Avoidance is the opposite of productivity – on the other side of the continuum – and accountability is the tool that keeps you on track. Getting productive and staying accountable is at the heart of meeting your goals, yet often the best laid plans make this hard. I hear how people use avoidance by shifting their commitment to what they say they want, procrastinating or flat out walking away when things get complicated. There are a few tricks to avoid these pitfalls. I know.
I am working through several long-avoided projects myself. There are my closets that have been neglected and stuffed to overflowing for years. With a friend’s help, I conquered the clothes closet and took bags and bags to Goodwill. What a joy to easily see and find what I want. Today I conquered the hall closets, with the same sense of accomplishment. Amazing it took so long to do something that feels so good. Next up is prioritizing my book writing.
Here are four tricks that I use to move past avoidance, get productive and stay accountable to what I want. Done in this order.
CLEARLY DEFINE and WRITE YOUR INTENTION
Everything starts as a thought – I want to clean out my closets. Then we mull it over and decide if we’re really going to do it. That can take years if you don’t really want to do it. Then we usually talk about it to someone when we finally warm up to the idea. But thinking about it and saying it isn’t always enough. I find I need to write it down, like a commitment, so It takes on more importance and meaning. I’m dyslexic and that is a trick I learned in helping kids who have it too.
Writing it down, on a list, like a “to do list” to be more exact, is my accountability practice. It’s what makes it real. It says, I have thought this through, I have said I’m going to do it and now it is going to happen. And I’ll cross it off when done. If you aren’t at the point of being willing to write it down, then likely you are not ready.
MAKE SURE IT’S MEANINGFUL
More importantly, to make something happen that is much easier to avoid, ask yourself why you need to do it. What meaning does it hold for you? Does it fit with your sense of self, does it advance your purpose, does it meet a greater good? Dive into the “why” and find the meaning.
I really didn’t care about the closets, which is why it took me so long to face them. It wasn’t until it occurred to me that messy closets are embarrassing and don’t fit my sense of who I am that I finally took steps. Now the book – that holds great importance and meets my purpose. I will take it more seriously.
ADDRESS OVERWHELM BY BREAKING IT INTO SMALL STEPS
Everything has a beginning, middle and end, with steps for each. Add them to your list, step by step. Most avoidance is based on a sense of overwhelm, which often means that there are parts that are hard to wrap your mind around. Whether the overwhelm is because it’s a big job with lots of moving parts or because there are things you don’t know how to do, the end result is the same. Avoidance and procrastination soon follow.
Before overwhelm and avoidance go on too long, recognize your feelings and know they’re telling you something else needs to be done. Big jobs have project managers for a reason. They break things down into stages with small steps, using organizational tools to track each one. You can use a white board, your computer, sticky notes, whatever works. And if you’re over your head with parts you don’t know how to do, you hire and task it to someone who does, just like organizations do. Make it simple – write down each small step and get help where you need it.
PUT DEADLINES AROUND IT
Giving yourself a deadline should be obvious, but if you work for yourself and have to rely on internal motivation, it’s easy for things to take longer. Your energy needs a target. To get something done, you have to task it out as if you have an external deadline.
Go back to your why and sense of meaning behind what you are doing. Let that define your deadline. Use it to give yourself internal motivation if there isn’t external structure pushing you forward. Know that your internal gratification is a significant reward for reaching completion.
It means that you need to be strategic with your productivity and your accountability. Tricks that I have found work include, clearly defining and writing your intentions, making sure the goals are meaningful, breaking them into small steps and having specific deadlines. All these things help you stay productive and accountable to yourself, without avoidance.
Does this sound like something that’d be helpful to explore? My Transformational Coaching and Therapy utilizes these strategies to help you meet your goals. Go to www.spectrumtransformation.com and use my Free Consultation link to reach me. I’d love to hear from you.