“Someday is not a day of the week”

Have you ever . . . ?

Have you ever started out to work on something you’re not looking forward to, like your taxes and found yourself flipping through and organizing a stack of papers that you’ve been meaning to get to for ages?

Do you never, sometimes or often put off…

  • Responding to an email or phone message
  • Creating that presentation for a very important meeting in three weeks
  • Sorting that pile of stuff that has accumulated in the corner
  • Setting up an appointment
  • Getting started on an important task or project
  • Updating your resume
  • Getting to the task at hand by getting lost in social media
  • Starting that diet or going to the gym
  • Paying bills on time or in advance
  • Doing something because you think there is still plenty of time…until there isn’t

You’re not alone!

If you recognize yourself in any of these statements, you’re not alone. According to a Psychology Today article, In a 1991 published study (Ferrari, 1991a) “20 percent of adult women and men self-identify as “chronic procrastinators,” meaning they purposely delay tasks at home, school, work, in relationships, appointments. This style is their lifestyle”

The worst part is how we feel when we’re procrastinating. We’re often very aware that we’re procrastinating and as a result may begin to feel anxious or fearful. Sounds crazy right? We know we’re procrastinating, we then feel yucky about it and yet, we continue to procrastinate!

Worst of all, if you consider the ramifications of procrastinating, they are seldom positive.

My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.
-Charles Dickens

The Cost

Let’s review the examples above and look at only one potential cost of each by NOT :

  • Responding to an email or phone message
    • Potential Cost – damaging a relationship
  • Creating that presentation for a very important meeting in three weeks
    • Potential Cost – not being as prepared or polished as you could have been which could result in a lost career opportunity
  • Sorting that pile of stuff that has accumulated in the corner
    • Potential Cost – something more important is likely not being done
  • Setting up an appointment
    • Potential Cost – longer wait time or lost opportunity
  • Getting started on an important task or project
    • Potential Cost – stress of then completing it in a short time frame
  • Updating your resume
    • Potential Cost – lost career opportunities
  • Getting to the task at hand by getting lost in social media
    • Potential Cost – time you’ve lost and will never get back
  • Starting that diet or going to the gym
    • Potential Cost – continuing feeling of guilt or regret
  • Paying bills on time or in advance
    • Potential Cost – this one is very obvious!
  • Doing something because you think there is still plenty of time…until there isn’t
    • Potential Cost – again, not doing your best work, not showing up as a professional, losing an opportunity, etc. etc. etc.

A Viscious Cycle

As you can see, the costs are intangible and tangible but they take a toll, either on your finances, relationships, reputation or stress level. So why do we let this vicious cycle repeat itself?

Our brains evolved to zero in on “clear and present danger” via the well-known fight-or-flight response to a threat. But in the absence of an immediate physical threat to our lives, our brains are easily distracted. That’s why when you sit down to do your taxes, your attention wanders with every passing noise, thought, or physical sensation.

Someday is not a day of the week.

-Janet Dailey

Do You Think that You’re a Procrastinator?

Do you think you’re a procrastinator? The Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California has a pdf version of a self-assessment based on 20 questions each on a 3-point scale: not me, somewhat like me, or like me. You can go to it by clicking here.

What costs of procrastination have  you observed in yourself or others?

Have you overcome procrastination? If so, how?




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Feel the Resistance?

Feel the Resistance?

Have you ever set out with every good intention to accomplish a goal and then let it slide? It’s ok to admit it – you’re not alone. According to Dave Clark of TTI Success Insights (our valued strategic partner), ”resistance is the biggest enemy that stands between you and your life’s biggest goals.” That’s a pretty bold statement. 

One of the definitions of resistance from the Cambridge Dictionary is “a force that acts to stop the progress of something or make it slower.”  How does that land with you? Have you ever felt that force? Where is that force coming from? Are there little gremlins out there solely dedicated to planting resistance thoughts in our minds?

How resistance shows up

Resistance can manifest itself in many ways, here are a few from iifsd.org:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Fear of beating ourselves up for failure and mistakes
  • Fear of making choices because we fear making the wrong choice
  • Fear of taking responsibility for our choices
  • Fear of facing the consequences of our choices
  • Fear of beating ourselves up because we have made the wrong choice
  • Fear of wasting our time if we discover that we have been pursuing the wrong goal
  • Fear of making ourselves unhappy if we discover that we have been pursuing the wrong goal
  • Fear of discovering that we don’t want what we thought we wanted
  • Not knowing what we want
  • Not knowing how to get what we want and refusing to admit that we don’t know

What I didn’t see in this list is fear of success – which is a thing.

What’s this about Gremlins?

No, not the movie. Rick Carson, author of “Taming Your Gremlin” brought the concept of a gremlin whose only job is to prevent you from succeeding or being happy.  The description on amazon.ca of the original book is as follows: “There is a gremlin within you. He is the narrator in your head.He tells you who you are, and he defines and interprets your every experience. He wants you to feel bad, and he pursues this loathsome task by means of sophisticated maneuvers: just when you feel you’ve out-argued or overcome him, he changes his disguise and his strategy. He’s the sticky sort – grapple with him and you become more enmeshed. What he hates is simply being noticed.”

One of my key learnings just over 20 years ago when I was training to be a personal coach, was this concept of the resistance and the gremlin theory. I’ve coached numerous clients on their gremlins and each was a unique experience. I would have my clients describe what the gremlin looked like. Did it have a shape? What colour is it? Where in your body do you feel the gremlin?

Your gremlin has a job

Before proceeding with this series of gremlin questions, I would preface it with a brief description of the gremlin theory and would ask my clients if they were open to a few questions that may at first seem unusual. As I had established trust and rapport with my clients, the ones that I invited to explore their gremlins agreed to go with the flow. One client in particular, oh and remember that this was in the early days of coaching and most of it was over the phone. So back to this one client. He knew there was some resistance but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Following our session that day, he said it was a very different experience for him but powerful.

Let’s examine the snowperson in the image for this article. What do you see? No doubt, you see the gremlin in the lower left side of the image. The gremlin’s job is to make sure that the snowperson believes that they will melt in the hot sun on that lovely sandy beach. But look closer, the snowperson is really a sandperson! So where’s the resistance?

The very important thing to know about resistance and gremlins is that the gremlin can’t be coached. Only you can be coached to recognize the gremlin and continue on despite the gremlin. I’ve had clients through the gremlin out their front door, out a window and some have locked their gremlin in a closet. No matter what, the gremlin will return. After all, the gremlin has only one job and that is to make sure you don’t accomplish your goals or that you don’t succeed. Our gremlins can be a very powerful negative force and are a part of our resistance.

As Clark states, “Your true inner voice is the voice that spawned your great idea in the first place.” So even though you might think the gremlin is your inner voice, perhaps you need to know and believe that your real inner voice has merit.

Next time you feel some resistance, that something is keeping you from accomplishing greater things, stop and acknowledge your gremlin’s presence. Ask yourself the questions that I listed earlier and then decide how you will dispose of your gremlin…for now…because you can be guaranteed that the gremlin will be back. At that point…repeat the process and don’t give in to the resistance.

This month’s worksheet for my e-zine Brain Food Friday readers serves as a handy tool to begin to explore your resistance and your gremlin. If you want to receive access to my these worksheets, sign up to receive my monthly blog in your inbox by clicking on the round green “click here” button. You’ll start receiving Brain Food Friday in your inbox usually on the first Friday of each month (except for holidays and long weekends) along with a link to that week’s worksheet.




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