Posts Tagged With: procrastination

Day 2317: Signs of spring

I’m often looking for signs, including signs of the advent of spring (my favorite season).

The “sign” post I  just linked to in that signature opening paragraph — Day 1319: Subtle signs — has subtle signs that I wrote that blog post shortly before two major life signposts: my open heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.

Since the 2016 election, I’ve noticed signs that I — and the United States — have somehow changed.  I see signs of that in every blog post I’ve written since then.  Of course, everything changes and everything changes us, although this saying

The more things change, the more they stay the same

is a sign that perhaps I should change my mind about that, also.

Here are some other signs on my mind:

  • The tears in my eyes, as I write this, are signs of some unresolved grief about past events.
  • Older people often look for the signs of dementia in themselves and others.
  • When I procrastinate doing something — like writing a Letter from the President for a newsletter — that’s a sign that I need more information or need to resolve some fear about the outcome.
  • We tend to look for signs, in the present, that replicate our experiences as children, sometimes ignoring richer, more diverse signs of a wider range of possibilities.
  • I am making a concerted effort to be open to signs that conflict with my expectations.
  • I’ve dealt with signs that I’m catastrophizing more than most people by writing a song about that (included in yesterday’s blog post, here).
  • I went looking for actual signs of spring, yesterday.

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Signs of spring remind me that I’ll be seeing Pat Metheny in concert this spring. Here‘s “Spring Ain’t Here” by the Pat Metheny Group.

 

I’ll be looking for signs of your reactions to this post in the comments section, below.

No matter what the season, you’ll always find signs of my gratitude — for those who help me write this daily blog and for readers like YOU — at the end of every post.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 314: Things NOT to fear (geography)

Things not to fear, on a Sunday morning:

1.  Lack of money will destroy my life.

Honestly, that is so unlikely, at this point in my life.

However, there have been times I’ve been fearful of this.   In fact, somebody would have provided enough — at those times —  for me to survive and go on.

I should have known that, before. I know it now.

2.  Geography.

Geography was my least favorite subject, in school.   Here’s a story about that: When I was in 6th grade, I was procrastinating studying for a test about European capitals. (Note: I still procrastinate doing things I don’t like.) I tried to learn everything in the recess period before, with a couple of classmates. When I was having trouble remembering the capital of Belgium, somebody suggested this solution, “It’s Brussels, so think of brussels sprouts.”  Later, I noticed the teacher and classmates laughing, when they saw what I had written on the test: “The capital of Belgium is Brocolli.”*

Even though I still get disoriented by unfamiliar geography, I love to travel.  I’ve been to Brussels, very briefly, and would love to return. Here’s a beautiful photo of Brussels, thanks to Google Images (and Girl’s guide to Brussels):

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I could make a list of other places I want to visit, but that would take too long.

Another way geography has scared me? I have avoided geographical locations associated with past pain and suffering.  As I described earlier this year, it can help to return to those, when you’re ready. When you choose.

Last week, I chose to stop and linger, taking in a scary location from my long-ago past:

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That’s not so bad, now.  Nothing to fear, really.

Okay!

Thanks to my 6th grade classmates and teacher, the country of Belgium, places familiar and new, green vegetables everywhere,  people who support others in any way,  and to you — of course! — for visiting today.

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* A few more thoughts about that:

  1. I thought it was funny, too.
  2. I had never seen a brussels sprout, at that point in my life.
  3. I still misspell “broccoli,” most of the time.
  4. I have never, ever forgotten the capital of Belgium since.
Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 289: Sometimes, it just helps to know you’re not alone

Two confessions, this morning:

  1. Sometimes, I confuse words for things. For example,  I’ll say “January” when I mean “July.”  I wonder if people think —  when I do that — that I am confused about what time of year it is.  THAT could be embarrassing.
  2. Sometimes, I procrastinate making changes. That can feel embarrassing, too.

So it helps when I realize that I’m not alone in these imperfections. Especially when I realize that I am joined by a person — or an establishment — that I respect.

Therefore, I was pleased to see this sign, this past October weekend, in front of one of my favorite local restaurants.

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Besides the headline, I want to point out some other things about that sign:

  1. It’s located in the eastern United States (not in Australia or any other place south of the equator).
  2. It uses one of my favorite words (“yummy”).
  3. It concludes with something I’ve considered using more of, lately (an emoticon).

If you don’t like emoticons, insert your own preferred smiling image, here, to conclude.

Wait!  Before I do end today’s blog post, I’d like to present some of MY preferred smiling images (from previous posts, this year):

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There’s more, but it’s time for me to end this post, people!

Thanks to Patou Thai Restaurant, people confused in any way by seasonal change, procrastinators (and anti-crastinators, if such people exist), smilers everywhere, and to you, of course, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Day 255: If you suspect somebody is not doing good enough work for you

If you suspect somebody is not doing good enough work for you (e.g., a lawyer, a contractor, anybody you are paying), what do you do?

I confess, I find that a challenging question.

Here’s how I tend to react to that kind of situation:

  1. I feel some anger. This makes sense, since anger is the human reaction to not getting needs met (especially expressed wishes).
  2. Because I don’t feel that comfortable with anger, I feel confusion.
  3. I ask myself many questions, such as: Am I really understanding what is going on here?  Was I actually clear about my needs and wishes? Did I contribute to the current situation?
  4. I fantasize about firing the person and working with somebody else.
  5. I fantasize about yelling at the person, in some way.
  6. I tell myself that #4 and #5, while attractive,  are not appropriate at this point.
  7. I work towards getting clarification and/or resolution.
  8. If I don’t succeed, repeat 4 – 7.
  9. I work on crafting an  I-Statement which includes (a) my wishes and (b) some consequence to my wishes not being met.
  10. I send that message.

That’s where I am, this morning.

I’m realizing, right now, that the above is not a bad process, even though I’m not thrilled with it. Here’s how I would like to improve that process, moving forward:.

  • Let go of fears that come up during the process.
  • Move off of Step 8 more quickly.
  • Move off of Step 9 more quickly.
  • Actually, move off of every friggin’ step more quickly.

Hmmmm.  If I let go of fears that come up during the process, the rest may take care of itself.

The written part of this post feels finished to me.  How about an image?

Here’s a sample of how Google Images responds to “let go of fears”:

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Okay!

Thanks to Gandhi, polar bears, penguins, courageous creatures everywhere (including bloggers, lawyers, and contractors), and you — of course! — for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Day 237: What other people say

I have a really good memory, it seems, for what other people say.

Not for everything everybody says, of course.  It’s amazing the things I’ve forgotten over the years.   But I think I still have a pretty good memory for what people say.

Certain things people say really grab my attention, including these:

  1. Anything that indicates danger to somebody.
  2. Things said by people I respect.
  3. Comments about me, about what I’ve created, and about how I’m living in this world.

This is a partial list,  but those are on my mind, this morning.

Why?

Because I’m realizing, again, that some things people have said, over the years, have gotten “stuck” in my memory. They loom too large. And they’re not helpful.

I’m not blaming the people who said those things, right now.

In some cases, these people may not have even said what I heard.

It doesn’t matter, though, does it? Those things have stuck.

And I’d like to let go of those things, or at least reduce their power.

I have an idea!  How about if I write a few of these things down, and put them in a “magic” wastepaper basket?

Here’s one:

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That’s not helping me these days.  So let’s crumple that one up:

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.

Here’s another one, that hasn’t been helping:

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Let’s crumple that one, too,  to reduce its power.

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.

That felt good, I must say.

Next, let’s throw these two things away.  That means I need to choose a wastepaper basket.  Decisions, decisions.

I know!  This one:

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Perfect!  Now, let’s throw those things away:

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.

They’re in the magic wasterpaper basket!  Hooray!

Before I end this post for today, I would like to share something else I heard somebody say.  Opposed to the two things I just threw away, this is something

  1. I heard recently and
  2. I would like to stick in my memory more (not less).

I heard this yesterday, when I listened to this TED talk by lexicographer Erin McKean:

TED talk by Erin McKean

Here’s what she said that I especially want to remember now*:

“When parts of your job are not easy or fun, you kind of look for an excuse not to do them.”  (At 1:54 in the talk.)

That’s much better, rather than labeling myself …

A Procrastinator.

Lazy.

Or, this:

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Hey!  It’s another job for the magic wastepaper basket!

Thanks to Erin McKean,  all the people in my life who’ve taken the time to tell me something they thought would be helpful, cool wastepaper baskets everywhere, and to you, too, for reading today.

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*Erin McKean refers to something else, in this talk, which I found incredibly valuable when somebody told me about it many years ago.  At 5:00, she describes what she calls “The Ham Butt Problem”, which also relates to letting go of old, unhelpful ways of thinking!

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Day 203: Will

The topic for today is the word “will.”

I had many choices from the Google Buffet of Definitions, this morning. I chose the following, from the Merriam Webster site:

will   noun     \ˈwil\

1. : desire, wish: as

a : disposition, inclination <where there’s a will there’s a way>

b : appetite, passion

c : choice, determination

2

a : something desired; especially : a choice or determination of one having authority or power

b (1) archaic : request, command (2) [from the phrase our will is which introduces it] : the part of a summons expressing a royal command

3 : the act, process, or experience of willing : volition
4

a : mental powers manifested as wishing, choosing, desiring, or intending

b : a disposition to act according to principles or ends

c : the collective desire of a group <the will of the people>

5 : the power of control over one’s own actions or emotions <a man of iron will>

6: a legal declaration of a person’s wishes regarding the disposal of his or her property or estate after death; especially : a written instrument legally executed by which a person makes disposition of his or her estate to take effect after death

— at will
: as one wishes : as or when it pleases or suits oneself

A few random thoughts, about all that (accompanied by my friend, Google Images):

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In a previous (personal favorite) post here,  I wrote about To Do Lists.

Something that’s been on my To Do List, for a very long time?

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That kind of will.

Also, on my To Do List, for a shorter time, a different kind of will:

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A Living Will (which is not included in the Merriam Webster definitions) is defined as

A document in which the signer states his or her wishes regarding medical treatment, especially treatment that sustains or prolongs life by extraordinary means, for use if the signer becomes mentally incompetent or unable to communicate.

Hmmmm. I wonder why I’ve been avoiding completing both of those kinds of wills — The Last Will and Testament and The Living Will.

I repeat, hmmmmm.

Should I label myself “A Procrastinator?”  Would that help?

Nah.

Should I ask you, readers, if you might resist taking care of those kinds of wills?  Should I ask if you’ve encountered other people, in your life,  who have resisted taking care of those sorts of things, and the effect that has had on you?

Sure! I love asking questions like that.  Feel free to answer.

But ultimately, what would give me the will to just get those things done?

I can tell you three things that will help me take an achievable step, on Day 202, of This Year of Living Non-Judgmentally:

  1. Having just attended a 43rd year high school reunion.
  2. Identifying that achievable next step (calling a lawyer, whom I’ve identified, also).
  3. Remembering a “cliche” that my mother used to say a lot:

Where there’s a will there’s a way

(quoted in definition #1a, above).

That concludes today’s blog post, everybody.  Thanks for having the will to read, wherever you are.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Day 190: What I’m avoiding

I may want to avoid writing this post.

But I’m going to “just do it.”

Here are some random thoughts about avoidance, to get me started:

If I’m avoiding something,  there is some fear involved.

It might be fear about an outcome.

It might be fear about hurting somebody else.

Or fear about being hurt, myself.

I might be sullen or angry about something — “I don’t want to do this!”

Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m avoiding.

Avoidance feels a certain way, though.

It feels like this:

My mouth is flat, or turned down.

My brow is furrowed.

My eyes don’t focus.

My thoughts flit around, unwilling to light on anything, like a butterfly trapped in a room filled with lobster sauce.*

(That was, I believe, the first occurrence in this blog of A Deliberate Simile. The first simile after a full six months! And the simile itself was not random; it was well-researched. See here.)

What else do I feel when I’m avoiding?

I feel a pit in my belly.

I think it’s fear, all right.

So I guess I need to ask myself the question, What Am I Afraid Of?

Hmmmmm.

That question isn’t working so well, this morning. (Although sometimes a question like that is really helpful: see here.)

Here’s how I know that’s not the best question, right now. The answer to “What am I afraid of?” is a general one:

Lots of things.

So I’ll try a different question.

What am I avoiding?

Aha!  Better question.

I’m avoiding saying goodbye to a co-worker.

I’m avoiding talking to my son about how scared I am, regarding his recent and sudden illness. (He’s okay, by the way.)

Bingo!

Sometimes I think I should re-name this blog “The Year of Naming Things, So I Can Then Figure Out What To Do.”

I’m not sure, at this point, what I’m going to do about either of these things.

But I’ll quote something I heard yesterday, at work:

It helps to know I have options and choices.  It’s funny how I often forget that.

And, for me, the first step of figuring out my options is this:

To figure out where I am.

Thanks for joining me today, as I figure things out.

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* No good pictures of this (“butterfly lobster sauce”) on Google Images.  Oh, well.

Categories: personal growth, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 172: Direct communication

What are the words that are difficult to say to somebody else?

Often, it’s when we fear that the other person will have a negative reaction, like disappointment.

Here’s why this issue is on my mind this morning:  Somebody at work had made a difficult decision she needed to tell me about. She was afraid I would be disappointed by what she had to say, so she put off telling me, waiting for the “right time.”

The right time hadn’t come yet.

I asked her about it last night, and found out that way.

That is my least favorite way of finding out something difficult.

So when she answered my question with the disappointing news, I felt stunned. The wind got knocked out of me.  I was direct about THAT, by the way. And she and I talked things through. And it’s all okay.

I’ve been on both sides of this situation: being disappointed and disappointing somebody else. (As you have, too, I assume.)

And, I totally relate to the wish to not disappoint somebody. I’ve also experienced reluctance and procrastination about telling somebody something difficult.

However, I am going to make a strong pitch, right now, for direct communication, the sooner the better.

If we have something difficult to tell somebody, if we fear disappointment as a reaction, let’s try this:

  1. Recognize and let go of beliefs that this will damage or destroy the relationship.
  2. Remember that other people are not as fragile as you fear.
  3. Tell yourself you’ve made a difficult decision, and you’ve done the best you can.
  4. Realize that, whatever happens, you’ll learn something.
  5. Take a deep breath.
  6. Say it.

Let’s see if I can practice this — role model it — right now.

(Internal process of preparation.)

(Deep breath.)

I have nothing more to say this morning.

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Day 150: The A-word

This post is dedicated to my friends Rob and Gene.

The very first week of this blog, I wrote about a word that I hesitated naming.   That was the P-word, which was Procrastination.    I hesitated to speak its name, because that can be a loaded, self-critical and unhelpful word for a human process I see everywhere — in myself and in others, too.

Yesterday, I wrote about another word, that I felt the urge to not-name, also.  That was the D-word.  And THAT was a word that a lot of people try to avoid.

Death. (Eeeek!)

Phew.  So much for the D-word, in THIS post.  (I’m definitely on board with Death Avoidance today, people.) (Although, earlier today I was worrying about some deadlines.  And take a look at THAT word. Dead-lines!  Geesh! Is that word supposed to motivate us or paralyze us with fear?!)

Anyway, moving on, to today’s  Word-That-Might-Not-Be-Named.

I would like to present, ladies and gentlemen, the A-word.

Anger.

Not quite as scary as death.  But still difficult for me (and a lot of other people, I believe) to talk about.  And to deal with.

This is what I’m noticing about anger, these days:

  •  Most people (including me) don’t have good role models for How To Experience and Express Anger Effectively.
  • Anger is an emotion that a lot of people disown and dislike in themselves and in others.
  • Anger is just another human emotion, like sadness, joy, and fear.  Everybody reading this blog has all those emotions. (If Mr. Spock is reading this blog, he knows that he has them, too.)
  • Anger is the human reaction to injustice and to fundamental needs not being met.
  • Anger has a lot of energy, to help us change that which is unjust and not serving us well.
  • Anger, the way it is expressed out in the world,  is tied up with hatred and violence (which can be very confusing and frightening).

I’m not sure what the “solution” is …. to the “problem” of anger in the world (and in ourselves).

My belief is that the first step is accepting anger as human — as something useful and maybe even beautiful. Then, maybe we can  do better at figuring out more effective ways to express and use that Energy of Anger.

I think this is a tough topic, people. I’m not surprised that I procrastinated writing about this, until Day 150.  (Even death was easier to broach, apparently!)

As always, I am curious and eager to hear your thoughts about this.  And thanks so much, for reading today!

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Day 82: The Equal Time Rule

Years ago, I made up a “rule” for myself, to deal with my (human) tendency to focus on the negatives. If you’re like me in this way (and most people I meet seem to be), you automatically zero in on whatever isn’t “right” — possible sources of future trouble, critical comments, negative people, the “fly in the ointment,” mistakes, and so on.

As I’ve written in this blog before, this makes sense, purely from a survival standpoint. If there’s danger out there, it’s helpful for our bodies and minds to focus on that.  If everything else is idyllic and safe, but there’s a potentially dangerous creature strolling by, that’s going to get all of our (and our ancient ancestors’) attention.

But this survival instinct can screw us up. It can cause us to over-emphasize the negative while dismissing the positive — reducing our joy, interfering with connections to others, and promoting worry and regret.

Several Cognitive Distortions (listed here), relate to that, including:

Negative filtering (also known as “Disqualifying the positive”).
This is when we focus on the negative, and filter out all positive aspects of a situation.  For example, you get a good review at work with one critical comment, and the criticism becomes the focus, with the positive feedback fading or forgotten. You dismiss positives by explaining them away — for example, responding to a compliment with the thought, “They were just being nice.”

and

Magnifying or Minimizing.
We exaggerate the importance of some things (our mistakes, a critical reaction, somebody else’s achievements, things we haven’t done). Also, we inappropriately shrink the magnitude of  other things  (for example, our good qualities, compliments, what we have accomplished, or someone else’s imperfections).

and

Overgeneralization.
We come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, you expect it to happen over and over again. Example: seeing one incident of rejection as part of a never-ending pattern of defeat and failure.

 

So where’s the friggin’ rule, Ann?

 Yes, I started out this post promising a rule I made up, to help deal with overemphasizing the negative.  I put this rule in my list of  remedies  for cognitive distortions, and here it is:

The Equal Time Rule.  To be fair, why not balance out the time spent on negative thoughts with positive thoughts?  For example, if you spend a certain amount of time worrying or catastrophizing about something that then turns out okay, consider spending that much time feeling good about the outcome. Or, if you are focusing on a negative, critical person and worrying about how they might affect you, try to give equal time and power to a positive, supportive person.

Okay, time for an example!

Several posts this year have mentioned my dread of working on my income taxes (like here and here).

(I don’t know why I freak out, so much, about doing my taxes each year.  I have a lot of self-knowledge and insight, or so I’m told, but I still don’t understand THAT, which I could probably explore in a ridiculously long post and/or another year of therapy).  (But not now.)

Here is my yearly To Do List about taxes:

February 15. Start worrying about and dreading working on your taxes.Don’t actually do anything, but definitely beat yourself up about (1) procrastinating and (2) worrying so much about this, which is dopey and really getting old.   Make sure you compare yourself to other people who have (1) completed their taxes and/or (2) aren’t as weird as you about worrying about this.  Schedule a few weekends when you’re definitely going to work on this, but then don’t. Make sure to feel guilty about scheduling and then not following through.  Try not to tell people how weird you are about this, but if you do tell people, make sure to feel dopey about that.

March 15. Continue doing all of the above, but more frequently and intensely. Note the amount of time you’ve wasted feeling bad about this and ask yourself questions like, “Why do you do this every year?”  Decide that this year, you’ve gone further than you usually do in procrastinating;  feel  bad and somewhat panicky about that. Notice that the worrying about taxes is getting in the way of your anticipating the arrival of your favorite season — Spring! Feel REALLY bad about that.

The End of March:  Always get done what you need to, somehow.

(Note that I’ve left something out here:  my frequent uses of remedies and antidotes to help myself feel better during this process.) (Again, I’m overemphasizing the negative and minimizing the positive, in how I’m telling THIS story.)  (Eeeek!)

THE PUNCHLINE

This year, I did the above routine again — as usual,  starting around February 15.

AND, as usual,  I finished the routine this past week. That is,  I’m done with my preparation (and dread) about taxes for this year.

If I were to use my made-up Equal Time Rule, I would spend as much time and intensity feeling GOOD about completing my taxes as I did feeling bad about NOT doing them.  That means I would spend more than a month, from now on, feeling relieved and great.

Will I do it?  Nah. Not even close, people.

But I LOVE that idea.  And by having that rule, even if I don’t keep it, I invite myself to feel as good as I possibly can for as long as I can possibly can.

Because it’s only fair, right?

Thanks for reading.

 

© 2013  Ann Koplow      (for my Equal Time Rule)

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