Am I the only one who makes to do lists that are really lists of things I am putting off doing?

  • Clean up my work calendar
  • Figure out summer school/recreation for kids
  • Write that paper
  • Schedule my annual checkup
  • Workout

And what do I often do when I see this list? Slack. Email. Browse on my phone or tidying things or anything relatively easy or routine. I also like distracting myself, like with that snack I really didn’t need just now. And when it gets really bad, I act out my frustration.

But I’ve figured out one thing that still does avoid what I don’t want to do for whatever reason, but gets me a lot closer to moving on them and on so many other things. It’s looks like me saying to myself, “Hey, friend! What’s goin’ on?” and then writing about it or taking a walk and talking it out with myself, so to speak.

The one key bit is … I can’t let my brain go on autopilot and keep indulging in how overwhelmed I feel or ruminate about it why I can’t get going or whatever it is. I mean, it may start that way, but then I work on taking my power back. I start challenging my thinking a bit. Do I have to do it? Because, really, I don’t have to do anything. Everything is a choice. Do I want to do it? Why do I want to do it? What really would happen if I didn’t do it? What would happen if someone else did it instead or it didn’t get done at all? What if I accepted that I’m an amazing human even if I don’t do anything? What would happen if I told myself, “Self, I love you, and you have done some pretty amazing things, and it’s totally normal to procrastinate, and I know you can figure out what to do next.” It may seem like letting myself off the hook a bit, but I don’t see any sustainable benefit to berating myself or staying in some constant crisis of pressure state or beating myself up about it, either.

And the more often I get my brain to do that shift towards compassion for myself and curiosity about what I can do next, and as I’m more present with myself, what I’ve seen happen … that todo list starts becoming my done list, using less willpower and coercion I normally need to muster up, and with less distracting and ruminating than I may have done otherwise. All that will still come up, and it’s totally normal, but here’s another tool in that toolbelt.

Next up, I’m really intrigued by this notion of taking massive action. I’ll report back soon.