Procrastinating on your goals?

How are you doing with your New Year's Resolutions - those goals you thought would be a great idea on 1 January but maybe you soon forgot about them? Maybe you know that you want to achieve them, but you just can't seem to get the motivation to get on with them. Maybe you have taken it a step forward and looked for books, articles or courses to help you find your motivation - that was what I did.

I learnt that if I wasn't motivated to achieve my goals maybe I was lazy, maybe the goals weren't scary enough or juicy enough or the goals weren't the right goals. That didn't really help, I felt pretty down.  What was wrong with me? Why can others achieve goals and I can't?

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Fast forward a few years of still struggling with procrastination, writing a new list of resolutions each January that would still be unachieved in December, I was reading about Neuroscience and Brain states... Fight. Flight. Freeze. A bit more research and I had the answer to my procrastination.  Our brain's main role is to keep us safe.  The goals I was setting put my brain into a freeze state.  I wasn't lazy. The goals were big, juicy and scary enough.

The next task was to look at why my brain was in a freeze state. As usual, it relates back to childhood. Something that happened at school taught me it wasn't safe to stand out - doing so attracted the attention of the school bullies. So I learnt to blend in to be safe. To make sure I got some sums wrong, or some spellings wrong so I could stay safe. My brain has remembered that standing out is associated with fear and danger. If there is a goal on my list that could make me stand out, I find other things to do. Suddenly cleaning becomes a great idea or I have an urgent need to bake a cake. My brain knows that cleaning is good and cakes make me happy! 

If you procrastinate, it probably affects all areas of your life. Tasks at work that you know are urgent may get left till the last minute. You may routinely apologise for things being late or routinely ask for extensions to deadlines. All of this creates more stress for you. So not only are you stressed because you don't know why you can't just get on with things, but not doing them creates more stress, which reinforces the perceived danger of doing the task.

For people who don't procrastinate, it's difficult to understand - hence the lazy label being put on us. I believe labels are for tins of food - people are beautiful complex creative beings.

By using my Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping) training I was able to calm my brain when the freeze state started. By coaching myself, to work out what was behind the freeze, I could get to the root of the problem and then start some tapping to help calm my nervous system and gently rewire the neural connections. My brain gradually realised that situations associated with fear or high stress are actually safe. 

I now use this technique with clients to help them achieve their goals. We look at when procrastination happens and go through the same steps I went through myself using my unique holistic coaching process - blending coaching with emotional freedom technique and energy work. 

The big lesson though is that working out the reason for the freeze state is critical. You must work this out to be able to soothe the brain. There is probably more than one reason, I've remembered a few different things that have led my brain to think it's not safe to stand out or it's not safe to be successful. All of these can be gently worked on.

I'm no longer the queen of procrastination and it's a title I'm pleased to let go of. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Belper, Derbyshire, DE56
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Written by Julie Brewster, APC, ACC, Chartered MCIPD
Belper, Derbyshire, DE56

Julie Brewster is an International Coach and Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner. She has worked in the 'People' business for 26 years, starting in HR then moving to Coaching.

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