Category Archives: NaBloPoMo

Commitment and accountability

One of the good things about National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) is that your commitment to a post a day invites you to write every day, even when you don’t feel like it. One of the bad things about NaBloPoMo is that you ‘have to’ write every day. And my inner child yells “I don”t want to!!!”. All perfectly according to that darn horse shoe I’ve drawn.

One of the reasons to write this month, was accountability for working on my November project. Well, today is the day I dreaded: I haven’t worked on my project, and I’m not sure I have a valid excuse. I could try to make one and see if you think it’s valid, but who would I be fooling?

I’m too tired at the end of this day, even without working on my project. I’m stressed about it, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish it in time. Wednesday will be a very busy day, and I expect to have no time for it then.  I expect to not have the energy to compensate for that on another day.

What will happen if I don’t make my deadline? Nothing. We might even still be able to do our taxes in the month of December, which is what I was aiming for. So I might be able to reach my goal, even when I don’t deliver my planned result on time. So why worry?

I’m too tired at the end of this day, even without working on my project. I’m stressed about it, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish it in time. Wednesday will be a very busy day, and I expect to have no time for it then.  I expect to not have the energy to compensate for that on another day.
What will happen if I don’t make my deadline? Nothing. We might even still be able to do our taxes in the month of December, which is what I was aiming for. So I might be able to reach my goal, even when I don’t deliver my planned result on time. So why worry?

I think I have a thing about being committed to commitment. When I have a plan, I feel I should stick to it. When I set a goal, I feel I should reach it. When I tell all of you about what I’m doing, I feel I should at least be doing it!
Today is not the day. My inner critic is ready to throw rotten tomatoes at me and tell me what he thinks of me. I’n not sure I’m willing to listen. My throat aches, I’m tired and I wonder if I’m coming down with the flu. Why make things worse by listening to a bully?

I’m tagging my post now and wonder if I should add ‘procrastination’ as a tag. Which would feel like I declare myself a procrastinator today. I’m too tired to care if my choices today were procrastination or sensible. Or maybe both, why not? So, I’ll add ‘meh’ as a tag. That’s the part about today that feels relevant now.

If you want to read something sensible, I have a post about accountability. A good one, with useful comments.

The fact that I post even when ‘meh’, counts as commitment. #NaBloPoMo day 20 done. Tomorrow is a new day.

Practice, stumble, practice again

In general I’m not a ray of sunshine in the morning, but this morning was specifically absent with light. I’d had a nightmare filled with anger, powerlessness and feeling stupid, and somehow my mood wouldn’t lift. I had a party to go to… What to do?

My brain being my brain, there was a lot of internal discussion going on. One voice tried to keep me at home, explaining in a thousand ways how that was the safest option. Another voice tried to make me go out, reminding me that I think birthdays are important and adding a thousand other arguments. I won’t bore you with all the details.

I wondered how I was going to make a decision I would like, and remembered the horse shoe of have -to I created earlier during #NaBloPoMo. I realised the part of the horse shoe that stands for ‘I can’ might get me somewhere, so I made a list of ‘I can’ that felt relevant for today:
– I can go to lunch.
– I can go for a walk.
– I can paint.

The first two options were part of the party I was invited to. The third option would have me stay at home. The list of ‘can’ cleared my mind. I realised:
– I want to go to the party.
– I can go home if it’s not working for me.
– It will be easier fro me to join the lunch than a 7km walk.
– It’s lovely weather so I’d like to walk a bit.

I ended up walking to the party to join the lunch, and walking back home when the other ones went on a hike. I’m back home now, and I have time to rest before my son comes home. And time to write this post.

Since my brain has had a lot of training in negative and worried thoughts, I’ll have to practice it in the thoughts I want to have more of. The horse shoe of have-to can help me. Getting in touch with my values may help me, but only when I watch out for the difference between a value (a carrot for my inner adult or inner child) and a norm (which is a stick for my inner school master). Whatever decision I make will feel better if I manage to step away from I have to and find my way to I want to.

How will I do this after National Blog Posting Month is over and I don’t write about all this stuff any more? Hmmm, I guess I’ll have to search for my I want-to’s…

After an insight? Practice!

Applying yesterday’s wisdom, asking myself what I WANT.

1) I want to enjoy the quietness of my house on a Saturday morning. No noise, no obligations.
2) I want to write a blog post, but keep it short and light (no soul searching, see nr 1)
3) I want to celebrate that I wrote a short story yesterday, for the first time in years.

All three can be combined. My blog post for #NaBloPoMo day 18 will be a repost of that story I wrote and shared yesterday. Thank you to all the people who blogged stories during #NaBloPoMo. You made me want to write one again.

Here’s the link if you want to read it on my poetry and stories blog, including art work: Victor

Since clicking can be a hassle, I’ll also copy and paste here:

Victor

Victor was a boy who liked to write stories. He wrote everywhere he went. He wrote at school, during his lessons. He wrote in the bus. He wrote when he visited his parents.

Victor lived with his grandparents. He liked to show them his stories, and every once in a while they would read one of them. ‘That’s not much of a happy ending, is it?’is all his grandmother ever said. Grandfather corrected his spelling and grammar.

When Victor got older, he asked his parents to read his stories. They explained that they couldn’t digest words, only images. He asked his grandfather if his parents were illiterate. Grandfather said ‘no, they just don’t like to read’.

Victor never gave up. He wrote and wrote. His spelling and grammar became impeccable. Still his grandfather would only comment on alleged mistakes. Victor once asked him what difference grammar and spelling made to the quality of a story. Grandfather refused to look at him and yelled ‘you should know that by now’. Victor just wrote another story.

Grandmother kept wishing for happier endings. He once asked what that meant, a happy ending. She couldn’t explain it, she had only been taught how to complain.

Victor turned into a man who liked to write stories. He wrote poetry, he wrote prose. He even wrote television scripts for a while. His parents always admired the director.

Victor never got angry. He just wrote. His last story was about a young woman who murdered both her parents and her grand parents. ‘That’s not much of a happy ending, is it?’ his grandmother said. She never read his last words. He had chiselled them into the spotted marble himself.

‘I disagrie’

The difference between have-to and want-to

After meeting up with my friend yesterday I realised: I want a day off. When I wrote values to the rescue, taking a day off still felt a like “I need it, so I HAVE to do it”. Which set off the automatic response I’ve described in the horse shoe of have-to: “I don’t want to“. I needed a day off, but didn’t want one…

Some time to make me feel good
Because I was snooping around on Facebook and blogs, I realised I felt the need for connection. So I phoned a friend and we met. After that, I had planned to get some work done. I didn’t want a full day off, remember? Just some time to make me feel good.

Throwing things away for fun
Earlier that day I had had the weirdest experience. In the decluttering group, the prompt was to throw away something. At first I looked at it as ‘not my thing’. I had decided I needed fun today, and how much fun is it to throw something away? Then I realised I actually liked the thought of throwing things away. I was in an angry mood, p*ssed off that I was tired and had to adjust my plans Throwing stuff away was perfect for that feeling of anger. Mind you: the thing I chose had been on my to-do list for ages. It just never had priority, and I never had the energy. Now it was exactly what I needed. It had changed from something I felt I SHOULD do, in something I WANTED to do. Look at these before and after pictures:
Before, part 1
After part 1
I threw away a number of too small totally worn children’s shoes, and it felt great. They were just taking up space and nagging at my brain. I also threw away my once favourite red suede boots. I was sad to throw those away, but they weren’t wearable any more. I only kept them because they were my favourite shoes ever and I liked how they looked. It’s amazing what’s possible when you ditch resistance – throwing away things turned into fun!

Have to becomes want to
Back to my idea of getting things done. Meeting up with my friend worked really well. We talked, ate lunch and had fun. I stepped out of my stress zone. When I came home, it dawned upon me: I WANTED a day off. There was no good reason to wait until tomorrow, when I’d have exhaustion as a great excuse. I might as well take one now, and maybe get my things done tomorrow. Taking a day off had changed from ‘I have to’ into ‘I want to’. That felt so much better!

How to feel what I want
I’m guessing meditation could have had the same effect as meeting up with my friend: taking me out of my stress zone and reconnecting me with what I wanted.
I have known about the difference effect of ‘I have to’ versus ‘I want to’ for a long time. I knew how to substitute the words for each other (I have to → oh no, I have to want this → I want to). Today I realised that I have to search for I want to in a different place. Before I can feel what I want, I need to make room for my feelings.

I have too many inner people running the show otherwise.

I got a strange reward for taking my day off. Around dinner time a potential disastrous fight was developing in my household. I had patience, energy and clarity to deal with all the angry people (including my worried self). I stayed calm, took people apart, talked to one, then the other, and after everyone calmed down we had a nice evening together. I was SO relieved, and SO proud of myself for being able to do that. I know for sure that couldn’t have done it without my day off.

Values to the rescue

I’m tired and full of resistance, so I may as well have a look at my values to see if they can help me move forward today. My urge is to just crawl away and get noting done, and saying I needed it. If I’d really do that, I’d like it to be a positive choice and not a defensive one. So here it goes:

* Honesty (with myself and with others)
– I am really tired today.
– I think I’ve done too much this week already, even though I had promised myself to do better than last week.
Realisation: I am doing better than last week, even when I am this tired. I’ve given my inner child space and that worked.
– My resistance comes from being so tired: I’m afraid that if I get stuff done today, I’ll end up as tired as I was last week, and feel really, really stupid and like I haven’t learned anything at all.
Realisation: my inner schoolmaster has been nagging me from the moment I got up today: ‘don’t be lazy, get your stuff done, don’t give in to how you feel, work!’. My inner critic is warning me at the same time to not be stupid and make the same mistake twice. My brain is a battle ground.
Realisation 2: Someone has given me a wonderful tip on how I can integrate those different voices and make them work for me, but I haven’t followed it up yet.

Personal growth (I can deal with the setbacks because I grow from them)
Feeling this tired already in the morning is a setback. How can I deal with this in a way that makes me feel better about myself instead of worse?
Realisation: there’s something about being nice to myself, but I don’t know what that looks like yet. Adjusting my plans, by doing shorter time boxes? Following that tip about stuff that can help me? Taking the afternoon off? I’ll do more thinking about that when I’ve finished my list of values.

Family (my project is not allowed to make me exhausted and grumpy and make my loved ones suffer)
Last week I got so tired that I was unable to deal with my child as a parent, when we got into a fight. I turned into a child myself, and it was an ugly fight. I’ve said sorry and we solved it before he went to bed. I still hate that it happened though, and REALLY don’t want to have another day like that.
What does that tell me about my day today? Maybe that keeping my stress levels down today is more important than anything else. More important than my project, more important than my to do list, more important than my household task. That means that I should take the pressure off from getting things done, and make self care a priority. Things CAN get done, I don’t want it to be an excuse to do nothing. But they’ll have to got done within the framework of taking good care of myself. A priority is a priority.
Realisation: working less because I need it felt defensive. Working less today because I want to leave space for being a nice mum and partner, feels like a positive choice.

Fun
Realisation: When I feel like this, there’s no room for fun in my head. My head is filled with negative expectations about my day, not feeling that real fun is possible. Maybe ‘methadon-fun’ (meaning a substitute for real fun) is possible: doing small things that make me feel less bad. But to actually enjoy something and feel good? That seems impossible to my brain.
Realisation 2: I’m not willing to accept those ideas as true. Fun IS possible. And I need it.

I think I’m going to have a reverse day today: normally, I choose something fun as a reward for getting things done. Today, getting something done will be my reward for getting my fun done ;).

I know it sounds weird, and I don’t have a clue if it will work, but at least it got my mind into playful mode: I like this silly idea. And I’m wondering what silliness it will bring.

I’m sorry readers, my mood today makes me want to post this without working on the lay-out. Something went wrong, and working on it is just a drag. I might do it later though, the look of this pains me.
For now I’ve chosen meeting up with a friend as a self care part of the day. See you later!
#NaBloPoMo day 16

Planning is a way, not a destination

Yesterday’s results

  • I created a planning for the rest of this month
  • I got my planned filing done
  • I stuck to the planned time boxes (15 minutes for planning, 15 minutes for filing)
  • I enjoyed my planned reward

From the over-abundant use of the word plan in these four lines, you can concluded that I’m very relieved that I finally made it: to create a planning and stick to it.

What worked well?

  1. Planning in a time box of 15 minutes worked like a charm. I was aiming at getting the planning done, and didn’t get stuck in endless maybe’s, but’s and what if’s.
  2. I planned a time limit that was small enough to leave me energy after I’d finished it, and big enough to make me feel happy about how much I’d got done.
  3. I liked that it was just 15 minutes. It soothed my fear of doing too much and getting exhausted. It also soothed my fear of doing too little: 15 minutes today, 15 minutes tomorrow., etc. Small but steady works, as I learned from Less Stuff.
  4. I managed to let my inner child do the painting. She simply enjoyed to play with the materials and didn’t care about the result. I felt satisfied and relaxed within 45 minutes.
  5. I even created a limit for how long I want to work on these blog post (45 minutes maximum).

What worked less well?

  • I’m can’t remember if I really finished the planning, or just finished those 15 minutes.
  • I had promised myself to make a list of activities that I need to get done to get my planned result. I chose another chore this morning, because I really felt like doing, not like thinking.

My inner critic would like to tell me off for not sticking to my plan. My inner adult shrugs when she hears this. She reminds me that a planning is a way to get something done, not a goal in itself. The planned result is my destination, and I worked towards that.

The values I wrote down yesterday were honesty, personal growth, family and fun. My decision to postpone making a list of activities until tomorrow, is in line with those. I was honest with myself about really not wanting to do this today. It’s personal growth to let my inner adult run the show instead of the inner critic. I need to save some energy for later today, because my son comes home from school at 12.30 PM. Since my active, concrete chore didn’t drain me, I have energy left for some fun. Probably more painting.

#NaBloPoMo day 15

Does it lurk or skulk?

I am so good at avoiding planning, that I even mislaid the note pad I was creating my planning in. Years ago, before I became Procrastination Coach, I would have spent the rest of my day searching for my lost item, until I found it or was too exhausted to do anything else.

I’m smarter now. I searched for a new notebook, because I know the project is in my head. I am able to do further planning even without my original notes.

But, procrastination always lurks… I thought I was doing well: simply use a fresh notebook and start planning. But then I found myself:
– writing this post
– searching through my files for a text I’ve written about the importance of having a plan B
– visiting my official website to see if I had posted about it there

When I realised this was SO much distraction that I was allowed to label it procrastination, I went back to my note pad. I wrote down the basics of my project, as I had designed them before. My mini Project Initiation Document.

Still, procrastination lurked… I realised I hadn’t yet used all my project management skills in defining my plan. So I figured I’d look up some of documents I work with in my training, just to make sure that I wouldn’t forget anything. Maybe I can call the one who suggested this to me my ‘inner distractor’.

Because when I think about it a bit longer, I know I have all the knowledge I need right here in my own head. Searching for those documents was nothing more then giving in to the whole sense of fear that the subject of planning installs in my: “You might not be able to do this. You are going to mess this up! You’re headed towards a disaster!!”. So I’ll start looking for things to back me up, as an external safety net: theory, documents, different methods. The hidden reasoning probably being something like: if I’m not good enough, as I fear, they will catch me and I’ll still be able to do my work properly.

I have already stepped into the different method trap: when I couldn’t find the documents I needed as fast as I wanted them, my inner distractor told me ‘wait, you have a coaching method that might be helpful. Tie your project to your values, they can be your compass when your planning goes wrong. So I wrote down:
– honesty (with myself and with others)
– personal growth (I can deal with the setbacks because I grow from them)
– family (my project is not allowed to make me exhausted and grumpy and make my loved ones suffer)
– fun (totally lacking last week, being too serious all the time is not good for me).

And then I realised that was procrastination too. I was still avoiding my planning task. I can tell it’s procrastination because it made me feel bad. I wasn’t left with the feeling: ‘yay, that was an important step, I’m glad I added it.’ I was left with a feeling that said ‘you’re not getting yourself where you want to be’.

After that, I wrote this post. Great for both avoiding and personal growth. I’ll finish this now, and apply my own methods to me:
– . I won’t post it before my planning is done. (that will work out as accountability)
– I will make the planning process nicer by playing music that soothes me or gives me hope. (adding positive things to a task you dread or dislike).
– I will time box: I’ll set a timer to 15 minutes. I’m going to do as much as I can in those fifteen minutes, because when the bell rings I’ll quit. 15 minutes looks too short to me, which will motivate me to not spend too much time on thinking without making decisions
– I’ll plan a reward. Since I didn’t plan fun last week, the reward will be 2 hours to paint or do whatever creativity I’ll feel like (this will also help me stick to my 15 minutes: I know if I get exhausted I don’t even want to do something creative any more)

Today procrastination lurks. And skulks. It pussyfoots and mooches. But you know what? there’s a success I can pat myself on the back for anyway. I am SO aware of the fact that fear triggers procrastination, that there’s no room for my inner critic to tell me off. He wants it, he wants it so badly! But I know it’s normal, it’s human, and I’ve found a way to deal with it. My 15 minutes of planning start now.

I did it. 15 minutes. My planning is done. My #NaBloPoMo post is done. I don’t feel relieved, I feel stressed. Probably created a planning has ignited my fear of failure. The cat is on my lap now. She will make things better.

Here’s why I don’t plan

I wrote yesterday that I procrastinate on planning – because I fear I won’t stick to it. Then I wrote that I’d start this week with thinking instead of doing. I planned to plan, but I didn’t do it…

Here’s what I did instead. I’ll show you the pictures first, and then explain how I feel about it:

1) A before picture. This is a part of our dinner table. It has been looking like this for more than three months I believe. This even is the already slightly better looking version compared to last week:
Before
2) An after picture… No, not really. This was an intermediate stage. I don’t live in a magazine.

After -I wish

3) The true after picture. It’s more organised than it was before, and I’ve thrown away lots of papers and stuff. There’s still stuff in this pile I have to deal with. It probably won’t happen today.
The real after

If I have enough time and energy today, I’ll clean out the chair first (that pile on the right side of the picture). It stands out like a sore now.

How do I feel now? I’m proud I finally worked on something that I really wanted to get rid of. It’s even linked to my November project: there were papers in there that need to be filed to do our taxes.

I do feel a bit silly for skipping the planning and doing this instead. I said I would plan, and I didn’t do it. Lame. But… That’s my inner critic talking. I’ll hand the microphone over to my inner adult:

This was the perfect day to seize this opportunity. The planning I had planned (yes, chuckles and loud laughter are allowed) can be done tomorrow.

#NaBloPoMo day 13 done. And a mini Mount Doom tackled.

I took care of my inner child today

… and here’s what we did:

De_Vliegende_Hollander_(Efteling)
[image source https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:De_Vliegende_Hollander_(Efteling).JPG]

At the end of last week I realised I had missed out on something really important: creating time and space for my inner happy child. My inner child is the part of me that’s playful, spontaneous, fun-loving, relaxed, feels connected to other people, etc. The part of me that contributes to my health and wellbeing by keeping me sane.

She got negelected badly last week. My inner schoolmaster and inner critic had a ball, and my inner adult was working hard on dealing with all of that. Each time my inner happy child suggested to do something fun, all of them ignored her. Jig saw puzzle? No time for that. Painting? Has to wait, we have serious stuff going on.

At the beginning of my November project I thought about how I could make this much dreaded project a success, instead of it making all my fears come true. I had some vague ideas about planning and concrete ideas on protecting myself from scope creep. I included things I know from my work as procrastination coach, like breaks on time (instead of too late) and small but helpful rewards.

I learned from last week that I should plan more than just recovery time. I need happy time as well.

I’ll start my work week tomorrow by doing some thinking again, to improve on the half-finished plan I’ve made. I procrastiate on planning… the trigger is that I have low confidence in my ability to stick to a concrete plan. Life comes in between, fatigue comes in between, and a limitless number of other threats. My brain tells me it’s not a problem to change a plan if that’s necessary. My emotions tell me changing a plan is too dangerous. They know what my inner critic will do…

Eat this inner critic: #NaBloPoMo day 12 is done! 😉

I’m sad about it

I think I’ve managed to write a lot more about my thoughts than about my feelings this far. Thinking is a great way of staying away from my feelings. Writing is a great way of sort of going there, but with a contamination suit on: I’ll witness them more than I feel them.

I don’t like to write about my feelings, but luckily there’s music. I’m still tired of a tough week, even though I took that break yesterday. I feel bad. And I’m sad about it.

Oh, I’ve just discovered an older version of this song!

No more writing, no more analyzing, no more dealing with physical or mental stuff today. I’ll treat myself like I have the flu, and listen to a lot of Lee Moses. I’ve only discovered him just now. What a voice! So much soul!

#NaBloPoMo day 11 (National Blog Posting Month = posting a blog post every day for the month of November)