The wisdom of procrastination: How to liberate energy so you can connect with more just-right clients

by | Sep 17, 2011

A while back I had the pleasure of working with a reader on an open coaching call about procrastination. Specifically, the kind of procrastination that strikes when you’re doing something you absolutely love, but you stop yourself in the middle and can’t seem to get restarted.

What’s up with that?

It could be a number of things, and most often, when they go inside, clients find wisdom in procrastination. Wisdom that, when explored, not only liberates energy, but reveals a better way to connect with their just-right clients.

I invite you to walk with me through a process that can dissolve procrastination. It works so well, it sometimes feels like magic.
I suggest you do this process in writing, preferably longhand. It will make it easier for you to focus. And there is something about writing that frees memory and imagination. It’s as if, by writing, you are communicating with your inner coach.

Begin by describing the situation in which you procrastinate. What, specifically, are you doing when you start to procrastinate?

Let yourself imagine the situation, perhaps seeing what you are doing. You might feel the colors and textures around you. If there are sounds, imagine them. Write a few sentences until you have a clear picture or impression of the situation.

Now, drop inside to that place where you are savvy and wise. That kind, sage place in you that always knows what you’re up to. Let this wise part of you show you the good reason you have right now for procrastinating.
You may need to hang out in the question for a minute or two until your inner critic stops chattering. Take your time and allow the real reason to surface. You’ll know you have it when you feel a sort of shift, a subtle or a strong sense of,”Yes, that’s the reason.”

Your reason may seem like a big deal, or it may seem flat out trivial. It might seem, well, reasonable, or it might seem unreasonable.

Whatever it is, let it be and write it down.

The next step is to acknowledge your reason. Whether you like it or not, whether you judge it or not. It’s your reason, and that makes it a good one.

After you’ve written down your reason and acknowledged it, see if you can find where it’s okay for you to have the reason–and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the road. Finding where it’s okay to have your reason is not the same as agreeing to stay stuck.

All it means is that you’re okay with the reality that your reason is operating in your life. It is what it is, so why not be okay with that?
Give yourself time to let things settle so you have a real okay, not a “because I’m supposed to say it” okay.

Now comes the fun part.

Your reason always, and I do mean always, has a positive message for you. It is always wise. It will always reveal a way forward.

You just need to ask a few gentle questions. (Gentle is the operative word.) I suggest you write out the questions and answers.

  • How is your reason connected with your desire to do good work?
  • How does it point to or reflect something you need to know in order to do good work?
  • What underlying concern is behind your reason?
  • What is it trying to protect you from?
  • Assuming your reason wants the best for you in your work, what might it be trying to say?

“I don’t know” is a perfectly good answer to any of these questions. And, if that’s what comes, I invite you to hang out there before moving on too quickly. Let your hand move across the paper, perhaps repeating “I don’t know,” until something comes.

Take your time.

By now you are probably starting to feel a little different about things. You may not yet see a way forward, but being stuck is likely to feel more rational. Things may even seem a bit more spacious at this point.

You’re at a turning point. Now that your reason has spoken to you, it’s time for you to be a bit creative in response.

Again, I suggest you write out the following questions along with your answers.

  • Assuming this is a good reason, how might you honor it in your work?
  • What if this reason holds the key to you doing your best work? What would that look like?
  • What if this reason is about not doing things the way you think you should. What if you were to them differently? What if you did things the way you know to do them?
  • What if the place you are is the perfect starting place? (What if it’s okay to start in the middle?)
  • What would you do if you didn’t have to know the step after that?

And my favorite question of all:

  • If the truth (your reason) were not a problem, then what? What would you naturally do differently or not at all?

When you engage with your wise self (the one who is always there), and you ask and answer simple, respectful questions, procrastination tends to dissolve.

You generally discover that you were trying to confine yourself to a box that doesn’t fit. Or that you were somehow working at odds with yourself.

And when you get out of that box, when you align with yourself, energy is released. The way forward is clear.

And that freed-up energy is now available for connecting with just-right clients the people who want you the way you are, not the way you thought you should be.