Q I am trying to work on a few projects at home. I find myself procrastinating and feeling overwhelmed by them. Most projects are not that difficult and some include simply getting estimates and having some repairs done. I feel alone and find myself fearing the work. Days and weeks go by without my accomplishing what I need to finish. Then I end up feeling pretty bad about myself and get a bit down. I don’t know quite how to break out of this cycle.
A I hear a burdened tone to your question, like these are chores you have to do and don’t want to. Is that how you feel? Are you feeling fatigued in your life right now? If so, check to see why that may be so. Fatigue and tiredness lead to boredom and feeling slouchy, rather than enthusiastic and industrious. Take some time off to just rest, play, and think things through. It will be easier and more positive after you’ve had a good break.
Is there a genuine interest in doing these projects and is there any joy in the process of doing them? If not, the work will feel like a drag and you will move forward very slowly.
You may not want to tackle everything alone, even getting an estimate to repair something in your home. It’s harder to make decisions by ourselves by simply considering different options in your own head. You might want to ask a friend or a relative to join you in some of these projects. Working in partnership or as a team is a lot more fun and you can chat about different possibilities, get another opinion and have fun along the way. The right company when doing difficult tasks can lighten things up and help you make decisions much more quickly. Another opinion is generally a good idea anyway. We have become too much of a self-serve society and our technology gives us a lot of information immediately, but often it isolates us and makes us believe we ought to be able to be self sufficient and independent.
It’s natural to feel bad when we don’t meet our expectations and fail to accomplish things we care about. However, we also tend to like ourselves based on our accomplishments. We live in a culture of achievement, where we are constantly measured for our tasks and accomplishments. This is too materialistic, individualistic and capitalistic. Who we are counts more than what we accomplish. If you think that getting the pending tasks done will get you closer to the life you want to lead, then let the good feelings about your life be your compelling force. This is much better than beating yourself up or doing things so you don’t feel guilty about it later. A positive goal gets us more in the mood than a “have to.” Once you get through the inertia, the momentum of the task will carry you and your creativity and energy will start to flow.
Alzak Amlani, Ph.D. is a counseling psychologist in the Bay Area. (650)325-8393. Visit www.wholenesstherapy.com.