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After ___ Then I will….

  • After I get in shape, then I will start CrossFit.
  • After I get my life together, then I will start going on dates to meet someone.
  • After I get my house in order, then I will start meditating.
  • After I make some more money, then I will invest in my future.
  • After the pandemic, then I will start looking for new jobs.

This is a common thought pattern that we are all guilty of thinking and saying out loud. Sometimes the statement embedded in this “after/then” thought structure is logical; however, this is the exception and not the norm. More often, this thinking pattern is an avoidant coping mechanism. It justifies inaction by convincing ourselves that we need to HAVE something before we can DO something else. Therefore, we continue to postpone becoming the person we wish to BE.

The “after/then” thought pattern is a great example of how our thoughts influence our behavior, and one of the types of behavior that this thinking pattern influences is procrastination.

“Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem,”

Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa.

In a 2013 study, Dr. Pychyl and Dr. Sirois found that procrastination can be understood as ‘the primacy of short-term mood repair … over the longer-term pursuit of intended actions.’ Put simply, procrastination is about being more focused on ‘the immediate urgency of managing negative moods’ than getting on with the task, Dr. Sirois said.”

Charlotte Lieberman

If procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, then take your “after/then” statement and ask yourself how you’ll feel if you were doing what you said you were postponing now. For instance,

  • If you were doing Crossfit now, how would you feel?
  • If you were going on dates now, how would you feel?
  • If you were meditating now, how would you feel?
  • If you were investing in your future now, how would you feel?
  • If you were looking at new jobs now, how would you feel?

There is a shift in energy and possibility when you allow yourself to visualize the intended future in the present moment. Remember, the hardest part about following your dreams is that you don’t have to. When you convince yourself that certain things HAVE to happen before other things can take place, you take yourself OFF THE HOOK. When you are off the hook, you temporarily feel better about not doing what you actually want to do because you’ve rationalized that there are legitimate reasons other than your own hesitation and insecurity that are keeping you from being able to start.

“Being on the hook means that you can get blamed, and getting blamed means you can get fired for what you did (or didn’t do). For some of us, though, on the hook is the best place to be. It’s on you. It’s on me. Our choice, our turn, our responsibility.”

Seth Godin, The Practice

THE OPPORTUNITY IS to put yourself ON THE HOOK.

  • If I start CrossFit, then I CAN get in shape
  • If I start going on dates, then I CAN get practice learning about the kind of life I want to create and share with someone else.
  • If I start meditating, then I CAN be better EQUIPPED to get my house in order.
  • If I invest in my future, I CAN create more wealth for myself and family both financially and spiritually.
  • If I start looking for jobs now, I can more likely have a job I really like by the time the pandemic has passed or sooner.

Yes, there are times when you aren’t ready to be ON THE HOOK. However, I encourage you, and myself, to be cautious of choosing to remain OFF THE HOOK too often. By being ON THE HOOK, you are experiencing life in pursuit of your commitments, regardless of what the outcomes may be.

“Good judgment comes from bad experience and bad experience comes from bad judgment… so, have at it!”

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