I started writing a screenplay last week. It’s one of my biggest writing goals and I have put it off and put it off. Getting started was a vague goal at the beginning of last year but I didn’t write a word of it in 2023. It’s one of those things I have sporadic surges of enthusiasm and inspiration for and then something just stops me. Some kind of internal resistance.

Procrastination hits..

When that happens I either downgrade what I want to do and start writing a book instead (because I’ve done that before). Or I don’t do anything at all. And then I’m constantly living with a low hum of anxiety about missing out because I haven’t started it. Over time it kind of embeds itself as ‘the thing on my list I never get round to and am not sure I ever will.’

Sound familiar? I’d say this is a classic pattern of procrastination that many people will recognise. Whether it relates to your body, your work, travel or activities, the pattern can be similar every time.

You can’t be a coach AND a procrastinator

One of the rubbish (and also great) things about being a coach is that I can’t really let myself get away with this kind of thing. Because I know why it’s happening and I know how to stop it. 

So, at the start of this year I sat down and I really interrogated my fears. Because procrastination is usually the product of fear or shame (or both). If we don’t do this then we continue to be driven by those things in the background. Which creates a constant, vague sense of tension – and makes it even more unlikely that you’ll start whatever you’re trying to do. 

When I stopped and looked at what was holding me back, it was entirely predictable: I was afraid it wouldn’t be good enough. 

Procrastination and perfectionism

I am a recovering perfectionist so I know that, if I’m not careful, I don’t start things unless I feel like I can do them perfectly. Even though some of my favourite outcomes have been the result of imperfect, messy action. I heard my usual excuse, “I don’t have time” –  and I also knew that I’d binge watched Love and Death, The Traitors and Big Boys recently (all excellent btw). That’s many hours of TV watching. Without being self-critical about it, I knew I could make time to write for 30 mins a day.

It’s very rare that there actually is something so big in the way of your goal that you can’t take action that is a small step towards it. The blocking is usually being done by you – by your thoughts. Once you realise that – and know how to get unblocked there isn’t really anything that will stand in the way of making progress.

Small steps = big goals

If you’re someone who has that mindset of “It’s not worth it unless I’m going to do something big and bold and make big progress” then know this: most of the progress we make in life comes from small steps. The most defeatist mindsets are defined by an addiction to big action (and instant big results). The most successful people (however you define that) are usually the ones who just commit to one small step after another.

I may not be quite so excellent at seeing my own blocks sometimes but my track record in helping clients see (and get past) stuckness, self-sabotage and feeling blocked is A+. Whether that is finally taking steps to leave a job, friendship or relationship that is draining you, improving confidence that has been knocked, or building up energy and enthusiasm post-burnout. 

What’s stopping you from taking the steps you know need to happen next and why aren’t you asking for help?

I’m 10 pages into the screenplay now, and every time I think about it I’m getting little flutters of pride and excitement. It’s small steps in terms of progress but feels so much better than the anxiety that was there before.

If you’d like some help with your own procrastination challenges, book an intro call and let’s chat.

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