Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Procrastinating 101: Harnessing the Power of Negative Thinking

Goal Conversion.  Since I loathe football (Oh-oh.  There goes half of my single-digit readership!), I'm not sure whether that's really a football term, or just sounds like one.  Anyway, the subject is procrastination, not large men threatening to snap each other's spinal cords.  

Goal Conversion in our context appears in "Chapter 8:  Change and Procrastination," in William Knaus's clearly titled The Procrastination Workbook.  (No frogs or other clever references--it is what it is.)  This approach, one of several recommended by Knaus in this practical chapter, is tailor-made for the Eeyores among us.  Got negative thoughts?  (Knaus's examples are:  "I hate my job;" "My brother and I don't speak;" "I have no mate or date;" and "I have a cobwebbed room.")  Knaus observes that

Embedded in this misery, you can find opportunities.  By converting complaints to goals, your perspective changes. . . .Converting bothersome conditions into opportunities and challenges helps shake defeatist thinking.  Each time you turn an emotional "crisis" or loss into a goal, you've shifted from thinking negatively to setting a positive objective.
Obviously, not rocket science, but then not much about procrastination involves astrophysics.  Knaus's conversions of the aforementioned negative thoughts are simple but profound ("Find a job I like;" "Open communications;" "Make social contacts;" and "Clean out the cobwebs."), specific versions of the old Nike slogan "Just do it."

This is something I can work with.  Negative thoughts.  Check.  Ability to "reflect and reason."  Check.  Presto-changeo!  Stuff to aim for.  A path forward.

This morning, some of my negative thoughts are: 

  1. I'm afraid of flying.  
  2. The fear-induced spike in my blood pressure means I'm going to have a stroke. 
  3. I'm a failure as a mother because my soon-to-leave-home teenager is lost in the computer gaming world. 
  4. The couple of pounds I've gained while on my illness-induced running hiatus make me feel fat. 
  5. I can't stand the trashed state of my house at the conclusion of an all-consuming volunteer project and my usual assortment of excessive commitments. 
  6. I'm a hopeless slob.  

To name a few.

I'm hunting for my wand in my disordered rooms, and I have no clue what the spell is.  (Convertio?  Goaliarmus?)  But a nonmagical effort at this wee hour produces these reformulations.  

  1. Get on the plane and let the pilot fly it.  
  2. Meditate.
  3. Love him and trust the messy process of maturing.  Know that I've done my best.
  4. Eat healthily and continue to exercise.  (And pack my loosest clothes.)
  5. Straighten up one small area.  (And be more compassionate with myself.)
  6. Continue to work on getting others in the household to pick up and clean, and on leaving time in my own schedule for the self-nurturance of maintaining a pleasant environment.

Okay.  Negative thoughts converted.  Goals identified.  That wasn't so hard.  And now for the alchemy of putting as much energy into the positive directives as I so easily muster for their evil twins.  

1 comment:

  1. Mary, this was a wonderful transition of the negative to opportunities, very inspiring!
    Thanks for sharing this with me