Maybe you’re tired of your inner “shoulda-woulda-coulda” voice, but you’d never call yourself a perfectionist because you tend to procrastinate. Guess what? Perfectionism (trying too hard to make it just right) and procrastination (deciding to do something and then not doing it) are like first cousins who pretend they aren’t related.
As a procrastinating perfectionist, you may not finish a job application, take that vacation, or organize your closet. You may avoid creating new friendships, singing in the choir, or calling a counselor, because you’re afraid of making a mistake, being laughed at, failing others—or yourself. Delaying decisions becomes a habit. Although it may seem like a laid-back approach to life, it’s often painful and limiting.
You can change your procrastinating tendencies. Just starting is a step out of the procrastination trap.
1. Instead of expecting to be the best (employee, parent, musician, you fill in the blank ________) in comparison to everyone else, commit to become the best version of yourself.
2. Limit all-or-nothing thinking. Choose your favorite color (deep red, ocean blue, sunshine yellow?) and the next time you feel stuck and start to procrastinate, brainstorm your options in that color instead of mere black and white. You do have choices.
3. When you’re tempted to procrastinate and postpone another task because it seems too hard or time-consuming, set the timer for 20 minutes. When the alarm sounds you can walk away or re-set for another 20.
4. Find a caring accountability partner who’ll listen to your frustrations without judging or trying to fix you and your procrastinating ways and then who will celebrate with you when you succeed.
5. Stand up to the shoulda-woulda-coulda tyrant in your head. Tell him to sit down and hush because you can make progress without him!
Just as you develop physical muscle by consistently exercising your body, you can develop mental/emotional muscle by consistently practicing these and other anti-procrastination exercises. Freedom, here you come.
You really love this, don’t you? You’re so animated when you’re busy working. Although my client meant this as a compliment, I gagged when I heard her words. To me, they represented a lifestyle I’d tried to ditch. Anything that reminded me of my excessive behavior felt like a punch in the gut. I get a high when rushing, working and finding solutions.
I am an adrenaline junkie. What do I mean?
What helps you become friends with tranquility again?
“I know I’m late. But I don’t feel like I’m being productive or that I’ve achieved my goals unless I’m rushing and at least a half-hour late for each appointment,” said my client as he burst through the door and sprinted past me toward our conference room.
My internal reaction was: Well, Vic, you must feel a great sense of accomplishment today! He had arrived one and a half hours past our scheduled appointment time. Although I didn’t share his philosophy, something in his behavior rang a bell with me. Perhaps I was in awareness-mode, because several weeks later I admitted my own workaholic lifestyle. I was burned-out and wanted to change.
Slowly I began to understand that the narrower definition of a workaholic is someone who is addicted to action. An action addict (like Vic and me) is driven to do too much, expect too much, rush too much and prove too much. Some refer to it as the “hurry sickness.” It can happen to either gender, yet Dr. Brent W. Bost, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Beaumont, Texas estimates that there are 30 million women in America who are so over-scheduled and over-stressed that it negatively affects their physical health, sex life, jobs, and relationships.
The next time someone gives you the ultimate compliment for an action-addict: “You’re so busy. How do you do it all?” consider letting that be a signal to STOP. The antidote to action-addiction is to cease doing for a while. Be quiet. Rest. It will feel wrong. Your body, mind and emotions tell you that you must keep going.
This advice to cease doing for a while reminds me of Psalm 46:10 in The Message: “[Stop!] Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”
Experts insist that this is a vital step, just as it is important for the alcoholic-addicted person to stop drinking. Your body needs to detox from the chemicals aroused by your constant action. It will be quite difficult--and so worth it. For more information about action-addiction watch for next week's blog “Are You an Adrenaline Junkie?”
What would it take for you to STOP for a while?
During a business dinner, an associate asked me about the book I was writing (The Relief of Imperfection.) When I mentioned the topic of perfectionistic thinking, workaholic behavior and burnout, he nodded and said, "Well, those things are not worth dying for!"
Soon after this I read an article about a trend called "downshifting." Downshifters are men and women who choose to leave all-consuming jobs for a little slower pace so they can experience more enjoyment in their lives. I don't know about you, but I admit this sounds really good.
Happy Labor Day weekend 2013! Perhaps you're really grateful that you get an extra day off. Or maybe you're one of the many who work through the holiday weekend. Before I write/say anything else, I want to acknowledge that I'm grateful for the opportunity and ability to work. You probably are, also (whether its work for ministry, volunteer service, an income-producing job, home schooling or taking care of your babies.)
More and more I talk with people in my coaching, mentoring, and every day life who are realizing that striving and working all the time (to be the best parent, to constantly reach for full potential for yourself and your family, to get more clients and make more money, to help others with very little time to refuel) is not what God had in mind when we made us with the capability to work. There is more to life.
LIFE is worth living for. So this weekend, how about STOPPING the work for a little while to focus on one of the life's enjoyments listed above. What do you choose? Whatever it is, have fun!
You want to pray with me? God, teach me the meaning of life with its balance of labor, rest, and enjoyment. Slow me down to listen. I know "It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work my worried fingers to the bone. I know You enjoy giving rest [and LIFE] to those You love. (Prayer based on Psalm 127:1-2 in The Message)
It's the weekend! Maybe this means you're taking a break from work. Maybe not.
In my experience as a life coach, speaker/teacher/trainer, and mentor, I've noticed that many people struggle with issues related to work and service. It matters not if they're an executive, nurse, homeschooler, ministry volunteer or a young parent. Even medical exerts agree that there's an "action-addiction" epidemic.
In her book Working Ourselves to Death, author Diane Fassel maintains that though action-addicts (another name for workaholics) work, serve, or rush a great deal, they aren't always working.
Yet, even Jesus--who came to earth to do the most important work of all--said "no" sometimes. (Check out Luke 8:26-38 & Mark 5:18-20)
The truth is: Your work & service (whether it's in the office, in the home, on the field or at church) don't have to be relentless or perfect to be significant, meaningful and productive. :-)
I find that such a relief. What about you?
What kind of a worker are you?
"When you burn both ends of a candle, it may produce twice as much light, but the candle burns out twice as fast,” writes Myron Rush in his book, Burnout. “People experiencing burnout suddenly discover that all of their mental, emotional and physical energies have been consumed." This was true for me. I managed my family of two teenagers and developed my company into a million dollar endeavor, yet felt like a walking dead person.
"I've fried my brain,” I said. “I'll never be the same." Yet I’m a grateful burnout survivor—along with others who have learned to stop burning the candle at both ends. How’d we do it?
This post is #4 in a four week blog series on BURNOUT.
I'm curious: Do you think that BURNOUT really happens? And who do you think tends to be susceptible?
(This blog series is adapted from a series of short online articles that I wrote for Genius Ave.)
In a few days, I'll post the 4th blog in the BURNOUT series I've been sharing: Number Four will be "Life Beyond Burnout."
#1 - Are You Burning Out? (Maybe It's Compassion Fatigue?)
#2 - When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Burned Out (What IS Burnout?)
#3 - Stop Living Like You're on Fire
#4 - Life Beyond Burnout (It's Coming!)
The reason I'm posting right now is because I promised the women at the LIFT Summer Refresher JUST PRESS PAUSE where I spoke on Friday that I would post the poem I wrote and read to them. So, here it is. :-)
WHAT DO YOU NEED? (It may be different than what your friend needs!)
Some of us need to stop thinking and do,
while others need to stop doing and think.
Some need to stop asking and give, though
others need to cease giving and ask.
Some of us need to stop crying and smile,
yet others need to stop smiling and cry.
Some need to stop confronting and give in,
while others need to quit compromising and confront.
Some of us need to stop waiting and run,
Though others need to stop running and wait.
Some need to practice discipline and organize, yet others need to cease
structuring themselves into a box and relax.
God is big enough to help us all. What do you need?
So "relax" because there IS life beyond burnout and because being spiritual and loving God doesn't mean you have to respond to life's surprises exactly like your Bible teacher, pastor, mother, sister, brother, best friend or spouse! :-)
By the way, I also posted the poem on The Intentional Woman Facebook Group page. I'd love to have you join us there.
Maybe you’re just tapping your toe in the burnout cauldron. Perhaps you’re going down for the third count. Identifying your symptoms and the degree of your burnout will help you make intentional decisions to regain healthy balance. Here’s a shortened list of symptoms ranging from the occasionally bothersome to the more severe.
1. Decreased energy/unfocused/confused/disappointed
2. Increased fatigue/stress/sometimes use caffeine/sweets to lift mood
3. Change in weight/occasions of insomnia
4. Less creativity/vanishing sense of purpose
5. Headaches/decreased libido/muscle aches/dizziness
6. Feelings of depression/resentment/rigidity
7. Decreased social activity/nagging anxiety/emotional numbing
8. Exhaustion 24/7 with inability to sleep
9. Chest pains/shortness of breath/stomach problems/dizziness/disorientation
10. Inappropriate outbursts/periods of risky behavior/unhealthy blood pressure/diagnosis of illness
“If you don’t want to burnout, stop living like you’re on fire,” writes Brene Brown, a vulnerability researcher at the University of Houston. Adopting reusable freedom-producing strategies can help you avoid additional symptoms or escape an established burnout system.
What has helped you avoid or recover from burnout?
What IS Burnout or Compassion Fatigue?
Maybe It's Compassion Fatigue
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.