05 May What’s stopping you from starting?
I’ve been stalling on writing this post. I’ve recently relaunched my website and have committed to developing content for it. So, what stopped me from starting? And, how did I get past this?
Writing is something I’ve struggled with since school days. I’d procrastinate whenever there was an essay to write and find every excuse in the book for not handing in my homework. The work I eventually delivered scored well, yet I went through agonies to produce it.
Writing was such torture
After school, somehow or other, I ended up in a PR role. A promising career but one I gave up after three years because writing articles and press releases was such torture for me.
I switched into marketing, did a stint in advertising, spent some time as a consultant. Yet there was still no getting away from the need to write. Proposals, briefs, strategy papers, business plans and, of course, so much more communication via the written word, these days, in the form of email.
An issue of attitude, not aptitude
It’s not about competence. I can spell, used to get top scores in grammar, can string a sentence together, enjoy reading the written word – and am one of those who get agitated when apostrophes or commas are used inappropriately! People who know about these things say I write well. When I review past compositions, I can see that.
So, if I’m able to write, why do I find it so hard and end up procrastinating? As is so often the case, what’s gets in the way of success is an issue of attitude, not aptitude.
Unconscious blocks in the way
I now know that we procrastinate because of the unconscious blocks that we put in the way of beginning. When I investigated this particular case, I realised that I would only start writing this post once the following conditions had been met:
“It will be perfect.”
“I’ll be brilliant at this.”
“I know what I’m going to write about.”
“People will read it.”
“It won’t take forever to do.”
No wonder I was in avoidance! Until these are conditions were met or renegotiated, there was no way that I was going to start. So taking each one in turn, I looked at whether I could let go of these conditions:
“Even if it isn’t perfect, do I still want to create content for my website?”
“YES, because I want to see if I can do this!”
“Even if I’m not brilliant at this, will I still do it?”
“YES, because I’ll never be brilliant if I don’t practise.”
“Even if I don’t know what to write about, am I prepared to sit down and have a go?”
“YES, because the only way I’m going to know what to write about is by giving it a go”
“Even if people don’t read it, am I still willing?”
“YES, because how can I know whether or not they’ll read it, if I don’t put something out there?”
“Even if it takes forever, will I do this”
Er, NO, whoa, I’m not willing to let this condition go. I don’t want it to take forever. Time to renegotiate. Instead, I’ll give it an hour and see how far I get.”
And, as I went through this process, I began to get in touch with the reasons why I want to write and the motivation to get going started to bubble up:
“I want to write because I want to share what I’ve learned about transforming attitude and help others.”
“I want to get comfortable with writing so that I can develop my skill set.”
“I want to do this because I’m curious about what it will bring to my business.”
And, then, I was ready to begin. I sat down at my desk, set the timer for an hour and started to write.
What unconscious blocks are stopping you from starting?
What are you stalling on? Is there something you are avoiding beginning? Take a moment and ask yourself what unconscious conditions are stopping you from starting. “I’ll begin this thing as long as…”
Then, ask yourself whether you are willing to give it a go even if those conditions are not met. And, if not, how can you renegotiate?
I’d love to know how you get on with this and welcome any feedback on my writing efforts.
And, to all my past teachers, please forgive all the pathetic excuses for not doing my homework. The dog only ate it once, honest!
All the best,