I’ve found that when I’m not sure what to do next in life or when I am feeling “stuck,” the most helpful thing for me to do is to do what is in front of me. (This works on two levels — the short-term items and projects that I need to do, and also the long-term goals I have for my life.)
Here are the 3 steps I take for the short-term items to get un-stuck…
STEP 1: I take my notebook and begin to make a list of everything that is “undone” in my life. This includes any projects I’m currently working on that are not done, as well as items such as clean out that closet, make any healthcare appointments (dentist, yearly physical, etc.), pay bills, and anything else that comes to mind. I don’t spend more than 5 or 10 minutes compiling this list — I don’t want to make the list so long that I’ll get discouraged, but 10 minutes is long enough to get most of the important items.
STEP 2: I prioritize the list this way — at #1 I write down the thing on my list that I least want to do at that moment, at #2 I write the next least thing I want to do, and so on.
STEP 3: I take action on the first item immediately.
Since I start with the thing I least want to do, I usually give myself a time limit so I don’t feel overwhelmed, such as “I’ll spend 30 minutes on #1 and stop whether I’m done or not.” (This is a technique I learned from The Now Habit by Neil Fiore, which is a great book on overcoming procrastination). Often when I commit to 30 focused minutes, it is enough time to accomplish the task or at least get a good bit done on it. And most of the time, if I don’t finish the task by the end of the 30 minutes, I just keep on going until I’m done. We create momentum when we take action — and that momentum can carry us forward. When I finish item #1, I’m usually so relieved and energized that I dive into item #2.
Here are a five things that I’ve noticed when I take action:
1. When I’m being honest about it, procrastination actually takes more energy than just getting things done.
2. Sometimes I’ll start a new project because I’m inspired, but there are also times I’ll start a new project to avoid something I need to get done.
3. Taking positive action creates positive energy and forward momentum.
4. Taking positive actions is a form of positive self-care.
5. There are times when the positive action I most need to take is to relax and “be” rather than “do.”
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