Overcoming Creative Avoidance
Overcoming Procrastination should have been the actual title of this article. But I changed it after my visit to Colombo. I was in Colombo attending Toastmasters District Conference OVATION 2012 during July last year. One of the keynote speakers in that conference was this amazing young man Rory Vaden. Rory Vaden is a Self-Discipline Strategist, author of Take the Stairs and Cofounder of Southwestern Consulting. I was all set to write about him on my return but as usual, I wanted to do some experiments with his ideas and concepts before writing it in this blog.
One of the key leanings I took from Colombo last year and did some experiments in my life is something Rory calls as “Creative Avoidance”. Creative Avoidance is nothing but the procrastination expressed in better terms. Many of us are badly struck with this worst habit called procrastination in-spite of having goals, resources, time, energy, motivation etc. We usually have so many other real, valid and genuine reasons for not doing certain things in life.
Look at this simple example: Though I am a great fan of “Personal Finances”, I hate the yearly process of Income Tax Filing. To me , that’s a cumbersome process and not at all interesting. Every time I decide to do it myself, I tend to find some other work/activity more important that tax filing. As usual it goes to a financial consultant who does it for me. Problem is I wanted to do it, but I don’t do it. As an achiever of many things in life I am not a lazy person to procrastinate, but I realized that I am smartly taking the route of creative avoidance by choosing other work than the one that I don’t like doing.
4 Causes of Creative Avoidance:
1. Lack of Purpose and Vision:
When there is no meaningful purpose and clarity of vision, which is directly connected to your dreams the chances of inaction are very high. Have you ever noticed that, all big achievements in your life were the areas you had clarity on why and what you wanted?
Disneyland is a great dream of Walt Disney which he built against all odds. He could overcome all those numerous difficulties only because he had a great dream with a purpose and clear vision for what he is going to do.
“To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” - Walt Disney Opening Day Speech Disneyland 1955.
2. Lack of Intention:
Rory says, “Start with what you need to STOP doing”. I really loved this idea. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will surely have a To Do list for your day,week or month, but have you ever thought of making a “Not To Do” list. Isn’t it awesome to understand time wasters and make a promise that I’ll not do certain things today even if it is greatly enticing than the task that I am supposed to complete.
My experiment: Everyday as I enter my office, first thing I used to do is open my Outlook mail box and start replying or acting upon those e-mails as I always see something or other that needs my immediate attention. Almost half of the morning would go in this and then I will start looking things I am supposed to do for the day only after that. After coming back from Colombo trip, I made a point to myself that I’ll NOT open my mailbox as the first thing in the morning, instead I started focusing in completing 2 or 3 high priority tasks of that day. There were days when I opened my mailbox post lunch and that didn’t make any big differences to the e-mails in anyway. But, I noticed a huge difference to my To Do list as some of the very important tasks were completed by then.
3. Lack of Self-Confidence:
I’ve got the great privilege of interacting with lots of young students and most of them lack one thing, that is Self – Confidence. They always think that someone else is better than them, and never ever try to speak, express or even ask a question in the crowd. They have nothing but low esteem, low confidence and are self doubting. They are certain about their own strengths and abilities. I am sure you and I too have this problem if not always, but more often.
My experiment: I always wanted to be a great Public Speaker, but I would never accept any speaking assignments that will have larger audiences. I was comfortable speaking in my toastmasters club, the most friendly place I can ever imagine, but I was terribly tensed and uncertain about my abilities to speak in-front of larger audiences. After coming back from Colombo, I made a point to myself that I will start taking speech assignments with larger audiences and now I am greatly confident about speaking on some of the topics that are very close to my heart to any number of people. Largest crowd I addressed had 1500 students and faculty members in a college symposium, and I also received good feedback from them. That was a great confidence booster for me.
4. Lack of Accountability:
Rory says, there is a law that simply states “that which is monitored is improved.” Many a times we don’t have systematic action plan and tracking systems in place as far as our personal goals are considered. We are trained with this typical “Chalta Hai” attitude. It’s a Hindi term, which mean as “It’s Ok” attitude. This is a great disaster against self discipline.
My experiment: I decided that if I am not achieving some of my action items, I will tell to myself “Dear, It’s Not Ok”. One area that I could greatly change is my finances. I had one simple financial goal of becoming “debt free” in the year 2012. With sincere tracking and accountability, I could do that and it gave me a great pleasure and sense of achievement. I systematically re payed all my loans and today I am with “Zero Debt” which gives me larger freedom and independence than ever.
Self-discipline requires sacrifice. The 4 concepts listed above will require you to sacrifice your time, your convenience, your energy, and your emotional comfort with “the way you’ve always done it.” Discipline yourself to execute what is above and let go of being comfortable. Overcome Creative Avoidance or the Procrastination.