I was reading a blog recently about a 3-minute fix for procrastination. I am a terrible procrastinator and I thought it might help me.
Within minutes however, I was analysing the blog itself. Was it really just a lot of American psychobabble, or was I really that avoidant? Consequently I started to trawl online for several other sites, looking for a more authoritative voice about why I might over think things before I start. Wow, that really lead to further procrastination. Was I too scared to start things because I might fail, or was I afraid of the responsibilities I may have if I succeed?
Within an hour, I had a million reasons in front of me as to why I might find it hard to get started and the 3-minute fix to procrastination had expanded to a 90-minute psychological assessment of my life. My original task nowhere in sight!
I suppose the reason I share this with you is because clients often come to our Centre stuck in a cycle of procrastination too, “ Will it be the right job?”, “Should I have taken that course?”, “ What if I am under qualified?”, “What if I fail?”, “What if it leads nowhere?” and around again until it can become crippling. In truth none of us can really predict the future, and there are no guarantees in life, however the benefit of taking some time out to reflect, or chatting to a career counsellor may help you to get off the treadmill of overthinking.
Recently in one of my mindfulness classes we were introduced to the concept of the 3-minute breathing space, to calm and refocus our minds. Many assume mindful meditation is a state of hypnotic navel gazing that transports you to enlightenment or nirvana via your deity of choice. This is not the case. The 3-minute breathing space does not take you to nirvana, comes with no candles or music and has no deity. It is a down to earth, realistic tool that can get you refocused in under 3 minutes.
Sounds ridiculous I hear you say, or only for “those” people you might scoff, but simply slowing down your breathing, acknowledging your surrounds and breathing into the moment can ground you to take action.
Breathing is the most powerful tool you have to calm yourself for any challenging circumstance and its free and fully available.
You might need to do it prior to an interview, to get started on that application or to deal with a difficult moment or person in your life.
All you need is stillness, oxygen, and a willingness to step outside of your chatty mind.
I have used the 3 minute breathing space waiting for medical appointments, in the car at school pick up, whilst trying to refocus on my projects, and even waiting for friends in a café. I actually breathed myself so well into my happy space while waiting in that café that I became annoyed with the waiters perpetually asking me for an order. Didn’t they know I came to cafes to breathe, not drink coffee???
This fear of the “what ifs”, or the “should I’s” as mentioned earlier, can literally permeate the brain and keep people from taking action. Metaphorically speaking we are far more scared of letting the light in, than the light itself. So taking the first step to start that resume, book that appointment or sign up for that course will not be so hard once you physically make a start. Sometimes the fear of actually finding that you may have success in a new career or job can be as scary as staying stuck in the same place. We can be equally afraid of living up to our potential and greatness as well as failing miserably because both come with responsibilities and expectations we have of our peers and ourselves.
Without a doubt a job transition or career change can be challenging or even brutal. But if we are not a little brave by taking a punt or two, we may sit in a state of flux and/or procrastination for a very long time. We are talking small steps here, not leaping tall buildings in a single bound. If we acknowledge that it might take time and we might need assistance it makes it so much easier. So, the 3 minute fix for procrastination may not be the only solution, but using the 3 minute breathing space, physical exercise, a companion to keep you on track, a mentor, diarising your time or just being honest with yourself may get your started again.
As some rather large well known footwear organisation says, “Just do it!”
There is nothing to fear but fear itself, and your career is in your hands.
For really practical tips see the following articles.
1. Why you procrastinate and how to stop it
2. The 3-minute breathing space, your opportunity to practice
Written by Erika, our Workshop Wizard. If you need some help getting on track, book an appointment with Erika or any of the Skills and Jobs Centre advisors.
Picture credit: jill111, CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)