Big Goal Procrastination

Big GoalsA while ago, I invested in a 6 month high-end mentoring program. During the course of the past few months, my comfort zone has been tested and stretched numerous times! Recently I set an enormous goal for myself.  It is easily the biggest goal I’ve ever attempted.

In my experience, every goal consists of a number of steps.

  • There’s the idea phase, where the idea flits through our mind like a butterfly.
  • Then the solidify & contemplation phase, where we consider it more and it could potentially turn into a goal – or be put on the back burner for a number of reasons.
  • Next follows the vital planning stage.
  • Then only action steps to execute the plan.
  • Lastly follows a much needed celebration when we’ve accomplished our goal. Many people neglect celebrating, not realizing how important this is for motivation and encouraging ourselves to tackle the next thing on the list.

In my years as a computer programmer, I learnt the enormous value of the planning stage. We were told that if our planning was sufficient, about 80% of the work was done. The program itself could be written very fast.

With this big goal I decided on recently, I was having difficulty in the planning stage! One Friday, I sat for hours with my papers and notes, not really making much progress. It started feeling frustrating, scary and like no fun at all. I noticed procrastination creep in by answering emails instead, and looking for all sorts of other tasks. I decided to leave it to brew overnight.

The next morning I woke up with a fresh view and ideas started rolling in.

A while ago I wrote an article on the three big fears that can stop us. BAM, it hit me on the forehead – I have TWO of them slowing me down with this goal! Let me share first that I’m planning to put together a free Teleseminar Series to run over 12 weeks. I am interviewing a number of experts on Self Care and my event is called Savvy Self Care Secrets.

I’m so excited about the fact that I’m even contemplating this kind of huge step up, out and into the spotlight. And at the same time, it scares the living daylights out of me.

After re-reading my own medicine about the 3 fears that stop us, I distinctly noticed “Process Fear” and “Outcome Fear”. I’m scared the process itself may be painful and full of challenges. People can be unpredictable, technology can let us down, our South African power supply is not reliable, I need to reach out to people I may not know.

Process Fear

Most of my “process fear”, I noticed, revolved around “It’s not going to be perfect”. Immediately as I recognized this basic underlying fear (and may I add it’s an old friend of mine!), I thought back to a recent webinar I listened to.

The advice from the webinar leader to a listener, who was struggling with perfection-fears, was this:

“I can already tell you it’s not going to be perfect. It doesn’t HAVE to be perfect to serve the people who need what you have to offer.“ She also reminded the listener that “When we come from service, everything changes”

Instant relief flooded in for me. Phew! If I put a different frame around the experience, it feels completely different.   Instead of asking the question “How can I make it perfect?”, I prefer to ask “How can I serve more people and enjoy the process?” The questions we ask are so important for great results.

Outcome Fear

Next, I thought about my “outcome fear”. What if I do all this work (it’s going to take months of preparation and many hours of execution) and it doesn’t have the desired effect? My goals with this exercise is to mainly to build my email list to 3,000 subscribers, and also to engage with experts, build relationships and offer a valuable service.

I suddenly realised what a crying shame it would be to let this fear stop me. I would never know until I try! It’s ridiculous to not even try because there’s a vague possibility I won’t reach my goal.  The relief flooded in when I decided to change my frame again. I’m going to focus on who I will become in the process, on serving others, enjoying the journey, and learning awesome skills in the process.

I often talk and write about the importance of our values. When we tie our deepest core values to the actions we need to take for a goal, it provides the fuel we need! Some of my core values are:

  • Structure
  • Fun, joy, laughter
  • Connecting with people on a deep level
  • Building relationships
  • Delivering value and serving
  • Learning, gaining knowledge
  • Personal growth

If I kept these values in mind as I went through the steps to achieve my goal, it would feel a whole lot more enjoyable and doable. Thinking about it this way, I noticed I am now looking forward to the process.

Goal Lessons

I’ve learnt a very important lesson about goals.

The joy of a goal is not mainly in reaching it. That moment is fleeting and temporary and we always pick another goal almost immediately. Striving for goals and achievement can give our lives meaning and fulfillment.

Rather, the joy of a goal is in taking the steps to get there, in the anticipation and growing into someone who is worthy of that goal. If we don’t enjoy the process, a whole chunk of our lives is sacrificed for the small moment of achievement. That doesn’t seem worth it to me. If I’m not going to enjoy the PROCESS, why do it? Now that I was clear on the fact that I could enjoy the process as well as the outcome, I felt much more motivated to plan and take action!

Small Steps

Contemplating with my new mindset of “yes I can do this”, the next thought that crossed my mind was how “Undoable” I was making this for myself because of my word choice. Did you notice in my first paragraph I said “I set an ENORMOUS goal”. Doesn’t that just give you the “run away now” feeling, too?

Enormous feels like a mountain. Unclimbable, gigantic, terrifying, difficult and like it’s going to take far too long.

“How could I change this?”, I wondered. What if I could make it smaller? What if it wasn’t really an enormous goal, what would my thoughts look like then?

Again – the power of the right questions are wonderful. Immediately, as I asked myself that question, thoughts flooded in about how to make it easier. If I broke down my goal into smaller steps I’d need to take, they would entail:

  • Interviewing people (I’ve done that before)
  • Send out emails (I’ve done plenty of that!)
  • Connecting with new people (I learnt a lot about that through a virtual book tour I did in 2014!)
  • Organize and track a lot of details (I had a lot of experience in that while running EFT workshops)
  • Design a logo and event graphic (not my strong point, I’ve already commissioned it!)
  • Program a newsletter follow-up series (No problem, I’m good with that)
  • Passion for my topic (I have that in large doses)
  • Plan all the broad steps upfront (Again, yay for the Virtual Book Tour – I have experience!)

Looking at it this way, I realized there’s nothing I need to be scared of. I’ve done each of these tasks before. It LOOKED big, when I looked at the end result. How do you climb a mountain, though? You don’t leap to the top in one go. You put one foot in front of the other and focus on just that one step, otherwise your foot could slip.

Now it certainly felt different, doable and even exciting. I’ve done it all before, I know what I’m going to focus on while I take the steps (my core values) and by the end I would have grown into the person who can say “I put together a Teleseminar Series”!

I invite you to Make your Own Goal Easy!

Is there a big goal you’ve wanted to accomplish and you just couldn’t even take the first step? Here’s what to do. Spend an hour or two on this process and get excited about achieving your goal!

  1. Read the article.
  2. Check in with yourself. Do you have process fear, outcome fear or loss fear? Deal with each of them with a process like EFT or another process to minimize the fears that stop you. It’s worth every minute you spend on it!
  3. Break your goal down into progressively smaller pieces. Write each down on a separate line. Look at each of those and write down next to it whether you’ve done that piece before, or even something similar.
  4. Do a process to determine your values  and then tie the action steps you’ve discovered above to your values.
  5. Now all you need to do is a process like the “Reversal Planning” (link coming soon!) to plan the steps in order and you’re on your way to reach your big DOABLE goal!

Setting a goal can be so exciting. We often need support, accountability and guidance along the way from someone who’s already been through the process.

If it interests you to do this process in a group while being supported by me, fill out an application form here and I’ll fill you in with the details!

© Liesel Teversham 2014

Liesel Teversham
Liesel Teversham

Liesel helps sensitive introverts to see their sensitivity as a superpower, love their work and practice awesome self-care so they can be energized and make a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She helps them to overcome the fear of being visible, avoiding the spotlight and conflict, being ‘too nice’, perfectionism and procrastination.

She’s the author of “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, which is a handbook for those who struggle to say no, are overwhelmed and exhausted.

Click here to read about the book.

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