The people I help with job search or career management are bright folks! When they are contemplating change, no vision is too great; no dream is too big. Self-reflection and self-assessment can truly be a life metamorphosis. I really love having the privilege of working with my diverse and wonderful clients as they dig deep into what makes them tick. Where might that fit be? And then the big P word occurs—not uncommon. Procrastination hampers the “go get it” phase. Are you stuck in Procrastination mode?
While insight into your purpose, values and goals is essential to move toward career success as you’ve defined it, insight without action is little help. It’s scary to ignite change—to call people you don’t know and ask for help; to ask for a raise; to be the first to step in and resolve workplace conflict. Most of my clients have experienced fear, apprehension, doubt, anxiety and confusion—sometimes all in this emotional suite. Taking risks and exploring options is scary stuff. But procrastination is self-sabotage at its finest. Negative thoughts foster disabling actions. And then what happens? Nothing. Exactly my point!
I’ve used the mnemonic BARAT with clients to help them get unstuck from paralyzing procrastination. I hope it can help you get from the thinking and planning stages to the doing stage!
B = Take Baby Steps
Start with a specific goal rather than a large-scale goal. “I will call Jack Frost, the lead given me by Tom today. Tom said Wednesday mornings are best, so I’ll call Jack at 10:00 a.m. I know Tom has given Jack a heads up, so I’ll be prepared with my positioning statement.”
This will serve you much better than “I will make 10 networking calls on Wednesday” or even more globally, “I will make 30 calls this week.” Psychologists call this “chunking”. You split concepts into small pieces or “chunks” of information—in this case your to-do lists or action plans. My client Joan had a delightful way of visualizing the process that I love! She said, “I think of coming face to face with a big rock right in front of the opening I need to cross to reach my goal. I take a pick and chip away. Each task is a chunk coming off bit by bit. And finally, that rock is down to a pebble and I walk through!”
A = Act Right Now
Inertia breeds inertia. Do something! One small step is better than no step. I love the mantra, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take that first single step. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve awakened at 4:30 a.m. not wanting to venture out into the elements and traffic to exercise at my health club. My change of attitude happens way before I get to class. It typically flows over me as I hop in the car and pop one of my favorite CDs in the slot!
This morning I was coaching my client Jamey. She has struggled with procrastination in the course of our work together. Last Thursday, she took the “Act” to heart and decided enough was enough. Her one act was to set up a LinkedIn account and start learning its power. She made 32 connections and through one of them, had a networking coffee, which generated some leads. Ahhhh!!
R = Record Your Goals
Thinking about your goals is important. But they can fly right out of your brain into thin air if not written down. Putting your goals on paper or recording them on whatever computer or mobile device you refer to, will give them substance and give you something to look forward to. And don’t make logging your goals into a major stressor because you might not accomplish them all. The very act of recording and re-evaluating helps you move forward.
A = Are Your Goals Attainable?
Is your goal rational and reachable? Have you done your homework to make sure it’s feasible before diving head first? My client Joe had his heart set on obtaining quality assurance jobs in manufacturing where the clear pattern for criteria included Six Sigma credentials. When he researched the ramifications of obtaining the training—costs, time, etc., he realized he did not have the time nor finances (six kids keeping him hopping, a wife battling cancer and two kids in college) to do it in the original timeframe he had hoped for. While this type of realization can obviously be disappointing, it also helps you reevaluate what steps and action you CAN take. Elimination is another way of making choices. Joe shifted his energy into staying in his current position with its very good healthcare package. His goals—and action, morphed into that which kept him on the radar at work to make a near-future proposal for a raise.
T = Analyze the Time
If your goal is recorded but out there floating so to speak, how will you plan to achieve it? Write down your Goals “Needs” List. Write down why they’re important and order them. Then, honestly assess each goal to figure out a timeline. Some goals are short range. Picking up that phone to call that lead on a Wednesday morning is the former; Joe’s decision to obtain Six Sigma down the line (if he chooses to), is long-term. Know the difference and plan accordingly.
If you want to find a new position or make changes in your current job, stop beating yourself up if you’ve been procrastinating. That’s just another procrastination symptom. It delays things. Go take that one step, do that one thing. What’s the worst that can happen? I can tell you one thing. If you do nothing, nothing will happen.