Jump off the Ferris wheel and take action

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By Kelly Beischel

I’m an information collecting junkie.

There.

I’ve said it.

I’m addicted to collecting information.

Just take a look at my email inbox or my bookshelves and you’ll know it’s true.

There is nothing inherently wrong with collecting information UNLESS it thwarts us from taking action. Unless it’s a manifestation of procrastination.

I’ve seen my clients and my students plagued by this type of procrastination paralysis.

And well …. I’ve been there too.

This type of procrastination manifests something like this. See if you’ve ever experienced any of these dreaded symptoms:

You’ve collected mounds of research, fervently reading and taking notes.

You look very productive.

And this is great because being productive provides a sanction to stall:

       ~ writing a manuscript,

       ~ planning an educational event,

      ~ revising an outdated policy and procedure manual,

      ~ submitting an abstract to present at a conference.

You get the picture, right?

You solicit input from colleagues about an idea you have for your classroom, your research, your service project. Yet rather than implementing the idea, you continue to gather input.

You study for a certification exam beyond the return on investment.

Is it just me or does any of this sound familiar?

 

Anyone can do any amount of work,

provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.

~Robert Benchley

 

The research about procrastination is fascinating.

Fuschia Sirois of Bishop’s University in Canada weighs in stating, “The future self becomes the beast of burden for procrastination. We’re trying to regulate our current mood and thinking our future self will be in a better state. They’ll be better able to handle feelings of insecurity or frustration with the task. That somehow we’ll develop these miraculous coping skills to deal with these emotions that we just can’t deal with right now.” 

The insecure feeling that accompanies our goals is alive and well in many of us, leading us to procrastinate. Our fear of failure can often overshadow our desired goal.  

For instance, have thoughts like these ever stopped you from taking action?

         What if people don’t like what I say?

         What if my manuscript is rejected?

         I probably won’t be accepted to present.

         What will people think of me if I fail the exam?

         I don’t have anything worth presenting.

Yet, failing to take that first step toward your goal out of fear creates a relentless cycle of fear and procrastination. It can feel like a Ferris wheel that won’t stop.

Our only recourse when trapped in a cycle of fear and procrastination is to jump off the Ferris wheel and take action. To take the first step toward our goal.

I know this only to well. In fact, I recently fell prey to the fear-procrastination cycle.

You see, I have 101 ideas about how to move my business forward to serve your needs and the needs of your students.

I’m excited about my numerous ideas about how to reduce your stress, energize your creative process, support you to be the educator you were meant to be, and inspire you to live your best life.

Yet, I recently found myself mired in information gathering heaven – avoiding taking the steps necessary to move my ideas forward.

What did I do?

I revisited my word of the year, fearless. My touchstone for 2015.  And just revisiting my word brought clarity to what was causing me to spiral into information-collecting-procrastination.

Using this touchstone catapulted me back to taking action.

It’s not that I’m without fear, I simply choose to take action alongside my fear.

I like to think of fear as a trusty sidekick like Tonto to the Lone Ranger.

He’ll always be there.

So why pretend he doesn’t exist?

He’s simply doing his job-keeping us safe. But don’t let him sideline you from daring to step out, from daring to do great work

Instead, when fear leads to procrastinating paralysis. Recognize fear for who he is (your ego in protection mode). Thank him. Plan an actionable step toward your goal. And take it.

You’ll be so happy you did.

In which situations do you find yourself collecting rather than doing?

Where does fear stop you from being your best self?

 

Post a comment below on my for a chance to win Therese Huston’s book, Teaching What You Don’t Know.

 

 

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