Have you ever had that awkward conversation where you have to deliberately curate every word in fear of upsetting the other person?
That’s what 2022 feels like. Everything on the surface is going well so far, but you’re terrified of angering it. You’re looking around the corner with a sense of dread of what more challenges await you?
This attitude is not the way to start the new year because you live in fear and uncertainty.
You have the choice to make 2022 different, but the way to do this successfully is by replacing your old toolkit with a new one. The old tools include habits, beliefs, mindset, pretty much everything you have used to navigate the last two years.
As with the psychology of habit change, you cannot give up a habit without replacing it with something different.
The way forward is to recognise the old habits that are not serving you and replace them with something better. Here are some new tools to re-engineer yourself to make 2022 your best year yet:
Replace procrastination with the habit of starting.
The common misconception about procrastination is that it is a self-discipline issue, but it’s a stress management tool.
Covid has elevated your daily stress levels, blurred the lines between work and personal life and completely overwhelmed your cognitive and emotional load.
You have spent most days worrying about ageing parents, family and financial uncertainty. And on top of all this, you need to work on that presentation.
Rather than view it as a simple 15-minute presentation, you have placed the entire future of your career on this presentation. Naturally, the feelings of fear of judgment and not being perfect arise.
To avoid these feelings associated with the task, you ditch the entire task and revert to cat videos or invent another activity like filing your emails. Eventually, two hours pass, and you are no further on your presentation.
Then the self-loathing begins, which pushes you into more negative emotions like guilt and shame. In this state, there is no chance of producing your best work.
The reality is you cannot change the stress; there will always be stress in your life. You need to replace the habit of delaying the task with the habit of starting.
Sit down at your desk with the commitment that you will only work on it for 15 minutes. That’s it.
Then chunk the task down. Do not think about ‘the entire presentation’ because this creates overwhelm. Focus on slide one. What is the heading of the slide? What bullet point or one image captures the point you want to make?
You can use this strategy for self-care too. Perhaps you imagine you need an entire hour for your exercise and the fear of losing time on work prevents you from starting.
Chunk it down into smaller micro bursts throughout the day. Rather than view a painful run, go for a brisk ten-minute walk around the block.
The habit of delaying and not starting drains your mental battery. Once you begin and create progress, it energises you differently and becomes easier to complete.
What if it’s a bold goal?
Perhaps the goal in question is not as simple as a presentation. Maybe you want to write a book or tackle a new certification? The thought of the finished goal is preventing you from starting. It feels too massive.
Ask yourself, ‘how can I chunk this down on a smaller scale?’
Can you write one short article to post on LinkedIn? Can you write one blog for your website or company newsletter?
Begin to see yourself as a writer by creating the evidence with action — writer’s write.
If an entire article feels too daunting, how about writing one sentence? That’s it. Start the process. Then the next day, you can continue to the following sentence.
Maybe on the third day, you get inspired to write three sentences?
There is no such thing as runners block; they get on the road and go.
Most of the time, procrastination has little to do with ability or self-discipline. It can be a fear of judgement or overwhelm. You simply have no idea where to begin.
Recognise the fear associated with the task and begin anyway. Combat these feelings with action rather than the habit of avoidance.
The truth is that your inaction will reinforce the story. If you want to change your story, take that first step. Today is the day to begin.