Sometimes postponing is a form of resistance, but in this case, postponing is the first step in resolving resistance. I don’t want to, but I really need to move a few projects from my Current Projects list to my Someday list.
So with regret, I’m postponing my new fiction project. I still play with the characters when I’m drifting off to sleep, but despite having at least four research books checked out from the library, I’m not actively exploring ancient Oceanic culture enough to really understand my characters.
Refusing to Choose Breeds Havoc
While freewriting along with students in my Discover Your Way Around the Writer’s Block class last week, I realized I’ve invented a new form of resistance: over-commitment.
Over-commitment is a kind of creative greed. It’s a hangover from cultural messages that women can “have it all if we work hard enough.” But primarily, over-commitment is a priority problem.
Because I don’t want to consciously choose which projects to surrender, I can’t consciously choose what projects truly are the priorities I need to focus on. Consequently, my energy is unfocused. I waste time and energy flitting between too many projects, delaying my ability to complete any of them.
Worse, I end up investing time in the “default priority” of whatever has the closest deadline. I do what’s urgent without considering if it’s important. Default priorities also come in the form of whatever others ask me to do or whatever happens to fall in front of me when I’m tired and primed for distractions.
Resistance Partners Spring from a Common Source
Over-commitment often partners with overscheduling; I have so much to do (because I’m afraid to say no to anything), so I try to work harder, longer and smarter. This only results in working longer to produce less.
I tell myself “I’m too busy to plan or prioritize.” I just keep adding to my To Do list. Consistently having more to do on my daily list than I can actually do disguises the fact that I’m avoiding certain tasks. Keeping my weekly Priority lists on separate pages makes it easy to not notice how I shift a so-called priority from one week to the next and the next…
When I allow over-commitment to drive me, I’m like the mule that starved to death between two bales of hay because she couldn’t decide which bale to eat first.
I’m afraid I’ll make the wrong choice, afraid I’ll lose out on an opportunity and miss out on creative fun, and afraid I’ll disappoint someone. Of course, refusing to make a choice is the worst possible choice. When I don’t choose which opportunities to delay, I can’t truly invest in any opportunity and lose out on the real fun of bringing one thing to completion.
Coaching Solution Follows the 4 Steps to Resolve Resistance
If I were my coach, I’d ask “What if there are no wrong choices? What if every project is an opportunity that offers both creative fun and hard work? What if I focus on how I can satisfy myself while serving others instead of worrying about disappointing someone?”
Acknowledging my regrets about postponing fiction led me to recognize another subtle way I do resistance (Step 1 – for more about the 4 Steps, see chapter 9 of AWB). This awareness allows me to relax and bring my cortex back online so I can think creatively and courageously (Step 2).
My next step is to respect the resistance by asking and freewriting about what I need to make difficult choices (Step 3). Then and only then will I know where and how to redirect my energy to take action on those challenging choices (Step 4).
What do you need? Is refusing to choose your priorities one of the ways you do resistance? What perspective widening questions would you want me to ask you if I were your coach? (BTW: I have a few openings in my coaching schedule this fall – send a private email to Rosanne @RosanneBane.com and we’ll chat to see if I’m the coach you need.)