Resistance is often at the center of our procrastination. Sometimes we notice it, most times we don't. It becomes so automatic. We don't think abut it and in many ways we simply aren't aware of the extent of it.
Does this sound familiar?
You sit down to tackle a big assignment and suddenly your mind is compelled to find a distraction. You need a snack, you need to email that professor you've been dodging me for weeks, you need to scan the web for summer internships, (cuz that's legit, right?)...and on and on.
Eventually the work still needs to get done.
Even in the best of circumstances the experience can eat away at your self confidence. We wonder "Why can't I just get things done?". The uncertainty or anxiety we often have about a tackling a project or assignment leads us to avoidance. We resist fully engaging in the source of our distress. We want to protect our egos and our feelings.
Try this next time you sit down to tackle that big assignment:
Find a time to commit to working for two 30min blocks.
Once you get started, take note of how your mind is compelled to find a distraction. Make it a point to power through the distraction for at least 30min. The trick is to become aware of when and how you resist. You also want to be aware of the messages you may be telling yourself on a subconscious level.
"This is too hard."
"I'm not sure if I'm doing this right."
"This would be so much easier if I was smarter."
"There's so much work here, I'll never get done, why did I wait so long."
Whatever feelings come up, keep working.
This may be hard at first, maybe even a little painful (trust me, I know), but stay the course. At the end of the 30min. Allow yourself a few minutes to take a break, then commit to another 30min.
Eventually the resistance gives way. Instead of facing an uphill battle, you'll feel less resistance, sometimes even curiosity. And once the momentum kicks in you may find it difficult to step away from the work.
This doesn't mean that there won't be times when you will not be able to "power through"; additional support may be needed. If you find, that after a few hours of focused work, your progress is minimal, get the help you need. Speak to the instructor, a classmate, or go for tutoring. But you must begin the process in to find out.
Once you realize that resistance is part of the process, make friends with it. Expect it to show up when you've got something big and important to do, invite it in offer it a cool drink. It doesn't have to push you towards avoidance. Instead, see it for what it is, and move forward. Use it as a signal that you're on your way to awesomeness. If it were easy, you wouldn't experience the resistance, which means you're probably not learning or growing much.
For further support, incorporate tools that will keep you engaged in the project long enough to make it past the point of resistance. One of my favorite tools for removing resistance is FocusMate, an online tool that helps you focus by allowing you to set up virtual focus sessions with other participants.
Whatever you decide to use, the more awareness you have around the ways you resist, the better you'll be able to develop your own counter-strategy.
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