Overcome the anxiety fueling your procrastination

Overcoming the anxiety fueling your procrastinationI have a serious weakness around procrastination. I procrastinate on two types of tasks:

  1. Tasks I simply dislike doing.
  2. Tasks I don’t know exactly how to do.

The solution in each case is simple…just start. Seriously. If I dwell on the fact that I don’t want to do the task, or I don’t have a step by step guide available, the procrastination gets worse. All I have to do is start. Then like a snowball rolling down hill, I pick up momentum. Before I know it, I’m done.

Alright, that’s procrastination 101. I’d like to dive deeper than that, though. In the first case, tasks I don’t like doing, there’s not much more depth. I’m just being a baby. I have more fun doing other stuff, so I’ll do other stuff, until the last minute when I absolutely have to finish the task I don’t like doing.

In the second case, tasks I don’t know exactly how to do, there is more depth. I think the root cause is anxiety.

I’m worried that I won’t be efficient. I’m worried that I’ll waste time, marching down a dead end path. Then I’ll have to retreat, start over again, and cope with the frustration of a false start.

It’s irrational, I know. I’d finish the task more quickly if I start, and battle whatever obstacles I face as I learn how to do what I’m supposed to do. But I’d rather delay. I’d rather wait, hoping the optimal path reveals itself to me. Then I can proceed.

The story unfolds as you’d imagine. I wait. I do other stuff. I wait. Then at the last minute, I do what I would have done at the beginning, using trial and error to learn how to do what I’m supposed to do. And I finally finish the task.

Why am I writing about all of this here? Because this anxiety-fueled procrastination is likely blocking your career transformation.

One huge fear of making the switch, from a technical career path to a business career path, is the unknown:

  • What if I don’t know the vocabulary?
  • What if I don’t know how to use the tools?
  • What if I don’t know how to ask the right questions?

Your anxiety fuels procrastination. Why act now, when I can take my time and learn more before making the switch? Won’t I be better prepared in the future than I am right now?

I’m not arguing that you should rush into career change. But I am arguing that there is no perfect time to make the switch. At some point, you’ll have to make different decisions, and take different actions, if you’re going to end up in a different place.

Don’t let anxiety keep you from acting in your own interest. You know what you want out of your career. You know what changes are needed to bring you closer to your goals.

You’ll never know everything. You’ll never eliminate risk or uncertainty. You’ll need to embrace discomfort, if you’re going to build the career you know you deserve.

Anxiety is a natural human reaction. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

Recognize it for what it is. Fear points you in the right direction. If you’re scared, it’s because there’s a real chance you’ll make a dramatic, positive change. That kind of change is unnatural. But it’s exactly what you want.

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