyoutosupport yourselfonaparttimedayjobthatsthepathmanyambitiousdreamerstakewhentheir

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dreamcantfinanciallysustainthem.Evenworkingfourdaysaweek,versusfive,can makeabigdifference!Or,ifyoumusthaveafulltimejob,loweringyourexpensescould permityoutotakealowerpaying,buteasier,one(say,onewithflextime,ashort commute,andalighterworkload),insteadofahigherpayingbutharderonethatsaps yourtimeandenergy. Howaboutmystudentwithouttime?Hecanusetimemanagementtechniques (seeTheLifelongActivist)toseeifhecanreclaimevenafewhoursofhisweekly schedule.(Mostpeoplecan,bytheway.)Andhecancomeupwithaplanforbreaking hisbigprojectdownintosmallerpiecesthathisschedulecanmoreeasilyaccommodate. Andmystudentwithouttransportation?Whenpressed,sherecallsthatthereis publictransportationthatcancoverherroute,afriendwhocanlendheracar,orthatshe cantaketheoccasionaltaxiwithoutbreakingthebank. Twothingstonote,fromtheseexamples: 1)Thesolutionstotheproblemswereactuallyquitesimpleandeven,in hindsight,obvious.Solutionsusuallyare,onceyoustopditheringandactuallystart lookingforthem.(SeeChapter22.)Remember:focusonthesolution,nottheproblem. 2)Manyofthesolutionsare,asmytechnicalfriendssay,suboptimal.Few peoplelikehavingtocutbackontheirbudgets,getusedinsteadofnewfurniture,or committoalong,dailybusride.Butwhatsthealternative?Youcansitaroundhoping thatyoullwinthelotteryorthatthingswillotherwisemagicallychange,buthope,as theysay,isnotastrategy.Theabovecompromisesandsacrificesare,infact,highly characteristicofthosethatambitiouspeoplemaketoachievetheirgoals.Allaroundyou, peoplearemakingthem,andwithoutthatmuchofafuss,inthehopesofonedaylivinga happierandmorefulfilledlife.Akeydifferencebetweensuccessfulandunsuccessful peopleisthattheformeroftenviewbarrierstosuccessaspettyinconveniencesor excitingchallenges,whilethelatteroftenviewthosesamebarriersashugeand insurmountable. Howyouviewyourownbarrierswillgoalongwaytowarddetermininghow successfulyouwillbe.Itsglib,buttrue:yourattitudereallydoesdetermineyour altitude.

Chapter14. BewareofMythsthatPromoteandExcuseFailure
Anothersetofbarriersthatambitiousdreamersfacearethemanycondescending

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andunderminingmythsthatpromoteandexcusetheirdysfunctionandunhappiness. Artists,forinstance,frequentlyhearmessagessuchasthese,bothfromtheirenemies andsupporters: Onemustsuffertobeagreatartist:ifyourehappy,youmustbeashallowor uncommittedperson. Povertyisasignofvirtueandcommitmenttoonesart:earningmoneyisselling out.And, Artisokaywhenyoureyoung,butwhenareyougoingtogetarealjob? Activistshearsimilarlydestructivemessages: Youcanthaveapersonallifetherestoomuchworktobedone. Ifyourehappy,youmustbeashallow,uncommittedperson.Howyoucanbe happywithsomuchsufferingintheworld? Povertyisasignofvirtueandcommitmenttoonescause:earningmoneyis sellingout.And, Activistsarenavedreamers.Activismissomethingyougrowoutof. Entrepreneurshaveitsomewhateasier,sinceoursocietyatleastpretendsto celebrateentrepreneurship.Whatittypicallycelebrates,however,isashallow,idealized, glamorizedvisionofitthathaslittletodowithreality.Often,themediaplayuptheeasy orspectacularovernightsuccessesorragstorichesstoriesthatarefarfromthenorm. Themediaalsotendstodownplaystrugglesorfailuresexceptwhenthosecanbeusedto provideglamorouscontrasttoaspectacularsuccess,andtodeemphasizetheroleofluck inbusinesssuccess.(MoreonallofthisinChapter20.) Academicstypicallydontsufferfromthesamesortsofdamagingmythsas artists,activistsandentrepreneurs,inmyexperience,althoughtheydosufferfroma generaldisdainforacademicachievementinthiscountry.Itcanbehardtoperseverein thefaceofsuchdisdain,particularlywhenmembersofyourfamilyshareit.Beyondthat, manyacademicssufferfrominadequatementoring,especiallyduringthethesiswriting process. Finally,aproblemthatafflictsallcategoriesofambitiousdreamersisour societyspromotionofthemythofthesolitary,usuallyemotionallytortured, achiever/creator.Thatcanreinforceanunhealthyandantiproductivetendencytoward isolation,atopicIatdiscussatlengthinChapter18. Ifyoubelieveinoneormoreoftheabovemyths,yourbeliefisprobablystanding

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inthewayofbothyourprofessionalsuccessandyourabilitytoleadahappylife.Try writingoutyourthoughtsandfeelingsaroundthemyth:youwillprobablydiscoverthatit doesntsurvivethelightofclosescrutinyandobjective,dispassionateanalysis.Also,see Chapter22formoreonhowthesekindsofdistortionscanfosteraprocrastination problem. Wevenowfinishedourdiscussionofthegeneralroleoffearplaysin procrastination.Nowletsdelvemoredeeplyintofearsmostcommonmanifestations, theBigFourobstaclesofPerfectionism,Negativity,HypersensitivityandPanic. Welltacklethemoneatatime.

Chapter15. Perfectionism
Perfectionismisthefeelingthatthethingswedoorcreateareneverquitegood enough.Perfectionistsholdthemselvestoanunreasonablyhighstandardforsuccess,and then,whentheyperceivethemselvesasfailingtomeetthatstandard,judgethemselves harshly.Theyalsoofteninflictthatsamebehavioronothers,holdingthemtoan unreasonablyhighstandardandjudgingthemharshlywhentheyfail. Morespecifically,perfectionists: *Refusetoacknowledgetheincrementalnatureofcreation:thatithappensin stagesandthattheearlystagesarelikelytoberoughandunsatisfying.Infact,theythink theirearlyeffortsshouldbefabulous.Theyoftendontthinkthisconsciouslyitsa viewpoint,afterall,thatdoesntmakesensebutunconsciouslyorsemiconsciously, theyarethinking,Thefirstdraftofthispaperoughttobefantastic. *Underestimatethedifficultyoftheirprojects,e.g.,Illjusthangupafewfliers, andthatshouldfilltheroomformyevent. *Setridiculouslyhighorimpossiblegoals,e.g.,Imgoingtowritefiftypagesof mythesisthisweekenddespitethefactthattheyveneverwrittenmorethaneightpages inaday,andalsohavenumerousotherobligations. *Tendtoseethingsinblackandwhite:totalsuccessortotalfailure.Theydont understandthatdoinghalfofajoborevenonetenthiswaybetterthandoingnothing. Afterall,ifyoudojustatinybitofajobeveryday,youwilleventuallyfinishit.Butif youdononeofajobeveryday,youneverwill.Emotionally,ifnotintellectually, procrastinatorsdontgetthedifference.

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Perfectionists,aboveall,seeworkasakindofepicstruggle.Theydontquite trustsuccesswhenitcomestooeasily.Becauseofthat,theyoftendothingsthatmake theirworkharder,suchaschoosingunreasonablyhardprojects(meaning,projectsthey aretooinexperiencedtohandle,orthattheydonthavethetime,resourcesorsupportto completeeffectively);framingtheirprojectsinmonumentalterms;andadding unnecessarytaskstoprojects. Perfectionismisthevoiceinyourheadthatsaysthatnomatterwhatyouvedone, itsnotenough,ornotgoodenough.Itsthevoicethatmakesunreasonabledemandsfor productivity,anddismissesyourreasonableexplanationsfornothavingproducedmore. Whenyoutellperfectionism,forinstance,thatyoucouldntdoyourarttodaybecause youworkedatyourdayjoballdayandcamehomeexhausted,perfectionismremindsyou ofsomeexceptionalachieverwhowasinexactlyyoursituationoraworseoneand stillmanagedtocreateawardwinningart.Ofcourse,perfectionismconvenientlytendsto omitkeydetails,suchasthatthatachievermayhaveheldaneasierjobthanyoudo,or hadfewerpersonalresponsibilities,orshirkedwhateverresponsibilitiesshedidhave. Perfectionismisshaming,blamingandguiltinducing.Itis,accordingtowriter AnneLamont,thevoiceoftheoppressor,anditcorrelatesstronglywithwhatIcallthe MeanMommy/MeanDaddyvoice,whichIdiscussatlengthinChapter20. Listeningtothatvoiceisalwaysamistake. TheSolution Defeatingperfectionismisafourstepprocess:(1)choosingtherightproject;(2) choosingtherightgoal;(3)choosingtherightprocess;and(4)choosingtheright thoughts. Choosingtherightprojectmeanschoosingtheeasiestandshortestproject, especiallyifyouredoingsomethingforthefirsttime.Youdothis,first,tocounteract yourprocrastinatorstendencytomakeprojectsharder,andsecond,sothatyouhavethe bestpossiblechanceofactuallybeatingyourprocrastinationproblemandfinishing.Itsa loteasiertofinishaslendernovelorthesisthanagianttome,forinstance,andonce youvecompletedyoursmallwork,youcanthengoontotacklelargerones,ifyouwish. Butifyoubeginwithagiantproject,youmayneverfinishit,andyourcareermightbe overbeforeitbegins. Dittoforbusiness,activismoranyotherambitiousendeavor:choosesmall,easy projectsuntilyoufeelmoreincontrolofyourprocrastinationproblem.Easywillvary dependingonyourparticularcircumstances,ofcourse,andyoushouldalwaysconsult withyourmentorstomakesureyourechoosingwisely.

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Ifyouchooseaproperlysmallproject,therewilllikelybeasmallvoiceinyour headtellingyouthatitstoosmallandtrivial;thatyoushouldbemoreambitious,less cowardly,etc.Thatsthevoiceofperfectionism,a.k.a.theoppressor,a.k.a.theMean Mommy/Daddy.Whatthatvoicewonttellyouisthat:(a)youhavetowalkbeforeyou run(i.e.,completeasmallprojectbeforeattemptingalargerone);and(b)evenasmall novel,thesis,business,galleryshow,performance,activistcampaign,etc.,isplentybig enoughproject. Soignoretheperfectionistvoiceandstickwiththesmallproject. Then,youneedtochoosetherightgoal,whichshouldbe,simply,tofinish. Nottowriteafabulousbook,achieveaspectacularresultfromyourcampaign,ormakea milliondollarsfromyourbusiness.No:yourgoalshouldsimplybetogetdonewhatever itisthatyouaretryingtodo.Dontworryaboutquality:justdoyourbestandthequality, whichisanengrainedpartofyourpsyche,willbethere.Andveryimportantlydont aimforaperfectresult:justrelaxaroundtheinevitabilitythatyourwork,likeallhuman endeavors,willcontainbothstrengthsandweaknesses.(Foramoreindepthdiscussion ofthispointspecifictowriting,downloadmyessayHowtoFinishYourBookfrom http://www.hillaryrettig.com.) Choosingtherightprocessmeansbreakingyouralreadysmallprojectdowninto evensmallerpiecesthatyoucaneasilyhandle.Italsomeansgettingloadsofsupport fromfamily,friends,mentors,colleaguesandothers,includingnotjustsupportwiththe projectitself,butemotionalsupport,andalsohelpwithchildcareandchoresyouwould normallyberesponsiblefor,butthatuseuptimeandenergyyouneedtocompleteyour project.Supportalsomeansdonationsofspace,equipment,servicesorsuppliesyour projectrequires. Supportmeans,inotherwords,asmuchhelp,ofallkinds,aspossible.Most perfectionistsdontrealizetheintenselevelofsupportneededtosucceedatmost ambitiousendeavors,inpartbecauseofthoseaforementionedmythsofeasysuccess,but alsoinpartbecauseoftheperfectionisttendencynottolookforsolutionsbuttosimplyto blameoneself.Butthemoresupport,thebetter. Finally,wecometochoosingtherightthoughts.Perfectionism,yourecall,isa antiproductiveresponsetofear,soitisimportantthatyoulearntoreplaceyour perfectionistthoughtswithmorefunctionalones.Herearethreeexamples: Replacethisperfectionistthought:Imgoingtoget50pagesofmynoveldone thisweekend.[Unspokenthought:IfIdontaccomplishthat,Imlazyandaloser.] Withthismorefunctionalone:Givenmywritingspeedandalsomyother commitments,Imgoingtoaimtogettenpagesdonethisweekend. Replacethisperfectionistthought:Illjustsendoutafewpostcardsaboutmy

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upcomingmusicperformanceandthatshouldbeenoughtofilltheroom.IllbetIsell30 CDs![Unspokenthought:IfIdontaccomplishthat,Imaloser,andthepeopleinthis townarestupidandantimusic.] Withthismorefunctionalone:Illsendoutpostcardsandemailannouncements tomymailinglistof500people.Also,IllasktheclubImplayingattosendan announcementtotheirlistaswell.Theytoldmetheyvegot800peopleontheirlist,so alltoldthats1,300peoplewellbecontacting.InthepastIvegotten23peopleoutof every100emailsIsendouttocometoperformances,soforthose1,300announcementsI shouldexpectabout2639people.AndIusuallysell1CDper13people,soIshould countonsellingthreeorfourCDs. Replacethisperfectionistthought:Whyismyhousesuchanawfulmess?I knowmyfamilythinksandIthinkthatImlazyanddisorganized.Andmymom lookedatmelikeshethoughtIwasabadmomwhenItoldherthatwegettakeoutthree nightsaweek.[Unspokenthought:Imabadhomemakerandparent.] Withthismorefunctionalone:Well,thereareonly24hoursinaday,andIm notwillingtospendmorethanacoupleofthemcleaningandcooking.Itscrazyto expectsomeonewithkids,ajobandagrowingbusinesstohaveahousethatsascleanas thehouseofsomeonewhodoesnthaveajoborbusiness!Myhouseiscleanenough, andanyonewhothinksotherwiseiswelcometocomeoverandcleanitthemselves! Youchangeyourthoughtssimplybyconsciouslyinterruptingyourperfectionist thoughts,andreplacingthemwiththeirmorefunctionalequivalent.Atfirst,thismay seemcontrivedandyoumayfrequentlyforgettodoitbutkeeptryingandeventually youllseethatreplacingperfectionistwithnonperfectionistthoughtsfeelsgoodand doesnthurtanyone. Youcangetstarteddoingthisrightnow.Dontsetyourselftheperfectionistgoal catchingeverysingleperfectionistthought(!),anddontberateyourselfharshlywhen youmissoneorotherwiseslipup.Juststartoutcasuallybykeepingthatgoalintheback ofyourmindandwheneveryoudohappentosuccessfullyreplaceaperfectionistthought withafunctionalone,congratulateyourself.Soon,thereplacementswillhappensooften, andsoautomatically,thatyouwontevennoticethem.And,eventually,yourthoughts willbecomelessperfectionist,sothatyouwonthavetodomuchreplacingatall.

Chapter16. Negativity

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****** Exercise:NameYourStrengths Beforereadingthischapter,takeafewminutesanddothispreliminaryexercise: Onasheetofpaper,listthestrengths,skills,talentsandotherpositivequalitiesyoubring toyourproject.Thesecouldbeanythingfromthemundaneseeming,butvastly underrated,Impunctual,tothepragmatic,Imgoodwithcomputers,tothemore global,Imasocialvisionary,oranythinginbetween.Dontbeshyormodest:come upwithaslongalistasyoucan.Youneedntshowittoanyone.Keepthelistnearyou whilereadingthischapter;Illbediscussingitsoon. ****** Rememberthemusicianfromthepreviouschapterwhooveroptimistically thoughtshecouldfilltheroomforherperformanceatalocalclubsimplybysending outafewpostcards?Letssayshefollowedthatplan,withpredictableresults:onlya handfulofpeopleshoweduptohearherplay. Therearetwobasicwaysonecanreacttothiskindofdisappointingsituation. Hereisone: Whatadisaster.Imsuchadope,acompleteloser.Ialwaysscrewup.Idont evenknowwhyIbothertotry.Andthistownitsfullofjerks.Theyretoo dumbtoappreciaterealmusic,andtheyrecheap,tooIonlysoldtwoCDs.And theclubmanagermustthinkImajerk,too.Imsurehellneverletmeperform thereagain.Ifeellikecrap.Ijustcantstandit.Imgoingtogetaquartofice creamandrentabadmovieandcrawlintobed. Andherestheother: Darn!Thisissodisappointing.IguessIscrewedupbynotpromotingthegig more.Oh,well:Imkindofembarrassedinfrontofmyfriendswhodidshowup, andalsotheclubmanager,butnoonesreallybeenhurt.Themanagerseemedto likemymusic,somaybeifIpromisetodoalotmorepromotionnexttime,hell letmeperformagain.Inanycase,nomatterwheremynextgigis,InowknowI needtopromotetheheckoutofit.Soitwasntatotalloss...Oh,andIdidsella coupleofCDs,andIalsometthatreallycoolguitaristfromthenexttown over...hesaidheknewsomethemanagersatsomeotherclubs,andcouldrefer

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me.Sothatwasaterrificbreak!Anyhow,ImstillfeelingkindoflowsoIm goingtotakeabreakandhavefun.Iknow!IllcallmyfriendDebandseeifshe wantstohangout. Formanyprocrastinators,thefirstmonologuewillseemmuchmorefamiliarthan thesecond,becausemanyprocrastinatorsarenegativistswhotendtoseethemselves, theiraccomplishments,andeveryoneandeverythingaroundthemaslessgood,ormuch worse,thantheyactuallyare: *Wheretheobjectivepersonseessuccess,thenegativistseesneutrality. *Wheretheobjectivepersonseesneutrality,thenegativistseesfailure. *Wheretheobjectivepersonseesfailure,thenegativistseesextremefailure. Negativityisaseriousproblemforanyone,butparticularlyforambitious dreamers,forthreereasons: First,itisundermining.Thenatureofambitiousdreamsarethattheyaretoughto achieveandthusrequirealotofperseverance.Anythingthatdiscouragesyouisa problemandnegativityishugelydiscouraging. Second,negativityimpairsyourobjectivityandcausesyoutomisreadpeopleand situations.Therefore,youareboundtomakeerroneousassumptionsforinstance,that theclubmanagerwillneverletyouperformagainthatleadtocounterproductive actions.Negativity,inotherwords,frequentlybecomesaselffulfillingprophecy. Thirdly,negativityisisolating.Negativistsoftenbelievetheyarebeingrealisticor pragmatic,butpeoplewithahealthyworldviewrecognizenegativityforwhatitisa signofinsecurityandadisablingforceandfleefromit.Whenthathappens,itoften deepensthenegativistsinsecuritiesandreinforceshertendencytowardnegativityand isolation,sothattheproblemcompoundsitself.Noticehowthenegativepersoninour exampleretreatstoherbedwithaquartoficecream,whilethemoreobjectiveperson seeksoutthesupportofafriend? Allambitiousdreamerscanbeafflictedbynegativism,buttheriskisprobably highestforactivists,sincetheyhavetodobattlenotjustwiththeirowndarkside,butthe worlds.FamedactivistToddGitlinwarnsagainstthistendencyinhisbookLetterstoa YoungActivist:Justbecauseyouletthedarksideoftheworldintoyournervoussystem doesntmeanthatyouhavetosurrendertogloom,whichinanycaseisneverasjustified asitthinks.Iveactuallyhearddiscussions,amongactivists,onwhetheritisever appropriatetosaywevewononaparticularissueorevent,giventhatallvictoriesare temporaryorpartial.Comeon!Ifyoucantclaimyourvictories,thenwhatareyou

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workingfor?Andhowdoyouhopetoinspireothers?Dosportsteamsnotcelebratetheir victoriesbecausetheyknowtheycouldhavewonbyawidermargin,orcouldlosethe nextgame?Ofcoursenot!Theyknowthatowningonessuccessesiscrucial.And,of course,manyofthesameactivistswhoaresoreluctanttodeclarevictoryseemtohave noproblematalldeclaringdefeat,soitsclearthattheyrenotbeingobjectivesomuch asnegative. Whichbringsustothenextsection... TheOppositeofNegativityisNOTDelusionalPositiveness PleasenotethatIamnottalkingaboutadoptingadelusionallypositive, Pollyannaisheverythingsjustpeachyattitude.Imalsonottalkingaboutdisabling yourcriticalfacultiesorsettinglowexpectationsforyourself.Imtalkingaboutbeing anobjectiveobserverandevaluatorofboththenegativeandpositiveelementsof yourselfandyourwork,aswellasthosearoundyou,theirwork,andsocietyin general.Manynegativepeoplehavetroublegraspingthedistinctionbetweenobjectivity anddelusionalpositiveness:whenItellthemtobemoreobjective,theythinkImtelling themtoignoreallthebadstuff.Doyouexpectmetowalkaroundlikeagigglingidiot? theyask.DoyouwantmetoLIEtomyself?Certainlynot!Butitisnotobjectiveor honesttofocusonjustthenegativeelementsofasituation.Thisdistinctionseemspretty obvious,butifapersonhasaseriousnegativityproblem,Ioftenhavetoworkwiththem forawhiletogetthemtoseeit.WetypicallydoanAbbotandCostellotyperoutinethat goessomethinglikethis: Student:Youreaskingmetoignoreallthebadstuff. Hillary:No,ImaskingyoutopayattentiontothebadstuffANDthegood stuff. S(agitatedly):ButifIgotooeasyonmyself[ormyemployees,ormykids], nothingwillgetdone! H:Imnotsayingtogoeasy.Imsayingtopayattentiontoboththebadstuff andthegoodstuff,notjustthebad. S:Butpeopleneedtobeheldaccountable! H:Imnottalkingaboutnotholdingpeopleaccountable.Imtalkingabout owningthegoodstuffalongwiththebad. Andonandon... Eventually,mostpeoplegetit.

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TheNegativistsViewofSelf Negativiststendtobeharshestonthemselves. Asacoach,Igettowitnessthisphenomenonatcloserangeanditneverceasesto amazeme.Themosttalentedandimpressivepeopleoftenseethemselvesasfailures,and dragaheavyburdenofshamealongwiththemwherevertheygo.Manyofmystudents putthemselvesdowninbigandsmallwaysasamatterofcourse.Theirconversationsare pepperedwithexpressionsthatundervaluetheirachievements,suchas,Itsnotsucha bigdeal,or,Ididntreallydothatmuch,orAnyonecouldhavedonethat.Eventhe ubiquitous,Icantdomath,usuallyturnsouttobewrong,andisthereforeanexample ofnegativity. Somestudentsaresodivorcedfromtheirstrengths,skills,talentsand accomplishmentsthatIhavetoconducttheequivalentofanarchaeologicaldigtohelp thembuildaresumeorbiographicalsketchreflectingtheirtrueskillsand accomplishments.Wellsitforhoursfacingeachotheracrossadesk,withme interviewingthemontheirpastexperiencesandwritingupalltheirpositivesmanyof whichtheydonteveninitiallyrecognizeassuch.Often,whenwearedone,theyare surprisedtoseehowmuchtheyhavereallyaccomplished. Atrulyadeptnegativistcaneventurnevenastellaraccomplishmentintoafailure. Oneday,IaskedastudentwhohadanMBAwhatschoolhehadgottenitfrom,andhe repliedNorthwesternUniversitysKelloggSchoolofManagement.Thatsatopschool, soIcongratulatedhim.Hisselfdeprecating,negativistresponseamazedme:Oh,its onlythethirdorfourthbestschool. HowbiganegativistareYOU?LookattheNameYourStrengthslistyoucreated beforestartingthischapter.(Ifyoudidntcreateit,stopandcreateitnow,beforeyou readon.) Ifyoulistedtwentytothirtystrengths,skills,talents,andotherpositivequalities, youdidprettywell. Ifyoulistedtentotwentystrengths,skillsandtalents,youdidOK. Ifyoulistedfivetotenstrengths,skillsandtalents,youdidaverage.WhenIdo thisexerciseinclasses,moststudentsrespondwithinthisrange. Ifyoulistedzerotofivestrengths,skillsandtalents,youdidpoorly,butyouve gotlotsofcompany.Therearealwaysafewpeopleineveryclasswhocanthinkoffew ornogoodthingstosayaboutthemselves.Computergeeks,engineers,scientistsand othertechnicaltypesseemtodisproportionatelyfallintothisgroup,bytheway.Ithink thatsduetothefactthattechnicalpeopleareoftentrainedtofocusontheflawsintheir projectssothattheycanthenfixthem.Thatflawfindingtendencycomesinhandywhen

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youredesigningacomputerprogramorabridge,butislessusefulinthepersonalor interpersonalrealm. MyownNameYourStrengthslist,whichIkeeponmycomputerandregularly printout,reviewandaddto,currentlyincludesmorethaneightyitems.Thatisnot becauseImsomekindofprodigyoregomaniac,butsimplybecauseIworkhardto recognizeallmytalentsandstrengths,andamnotembarrassedtoadmitthemtomyself.I sometimessharemylistwithmystudents,who,bytheway,arefrequentlyamusedto findhumilitylistedamongthedozensofotherpaeanstomyself.Theyalsoseeentries suchaslovesanimalsandnotaslavetofashionalongwiththemorestandardfare suchassmartandgoodwithcomputers.Wetypicallydefinesuccesstoonarrowly, forreasonsIwillexplaininthenextchapter,andthatoftenleadsustoignoresomeofour moreinterestingandusefulqualities.Butwhynotincludethem?Whoknowswhenthey wontcomeinhandy?ThefactthatIloveanimalsseemedirrelevantforyears,for instance,untilIstarteddoinganimalactivism. Makenomistake:NameYourStrengthsisanimportantexercise.Ifyoudonot recognizeandownyourstrengths,skillsandtalents,howcanyouusethemtobuildyour success?Andifyougoaroundfeelingdevoidofthosequalities,howareyougoingto havetheconfidencetofollowthroughonanambitiousplan? Gobacknowandseewhatyoucanaddtoyourlist.Then,talktofamily,friends andmentorsandseewhattheywouldaddtoit.Youwillprobablybeamazedatallthe goodtraitsothersseeinyouthatyouneversuspected. Onceyouvecreatedthelist,keepithandy,reviewandaddtoitfrequently,and (privately)celebrateyourstrengths.Thatsmalleffortwillgoalongwaytowardhelping yousucceed. ****** Exercise:CreateYourLifeResume ReinforceyoursenseofyourowntalentsandaccomplishmentsbycreatingaLife Resume.Itresemblesanormal,professionalresume,butalsoincludesexperiencesand accomplishmentsfrombeyondyourworklifeforexample,fromyourfamilylife,home life,friendships,art,activism,volunteerorcivicactivities,mentalorphysicalhealth,or anyotherareathatisimportanttoyou. Needlesstosay,donotwritedownanyofyourperceivedfailures,flawsand weaknesses.Youwouldntdothatonanormalresume,sowhywouldyoudoithere? InaLifeResume,noneofyourachievementsisdevaluedorunworthyofnote.If

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youve... *createdapleasantandwelcominghome *beenawonderfulfriend/partner/parent/child/guardian *enjoyedapassionatehobbysuchascookingorgardening *developedadistinctivepersonalstyle *madeterrificartormusic *workedhardtorecoverfromchildhoodtraumasand/orreconcilewithaparentor someoneelse,or *helpedaneedyneighbororstranger... ...youshouldincludeit. Also,aprojectdoesnthavetobefinishedorperfecttobeincluded.For example,ifyouhaventyetfullyreconciledwithyourparent,yourattemptsat reconciliationarestillworthhonoringandshouldbelisted. ALifeResumeusuallyturnsouttobeamuchbiggerprojectthanweanticipate becauseweveusuallyaccomplishedmorethanwerealize.Takeyourtimeandhavefun creatingyourLifeResume,andwhenyourefinished,baskintheknowledgeofyour manystrengths,skills,talentsandaccomplishments! ******

Chapter17. NegativityII
Herearesomeoftherootcausesofnegativity: Donttootyourownhorn.Inmanycultures,bothhereintheU.S.andabroad, peopleareencouragedtodisplaywhatIconsideranexcessivesenseofmodestyover theiraccomplishments.Theyappeartohaveahorrorofboastingorblowingonesown horn. Iwouldntwantanyonetoberudelyboastful,buttheresabigmiddleground betweenthatandtakingpropercreditforyourachievements,andyouregoingtohaveto finditifyouhopetoachieveyourambitiousdream.Ifyourenotafflictedbynegativity, forinstance,buttrulyjustworriedaboutoffendingotherpeople,thenyoushouldhaveno troublewritingdozensofentriesintheNameYourStrengthsexercise,becauseImnot askingyoutoshoutthoseentriesfromtherooftops,onlycommitthemtopaper.

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Itstruethatthelinebetweenbeingproperlyproudandbeingboastfulcanbe elusive.Tofindit,seekoutsuccessfulpeopleandstudyhowtheybehave.Youwill probablyseethattheyarenotrudeorboastful,butneitheraretheyselfeffacingorfalsely modest.Theydisplayproperobjectivityabout,andpridein,theirstrengthsand achievementsandalthoughthedegreeandmeansofdisplaymaydiffersomewhatfrom culturetoculture,thisisgenerallytrueofsuccessfulpeopleinanyculture. Afterwitnessinghowanexaggeratedsenseofhumilityhobblessomepeople,I consideritaveryfortunatethingthatIgrewupabletotakecreditformystrengthsand achievements.IwasbornandraisedinNewYorkCity,soyoucandrawyourown conclusions.... Youreonlyassuccessfulasyourbankaccount.Thecapitalistsystem promotesaverynarrow,andverydysfunctional,viewofsuccess:namely,thatifyouve gotalotofmoney,youreasuccess,andifyoudont,youreafailure.Capitalismdoesnt carewhatethicallapses,ifany,someonemayhavecommittedtomaketheirfortune;nor doesitmakeanyallowancesforinequitiesormisfortunesthatmayhavelimited someonesabilitytoearnmoney.Nordoesacapitalisticsystemcareaboutyournon commercialachievementsforexample,thefactthatyoutakegoodcareofyouraged parents,ordoalotofimportantvolunteerworkwithinyourcommunity. Youprobablyseetheevilbehindthatnarrowdefinition.However,itsonething togetapointintellectually,andanothertoembraceitonanemotionallevel.Many peoplewhounderstandthelimitationsofthecapitalistmodelofsuccessneverthelessfeel likefailuresbecausetheydontliveuptoit.Theycantescapetheirearlierconditioning ortheongoingpressuretoconform. Ifyousufferfromthisproblem,myadviceistoreadpartsIandIIofTheLifelong Activistanddoyourmissionandtimemanagement.Then,practicelivingyourmission withoutshameorregret.Itsvital,inthiseffort,thatyousurroundyourselfwithpeople whounderstandandsupportyou,andremoveyourselffrompeoplewhodont. Yourereally_______,youknowthat?AnentrepreneurshipprogramIusedto runtypicallyofferedtwokindsofclasses:oneforartists(anykindofcreative professional),andanotherfornonartists(everyoneelse,includingpeoplewhowantedto owncleaningservices,computerconsultancies,coffeeshops,orautodetailingshops).I woulddotheNameYourStrengthsexercisefromthelastchapterinboth,anditwas interestingtocomparethetypesofliststhetwoclassesgenerated.Practicallyallthe artistsincludedthewordcreativehighupontheirlists,andpracticallynoneofthe otherentrepreneursdid.Mostentrepreneursarehighlycreative,however,sothequestion

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is,whydidntthenonartistsseethemselvesthatway? Theanswer:labels. Fromayoungage,theartistswereprobablytoldtheywerecreative.Itwas probablydrummedintothemallthetime.Theywereprobablyencouragedtopaint, sculptormakemusic;urgedtowardartclassesandartisticextracurricularactivities;and praisedfortheiraccomplishmentsintheseareas. Nowonderthewordcreativeappearedhighontheirlistofstrengths. Thenonartists,manyofwhommighthavebeenjustascreativeastheartists, probablydidntgetthesamelabelattachedtothem.So,theydidntgrowupthinking theywerecreative. Labels,asanypsychologistwilltellyou,arepowerful.Theyinfluenceus enormouslyandshapeourselfimages.Theyarealsohardtoshake.Manyofmystudents werelabelednegativelyintheiryouth,andthoselabelscontinuetohauntthemasadults. Maybetheywerecalledoversensitiveoranimpracticaldreamer.Or,maybethey werecalledlazyorstupidorbadatmath.Or,maybetheywerecalledworse.In manycases,theycontinuetofight,evenasadults,tofreethemselvesfromthose destructivelabels. Trytofigureoutwhatlabelsareholdingyouback,andtobreakfreeofthemby seeingyourselfandyourachievementswithfresheyes.Friendsandmentorscanreally helphere:asdiscussedearlier,theywillprobablyseestrengthsandtalentsinyouthatyou neverimagined. Bytheway,althoughIsometimesusetermssuchasperfectionistand negativistinthisebook,Iwouldneverusethesetermstolabelsomeoneinreallife.I mighttellsomeonetheyareactingperfectionisticallyornegatively,orthattheyhave thosetendenciesneverthattheyareaperfectionistornegativist. TheSolution Thecurefornegativityistoreplacedysfunctional(negative)thoughtsand behaviorswithfunctional(objective)ones.Forexample: Replacethisnegativethought:Ireallyblewthatproject! Withthismorefunctionalone:Ididhalfofitwell,andtheotherhalfnotso well. Replacethisnegativethought:ImaterribleactivistIdontknowwhyIeven try! Withthismorefunctionalone:Iseemtobebetteratthinkingupandplanning campaignsthenmanagingthem.MaybeIcanfindagoodmanagertohelpmerunmy

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nextone. Replacethisnegativethought:Iwassupposedtomakefivesalesformysmall businessthisweekanddidntmakeany.Imjustalazydilettante,andnowmybusiness isgoingtofail... Withthismorefunctionalone:Okay,soIdidntmakeanysalesthisweek. Thatsnotgood,buttherewereextenuatingcircumstances,includingmycoldandthat blizzardthatkeptthekidshomefromschoolfortwodays.Iobviouslyneedtomake moresalesandIknowIcan,sinceIdidhavethatterrificweekwhereImadeeight sales,lastmonth.IneedtomanagemytimesothatIvegotmoretimeandenergyfor sales.Illworkonthattomorrowandcallmymentorforadvice.Illalsocallmy neighborandseeifshecanwatchthekidsthenexttimetheyhaveasnowday...Butinthe meantime,Iwontabusemyselfforhavinggottensickandbeingagoodparent. Theprocessyoullgothroughisthesameasthatdescribedforperfectionism: practice,practice,practice.Atfirst,itmaybehardtoremembertoreplaceanegative thoughtwithamoreobjectiveone,butaftersomepractice,itwillseemmorenatural,and afterstillmorepractice,itwillhappenautomatically.Eventually,youllstopthinkingso negatively. Asalways,neverberateyourselfwhenyouslipup.

Chapter18. Hypersensitivity
Hypersensitivityisthetendencytooverreacttolifesordinarystresses.Itsatrait thatprocrastinatorssharewithaddictsandotherswhohavetroublecoping. NoticethatImtalkingabouthypersensitivitynotsensitivity.Sensitivityisa greatpersonalitytrait.Itmeansweredeeplyandmeaningfullyawareofourselves,our environment,andthelivingbeingsaroundus.Theworldneedsasmanysensitivepeople aspossiblebecausetheyareoftentheoneswhonotice,andstrivetofix,problems. Hypersensitivity,however,goesoverboard.Ifaminorirritation,disappointment orrejectionruinsyourday(orweekormonthoryear),thenyourehypersensitive. Conversely,ifminorgoodnewsmakesyougleefulormanictothepointwhereyoucant function,thatsalsohypersensitivity. Hypersensitivityis,inessence,alackofemotionalselfcontrol.Itsaparticularly seriousproblemforambitiousdreamersbecausethedailylifeofanambitiousdreameris

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oftenfilledwitheventsthat,ifweoverreacttothem,canbumpusoffourpath. Hypersensitivitystealsnotjustyourtimeandenergy,butyourobjectivity.As discussedearlier,theprimaryrequisitefordoinganykindofambitiousworkisan objectiveworldview.Hypersensitivitycloudsyourobjectivity,makingyouless effective.Often,moreover,thecloudingisnegative,sothatyouseeasituationasbeing worsethanitactuallyis.Thisbreedsthekindsofcynicismandhopelessnessthatcauses somanypeopletoburnoutorabandontheirdream. Hypersensitivityalsoleadstoatendencytowardisolation,abigproblem.Many hypersensitivepeoplehavetroubletoleratinglifesordinarystresses,andoverreactto minorirritantssuchasalatetrain,aslowlineatthegrocerystore,orevenbadweather. Attheworkplace,theysimplycantabidecubicles,dresscodes,fluorescentlightsand nosycoworkers.Onesolutionmanyhypersensitivepeopleemploy,eitherconsciously orunconsciously,istoretreatfromtheworldanditsstresses.Theyspendmoreandmore timealoneinanenvironmentthatisasmuchundertheircontrolaspossible. Professionally,theymaytrytoworkfromhomeor,iftheycantmanagethat,takeother actionstoisolatethemselvesfromtheircolleaguesforexample,keepingtheiroffice doorshutoravoidingthepopularlunchhangout.Athome,theymayretreatintoa solitarycouchpotatoorInternetaddictexistence. Theproblemwithisolationisthat,whileitmayfeelgoodintheshortterm,itis almostalwaysinimicaltoproductivity,successandhappiness.Foronething,many peoplebecomeunhappyiftheyrealonetoomuch,andmostofushavetroublebeing productivewhenwereunhappy.Foranother,LoneRangertypemythsaside,successat mostambitiousendeavorsinvariablyrequiresateameffort.(AndeventheLoneRanger hadTontoandSilver...) Thisisnottosaythatyoucantorshouldntenjoyperiodsofsolitude.Butyou willneedtoknowwheretodrawthelinebetweenahealthyenjoymentofsolitudeandan unhealthytendencytowardisolationism.Moregenerally,ifyouarehypersensitive,oneof yourprimarychallengeswillbetolearntoexperiencenegativeemotionssuchas rejection,frustrationanddisappointment,aswellaspositiveonessuchasprideand happiness,withoutbeingderailedbythem.Thismaynotbeeasy,butitwillbean importantpartofyourgrowthandsuccess. Pleasenotethathypersensitivitycanberootedintrauma,orotherpsychological, cognitiveorevenphysicalconditions.Ifyouthinksuchissuesmaybepresentinyour ownsituation,youshouldseekprompt,professionalhelp.Alsobecognizantof compassionfatigue,asecondarytraumaticstressdisorderwhosesymptomscaninclude hypersensitivity,fear,dissociation(disconnectionfromtheimmediateenvironment), obtrusivedaydreams,anddisruptedsleeppatterns.Compassionfatigueafflictsactivists

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andotherswhoregularlyworkwith,orwitness,peopleoranimalswhohavebeen traumatizedeitherbyviolenceorotherfrighteningcircumstances,suchasanatural disaster.Compassionfatiguecanalsoafflictfamilymembersorfriendsofthosewhoare traumatized.Ifyouthinkyoumaybesufferingfromcompassionfatigueyoushouldseek prompthelpfromapsychologistwhospecializesintreatingit. Finally,hypersensitivityisalsooftenlinkedtoaddiction.Ifyouarehookedon extremeemotionalhighsandlowsthatyouareunableorunwillingtomoderateor,that youmaybeattemptingtomoderatethroughaddictivedrinking,drugs,overeating, oversleepingorcompulsivetelevisionwatchingorvideogameplayingyoushould makeitaprioritytodealwiththat.Seeatherapist,joinaTwelveStepprogram,orreada wellregardedrecoverybooksuchasAbrahamJ.Twerski,M.D.sAddictiveThinking: UnderstandingSelfDeception. TheSolution Aswithperfectionismandnegativity,thecureforhypersensitivityistoreplace dysfunctionalthoughtswithfunctional(objective)ones.Hypersensitivityisasomewhat simplerproblemtoworkonthantheothertwo,however,becausethefunctionalthought isalwaysavariationon,ImgoingtocalmdownanddowhatImsupposedtobe doing.Forexample: Replacethishypersensitivethought:Ihatethisproject!Iwasstupidtotakeit on,andIhateworkingonit,andnowitslateandmybossjustaddedawholenewpartto it!TheresnowayIcangetallthisdone!ImgoingtotellmybossIcantdoit.Itsthe lastminute,andshellbetickedoff,butshellfindsomeoneelse. Withthisobjectiveone:ImgoingtocalmdownanddowhatIagreedtodo.Ill callStellaandJimandseeiftheycanprovidebackup,butIcommittedtodoingthisand soeveniftheycant,Illdomybestandseewhathappens. Replacethishypersensitivethought:Itssnowingout;doIreallywanttoleave mywarmapartmentandattendthemeeting?Noway!IknowIagreedtoattend,butI reallydontwanttogo.Imjustgoingtostayin. Withthisobjectiveone:Imgoingtocalmdown,dresswarmly,grabacupof hotcoffee,andgotothemeeting. Replacethishypersensitivethought:Icantbelievethatthatjerktalkedtome likethat!Hehassomenerve!ImsomadIjustcantstandit.Mywholeafternoonis ruined! Withthisobjectiveone:Imgoingtocalmdownmaybedosomeyoga

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stretchesandthentrytogetbacktowork.Ifthestretchesdontwork,Illtrytodeal withmyangerbywritingforawhileinmyjournal. Replacethishypersensitivethought:Wow!Icantbelievewelandedameeting withXYZFoundation.Thatsgreatnews!Ifwedoagreatpresentationtheycouldgive us$300,000.Withthatmoney,wecouldmovetobetteroffices,hirefivenewpeople, startthatnewcampaign,andreplacealltheofficecomputers.Also,ifXYZFoundation givesusmoney,sowillABCFoundation.Wecouldprobablyget$150,000outofthem andcoulduseTHATmoneyfor....Wow,thisisgoodstuff!Idbetterwriteitalldown. ..andthenIhaveafewpeopletocallandsharethegoodnewswith...and,oh,Ineed togetBillsadviceonhowtohandlethis,soIdbettercallhim,too.... Withthisobjectiveone:ThatwasaGREATcallwithXYZ.Imsohappywe landedthatmeeting!Itsnotuntilnextmonth,however,soImjustgoingtojotdowna fewnotesandthentrytocalmdownandgetbacktotodayswork.Icanstartpreparing fortheXYZmeetingnextweek. TheprocessyoullgothroughisthesameasthatforsolvingPerfectionismand Negativity:practice,practice,practice.Atfirst,itmaybehardtoremembertoreplacea hypersensitivethoughtwithafunctionalone,butaftersomepracticeitwillseemmore natural,andafterstillmorepracticeitwillhappenautomatically.Eventually,youllstop reactingsohypersensitively. Asalways,neverberateyourselfwhenyouslipup. ****** SpecialTopic:ProcrastinationandtheBody Procrastinationoftenbeginsinthebodysinceevenabitoftwitchinessorfatigue isoftenenoughtodistractus,especiallyifweareverysensitivetobodilydiscomfort. Moreover,ifnotdealtwith,thetwitchyortiredfeelingalmostalwaysintensifies,making itinevitablethat,soonerorlater,wewillabandonourwork. Writingandotherformsofdeskworkaremorephysicalthanmanypeople realize.TheabilitytositstillandworkforlongperiodswhattheGermanscall sitzfleishmaynotqualifyforanOlympicsport,butitisstillsurprisinglyhardtodo, asanyonewhopracticessittingBuddhistmeditationcanattest.Mostambitiousdreamers needtocultivatelotsofsitzfleish. Work,therefore,tobecomemoreattunedtoyourbodyanditssignals;and,in particular,topickuptheveryearlysignsofrestlessnessandfatigue.Practiceworking throughmilddiscomfortthekeyisoftentoswitchtosomeeasierwork.Butifyoucant

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workthrough,thatsokay:justtakeabreakanddealwiththefeelingwhileitsstillsmall andmanageable. Interestingly,bothrestlessnessandfatiguecanbealleviatedbymanyofthesame activities:meditation,stretches,orevenrunningordancinginplace.Caffeinecanhelp wakeyouup,ofcourse,andapleasantmeditativebreakwithdecafherbalteacanhelp calmyoudown.Beflexibleandcreativeinfindingsolutionsthatworkforyou,resting assuredthatwhenyoudolearntocopewithtransientphysicaldiscomfort,youll probablybecomemuchmoreproductiveoverall. Moregenerally,propernutrition,sleep,exerciseandpreventativemedicineareall importanttokeepingyourphysicalmachineingoodshapeanimportantprerequisite tobothshorttermandlongtermproductivity.Ergonomicsalsomattersabsolutely.Just asamarathonerwouldntdreamofrunningaraceincheapsneakers,youshouldntuse badlyfunctioningand/oruncomfortableequipment.Notonlyarecarpeltunnelsyndrome, eyestrainandmusclecrampsrealconcerns,butbadequipmentdistractsyouanddegrades yourproductivity. Goodequipmentdoesnthavetobeexpensive,bytheway.Yearsago,mythen husbandkindlybuiltformeasimplewritingtablewhosesurfaceisexactly25.5inches high.Allittookwassomeparticleboardanddowelsforlegs,andthewholethingcost $10andtookaboutanhourtobuild.Withthistable,whichIstilluse,Icansitwithmy feetproperlyflatonthefloorandmykeyboardproperlyatelbowlevel,andtype comfortablyforhours.Havingatablebuiltexactlytomyspecificationsnotonlyhelps myproductivity;italsohelpsmefeelmorelikeaseriousprofessional. ******

Chapter19 PANIC!:TheFearAmplifier
Theproblemisnottheproblem.Theproblemisyourreactiontotheproblem.Jerry Weinberg ImportantNote:Thepanicdiscussedinthischapteristheordinarypanicofeveryday life.Ifyousufferfromdisablinganxietyorpanicattacks,youshouldseeadoctoror psychologist.

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RememberthemusiciansnegativistresponseinChapter16: Whatadisaster.Imsuchadope,acompleteloser.Ialwaysscrewup.Idont evenknowwhyIbothertotry.Andthistownitsfullofjerks.Theyretoodumb toappreciaterealmusic,andtheyrecheap,tooIonlysoldtwoCDs.Andthe clubmanagermustthinkImajerk,too.Imsurehellneverletmeperformthere again.Ifeellikecrap.Ijustcantstandit.Imgoingtogetaquartoficecream andrentabadmovieandcrawlintobed. Whatif,shehadinsteadreactedthisway: Whatadisaster.Imsuchadope...oh,well,Icouldkeepondwellingonthis andcallingmyselfnames,butwhatwouldthataccomplish?Nothing,really. Besides,therewasnorealharmdone,andIreallydidtrymybest....Illspenda fewminutesmakingsomenotesontheexperience,andmaybecallafriendfor support,butafterthatIllgetbacktotheworkIhadplannedtodo. Noticehow,inthesecondspeech,themusicianconsciouslyinterruptsher negativethoughtsandstartsamoreobjective,functionallineofthinkingandhowthat actionnotonlyhelpshermoodbuthelpshergetbacktowork? Akeydifferencebetweenthemusicianinthefirstexampleandtheoneinthe secondmaybepanic.Everyoneexperiencesregularepisodesoffear,anger,confusion, disappointmentandothernegativeemotions;ambitiousdreamers,giventhechallenging natureoftheirgoal,mayexperiencesuchepisodesmanytimesaday.Nonprocrastinators canusuallyexperiencethoseemotionsbrieflyandthenreturntoapositiveor,atleast, neutralmoodthatallowsthemtocontinuetodotheirwork.Procrastinatorscannot:they panic,andtheirpanicamplifiestheirfearandanxietyuntiltheycannolongerfunction. Thentheyretreatintoescapistbehaviorssuchasperfectionism,negativityand hypersensitivity. Theotherthingpanicdoes,besidesamplifynegativeemotions,isdisableyour copingmechanisms.Thiscould,infact,bethedefinitionofpanic:thestateofbeing unabletocope.Someonewhoisabletochangeatireduringpracticerunsinher driveway,butforgetshowtodoitwhenshehasaflatonthesideofahighway,is panicked.Soissomeonewhoknowsaschoolsubjectwellbutbombsthetest,orwho plansandpracticesforanimportantmeetingbutscrewsitup. Studentsregularlycometomewithproblemsthattheyclaimtohavenoideahow

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tosolve.Iaskthem,Whatadvicewouldyougivesomeoneelsewiththesame problem?andtheyinvariablyrattleoffagoodsolutionwithoutevenstoppingtothink aboutit.Theycandothatbecauseitsusuallymucheasiertosolveotherpeoples problemsthanourown,mainlybecausewepanicoverourown. StealthPanic Wereallfamiliarwiththetypeofhighenergypanicwhereyoufeelfranticand outofcontrol.Butpanicoftenhappensmuchmorequietlythanthat.WhatIcallstealth panicmayactuallybeamorecommoncauseofprocrastination. Stealthpaniciswhathappenswhenyousitdowntodoyourworkat9:00a.m.and thengetasudden,irresistibleurgetodosomethingelse,likegetacupofcoffee.You dontfeelpanickeditactuallyfeelslikeacalm,eventrivialdecisionbutwham: youvebeenbumpedoffyourpath.Sometimesthishappensevenbefore9:00a.m.,so thatyoudontevenmakeittoyourdesk. Stealthpanicoftenprecipitatesthetrancelikestatewediscussedearlierthat makesiteasierforyoutokeepprocrastinating.Firstyougetthecupofcoffee,thenyou readthenewspaper,thenyoumakeapersonalcall,andthenyoudosomeInternet shoppingandthen,wham!,suddenlyitslunchtime.Perhapsyouweresemiawarethat youshouldhavebeendoingsomethingelse,butneverquiteawareenough,orfocused enough,toactuallystopwhatyouweredoingandgetbacktowork. TheSolution Wenowarriveatthetrueheartoffearbasedprocrastination.Underneath thedistractibilityandantiproductivebehaviorssuchasperfectionism,negativity andhypersensitivity,andjustaboveyourfear,isthepanicthatamplifiesthatfear untilyoucantmanageit.Minimizeoreliminatethatpanicandyoushouldbeable tomanageepisodesoffear,therebyavoidingtheneedtoresorttoantiproductive behaviorsandallowingyoutoreturnquicklyandeasilytoyourwork. AsmyteacherJerryWeinberg,says,Theproblemisnottheproblem.The problemisyourreactiontotheproblem.Whathemeansisthattheproblemjustis,but yourreactiontoitwillmakeiteasierorhardertosolve.Thatwouldseemtoputalotof pressureonyou,butinrealityittakesalotofthepressureoff,becauseonceyou eliminatepanic,problemsarealmostalwaysmucheasiertosolvethanweimagine. Thekeytoovercomingprocrastinationistolearntodefeatpanicand,eventually,

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tonotexperienceitatall.

Nowthatwevecharacterizedthegeneralnatureofprocrastination,weare readytostartexploringsolutionstoit.Beforewegettothetruesolutionsthatreally solvetheproblem,though,letsexaminesomefalseonesthatpeoplecommonlytry tonoavail.Someofthesewillprobablybefamiliar...

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PartII.THESOLUTIONS
Chapter20. FalseSolutionI:MeanMommy/MeanDaddy
Themostcommonfalsesolutiontoprocrastinationistotrytobullyourselvesinto workingthroughitviaaninternaldialogthatrunssomethinglikethis: Comeon,stopbeinglazy.Youknowyouneedtodoyourwriting;theresno excusenotto.Yeah,Iknowtheresalotofstuffgoingon,butitdoesntmatter.Wheres yourwillpoweranddiscipline?Howcanyoubesoimmature?Dontyourealizewhats atstake?Youvegottogetyouracttogetheroryoullfail!Andthenwhatwillyoudo?! Oh,yeah,andyouvegottowritetwentypagestoday,notjustten,sinceyoudidntwrite anythingovertheweekend.Thatswhatrealwritersdo,andifyoucantdoit,that meansyourejustafakerandafraud. Itsastreamofselfabuse,guilt,shame,andblame:Icallitthemeanmommy ormeandaddy(takeyourpick)innerdialogand,trustme,itdoesntwork.Italkedto myselflikethatfortwentyyears,anditonlyinhibitedmysuccess,andmanyofmy studentshavealsospokentothemselveslikethatfordecadesanditalsodidntworkfor them.Thetruthisthatmostofusreacttothemeanmommy/daddythesamewaywe wouldtoanexternalbully:bybecomingresentfulandoppositional.Sonowyouve addedthoseantiproductiveattitudesontopofwhateverotherfactorswereinhibitingyour productivity. Themeanmommy/daddyapproachhasotherproblems.Itmisdiagnosestheroot problem,which,asyounowknow,isnotlazinessorimmaturitybutfear.Italso underminesyoubyreinforcingbadideasaboutyourselfandrobbingyouofselfesteem. Italsotendstolieaboutthenatureofyourworkandsituationforinstance,whatifthe lotofstuffgoingonmentionedinpassingabovewereillness,afamilymemberin trouble,orsomeotherlegitimatecrisis?Punishingyourselfforbeingsick,orfornot meetingyoururgentresponsibilities,isnotonlyantiproductive,butdeeplyunfair. Themeanmommy/daddyvoiceisthevoiceofperfectionismwhich,repeating AnneLamottsaptphrase,isthevoiceoftheoppressor.Itisalsothevoiceof negativityandhypersensitivity.Itsoundsasifitstryingtosolveyourproblem,whereas itsonlymakingitworse.Dontlistentoit. Italsotendstoattackmostferociouslywhenyouarefrightened,anxious,guilty, ashamedorotherwisevulnerable.Bedoublyonyourguardduringthosetimes.

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WhereMeanMommy/MeanDaddyComesFrom Why,ifitdoesntwork,isthemeanmommy/daddyapproachsoprevalent?I thinkitsbecausemanyofuslearneditfrombullyingparents,teachers,bossesand others.Someofthesepeoplemayhavebeenwellmeaning,othersnot,butinallcases theirapproachwasmisguided. Wealsopickupbullyingfromthemedia,whichlikestoportraysimplesolutions tocomplexproblems.Thinkofallthesentimentalmoviesinwhichtoughbutcaring teachers,coachesanddrillsergeantsbullytheirchargesintoseeminglymiraculous accomplishments;andalsoofalltheubiquitousbullyingadvertisingsloganssuchas, justdoit!andnopain,nogain. Oursocietyalsopromotestheideathatsuccessiseasy.Thebusinesspressis filledwithragstorichesandovernightsuccessstories;andevenincaseswhereitisnt pitchingthoseexactnarratives,itstilltendstodiscounttheroleofluckandperseverance insuccess.(Tobefair,manysuccessfulpeoplealsoeitherforgettheirearlystrugglesor choosetoomitthemfromtheirofficialbiographies.)So,forinstance,wehearallabout howMicrosoftCorp.founderBillGateswasayounggenius(whichhesurelywas),but notnearlysomuchabouthowhegrewupinanaffluentfamily,withafatherwhowasa highlysuccessfulbusinesslawyerandamotherwhowaswellconnectedinSeattle society.Wealsodonthearabouthisincredibleluckinhavinggrownupintheearlyera ofthepersonalcomputer.Theseadvantagesdontdiminishhisbrilliance,buttheydid contributeenormouslytohissuccess. Meanmommy/daddybuysintothehypeandsaysthatifyourenotsucceeding easily,theremustbesomethingwrongwithyou. Arelatedmythisthatthestruggleforsuccessisglamorous.Inpopularculture, theartistifheisntlivinganimprobablyaffluentlifetobeginwithmaystarvefora while,butiscompensatedforthatinconveniencebylivinganinterestinglifesurrounded byfascinatingpeopleandpunctuatedbycomicalsituations.ThinkofHenryMillers fictionalalteregoorGulleyJimson,theartistprotagonistfromJoyceCarysgreatnovel TheHorsesMouth(latermadeintoagreatmoviestarringAlecGuinness).Eventhe starvingseemslikesuchfunandtheartistsinthesekindsofworksalwaysseemto findsomeonetocadgeagoodmealoffof,anywayandthen,totopitoff,theartist frequentlylaterhitsthejackpotandachievesprofessionalsuccess. Inreallife,however,ourstrugglesareoftenmuchmoreprotractedoftenlasting yearsordecadesandterrifyinglyoffernoguaranteeofsuccess.Theyareoftendifficult andfrighteningenoughthattheyderailmostpeoplefromtheirambitiousdreams,andso

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theyarenottobescoffedat.Anyonewhopersistsintheirdreaminthefaceofsucha struggleshould,infact,belaudedeveniftheyhappennottobeworkingashard,atany giventime,astheyfeeltheyoughtto. Meanmommy/daddydoesntacknowledgethisrealityandbuysintothehypethat thestruggleisfunandglamorous.Infact,meanmommy/daddysaysthatifyourenot enjoyingyourstruggle,theremustbesomethingiswrongwithyou. Finally,meanmommy/daddyrefusestoacknowledgethatsuccessismuchharder toaccomplishifyouarenotwillingtoexploitothersorstintonyourrelationshipsand responsibilities.Mostofus,infact,arent,whichIthinkisagoodthing:butalikely consequenceofthatchoiceisthatyoursuccesswillcomeslower,ortoalesserdegree, thansomeonewhoexploitspeopleorditcheshisresponsibilities. Meanmommy/daddydoesntrecognizethattruth,however,andtellsyouthatyou shouldholdyourselftothesamelevelofproductivityandachievementassomeonewho eitherexploitspeopleorneglectsresponsibilities.Manywomen,inparticular,have troublewiththisbecausetheyarestillprimarilyresponsibleforchildcare,eldercareand housekeeping.Howcouldtheyreasonablybeexpectedtobeasproductiveassomeone whodoesnthavethosehugeresponsibilities?Butmeanmommy/daddydoesntcare aboutstufflikethatandjustblamesyouforbeingunproductive. Bytheway,evenWilliamFaulknerhimselfheofthefamousquote,Ifawriter hastorobhismotherhewillnothesitate;theOdeonaGrecianUrnisworthany numberofoldladiesthathasbeenusedtoguilttripgenerationsofwritersevenhe didntneglecthismother.Hemayhavebeendevotedtohisart,buthewasalsodevoted toherandsupposedlyvisitedherdaily. So,donotdespair:youcanhonoryourrelationshipsandothercommitments, ANDalsodogreatwork. BullyingBackfires Thefinalreasonpeoplebullyisthatbullyingsometimesworksbut,ifyouthink aboutit,itusuallyonlyworkswhenthepersondoingthebullyinghaspower,or perceivedpower,overtheonebeingbullied,anditusuallyonlyworkstemporarily.Over thelongterm,bullyingactuallytendstocreatebehavioralchangeintheopposite directionfromthatintended.Aparentwhoforceshischildtotakepianolessonswhen shedoesntwanttousuallycreatesanadolescentwhowantsnothingtodowithpiano. Ofcourse,whenyourebullyingyourselfviathemeanmommy/daddydialog,the powerdifferentialdoesntexist,andsothebullyingdoesntworkatall,excepttomake youfeelbadandyourprocrastinationproblemworse.

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Enlightenedmommies,daddies,coaches,bossesandmentorsallknowthat bullyingdoesntwork,andsoinsteadoftryingtoinfluencebehaviorviaharshcriticism andnegativelabeling,theyusepositivereinforcementandencouragement. Ifyourinnerdialogshamesorguiltsyou,orotherwisemakesyoufeelbad,thats themeanmommy/daddy.Remember:theresneverareasontotalkbadlytoyourself,and thetimeswhenyoufeelmostjustifiedindoingsowhenyouthinkyouvescrewedup arethetimesyoushoulddoublyworktoavoidit.Thatisnottosaythatyoushouldnt addressyourperceivedshortcomingsandfailures,butthatyoushouldonlydosoina objective,compassionateandconstructiveway.

Chapter21. FalseSolutionsIIandIII.SellingOutandStallingOut
Sellingoutiswhenyousacrificeyourambitiousdreamforotherdreamsor activities,e.g.,makingmoney,raisingafamily,ordoingvolunteerwork.Youcanalso, ofcourse,sacrificeyourdreamforlessworthyaims,suchascompulsivehousekeeping, televisionwatching,Websurfing,videogamingorpartying. Idontreallyliketousethetermsellingout,becauseitsoftenusedto negativelylabelpeoplewhoaresimplydoingtheirbesttomakedifficultlifechoices.But wecanalsoapplyitnonpejorativelytothosewhowindupovercompromisingand ditchingtoomuchoftheirdream.Manypeoplemakethatmistakebecausetheyfallinto thetrapofthinkingtheresonlyonepathtotheirgoalsoftentheunrealisticpath portrayedinthemediaandthen,whentheyarehavingtroublesucceedingviathatpath, theyabandontheirdream.Inreality,however,thereareusuallyseveral(atleast)pathsto success: *Anartistwhomustworkatafulltimedayjob,forinstance,canoftenarrange flextime(e.g,a4day/10hourworkweek)sothatshecandevotemorequalitytimetoher art.Or,shecanfreesometimeforherselfbyeithergettingherfamilytodomoreofthe chores,orhiringoutsidehelp.Or,shecanhireaparttimeassistanttohelpwitharts relatedchoreslikepreparingcanvasesorcleaningthebrushes.(Ifshesbroke,shecan teachinexchangeforthoseservices.) *Anactivistwholacksthemoneyforabigcampaigncangetpeopletodonate moneyandservices,oruselowcostguerrillamarketingtypetechniques. *Abusinesspersonwhosedreamisopeningarestaurant,butwholacksthemoney todoso,canstartacateringorpackagedfoodsbusinessfirst.

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Mostpeopledonotliketocompromiseontheirpaths,butitsbetterto compromisethantoditchyourdreamentirely.Besides,eachofthesecompromises,and perhapseverycompromiseyoumightbecalledontomake,hasaterrificsilverlining. Theartistwhoasksherbossforflextimediscoversthatshehasmorecontroloverher schedulethanshethoughtshehadhad.Theactivist,forcedtofundraise,findsoutthat thereareindeedpeopleouttherewhoarewillingtofundhiscause.Thebusinessperson gainsvaluableexperienceinafoodrelatedindustrywhilebuildinghercapital. Theresalwaysmorethanonepathtosuccess,andevenacompromisepathoffers considerablejoyandfulfillment.Ifyoucantfindonethatworksforyou,givenyour financial,familyorotherconstraints,consultamentor(seeChapter30). Stallingoutistheoppositeofsellingout:itswhenyousacrificeeverythingelse inyourlifeforyourambitiousdream.Basically,yourinterestsnarrowandnarrow,and yourrelationshipsbecomemoreandmorelimited,untilyouredoinglittleotherthan yourworkexceptthat,sincethisstrategyisbasedondeprivationanddenial,youre probablymiserableandnotdoingmuchwork,either. Naturally,thisdysfunctionalpathisalsocelebratedinnumeroustorturedartist andmonomaniacalentrepreneurstories,butitsnolessrealisticforallthat.Few peoplecansurvive,muchlessthriveandachieveanambitiousgoal,inthecontextof suchadeprivedandlonelyexistence.Andtotheextentthatyourgoalrequiresfreshideas andinsights,youwillprobablybelackingthose,too. TheCure Thecureforbothsellingoutandstallingoutis,first,nottoshame,blame,guilt orotherwiseabuseyourselffordoingso.(Inotherwords,nomeanmommy/daddy!) Often,fearalongwithmisinformationisattherootofthesestrategies,andyoushould neverrespondtofearwithpunishment.Instead,usethesolutionfordealingwithfear basedprocrastinationthatIdiscussstartinginChapter25. Rememberthatthereisnoabsoluterightorwronganswertothequestionofhow youshouldliveyourlife.Yourambitiousdreamcouldbethecentral,definingelementof yourlife,oritcouldplayasubordinateroletofamilyorothervalues.Remember,also, thatthefoundationofallantiprocrastinationeffortsishonestyaboutwhoyouareand whatyourvaluesandneedsare.Tryingtoliveafalselifeevenfromgoodmotives issimplynotgoingtowork,asmostofuscantendurealifelivedindenial. Ifyoufindyourselfclingingtoadreamofanidealizedpaththatisimpossiblefor youtofollow,insteadofselectingacompromisepaththatyoucanfollow,askyourself whetherfearmightbeattheheartofyourstubbornness.

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Chapter22. FalseSolutionIV.Dithering
Solvingaproblemmeanstakingspecificactionssuchasobservingitssymptoms ormanifestations;preciselydefiningit;researchingitanditspossiblesolutions; developingastrategyforsolvingit;testingthestrategy;implementingthestrategyifit testswell;refiningthestrategyifitdoesnt;andevaluatingsuccessorfailure. Ditheringincludesalltheotherthingsyoudoaboutyourproblems,including worrying,feelingguilty,beatingyourselfup,complainingtofamilyandfriends,and feelingsorryforyourself. Ditheringispernicious.Itgivesyoutheillusionthatyouaresolvingyour problem,sothatyoudonthavetofeelguiltyforignoringit,orfeellikeyouvegivenup hope.Butditheringdoesntreallysolveyourproblem.Thehallmarkofditheringis that,nomatterhowlongorseriouslyyoudoit,theproblemnevergetssolved.Sadly, thisistrueevenincaseswhereapersondithersfordecades,orhiswholelife. Howdoyouknowwhenyoureditheringversussolving?Easy:ifyouvebeen workingtosolveyourproblem,butmakingnoprogress,youreprobablydithering.Even thetoughestproblemissolvable,atleasttosomedegreeand,asIlldiscusslater,it oftentakesonlyasmallamountofactualsolvingtomakenoticeableprogress.If, therefore,youaremakingnoprogress,youarealmostcertainlydithering. Anotherdifferencebetweenditheringandsolvingisthatditheringtendstofocus ontheproblem,whilesolvingfocusesonthesolution.Thatisntanabsoluterule, becausepartofwhatyoudotosolveaproblemischaracterizeandanalyzeit.Butifall youaredoingisthinkingabouttheproblemandhowmiserableitsmakingyou,and yourenotdevotinganytimetodesigningandimplementingasolution,thenyouare dithering. Anotherdifferenceisthatditheringtendstooccurinisolation.Youdoit yourself,intheprivacyofyourownroom,oratleastintheprivacyofyourownthoughts. Whenyouconfideinfriendsandothers,youusethoseconversationsmoretovent,orto hearyourownideasandemotionsechoedbackatyou,thantoobserve,define,etc. Maybeyoudontevenlistenverycloselytowhatthepeopleyouaretalkingtoare saying,orignoretheiradvice. Solving,ontheotherhand,usuallyinvolvesotherpeopleandnotjustyour

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friends,butprofessionalssuchasadoctor,therapist,spiritualadvisor,twelvestep sponsor,teacherormentor.And,often,morethanoneofthose.Andinsteadofusing thesepeopleasanechochambertoreflectyourownthoughtsandfeelingsbackatyou, youlistencloselytowhattheyaresayinganddoyourbesttofollowtheiradvice. Becausemanyprocrastinatorstendtobeashamedandinsecure,theyhavea naturalinclinationtowardisolation.Butmostoflifestoughestproblems,including procrastination,canbestoronlybesolvedwiththehelpofacommunity. Whywouldanyonewastetimeditheringwhentheycouldbesolvingtheir problem?Insomecases,itmaybebecausetheydontknowthattheyare,infact, dithering:theythinktheyaresolving.Butitcouldalsobethat,duetotheirfears,they dontreallywanttosolvetheirprocrastinationproblemandmakeprogressontheirgoals. Forthem,ditheringservicestheimportantpurposeofkeepingthemstuckwhile maintainingthefacesavingillusionofprogress. Okay!Thatsitforthefalsesolutions.Now,ontothetrueones!Theyare probablywhatyouvebeenwaitingfor,andsoImexcitedtopresentthemtoyou.There arethreetruesolutionstoproductivity,andyoucanusethemallindividuallyortogether. Thenextchapterbeginswiththesimplestone,andthenImoveinsuccessivechapters ontotheothertwo,inorderofcomplexity.

Chapter23. SolutionI:TheThreeHabitsofProductiveWork
Allproductiveworkcanbebrokendownintothesethreebehaviors: 1.Showinguptoworkexactlywhenyouaresupposedto. 2.Instantlystartingtheworkyouaresupposedtobedoing. 3.Stayingfocusedontheworkfortwentyminutesormore. Thesebehaviorsaretheessenceofproductivework.Theyarealsothepointsat whichprocrastinationhappens,and,consequently,thepointsatwhichitcanbeattacked. NoCheating! Herearethethreebehaviorsagain,thistimewithsomeimportantwords

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italicized: 1.Showinguptoworkexactlywhenyouaresupposedto. 2.Instantlystartingtheworkyouaresupposedtobedoing. 3.Stayingfocusedontheworkfortwentyminutesormore. Theseimportantwordsallamounttothesamething:NOCHEATING.Noteven alittle InBehavior#1,thewordexactlymeansonthedot.8:00a.m.,not8:01,8:05,or even8:00:10.Youneedtotrainyourselftobeexactlywhereyouaresupposedtobenot thinkingaboutit,notenroute,notpouringacupofcoffeeattheexactmomentyouare supposedtobethere. InBehavior#2,thewordinstantlymeansthat,aboutasecondafteryourbutt hitsthechair,youbeginyourwork.Theworkyouaresupposedtobedoingshouldbe selfexplanatorybynow,butletsbeextracarefulandremindourselvesthatimpromptu unscheduledphonecalls(evenurgentones),coffeesipping,newspaperreading,Web surfing,andotheractivitiesareallprocrastination,pureandsimple.Soisdoingother workevenimportant,virtuousfeelingworkthatwasntscheduledforthistimeperiod. Youcanspendyourwholecareerimmersedintheseactivities,andmakelittleorno progressonyourmostimportantgoals. InBehavior#3,thewordfocusedmeansthatyouarethinkingaboutyourwork, andonlyyourwork.Inotherwords,youarenotthinkingaboutotherworkyoucouldbe doing,oryourworriesregardingyourwork,orphilosophicalissuesrelatedtoyourwork. (Philosophizingisimportant,butdontletitinterruptotherwork:scheduleitin.)And,of course,yourenotthinkingaboutyourpersonallife,lastnightstelevisionshow,orthe birdiescheepingenticinglyoutsideyourwindow. Twentyminutesormore.Theamountoftimeonecan,orshould,stayfocused onworkdiffersfrompersontoperson.Mostpeople,however,cantrainthemselvesto workinafocusedmannerforatleasttwentyminutesbeforehavingtogetupandtakea break. Afteryourbreakandyourbreaksshouldbeaslongasyouneedthemtobe, especiallywhenyourefirsttacklingyourprocrastinationproblemyoucanreturnto workforanothertwentyminutes. Initially,however,workingfortwentyminutesmayseemasunrealisticasflying tothemoon.Sostartwithtenminutes,orfive,ortwoifyouneedto.(Useakitchenor othertimertokeeptrack.)Then,takeaslongabreakasyouneed,praiseyourselffor yourachievementasdiscussedinthenextchapter,andrepeat. Asyougetmoreandmorecomfortablewithyourwork,youcanbuilduptoten

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minutesofsustainedwork,thenfifteen,twenty,thirty,etc.Thekeyistobepatientand notpushit,sincepushingyourselfbasicallyinvitesthemeanmommy/daddytocomein andtakeover.

Chapter24. PracticingtheThreeProductivityBehaviors
NowthatyouunderstandtheThreeProductivityBehaviorsmorefully,youcan beginpracticingthem.Therearefivekeystosuccess: 1.StartSmall,andAimforTinyImprovements 2.LavishlyRewardEveryTinySuccess 3.IgnoreFailuresExcepttoLearnFromThem 4.AnticipatePlateausandBacksliding 5.Keepatit! 1.StartSmallandAimforTinyImprovements StartsmallmeanspracticingtheThreeProductivityBehaviors(a.k.a.,not procrastinating)onnomorethantwoorthreetasksatatimeandthetasksyoupractice onshouldbeeasyones.Startingwiththatnovelyouvebeenblockedonfortenyearsis probablyabadidea. Householdchoresareagreatthingtoinitiallypracticeonbecausewetendto procrastinateonthemnotoutoffear,butsimplybecausetheyretedious.Sopracticenot procrastinatingondoingthedishesorlaundry(ormowingthelawn,ortakingthecarin foranoilchange,etc.),ifthosearetasksyouhabituallyprocrastinateon.(Practice Behaviors#1and#2only,obviouslyyoudontwanttospendalotoftimedoing chores.)Simplepersonalcaretaskslikeflossingandtakingvitaminsareothergood candidatesforpractice. Ifthetasksyouarepracticingonseemembarrassinglysmallortrivial,youare doingitexactlyright!Thekeyistogetusedtothefeelingofnotprocrastinating,and youwillonlyhavetheopportunitytodosoifyouinitiallypracticeonactivitiesthatoffer ahighprobabilityofsuccess.Also,payattentiontothe(probablynumerous)areasof yourlifewhereyoudontprocrastinate,andnotethefeelingofcalmselfcontrolyou havewhenapproachingthosetasks.Itisthatsamefeelingyouareaimingtoinvoke aroundthetasksyouarecurrentlyprocrastinatingonandonceyoucaninvokeit,you

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arewellonyourwaytosolvingtheproblem.(Yes,youareaimingtocreatecertain feelingswithinyourself.AsIlldiscussinChapter32,successfulpeopleconsciously worktoachievecertainmoods,asopposedtopassivelyacceptingwhateveremotions happentoseizethem.Manyunsuccessfulpeople,incontrast,dontevenknowthatthats evenpossibletodo.) KeeppracticingtheThreeProductivityBehaviorsonsimplestuff,andyouwill naturallygetbetteratnotprocrastinating.Youwillthenbecomelessafraid,ambivalent andconflicted,andstarttomakethecrucialshiftfromseeingprocrastinationasan inherentcharacterflawtoseeingitasabehavioralproblemyoucansolve.Meanwhile, gettingthedishesdone,flossingregularly,etc.,willthemselveshaveabeneficenteffect onyourmood,andalsoempoweryoutomakemorechanges. Onlyafteryouhavegottengoodatnotprocrastinatingonthetrivialstuffshould youbeginpracticingitonyourart,business,doctoralthesis,activismorotherambitious endeavor.Now,itisdoublyimportantforyoutostartsmall.Ifyoureawriter,dontset outtowriteanentirechapter,butonlyapageorparagraph.Ifyoureavisualartist,dont aimtopaintawholenewpicture,butsimplytomixsomecolorsorfixadetailonan existingpainting.Or,ifyoureanentrepreneur,dontaimtospendtheentiremorning doingsalescalls,butonlytenminutes. Inotherwords,whenoperatinginthescaryrealm,startreallysmall.Andonly afteryouvegottengoodatnotprocrastinatingattinytasks,doyoutakeonthebigger ones.Andonlyafteryouvegottengoodatdoingthebehaviorsfortenminutes(orfive, ortwo,orwhateverworksforyouinitially),doyoustartpracticingbehavior#3slowly buildingyourendurancesothatyoucandoyourscaryworkforfifteen,twenty,thirty, etc.,minutesatatime. 2.LavishlyRewardEveryTinySuccess Ifyoufollowmyadvicetostartsmall,youwillhavemanysuccesses,bywhich Imeaninstanceswhenyouwereabletoresistprocrastinatingandgetrighttowork.Its important,inthoseinstances,tocelebrateyourachievement!Patyourselfontheback, indulgeinatreat,andgenerallymakeafussoveryourself.Asmentionedearlier,this kindofpositivereinforcementnotonlyboostsyourconfidenceandimprovesyourmood, buthelpsimprintyourachievementinyourmemorysothatyoucancallonitwhen needed:sothat,whenyouonedayfindyourselfabouttoprocrastinate,youcanthink, ImfeelingtiredandanxiousandIreallywanttoditchmywork,butwaitaminute!I feltexactlythesamewaylastweek,andmanagedtogetpastitandhaveaproductive afternoon.IfIdiditthen,maybeIcandoitnow.Illsetmytimerforfiveminutesand seeifworkingthatlonggetsmebackontrack.

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Itdoesntmatterhowsmalltheachievementis.Evenifitssomethingassimple astakingyourvitaminsexactlywhenplannedortakingthematall,ifyoufrequently neglecttogiveyourselfatleastamentalpatontheback.Forbiggerachievementsi.e., breakingoutthenotestoyournovelforthefirsttimeinayearmakesuretomakeabig fussandgiveyourselfsomekindoftangiblereward. 3.IgnoreFailuresExcepttoLearnFromThem Whenachildfailstomeetagoal,themeanparenttendstocriticizeandblame, whilethebenevolent,effectiveparentofferscompassionandunderstanding.The benevolentparentalsohelpsthechildkeepthefailureinperspective,remindinghimthat thefailureprobablyisntasawfulashethinksitis,andthatthereareplentyofother thingshehassucceededat.Withthebenevolentparentshelp,thechildgrowsuptobea resilientadultwhoisnotsoafraidoffailurethatheprocrastinates. Youneedtobeyourownbenevolentparent,whichmeansthatwheneveryoufail atnotprocrastinatingoranothergoal,youshouldnotcriticizeorblameyourself,but insteadrespondwithcompassionateobjectivity.Criticism,asdiscussedearlier,depletes yourselfesteem,underminesyourselfconfidence,mischaracterizestheproblem,and onlymakesthingsworse.Instead,beacompassionateobserverandanalystofyour situation,keepinginmindthatthereareoftenperfectlygoodreasonsbehind procrastination,eveniftheprocrastinationresponseitselfisntoptimal.Gee,Ididntget muchworkdone,today.Whathappened?Ohyeah,Iwasupsetafterthatlunchtime phonecallwithmygirlfriend.Well,itwasanupsettingcall. AswediscussedinChapter9,theproperresponsetofailureistoponderitjust longenoughtocomeupwithasolutionsothatthesamethingdoesnthappenagain: Okay,nexttimeIwontcallmygirlfrienduntilafterIvefinishedmywork.Then, moveonwithoutremorseorregret. 4.Anticipate,andCopeWith,PlateausandBacksliding Aplateauiswhenyouremainstuckatalevelofachievementdespiterepeated effortstomoveahead.Backslidingiswhenyouactuallylosegroundandbecomeless effective.Botharediscouraging,andyetbothareaninevitablepartofanypersonal growthprocess.Ifyouhaveanoffday,week,monthoryear,dontcriticizeorshame orblameyourself:justacceptitforwhatitis,andhopetodobettersoon. Plateausandbackslidingoftenindicatethatyouaresettingtooambitiousgoals.If thatisindeedthecase,thesolutionistogobacktoapriorlevelofaccomplishment yourecomfortablewithandstaythereforawhileuntilyouregainyourconfidence. Then,remembertosetmoremodestandattainablegoalsinthefuture.

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Plateausandbackslidingcanalsoindicatethatyouareexperiencingpersonalor otherproblemsthatareinterferingwithyourabilitytodoyourwork.Mostofuscan tackleonlyonemajorproblematatimeand,letsfaceit,manyproblems,including illnessorafinancialcrisis,cantakeprecedenceevenovermakingprogressonour heartfeltdream.Ifsomethingdoespullyouawayfromyourdream,justdowhatyouneed todowithoutshameorremorseorregret.Eventually,youwillbeabletoreturntoyour workquitepossiblybringingtoitaricherperspectiveasaresultofyoursabbatical. 5.Keepatit! WhatcanIsay?Thosewhosucceedarealwaysthosewhopersevere.Sometimes, theyhavetotemporarilyputtheirambitiousdreamasidewhiletheyworkonother priorities.Buttheyalwayscomebacktoit.Theynevergiveupandneithershouldyou. ****** CaseStudy:GettingPastaPlateau WhilewritingTheLifelongActivist,Iwentthroughaseveralweekperiodwhere, duetopersonalissues,Iwasgettinglittledone. Iwasfrustrated,butknewtokeepselfcriticismtoaminimum.Ikeptreminding myself:ThisprocrastinationproblemisaproblemIneedtosolve,notareflectionof whoIintrinsicallyam.ThesituationwillimprovewhenImreadyforittoimprove.The lackofshame,blameandnegativeselflabelingmeantthatIwasabletomaintainmy selfconfidence,whichaidedmeinsolvingtheproblemsoonerratherthanlater. Afterafewweeksofstruggle,IeventuallyhadthepresenceofmindtodowhatI justtoldyoutodoincaseofbacksliding:returntoapriorlevelofproductivity.Idug deepintomycomputerharddriveandresurrectedaprogramIhadntneededinacouple ofyears:mysoftwarestopwatch.Isetitforfiveminuteintervalsand,duringthose intervals,committedtofocusingonmywork.(Inbetweenthoseintervals,Icouldtakeas longabreakasIwished.) Havingtousethestopwatchagainwasalittlehumiliatinglikeputtingtraining wheelsbackonabicycleandhavingtosetitatmerefiveminuteintervalswasmoreso. But,guesswhat?Thestrategyworked,quicklyandspectacularly!Infact,ittookonlya fewhoursofstopwatchpracticeformetoreturntomynormallevelofproductivity. ThestrategyworkedprimarilybecausethefiveminutetimelimitIselectedwas sosmallthatsuccesswasmoreorlessguaranteedandmytinysuccessesmotivatedme

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enoughsothatIwasabletogetpastmyblockandkeepgoingwiththeprocess. ******

Chapter25. FiveSuccessTips
1.AlwaysBeginYourDaywithaSchedule Schedulingisimportantbecausevaguenessopensthedoortothekindsoffears anduncertaintiesthatcanleadtoprocrastination. Ideally,youwillhavegonethroughthemissionandtimemanagementprocesses discussedinTheLifelongActivistandwillknowhowtocreateamanageableschedule thatreflectsyourcorevalues.Ifnot,atleastcomeupwithasimpleschedulethatsays specificallywhatyouaregoingtobedoingorworkingoneveryhouroftheday. Trytocreateyourschedulethenightbeforesothattheactofschedulingitself doesnotitselfbecomeaformofprocrastination. 2.BePrepared TheBoyScoutsgotthisoneright.Forthesamereasonas#1,abovetoavoid confusionthatcanbumpyouoffyourpathyouneedtobeginyourdaywithallthe information,tools,andmaterialsneededtoaccomplishyourworkrightoutthereinfront ofyou.Thatmeanseverything:books,paperfiles,computerfiles,telephonenumbers, writingimplements,evenpaperclips.Itshouldallbeavailable,organizedandinperfect workingorder.(Cellphonecharged?Pencilssharpened?) ****** Note:If,despiterepeatedattempts,youareunabletoshowupforworkscheduledand prepared,thatmaybeasignthatyouhaveahighleveloffearthatiscausingyouto procrastinate.DontworryIlltellyouhowtodealwithitstartinginthenextchapter. ****** 3.ApproachYourWorkWithoutHesitation RememberhowProductivityBehavior#1isshowinguptoworkontime,and

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ProductivityBehavior#2isgettingrighttoworkontherightstuff?Whilepracticing thosebehaviors,trynottohesitate.Hesitationgivesyourthoughtstimetowander,andif youvegotaprocrastinationhabit,theywilloftenwanderdirectlytowardyourfears. (Nowyouunderstandthemeaningoftheproverbhewhohesitatesislost.) Practiceglidingovertoyourdeskandstartingyourworkwithoutanyhesitation. 4.StayCalm Strongemotions,asyoulearnedinChapter19,bumpyouoffyourpath.Theyalso makeitharderforyoutostayfocusedonthepresentsothatyoucanpracticetheThree ProductivityBehaviors.Work,therefore,toremaincalmastheclocktickstowardyour starttime.Ifyoucatchyourselffeelingfear,anxietyordoubt,gentlyreassureyourself. (E.g.,Imjustgoingtowritefortenminutesthatsall.ThenIcantakeabreak.)If necessary,putyourselfinalittletrancejustlongenoughforyoutoglideovertoyour deskandstartworking,sinceourfearsareoftenstrongestbeforeweactuallystartour workanddisappearifwejustpersistforafewminutes. Ifyoucanteliminatethefear,dontworrywelldiscussatechniquefordoing sointhenextchapter. 5.DontMakeYourWorkMoreDifficultThanItIs Dontfallintothetrapofassumingthatprocrastinationisinevitable.Popular culturelikestoportraytheactofcreationasakindofepicstrugglebecauseitmakes gooddrama,butthatsthewrongmodeltofollow.Instead,youshouldapproachyour workwithalighttouch,andtheexperienceshouldbelikeplay:easy,safeandfun. Ifyourprojectseemsscarilybigorimportant,trybreakingitdownintosmall no,tiny!chunksandworkingonthoseoneatatime,whileignoring,forthemoment, thebigpicture.Thissoundsliketrivialadvice,butitscrucial,andmanysuccessful ambitiousdreamershavelearnedtodothisautomatically.(Anddontforgettohavefun!) Often,however,whenourworkisntfun,itsbecausewerefrightenedor panicked,eitherabouttheworkitselforsomethingelseinourlife.Asyounowknow, tryingtoworkpastthatfearisoftenfutile,especiallyiftheeffortisaccompaniedby meanmommy/daddytypeselfcriticism.Ouronlyrealcourseistocourageouslyface downandexploreourfears,andthecircumstancessurroundingthem. Andso,finally,wecometotheprocessforovercomingthedisablingfearthatlies attheheartofsomanyprocrastinationproblems.

Chapter26.SolutionII:

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AProcessforOvercomingFearBasedProcrastinationandPanic
Ifyouvebeenmakinggoodprogresstowardsolvingyourprocrastination problemusingtheThreeProductivityBehaviors,thenthereprobablyisntmuchfearor panicunderlyingyourprocrastination,andyoumaynotevenneedtousetheFear DefeatingProcessdescribedbelow.If,however,youcantmanagetoadopttheThree ProductivityBehaviorsnomatterhowhardyoutry,thenyouprobablydohavefears and/orapanicresponseyouneedtoaddressviatheProcess,whichconsistsofthesenine steps: 1.Usemissionandtimemanagementtoestablishreasonablegoalsanda reasonableschedule. 2.Startyourwork:catchyourselfprocrastinating. 3.Dontcriticize,blameorshameyourself!(Nomeanmommy/daddy!) 4.Startjournaling,andviajournaling: 5a.Defuseyourpanic.(5a,b,andcallhappensimultaneouslywhilejournaling.) 5b.Characterizeyourobstacles. 5c.Designasolutionforovercomingyourobstacles. 6.Starttoimplementthesolutionand(optional)returntoyourpath. 7.Celebrateyourvictory. 8.Repeatwhenneeded.And... 9.Watchchangehappen! Idiscusseachindividuallybelow.

Step#1.Usemissionandtimemanagementtoestablishreasonablegoalsand areasonableschedule. IknowIvesaiditmanytimes.Butpleasedontneglectmissionandtime managementbecausetheyareessentialpartsofthesolution.Youcanreadaboutthemin PartsIandIIofTheLifelongActivist,orinmanyotherbooksaswell. Step#2.Startyourwork:catchyourselfprocrastinating. Asmentionedearlier,manypeopleenterakindoftrancewhentheyprocrastinate thattranceisthewholepointoftheprocrastination,really,asitallowsyoutoavoid doingyourworkwithoutexperiencingguiltorshame.(Thosecomelater,whenyoulook backatyourwastedday.)Whenyoureinthattrance,youreonlydimlyawareofwhat

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youaredoing,andthehoursjustseemtomeltaway. Somepeopledontentertoodeeplyintothattrance.Theycanbeinthemiddleof anunscheduledvideogameandthink,Oops!Improcrastinating.Ifyoucandothat relativelyquickly,thenyouvecompletedthisstep. If,however,youareoneofthemanypeoplewhoreallyzonesout,itmaytake sometimeandpracticeforyoutoreliablycatchyourselfearlyonintheactof procrastinating.Onethingthatmayhelpistogetintothehabitofaskingyourself,at fifteenorthirtyminuteintervals,AmIdoingwhatImsupposedtobedoing,oramI procrastinating? Keepworkingatit,andeventuallyyoullbeabletoquicklyandreliablycatch yourselfintheactofprocrastinating. Step#3.Dontcriticize,blameorshameyourself! Becareful,inthisvulnerablemoment,nottoNOTlapseintomean mommy/daddytypeselfcriticism.Youknowwhyyoushouldntdoit,sojustbecareful thatyoudont.Insteadofcriticizingyourself,beanobjective,compassionateobserverof yourownsituation.Tellyourself,Oh,Improcrastinating.Donotevenaddamildly negativephrasesuchas,Toobad. Step#4.Startjournaling. Nowisthetimetofigureoutpreciselywhyyouneededtoprocrastinateatthis moment.Yourmaintoolfordoingsoisjournaling,whichwillhelpyou,(a)defuseyour panic,(b)characterizetheprecisenatureofyourobstacles,and(c)comeupwith solutionsforovercomingthoseobstacles.Journalingisnthard,butthereareafewtricks toitthatIllsharewithyouinthenextchapter.Theimportantthingtonotehereisthat themomentyoucatchyourselfprocrastinating,youshouldstopwhateveryouaredoing andbeginjournaling.Ifyoudontliketowrite,youcandictateanaudiojournalintoa taperecorder,orcallafriendandhaveafocusedandanalyticalconversationwithhimor her.Butwritingoffersimportantadvantagesovertheothermethods,nottheleastof whichisconvenience,sopleaseatleasttryit. Therearemanywaysofjournaling,incidentally,buttheoneIwantyouIwant youtodohereistheuninhibitedstreamofconsciousnesstypejournalingthatisalso sometimescalledfreewriting.Itbasicallydumpsyourthoughtsandfeelings,in undiluted,uncensoredformat,ontothepage(orscreen).Forthiskindofjournaling, spellingandgrammardontmatter:justgeteverythingdownashonestlyandasfastas youcan. Ifyouaredesperatetogetsomeworkdone,youmaybereluctanttostopand

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journal,andjournalingmayevenseemlikeawasteoftime.Inreality,however, journalingistheverybestuseofyourtime,asitisyourmaintoolforsolvingyour procrastinationproblem.Thetimeyouinvestinjournalingnowwillbereturnedtoyoua hundredfoldormore,onceyoustarttoovercomeyourprocrastinationproblemandwork moreproductively. ****** NOTE:Steps5a,5b,and5callhappensimultaneouslywhileyourejournaling. ****** Step#5a.Defuseyourpanic. AsdiscussedintheChapter19,youcantsolveproblemswhilepanicked.Soyour firststep,beforegettingdownanddirtywithyourprocrastinationproblem,istodefuse anypanicyoumaybeexperiencing. Fortunately,journalingisamiraclecureforpanic.Thesimpleactofwriting downyourproblemisoftenallittakestorelievealotoftheanxietyandpanic surroundingit.Afterajournalingsession,youshouldfeelmentallyandevenphysically morerelaxed. Journalingis,infact,powerfullyhealing.Itsawayofgivingyourselfthetime, attentionandrespectmostofuscravebutnevergetenoughof.Italsoprovidesawayfor youtoreallyfocusinonyourproblems,whichempowersyoutosolvethem.Itsno wonderthatjournalingisanacceptedtherapeutictoolforworkingwithmanytypesof distressedpeople,includingcancersurvivors,victimsofviolentcrime,troubledteensand peopleinjail. Journalingyourselftoacalm,centered,reflectivestateofmindcantakeafew minutes,afewhours,ormanyhours(maybe,spreadoveraweekend):theimportant thingisnottorushit.Ifyouarejournalingforalongtimewithfear,confusionorother strongemotions,orlong,analyticalexplorationsofyoursituation,historyandneeds pouringoutofyouandontothepageitsbecauseyouneedto.Dontbeimpatient:trust theprocessandunderstandthatthisintensivejournalingphaseisveryimportantand probablywontlastlong.IfyoukeeppracticingtheFearDefeatingProcesswhenyou feelafraid,youshouldquicklybecomelesspronetopanic,andmorequicklyableto recoverfromitandthushavelessandlesstojournalabout.Youwillthenbeusing journalingmainlyforitsanalyticalandproblemsolvingbenefits(5band5c),butthat typicallytakesmuchlesstime,andeventuallywontbeneededmuch,either.

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****** ImportantNoteJournalingsometimesuncoversmemoriesthatwecanhavetrouble handling,includingmemoriesofchildhoodabuse.Itcanalsoforceourattentiontoissues thatwehavebeenindenialover,usuallybecausetheyarepainful.Eithereventcanbe traumatic.Ifjournalingisnthelpingtocalmyoudownbut,rather,ismakingyoumore upset,orifitisraisingissuesthatyouarenotsureyoucanhandle,seeatherapistorother specialist.Youmayevenwishtoconsultatherapistbeforeyoustartjournaling,ifyouare concernedabouthowtheprocesswillaffectyou. ****** Step#5b.Characterizeyourobstacles. Atthesametimeyouvebeencalmingdown,youvealso,inyourjournal,been creatingasnapshotofyourmentalstate.Thissnapshotislikelytotellyouexactlywhy youreprocrastinatingi.e.,theprecisenatureofyourobstacles. Itsimportanttocharacterizeobstaclespreciselybecausethemorepreciselyyou characterizethem,themorefocusedandeffectiveasolutionyoucancomeupwith. Tryingtosolveaproblemyouhaventfullycharacterizedisanexerciseinfutilityin fact,itsprobablywhatyouvebeendoingalltheseyearswhenworkingonyour problemsoflaziness,lackofdiscipline,etc.Allofthateffort,directedatthewrong targets,didntsolveyourprocrastinationproblem,didit? Useyourjournaltocreatealistofthespecificobstaclesthatarepreventingyou fromcontinuingwithyourworkatthismoment.Theresagoodchancethatthelistwill includeoneormoreoftheBigFour:perfectionism,negativity,hypersensitivityand panic. AndalsoagoodchanceitwillcontainoneormoreLogisticalorSituational obstacles.Forinstance,supposeyoushouldhavebeenwritingaschoolpaper,butinstead spentthepasthourdoingotherstuff.Inthecourseofyourjournaling,youdiscoverthat thereasonsyouhaventbeenwritingareoneormoreofthefollowing: *Youhatetowrite,andhaveneverbeenconfidentofyourwritingskills. *Youareprettysureyouwontdowellonthepaper,sothewholeprojectseems futileandawasteoftime. *Youhatetheclassand/orteacher,andthatdemotivatesyou. *Youneededsomelibrarybookstocompletetheproject,butsomeoneelsehas checkedthemout. *Yourroommatesareallouthavingfun,andyoufeelcheatedathavingtostayin

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andwork. *Youhadaseriousfightwithyourgirlfriend,yesterday,andhaventheardfrom hersince.Thatsworryingyou. *Youandyourgirlfriendaremadlyinlove,whichinterfereswithyourabilityto focusonthisproject. *Yourenotfeelingwell. *Yourcomputerkeepscrashing. TheseareallLogisticalorSituationalObstacles,althoughsomehintatoneor moreBigFourunderneath.Forinstance,hatetowritecouldeasilybegroundedin perfectionism.Thefactthatthesolutiontomanyoftheselogisticalorsituational obstaclesissimple,oreventrivial,Illdiscussbelow. First,however,Iwanttobeveryclearthatalloftheaboveobstaclesarenotjust reasonable,butunderstandableandforgivable.Inotherwords:nothingtobeashamedof. Thisshouldntbeusedasalicensetoprocrastinate,however.Toliveahappy,successful life,youmustlearntopersevereinthefaceofstressormisfortune. Step5c.Designasolutionforovercomingyourobstacles. ThesolutiontotheBigFourobstaclesis,asdiscussedinChapters15through18, toreplacedysfunctionalthoughtsandbehaviorswithfunctionalones. Onceyoudothat,andonceyoudefuseyourpanic,youmaybeabletoeasily overcomeyourLogisticalandSituationalObstacles.Whatsamazing,actually,ishow oftenevenseeminglyunvanquishableobstaclesturnouttoberathereasilysolved,once theyareexposedtothelightofdayviajournaling.ItslikeinTheWizardofOz,when TotopullsbackthecurtainandrevealstheAlmightyOztobeaflimflamman.Pullback thecurtainofyourpanicandantiproductivethinking,andyourtoughestobstaclesare oftenrevealedtobesmallandeasilysolved. TorepeatJerryWeinbergsdictum:Theproblemisnottheproblem.The problemisyourreactiontotheproblem.So: *Youhatetowrite,andhaveneverbeenconfidentofyourwritingskills,SOaska friendtoedityourwriting. *Youareprettysureyouwontdowell,SOconsultyourprofessor,atechnical assistant,librarian,oranyoneelsewhocouldgiveyouperspectiveandguidance. *Youhatetheclassorteacher,SOtrytoseethebigpictureaboutwhatbrought youtotheclasstostartwith,andwhythesubjectismeaningfultoyou.Inotherwords, worktoreattachyourselftoyourpassionforthesubject,andthat,inturn,shouldhelp remotivateyou.Extrapoints,bytheway,ifyoucancomeupwithsomegoodthingsto

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sayabouttheclassandteacher. *Youreupsetaboutthefightwithyourgirlfriend,SOcallherbrieflyandpatch thingsup.Dontgetsuckedbackintowhateverfightyouwerehaving;thepurposeof thiscallisnottoarguebuttoremindbothofyouabouthowmuchyoucareforherand thatyouintendtoworkthingsoutwithher.Afteryouvebothcalmeddown,explainto herhowthefightisinterferingwithyourabilitytowriteyourpaper,andenlisthercaring help. *Etc. Yoursituationalobstacles,asdiscussedearlier,tendtoinvolveotherpeopleor circumstancesoutsideyourcontrol.Assuch,theytendtobehardertoovercomethanthe otherobstacles,andthestepsyouneedtotaketodosocanbepainful.If,forinstance,the situationalobstacleisahealthproblem,thesolutionmaybetomakeanappointmentwith yourdoctor.(Expensive,timeconsumingandscary.)Ifitsatroubledrelationship,you mighthaveafranktalkwithyourpartner,orplantoconsultacouplescounselor.(Ditto.) Goaheadanduseyourjournaltodesigndetailedsolutionstoyourlogisticaland situationalobstacles. Atthesametimeyouworktocharacterizeyourimmediateobstacle,alsolookfor workpatternsthathelporhinderyourproductivity.Doyou,likemanypeople,have troublegettingstarted?Areyoumorefocusedandlessdistractableinthemornings, afternoonsorevenings?Aresomepartsofyourprojectsmucheasierthanotherparts, andthereforebetterplacestostart?Doyouhaveatendencytowardrigidityor stubbornnessthatcausesyoutogetstuckatcertainpointsinyourwork?Thiskindof informationaboutyourworkhabitsisextremelyvaluable,sinceitenablesyouto optimizeyourschedulingandthewayyouapproachyourwork. Step#6.Starttoimplementthesolutionand(optional)returntoyourpath. Yourgoalhereistoimplementjustenoughofthesolutionyouvedesignedso thatyoucancalmdownenoughtoreturntoyourdailyschedule(a.k.a.,dailypath).You dontwantthesolutionitselftobecomeaformofprocrastination,afterall. Sometimes,justwritingouttheproblemindetailisenoughtogetyoubackon yourpath... Or,writingoutthesolution... Or,makingaphonecallortwo... Or,takingsomemoresubstantiveandtimeconsumingsteps... Again,theresnowrongwaytodothis,andyoushouldtakeasmuchtimeasyou need,especiallyearlyon.Eventually,however,youshouldbeabletoreturnbacktoyour pathinlessandlesstime.

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Step#7.Celebrateyourvictory. Itdoesntmatterwhetheryouvereturnedfullytoyourpathornot.Ifyouve madeitthisfarintheprocess,youarevictorious.Youarefinallygrapplingwithyour procrastinationprobleminameaningfulway,afteryearsorperhapsdecadesoffearand dithering.Thatsahugestep,andyoushouldgiveyourselfhugeamountsofcreditforit. Ifyoudontbelievemeifyouthinkthatonlyaclearwinagainstyour procrastinationproblemisworthcelebratingthenpleasegobackandrereadChapters15 (perfectionism)and20(meanmommy/daddy). AsIvementionedrepeatedly,itisimportanttocelebrateeverysmall achievementorvictoryineveryareaofyourlife.Mostofusgrowupoppressedbytoo muchnegativityandcriticism,andwecontinuetobeoppressedbythoseinadulthood.It isuptoustocounteractthatnegativitybothforourselvesandthosearoundus. So,congratulateyourselfalot.Callupagoodfriendandboastofyour achievement.Treatyourselftoamovie,CD,bubblebathorsinfuldessert.Orallthree! Makeafuss:ifyoudont,whowill? Thisisnotmerelyanexerciseinfeelinggood,althoughthatinandofitselfisa worthwhilegoal.Celebratingyourselfalsohelpsyouownyourvictoryandtheskills thatwentintoachievingit,sothatyouhavethatmemoryandthoseskillsreadily availablethenexttimeyoudobattlewithyouroldnemesis,procrastination. Step#8.Repeatasneeded. Evenif,thistimearound,youscoreaspectacularsuccessmeaning,youareable toquicklydefuseyourpanic,overcomeyourobstacle(s),andreturntoyourpathyou shouldntconsideryourprocrastinationproblemlicked.Procrastinationisawily, persistentenemy:itwillreturn.So,bepreparedtorepeatthisprocessasoftenasittakes andoccasionallythroughoutyourentirelife.Restassured,however,thatbypersisting youwillgetto... Step#9.Watchchangehappen! WhenIteachmystudentsthesetechniquesfordefeatingtheirfearbased procrastination,manybegintomakeamazinglyfastprogressattheirgoals.Thats because,incontrasttotheirnegativeselfimageofbeinglazy,undisciplinedor uncommitted,theyareactuallyhighlyenergetic,highlydisciplinedandhighly committed.Theproblem,asdiscussedearlier,isthattheyweretryingtosolvethewrong problem(s).Oncetheystarttryingtosolvetherightonetheirfears,obstaclesandpanic manyshootaheadlikearrowstowardtheirgoals,oftenmakingmoreprogressinafew

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weeksthantheyhadinyears.Thatsbecausebeatingprocrastinationisanactofprofound selfliberationthathelpsyouredefineyourselfandyourpossibilities. Selfliberationisanexcitingjourneytomakeandaninspirationalonetowitness. Ihavenodoubtthatmanyreadersofthisebookarepoisedtomakethatjourneywithina veryshorttime.Thetrick,paradoxically,istoapplythetechniquesIdiscussinavery patientway,sothattherearefewornoopportunitiesfordisappointment,fear,andthe meanmommy/daddydialogthatfeartendstodraginitswake. Now,ontojournalingandothertoolsforchange...

Chapter27. ToolsforChangeI:Journaling
Therearefourmaintoolsyoucanusetohelpyoudefeatyourfearsandspur personalgrowth:Journaling,Therapy,SelfCareandaCreatedCommunity.Idiscuss theseinthisandthenexttwochapters. Journalingwouldseemliketheeasiestthingintheworldanditis!Journalingis justthewritingdownofyourthoughtsandfeelingsatanygivenmomentinasmuch detail,andwithaslittleinhibitionorcensorship,aspossible.ThekindofjournalingI meanissometimescalledfreewriting,automaticwriting,orstreamof consciousnesswriting.Allofthesetermsarefinebyme.WhatIdontmeanby journalingiskeepingachronologicalcalendardetailingtheeventsinyourlife.Inother words,Idontcareabouttheeventsthemselves,somuchasyourthoughtsand, especially,yourfeelingssurroundingthem. TheJournalingArc Youllrecallhow,inthelastchapter,Isaidthatjournalingcalmsyoumentally andphysically.Thatsdefinitelythewayitisforme.WhenIstartjournaling,especially whenImupsetorangry,Itendtotypelikeademon,andmysentencesareshort,almost fragmentary,asinthishypotheticalexample: DamnImupset!Icantstandit!Idontknowwhattodo!IwanttokillFrank.I hatehim.Icantbelievehestoodmeupforthatmeeting.Whatajerk.AndI guessImajerk,too....

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Mysentencesareshortbecausemyangerispreventingmefromholdingathoughtfor verylong.(Yourjournalingreallyisawindowintoyouremotionalstate.)Bytheendof ahalfhour,orhour,orthreehours,ofjournaling,however,Immuchmorerelaxedand incontrol,anditshowsinmysentences: Well,somethingobviouslyhappenedtoFrank.AssoonasIfinishthis,Illgive himacalltomakesurehesOK.Itsnotlikehesalwaysunreliablealthough, thetruthbetold,hesnotthemostdependableofguys.Still,hesgotother virtues:hereallysticksupformewhenLizgetsonmycase,andhewasreally terrificduringthatprojectweworkedonlastsummer.AndIguesshesgoing throughadifficulttimewithhisgirlfriendhetoldmethat.Infact,nowthatI thinkaboutit,hedidaskmetocuthimsomeslack.Thatsnoexcuseforbeinga noshow,ofcourse,butmaybeinthefuture,Illtaketheprecautionofcallinghim beforehandtoremindhimofmeetings.... Notenotjustthecalmnessandlongersentences,butthemorecontextualized, compassionate,accurateviewofFrankandhissituation.Note,also,theeasytransitionto problemsolving(callingFrankbeforemeetings). Icallthepathonetravelsinonesjournalfromfear,angerandblaming,to calmness,controlandcompassionthejournalingarc.Youwillprobablynoticea similararcinyourownjournalentries.Lookforit,anduseittotrackyouremotional growthduringeachjournalingsession,andthroughoutyourcareer. TipsforEffectiveJournaling Herearesometipstohelpyoujournal: Speediskey.Thefasteryouwrite,thebetter,becausefastwritingleaveslittle timeforselfcensorshipandrationalizations.Justgetyourfeelingsandthoughtsdown, anddontstoptothinkorponder.Dontworryaboutspellingorgrammar;instead,focus onthesoftheartvoiceinsideyouthatistellingthetruth,butthatyoumayoften overwhelmwithrationalization,andgetitdownonpaper. Anymediumandformatarefine.Acomputer,asheetofpaper,adinnernapkin theyreallokay.Ifyoudontliketowrite,trytalkingintoataperecorder.Also, paragraphs,lists,oranyotherformatisalsofinesolongastheformatdoesntinterfere withyourprimarygoalofwritingfreelyandhonestly. Themorethemerrier.Asdiscussedinthelastchapter,youwanttostart

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journalingatthemomentyoucatchyourselfprocrastinating,becauseyouthenhavethe bestchanceofcapturingandcharacterizingthepreciseproblem.Butyoucanjournalat othertimes,aswell.Somepeoplejournalfirstthingeverymorning,orlastthingevery night,asaformofmeditationandreflection.Othersjournalatoddtimeswheneverthe moodstrikesthem,andstillotherssetasideafewhourseveryweekormonth.Whatever worksforyouisfine. Guyscanjournal,too.Inmyclasses,thereareusuallyplentyofmenreceptiveto theideaofjournaling,butalsoplentyofotherswhothinkitsasissywaytospendtheir time.Ifyouareaguy(orgal,forthatmatter)withthatprejudice,Iurgeyoutogetoverit. Manyofhistorysmostfamousmalescholars,statesmen,andscientists,amongothers, sawkeepingajournal,orconductinganextensive,selfreflectivecorrespondence,asan essentialpartoftheirquesttoleadacivilizedandaccomplishedlife.Youshould,too. Dontshowyourjournaltoanyone.Toensurethatyoutellthewhole, unvarnished,oftenembarrassingandoftenpainfultruth,makesureyoukeepyourjournal private. Dontrushit:whenyouredone,youredone.Writeuntilyourewrittenout andcanthinkofnothingfurthertosay.Thismaytakeafewminutes,afewhours,oran entiredayorweekend.Howeverlongittakes,dontrushit:ifyouvegotalottowrite,it meansyouvegotalottosay. Thatsitforjournaling!Tryitout!

Chapter28 ToolsforChangeII:TherapyandSelfCare
Gototherapy!Itellmyclasses. ThereactionIgetisinteresting.Mostofthetime,thestudentsgiggleinan embarrassedway.Sometimes,theclassgoesdeadquiet,asifpeoplearetooembarrassed eventogiggle. Therapyverymuchremainsataboosubject.Manypeopleareashamedtoadmit thattheyareintherapy. Notme.Ihavebeenintherapy,onandoff,fortwodecades,andtherapyhasbeen amongthebestinvestmentsIevermade.Ithashelpedmegetpasttheproblemsinmy lifemuchfasterthanIcouldhaveeverdoneonmyown. Notsurprisingly,Ithinktherapyiswonderful.Ithinkeveryoneshouldbein therapy.Seriously:everyone,atleastonceintheirlives.Weallcarryaroundemotional

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baggagefromourchildhood,andevenwithoutalotofbaggage,lifeisoftendifficultand stressful.Also,Ithinkambitiousdreamershaveittougherthanmanyotherpeople becauseoftheinnatedifficultyofourmissionsandthelackofsocietaland(often) familialsupport.Theseareallgoodreasonstoseeatherapist. Somepeoplethinkthatseeingatherapistisasignofweakness,butnothingcould befartherfromthetruth.Seeingatherapistisasignthatyouhavethestrengthtoadmit to,andworkon,yourproblems.Thatswhysomanysuccessfulpeopleseeatherapist andarequiteunashamedofthefact.Theyseetherapyassimplyonemoretooltheyare usingtobuildtheirsuccess. Somepeoplemightprefertoconsultaspiritualadvisororsomeotherkindof professional.Ihavenoproblemwiththat,butwouldurgeyoutoseeatherapistin additiontowhomeverelseyousee,atleastforawhile.Anotherpossibilityforreadersof thisebookisalife/careercoachwho,likemyself,specializesinaddressingproblems relatedtoprocrastinationandblocks.Butsuchapersonmaynotbeabletohelpyouwith relationshipproblems,addictionandothersituationalobstacles,unlessheorshealso happenstobeatrainedandlicensedtherapistwhospecializesinthoseproblems. ThePulitzerprizewinningwriterRichardRhodesdrawsadirectlinebetweenhis therapy(forposttraumaticstresssyndromeresultingfromanabusivechildhood)andhis professionalsuccess: Istartedtherapyformyself,notforwriting,butitwasthroughthatprocessthat thebreakthroughcame....Sevenyearsoftherapywasnomoreexpensivethan graduateschoolwouldhavebeen,andIvecometothinkoftherapyasgraduate schoolfortheemotions(orwasitremedial?).WhenIgroanedattheexpense,my therapist,agoodmantrainedattheMenningerClinic,expressedthehopethat therapywouldpayforitself.SinceIvemadeagoodlivingwritingnowformore thantwentyyears,itdid.RichardRhodes,HowtoWrite:Adviceand Reflections(Quill,1995) IdontknowaboutRhodes,butonereasontherapyworkedformewasthatI madeitoneofmytoppriorities.Nothingexceptarealemergencywouldcausemeto missatherapysession,andIalwaystookmytherapistsrecommendationsveryseriously. ThatsbecauseIsawthattheinsightsandlessonsIwaslearningintherapycouldhelpme inalloftheimportantareasofmylife. SoIurgeyoutotrytherapyorcoaching.Thisisparticularlytrueifyouhavebeen thinkingaboutit,butdithering.Stopdithering,andgooutandfindsomeone.Shop carefully,andifthefirstone(ortwoorthree)professionalsyoutrydontfeellikeagood

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fit,keeplooking.Thedifferencebetweenagoodtherapistorcoachandagreatone,in termsofbeingabletocatalyzeyoursuccessandhappiness,isenormous. SelfCare Asmytherapistshavetaughtme,selfcareshouldcomebeforeeverythingexcept emergencies.Ifyourphysicaloremotionalbeingisnothealthy,thenyoucanthopetobe productive,especiallyatanambitiousdream.Itisalsohardtotakecareofothers,or advocateforthem,whenyourownneedsaregoingunmet. So,takecareofyourself,anddontdenyyourphysical,emotionalandmaterial needs.Theactofdiscoveringandmeetingthoseneedsformsthefoundationofahappy andproductivelife.Scheduleregularappointmentswithyourdoctor,dentistand ophthalmologist.Eatnutritiousmeals,getplentyofexercise,andgetlotsofsleep.Make sureyourhomeandworkspacearemaintainedinawaythatsconducivetoyour happiness,peaceandproductivity. Dealwithyourissues.Ifyouvegotattentiondeficitdisorder(ADD),attention deficithyperactivitydisorder(ADHD),obsessivecompulsivedisorder(OCD), depression,addiction,orbipolardisorder(formerlycalledmanicdepression),be persistentinseekingoutthebestqualitymedicalortherapeutichelpyoucanfindfor theseconditions.Andthendowhattheprofessionaltellsyou!Nothing,inmyexperience, inhibitssuccessmore,orleadstomoreunhappiness,thanoneoftheseconditionsleft untreated.Askyourdoctorortherapistspecificallywhatstepsyoucantakesothatyour conditionhasaslimitedaspossibleanimpactonyourabilitytoachieveyourambitious dream. Selfcaredoesnthavetobeamajoreffortorexpense:itcanbeassimpleas takingtimeoutforamovie,amealwithfriends,orawalkinthepark.Itcanalsobe buyingacolorfulnewsweater,ortakingataxiinsteadofabusonceinawhile.Thekey istogenerallytreatyourselfwell,andalsotogiveyourselflittletreatsasoftenas possibleonceadayormoreisgreatwithoutexperiencingeventheslightesttwingeof guilt.Treatyourselfwellwheneveryouvehadasuccess,nomatterhowminor,and treatyourselfespeciallywellwheneveryouvehadafailureordisappointment.And treatyourselfwellwheneveryoufeellikeit,justfortheheckofit. Justtreatyourselfwell,OK?

Chapter29.

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ToolsforChange:ACreatedCommunity
Asyouhaveheardmesayearlier,akeyfactorseparatingsuccessfulfrom unsuccessfulpeopleisthattheformersurroundthemselveswithsupportive,encouraging people,whilethelatterareoftenmorelikelytotolerateskepticsandnaysayersintheir lives.Whomwechoosetoassociatewithisoneofourmostcruciallifedecisions,notjust becausenegativepeopledragusdown,butbecausewetendtoliveup,ordown,tothe expectationsofthosearoundus.Itsawonderfulthingwhenthosearoundushavehigh (butnottoohigh)expectationsforus,especiallyiftheyareactivelyinvolvedinhelping usreachourpotential.Conversely,itsalmostimpossibletomaintainapositiveviewof oneself,ortosucceedatanything,whensurroundedbypeoplewhoconstantlycriticizeus orputusdown. Gettingridofnaysayersisonlyhalfofthebattle,however.Youneedtoreplace themwithasupportivecommunity.Dontmakethemistakeofthinkingthatthis communitywillmagicallyaccruearoundyouifyoujustdoyourownthing.Youneedto createyourcommunity,andmanageit. ThemajorcategoriesofpeopleyouwantinyourCreatedCommunityinclude mentors,family,friends,colleaguesandhelpingprofessionals.Mentorsisavery importanttopicthatIdiscussseparatelyinthefollowingchapter,butIdiscusstheother categoriesbrieflybelow. Family Familyissuchadelicatetopic,sincemanyofushavefamilieswhoarehostileto ourvaluesandlifechoices.Ihearmoreanguishfromstudentsonthesubjectoffamilies thananythingelse. Weareallfamiliarwiththetraditionalnucleartypefamilyconsistingofaspouse orpartner,andperhapsalsosomekidsorcompanionanimals.Ifthisisthekindoffamily youaspireto,pleasemakesurethatyourspouseorpartneris100percentsupportiveof yourmission.Anunsupportivespouseisoneofthemostpainful,andhardesttosolve, situationalobstacles. Manyambitiousdreamerscreateadifferentkindoffamilyinplaceof,orin additionto,thenuclearone.Thatoftenconsistsofagroupofveryspecialfriendswhose majorvaluestheyshare,andwhomtheyknowwillsupportthemingoodtimesandbad, andwhomthey,inturn,committosupporting.Thiscanbeaninformal,orformalized, familyrelationship. Especiallyifyouaredistancedfromyourbirthfamily,itisveryimportantforyou

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tocreatesomekindoffamilyforyourself.Althoughrareindividualsareabletothrive withoutone,mostofuscannot,andwesufferiftry. Friends Peoplearesocialtovaryingdegrees,andsoyoumayseekoutonlyafewvery closefriendsorawidercircle.EitherisOK,providedyourrelationshipsarehealthyand dontinterferewithyourpersonalgrowthandsuccess.Justthreereminders: 1.Apartyanimallifestyleisgenerallyincompatiblewithsuccessatan ambitiousendeavor; 2.Soisadoormat/gotopersonlifestyleinwhichyoucannotorwillnotsay Notorequeststhatconflictwithyourmission,orinterferewithyourabilitytoattainit. And, 3.Someonewhounderminesorharshlycriticizesyouisnotafriend,regardlessof whattheysaytheirmotivesare.Friendshavearesponsibilitynotjusttoobjectivelystate thetruthincluding,perhaps,unpleasanttruthsbuttodosoinacompassionate, supportiveway.Theyalsohavearesponsibilitytopraiseyouandacknowledgeyour achievements. Wonderfulfriendshipsnotonlybringlightandcolortoourlives,theysustainus throughtheinevitabledarkmoments.Dontsettleforless! Colleagues Itsasadfactthatsomeofthepeoplewhotreatambitiousdreamersworstare colleagueswho,intheoryatleast,shouldsharetheirworldviewandgoals.Thisproblem seemsparticularlyprevalentinthearts,activistandacademicrealms. Theruleissimple:dontletanyoneabuseyou.Thisincludesotherdreamers,and Idontcarehowillustrioustheirachievementsorcredentialsare,orhowaweinspiring theirintellectualframework.Recognizethatitispossible,andalltoocommon,for someonetobehighlyeffectiveandevolvedinsomeareasoflife,andhighineffectiveand unevolvedinothers. Manyactivist,artsandacademicorganizationsarebadlyrun,andalsotreattheir employeesandvolunteersbadly.Ifyouhaveapositioninsuchanorganization,leaveit. Dontworry:anotheropportunitytoworkinthefieldwillalmostinevitablypresentitself andifitdoesnt,itsstilltherightchoicetoleaveanabusivesituation. Ifacolleaguecriticizesyouharshlyforbeinginsufficientlycommittedor dedicated,orforanyotherreason,ignoreher.Dontwastetimetryingtohelpher

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comprehendtherootsofherintoleranceandhostility:itsajobforatherapist,anyway. And,needlesstosay,dontabuseorattackothers.PhilosopherPhiloof Alexandriasadviceisparticularlyapt,here:Bekind,foreveryoneyoumeetisfighting agreatbattle.Recognizethatyourangerandintoleranceprobablystemfromchildhood, andthatyoumaybeusingyourprofessionalzealasarationalizationtosupportthis engraineddefensivebehavior.Assomeonewhohasspentyearsdealingwithherown angerissues,Iurgeyoutodealwithyours,notjustforyourownsake,butthatofthose aroundyou. HelpingProfessionals Byhelpingprofessionals,Imean,firstofall,adoctor,therapist(orcoach), dentistandophthalmologist.Then,perhaps,anutritionist,massagetherapist, acupuncturist,spiritualadvisororanyoneelseyoufeelyoushouldconsultaboutyour physicalandmentalhealth. Ialsomeangoodpersonalfinanceandinsurancehelp.Youmaynotliketofocus ontheseissues,buttheyexistwhetheryoufocusonthemornot,andignoringthem invariablyleadstotrouble.Youmayhavetohiresomeonewiththeseformsofexpertise, ormaybeyoucanconsultwithaknowledgeablefamilymember,coworkerorfriendfor free.Justmakesureyouregettingqualityadviceandgettingitaspartofyourlife planning,notonlyafteryoufindyourselfinajam.

Chapter30. FindingandCultivatingMentors
Mentorsarepeoplewhohavealreadyachievedsomeofthethingsyouwantto achieve.Theyarewhereyouhopetobenextyear,fiveyearsfromnow,ortwentyyears fromnow.Andtheyareavailable,andwilling,totellyouhowtogetthere,andtohelp youalongtheway. Mentorstypicallyofferoneormoreofthefollowingbenefits: *Information.Becausetheyvedonewhatyouaretryingtodo,theyhavealotof knowledgeabouthowtodoit. *Wisdom.Theydontjusthavetheinformation;theyknowhowtoapplyit.They haveagoodgraspofthebigpicture,ofstrategy,andofwhatcangorightandwrongas youpursueyourambitiousdream.

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*Opportunities.Mentorsoftenknowaboutjobs,grantsandotheropportunities thatcanhelpyou. *Contacts.Thisisaveryimportant,andunderrated,contributionofmentors. Theyoftenknowlotsofpeople,andtheyoftenknowimportant,influentialpeople.Your mentorscontactscanbeofenormoushelptoyouasyoubuildyourcareer. Mentorsareprobablythemostpowerfulsuccesscatalystaround,meaningthat theycanhelpyoureachyourgoalsfasterthananythingelse.Therightmentorcan literallytakeyearsorevendecadesoffthetimeittakesyoutosucceed,and,without mentors,youarealmostcertainlydoomedtotimewastingandfrustration. Findingandcultivatingmentorsshouldbeaprimarygoalofallambitious dreamers.Yourenevertoosuccessfuloraccomplishedtoneedmentors. Hereshowtofindandworkwiththem. WhoAreMentors? Somepeoplemaybementorsforyouinonearea(e.g.,art,oryouracademic field),whileothersmaybementorsinanother(e.g.,careerstrategy).Somemightbe expertsinanimportantalliedfield,suchashightechorpublicrelations.Youshouldhave asmanymentorsaspossibleinasmanydifferentspecialtiesorfieldsthatarerelevantto yourcareeraspossible.Youshouldalsohavementorsforyourpersonallife:fordating, marriage,parenting,homeownership,finances,healthandfitness,etc. Allofyourmentorsshouldnotjusthavespecificinformationandotherresources thatyouneed,butalsobethekindofpeoplewholiketohelp.Inotherwords,theyshould understand,andenjoy,theprocessofmentoring. Anyoneandeveryonewhomeetsthesecriteriacouldbeamentor.Althoughmany teachers,bossesandotherauthorityfiguresarenaturalchoices,youshouldcastaswidea netaspossible.SomeofmymostimportantmentorsarepeoplewhoareyoungerthanI am,butwhohaveknowledge,experienceandskillsIlack.Othersareformerstudentsor coachingclients.Iamgratefulformentoringfromwhateversourceitcomes. HowtoEstablishaMentorRelationship Belowareexamplesofthewrongandrightwaytoestablishamentor relationship: WrongWay:Ianisattendingareceptionatanactivistconferencewhenhespots thecelebratedactivistJaneSmithacrosstheroom.Hesalwaysreveredherandnow,he thinks,ishischancetomeether.So,hebarrelsacrosstheroomandintroduceshimselfto

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herandsayshesalwaysadmiredherandherwork.Shethankshim,butthenhecant thinkofanythingelsetosay.Theconversationlanguishes,andafterafewmomentsshe excusesherselftotalkwithsomeoneelse. Notveryencouraging,butitcouldhavebeenworse.HadIannaivelysaid, Wouldyoubemymentor?Janewouldhaveprobablybeensurprised,andthengiven himapoliterefusal.Youcantgoaroundaskingstrangerswhomyouvejustmetto mentoryou,justasyoucantgoaroundaskingthemtomarryyou.Bothrelationships implyaseriouslongtermcommitment,andshouldbeapproachedwithcare.Evenifthe potentialmentorissomeonewhoalreadyknowsandlikesyou,thewordmentorcan implymoreofaserious,longtermcommitmentthanshemaybereadyfor. Heresabetterwaytogetsomeoneonboardasamentor: RightWay:Anotheractivist,Pete,studiedtheattendeelistattheconference beforecoming.NotingthatJaneSmithwouldbethere,hedecidedtointroducehimselfto herduringthereception.Beforeshowingup,hereviewedhermostrecentwritingsand foundanarticleofhersthatheparticularlyliked.Hegaveitsomethoughtandcameup withsomefollowupquestionsorpointsaboutit. Duringhisresearch,hediscoveredthatanactivistheknowsquitewellisactually friendswithJane,andsohegotthatactivisttoagreetocometothereceptionwithhim andintroducehim. Whenitcametimetoactuallyattendthereception,Petedressedwithcare, skewingtowardsamoreprofessionallook. Atthereception,hisfriendmadetheintroduction,andPetetoldJanehowmuch helikedherwork,andthatonearticleinparticular.Hespokeinarelaxedvoiceand didntrambleonandon.(Hehadrehearsedaheadoftime.)Thenheaskedhisquestions. Janeappreciatedhisinterest,andfoundhisquestionsinsightful,andsowashappytotalk withhim. Theconversationcontinuedforafewminutes.ThenPetesaid:Thishasbeena greatconversation,butIknowyourebusy,andtherearelotsofpeopleherewhowantto talkwithyou.Idontwanttomonopolizeyourtime.ButImworkingonafairhousing campaignthatsverysimilartotheoneyouraninCincinnati,andwerehavingtrouble gettingtheattentionofthelocallegislators.WoulditbeokayifIcontactedyouafterthe conferencetogetsomeadviceonthis? Janegavehimherbusinesscardandinvitedhimtogetintouch. JaneisnotyetamentorforPete,butshehasagreedtogivehimatleastsome assistance,whichisthefirststeptowardestablishingamentorrelationship. Petedidmanythingsright,including: *Plannedahead(studiedtheconferenceagenda).

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*DidntapproachJanecold(i.e.,arrangedanintroduction). *Presentedhimselfinaprofessionalmanner. *WaspreparedhehadstudieduponJaneswork,andalsorehearsedwhathe wasgoingtosay.Peteknewthateveryfirstmeetingisanaudition. *ExpressedaveryspecificknowledgeofJaneandherwork.Manyfamousor importantpeopleareconstantlybeingapproachedbypeoplewhowanttheirhelp,but whoknowlittleaboutthemandwhattheydo.Itsadrag,anditturnsmanyofthemoff frommeetingorhelpingnewpeople.However,bydemonstratingthathereally,truly knowsandvaluesJaneandherwork,Petesethimselfapartfromthecrowd. *Wasconsciousofhersituationandrespectfulofhertime. *Madehisrequestonlyafterafriendlydialogwasestablished. *Madeanappropriaterequesti.e.,onethatwasbothwithinherfieldofexpertise andnottootimeconsuming. Oh,andbytheway,PetetookasimilarstrategicapproachwithseveralotherVIPs whowereattendingtheconference,and,asaresult,woundupwithseveralpotential mentors. WorkingwithYourMentors Youwanttostayinregulartouchwithyourmentors.Thatcouldmeanoncea month,onceeverysixmonths,onceeveryyearorevenlessoften,dependingonthe specificnatureofyourrelationship.Or,youcouldconsultyourmentorintensivelyduring aspecificprojectthatlastsaweekoramonth,andnotforawhileafterthat. Whatyoudontwanttodoisdropoutofsightandthen,whenacrisisemerges, contactyourmentorfranticallyforadvice.Ifyourmentorisnice,hewillhelpyouout, buthewilllikelyalsofeelsomewhatused. Youwantyourinteractionstobemeaningfulaboveall,youdontwantthe mentortofeelyouvewastedhistime.Thatmeansyouhaveadefinedgoalforeach interactionandshowupwellprepared. Sometimes,ifyouhaventspokenwithamentorinawhile,itsgoodtogetin touchjusttoupdatehimonyoursituationandprogress.Youcandothisthroughemail orinperson,butunlessthementoralsohappenstobeapersonalfriend,dontseekanin personmeetingunlessyouhavesomethingspecifictodiscuss. Andyouneedtobeappreciative.Thankyounotesarerequiredafterevery meaningfulexchangeorbitofassistanceyourmentorgivesyouandnotadashedoff thankyounote,butacarefullywrittenone.Notethatahandwrittennoteorcardisoften moremeaningfulandvaluedthananemail.

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And,finally,youshouldalwaysseektoreciprocate.Eventhoughyoumayfeel thatyouhavelittletoofferyourmentor,thatisprobablynotthecase.Soonerorlater, youllseeanewspaperarticle,orgetsomeinformationatameeting,ormakeacontact, thatyourmentorwillfinduseful.Besuretogetthatinformationtohim.Or,youmaybe abletoassistthementorinsomedifficultprojecthesinvolvedwith.Evenifyour contributionisjustdoingsomecopying,orpickingupthebagelsandcoffeefora meeting,hewillappreciateyourwillingnesstoreciprocate. MentoringOthers Mentoring(asopposedtobeingmentored)is,asIlldiscussinChapter32,a fantasticgrowthexperience,whichiswhyalotofevenverybusypeoplewelcomethe opportunitytomentorafewselectprotgs.Thisiswhyyoushouldalsomentor. Yes,youshouldmentor!Howeverunaccomplishedyoumayfeel,youprobably havelotsofwisdomtoimpart,andtherearedefinitelypeopleouttherewhocoulduseit. So,ifsomeonecomesuptoyouseekingadviceorguidanceanditwillhappensooneror later,especiallyifyoufollowtheadviceinthisebookandyoufeelcomfortablewith themandtheirrequest,byallmeansmentorthem. Ifyoudontwanttowaituntilsomeoneapproachesyou,youcanalwaysjoina mentorprogramatanonprofitorganizationorcharity.Manyyouthprogramsandschools havementorprograms,forexample.Or,youcouldstartamentorprogramwithinyour workplaceoranotherorganizationyoubelongto.Thereisprobablynoorganizationthat wouldntbenefitfromhavingamentorprograminplace.

Chapter31. TheUltimateSolution(SolutionIII)toManagingYourFears:Develop anEmpoweredPersonality


Whenyoustartmakingprogressonyourprocrastinationproblem,your personalitywillchange.Thissoundsscary,butitisactuallyagoodthing,becauseitwill bechanginginthedirectionofgreatercalm,confidence,happinessandeffectiveness.In fact,youllbedevelopingwhatIcallanempoweredpersonality. Anempoweredpersonissomeonewhohasmadegreatstridesinconqueringher obstaclesand,asaresult,ismakinggoodprogressonherambitiousdreamandinother areasofherlife.Thereareempoweredpeopleineveryfield,andyoushouldseekthem

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outandenlistthemasrolemodelsandmentors. Below,Idescribetheempoweredmindsetandcompareitwithitsopposite,the unempoweredmindset. EmpoweredPeopleversusUnempoweredPeople Empoweredpeopletendtobe... Positive Actionoriented Planningoriented Solutionoriented Optimistic Theytendto... Feelempoweredandincontrol Takeresponsibility Nottakedifficultsituationspersonally Helpothers Unempoweredpeople,incontrast,tendtobe... Negative Passive(notactionoriented) Planningaverse Blameoriented(notsolutionoriented) Pessimistic Theytendto... Feelpowerlessandoutofcontrol Evaderesponsibility Takedifficultiespersonally Nothelpothers Empoweredpeopletendtobeselfactualizedand,likeallselfactualizedpeople, tendtohaveanexpansiveworldview.Theyareathomeintheuniverseandintheirown skins,andtheirpower,passion,wisdomandtendernessmakesthemhighlyattractiveto others. Someempoweredpeoplemayevenstrikeyouastoohappyandhighenergy,if

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youyourselfarelowenergyorhaventmetthatmanyempoweredpeople.(Asuresign, bytheway,thatyourehangingaroundwiththewrongcrowd....)Buthanginthereand getusedtotheenergeticnewvibe. Youshouldnthesitatetoapproachempoweredpeoplebecausemostofthem understandtheimportanceofnetworkingandmentoring.Ofcourse,youalwayswantto timeyourintroductioncarefullyandbewellpreparedfortheencounter.Remember: everyintroductionisanaudition,andempoweredpeople,becausetheyvaluetheirtime highly,tendtobeveryselectiveaboutthosewhomtheychoosetoworkwithormentor. Notethatwhilemanyempoweredpeoplearesuccessfulpeopleinthe conventionalsense,notallsuccessfulpeopleareempowered.Thereareplentyofpeople outtherewhorunlargeorganizations,commandgreatsalaries,orhavedeveloped awesomeintellectualframeworks,andyethavenotconqueredtheirinternaldemons. Theyremainsubjecttoafearbased,zerosummentalitythatcausesthemtoshutoutor, worse,exploitthosewhoareyoungerorlessexperienced,orwhomtheyperceivetobe lesspowerful.Peoplelikethatarenottrulyempoweredandshouldbeavoided.

Chapter32. WhatEmpoweredPeopleDo
Workingtoempoweryourselfisoneofthebestthingsyoucandoforyourself, othersinyourlife,andtheworldatlarge.Becomingempoweredislargelyamatterof formingcertainemotionalandbehavioralhabits.Belowisalisttogetyoustarted:as always,takeitslow,applaudthetiniestbitsofprogress,andneverbashyourselfforyour perceivedshortcomings. Empoweredpeoplebuildinfrastructurestosupporttheirsuccess.Whenyou takeajobinacorporation,youautomaticallyacquire,onyourfirstdayofwork,andwith littleornoeffortonyourpart,mostorallofthefollowing:adesk,office,computer, computerassistance,electricity,lights,abathroom,phone,schedule,rulebook,records ofyourpredecessorswork,asalary,benefits,referencebooksandothermaterials, colleagues,aboss,abosssboss,ahumanresourcesdepartment,andabudgetfor additionalpurchases. Icallallofthemoney,thingsandpeoplethatmakeitpossibleforyoutodoyour jobyoursuccessinfrastructure.Asyoucansee,successinfrastructurestendtobebig, complexandexpensive.

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Pursuinganambitiousdreamisashard,orharder,thancorporatework,which meansthatyouprobablyneedanequivalent,orbetter,infrastructureforit.Ifyouwork independently,however,noonesgoingtoprovidethatinfrastructureforyou:youneed tocreateitforyourself.Thatisanongoingprocess,anditshouldbeoneofyourtop prioritiesatalltimes.Anunempoweredpersonwillsitaroundbemoaningallthe resourcesheneedsbutdoesnthave.Anempoweredperson,incontrast,willidentifya needandquicklystartworkingthephonestogetitmet.Indoingso,hecreateshis successinfrastructure. Empoweredpeopleeducatethemselves.Theyarelifelonglearners,and constantlyreading,attendingclasses,andconsultingexpertsandothers.Theyare naturallycuriousaboutawiderangeoftopics,andnotbiasedagainstsoftsubjectssuch asselfhelp. Empoweredpeoplewelcomechallenges.Manypeopleavoidchallengesandthe unknown,butempoweredpeoplewelcomethemasgrowthopportunities.Theyalso knowthatsuccessoftencomesfrompushingoneselfjustalittlebitbeyondones comfortzone.HereswhatChristopherReeve,inNothingIsImpossible:Reflections onaNewLife,hadtosayaboutcomfortzones: Thevastmajorityofpeoplelivewithinacomfortzonethatisrelativelysmall.The comfortzoneisdefinedbyfearandourperceptionofourlimitations.Weare occasionallywillingtotakesmallstepsoutsideit,butfewofusdaretoexpandit.Those whodaresometimesfailandretreat,butmanyexperiencethesatisfactionofmovinginto alargercomfortzoneandthejoyfulanticipationofmoresuccess.Apersonlivingwitha disabilitymayfindthecouragetoleavethecomfortzoneofhisownhouseforthefirst time.Anablebodiedindividualmightdecidetofaceclaustrophobiabytakingupscuba diving.Evenasourcountrytriestocopewithterrorism,mostofusknowintuitivelythat livinginfearisnotlivingatall. Fortunately,thelifeofanambitiousdreamerprovidesnoshortageof opportunitiestobechallenged.Evenworthwhilechallengescanbescary,however,which bringsusto... Empoweredpeopleanticipate,andlearntodealwith,fearandanxiety. RecallStevenPressfieldsstoryabouthowHenryFondathrewupbeforeevery performance.Forfortyyears,hethrewup;andthen,eachtime,hewentoutandgavehis

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performance. Unsuccessfulpeopleoftenassumethatsuccessfulpeoplefindsuccesseasy,orare unusuallygoodatcopingwithstress.Thatsoftennotthecase,however.Successful peoplemaygetjustasscaredoranxiousasanyoneelse,buttheyfigureoutwaystocope. Infact,theyaredeterminedtocope.Theyunderstandthatthefearandothernegative feelingsaretransientandrelativelyunimportantinthelargerschemeofthings. Empoweredpeopleseekoutnotjustmentors,butprotgs.Empowered peopleseekoutprotgspeopletomentornotjustbecausetheyknowthattheworld runsbetterwheneveryonegivesback,butalsobecausetheyknowthatmentoringisone ofthebestusesoftheirtime.Mentoringhelpsyouidentifyandreinforceyourstrengths, andalsoincreasesyourbaseofknowledge.Andbecausethegoalofmentorshipistohelp yourprotgevolveintoanempoweredperson,mentoringisalsooneofthebestwaysto expandwhatStephenCovey,authorofTheSevenHabitsofHighlyEffectivePeoplecalls yourcircleofinfluence. Empoweredpeoplereprogramtheirthoughtsforsuccess.Theymakea consciousefforttoreplacedysfunctionalthoughtpatternswithfunctionalones.For instance,theyreplace: Negativethinking Selfcriticism Judgmentalthinking Perfectionistthinking Hypersensitivity Panic with... with... with... with... with... with... Objective,orpositive,thinking Selfacceptanceorselfpraise Compassionateobservationandanalysis Reasonablegoalsettingandtoleranceoferror Resilience Calmandperspective

So,ifanempoweredpersonscrewsupandthencatcheshimselfthinking negatively,alongthelinesof,WhatajerkIam...heimmediatelystopsthatlineof thoughtandreplacesitwithanother,moreobjectiveandcompassionateone. Empoweredpeopledealquicklyanddecisivelywiththeirobstacles.Thats becausetheyknowthat,notonlyareobstaclesaseriousimpedimenttosuccess,butthey tendtogetworseovertime.Empoweredpeoplealsoknowthatsuccess,whichbringsits ownstresses,canworsenmanysituationalobstacles.Manypeople,forexample,findthat theirrelationshipsdeteriorateastheybecomemoreprofessionallysuccessful. Dontletthathappentoyoustartdealingwithyourobstaclesnow.

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Empoweredpeopleunderstandthatsuccessissometimesaperformance.We allhavemomentswhenweoperateatpeakperformanceandfeelontopoftheworld. Thecrucialquestionis:Whatdoyoudoinbetweenthosemoments? Mysuggestionisthat,eveninmomentsofnonmotivation,actasifyouare highlymotivated.Thisisbecauseofawonderfulthingthatbehavioralscientistshave discovered:thatnotonlydoouremotionsdictateouractions,butouractionsoftendictate ouremotions.Researchhasshown,forinstance,thatwedontjustsmilebecausewere happy,weactuallybecomehappierwhenwesmile.Thatsbecausethesmileinitiatesa sequenceofhormonalandothereventsthatrelaxesusandmakesusfeelgood. Professionalsalespeople,whomustbeoncloseto100percentofthetimeinorderto maketheirquotas,areveryfamiliarwiththisphenomenon:theyaretaughtthattheir posture,facialexpressionandotherphysicalattributesaffectnotonlytheirmoodbut theircustomers.Theyaretaughttosmileevenwhentalkingoverthetelephone,because althoughthecustomerontheotherendofthelinecantseethemdoit,thesalespersons voicesoundsmuchmoreforcefulanddynamicwhenshesmiles.Tryit. Manysalespeople,performers,athletesandotherpeakperformersdevelopa personalcollectionoftricks,rituals,andphysicalandmentalexercisestohelpthemselves getandstaypumpedfortheirworkday.Youshoulddothesamething. Andherestheicingonthecake,theamazingsecretthatempoweredpeoplein everyfieldeventuallylearn:thatwithenoughpracticemimickingpeakperformance,you willactuallystartexperiencingtherealthingmoreoften.ExpertssuchasMihaly Csikszentmihalyi,authorofFlow:ThePsychologyofOptimalExperience,saythatwhile wecantoperateatpeakallthetime,wecanprobablydosomuchmorefrequentlythan werealize.Simplybypracticingatperformingatpeak,youcantrainyourselftoenter intopeakmuchmoreeasilyandfrequently. Andthatwillbethemostamazingrewardofall,forallofyourhardwork. ##

ThankyouforreadingTheLittleGuideToBeatingProcrastination,Perfectionismand Blocks.Ihopeyoufoundituseful,andwishyouthebestasyoutravelalongthepathto yourdream.Iwelcomeyourquestions,aswellasanycommentsandsuggestionsabout thisebook,atlifelongactivist@yahoo.com.Andyoullfindmoreinformationaboutme, myworkshopsandcoachingservices,andTheLifelongActivistandmyotherbooksat http://www.hillaryrettig.com.HillaryRettig