If you fail you’ll be OK. I know it sounds trite but it’s something you need to believe if you’re going to move forward with your dreams and goals. If you’re an expert planner but procrastinate about the actual doing read on.
Planning, including learning, scheduling and making lists feels safe. When we’re planning something we’re totally in control and we feel like we’re making progress. Planning is important but without taking action that moves us beyond what we’re already used to the progress and growth stalls. The thing with planning is it feels safe; it’s always been my personal comfort zone, so much so that I’ve deliberately worked in jobs heavy on organising and planning for the last 10 years, and I enjoy the planning I do for my business.
When I was at the planning and organising stage of my business it was a comfortable, safe place to be but I’d stopped developing. After several weeks of frustration I realised that I’d reached a point where I was busy but not doing anything; I had ideas, I was organised, I’d built a website but I was still keeping it all to myself, keeping a low profile.
Why was I stalling instead of taking action? Because I believed that if I failed, even in a small way, I wouldn’t be able to handle it.
I was stuck in procrastination because I believed that I’d be crushed by any small failure if I stuck my neck out and something didn’t work perfectly. I believed I was too weak to deal with things going wrong. This made no sense as I’d bounced back from lots of difficulties, and when I asked myself where this belief that I was too weak came from it belonged to the past. I hadn’t quite let go of the belief that I was small, soft, vulnerable and needed to be protected. This self-image belonged to the shy child I once once, who felt overwhelmed by the boisterous noise and violent play of other children. It didn’t fit with what life had changed me into: a resilient person who had coped with difficulties, worked hard and grown through challenges.
I was still seeing myself as the shy girl in the corner of the playground, not the confident person I’d become. No wonder I doubted by ability to fail without being crushed by it.
What can you do if you feel this way too?
- Start by asking what is your fear of failure telling you about how you see yourself?
- What caused you to see yourself this way? What purpose did it serve?
- Based on what you’ve done and experienced in life what is a more realistic self-image now?
- Gather evidence for this new way of seeing yourself by listing challenges you’ve overcome, tough times you’ve survived, skills you’ve learned, insights you’ve gained and goals you’ve met.
- Now the scary bit! Do something that pushes you out of the procrastinating planning stage and into actually doing, that challenges you to start loosening your grip on your old self-image and builds evidence for your new one. Publicly commit to taking action, for example set a date for an event, tell friends or followers what you’re going to do. Notice any fear that comes up and work with it through whatever works best for you; you could talk to someone you trust, journal, practice self healing, work with a coach or counsellor and so on. I really recommend looking for a community of supportive people when you’re doing this as they will be a source of encouragement as you work through this.
Taking action beyond planning your goals will take you out of your comfort zone. Let’s not pretend: It will expose you to the possibility of failure and it will make you uncomfortable. You’ll have some restless nights when you wonder why you’re putting yourself through it and you may have some deep work to do to face the fear. But honestly, if you fail you’ll be OK. Not because it won’t matter to you or because it won’t hurt, but because you have lived a life that has made you strong, smart and resilient enough to deal with failure when it happens.
If you’re ready to work through this but could do with some guidance and a helping hand check out my page on one to one coaching. I specialise in coaching sensitive, intuitive people through self doubt towards confidence so that they can get over procrastination for good.