Coach Carlene

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Feeling like you’re not good enough? 

Feeling like you’re not ready? 

Doubting yourself? 

If you’re suffering from impostor syndrome, it’s not an issue of whether or not you have the skill. The problem is that you have a pattern of thinking in a way that stops you the moment you start to doubt yourself. 

The “I’m not good enough,” it’s a habit. That’s it. It’s a lie you keep telling yourself. Every time you start putting up excuses, remind yourself, whoa, whoa, whoa, this is that “I’m not good enough thing and I am not going to allow this in my life anymore.” 

Here’s the work. It’s very simple. Recognize the pattern. We want to expand the gap between the pattern that triggers you to think you’re not good enough, which is not true, and your reaction to it.

The feelings are real. They’re real and they are normal. But that doesn’t mean that they have to dictate what you do. You feel like you’re unworthy? That’s normal. Do it anyway. You feel stupid writing this personal Instagram post? That’s normal. Do it anyway.

You may feel that you’re not worthy for your entire life, unless you take charge of that annoying voice in your head.

Here’s the thing. You can still take action. 

You have to learn how to let the feelings of doubt rise up but take action anyway. You’ve got to learn to embrace the fact that you’re going to feel like an impostor, but you my friend, are the kind of person that moves forward anyway. 

The way that you change it is by saying to yourself, 

“I’m going to go through the day and I’m going to notice every time I think garbage, and I’m going to say NO we’re not doing this today. I’m not good enough, but I’m going to keep on going anyway. Oh yeah, you think I’m not good enough? Watch me.” 

And then you do the thing that makes you prove that you don’t believe the garbage of “I’m not good enough.” Because you, my friend, can Do It Scared! 

Inaction breeds self-doubt. Action builds confidence. 

Want to learn more about crushing that self-doubt?
Download your free guide below:
The Habit of Self-Doubt: How to Crush It and Build Real Confidence

We can all agree that waking up feeling anxious sets you up for a horrible day. And how crappy is it that you haven’t even gotten out of bed and you’re stressed already?!

It doesn’t have to be that way. Trust me. If you take one small step it will lead to another small step and then another. You don’t have to sit in your anxiety. Follow these steps and then I invite you to add/change them based on what works for you. Make yourself a promise to take one first step.

1.Get up! Do not lay in bed.

This is your one first step. It is also THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. Let’s do this.

If you can get up, you can get moving. If you can get moving, you can get dressed. If you can get dressed, you can move your body. If you can move your body, you can move your emotions. If you can move your emotions, you can move your mind. If you can move your mind, you can move your mood. One thing leads to another. 

2. Make your bed. 

I still make my side of the bed even if my husband is still in it. I make my bed when I’m in a hotel room. I do it for myself. It’s a little promise I keep to myself. It’s a habit. Habits are amazing at grounding us. It creates a foundation; a foundation that’s there for us no matter where we are. It’s right here, even in a moment of anxiety. 

3. Talk back to your anxiety.

Remind yourself that you’re ok. Step back and notice that you are safe. Nothing bad is happening right now. Yes, the anxiety feels bad and uncomfortable, but you are ok. 

4. Get your exercise clothes on.

Seriously, this is a game changer. It’s a constant reminder that you need to move your body or exercise (whatever you call it). Do this step and you’re more likely to do the next step. In fact, I put my exercise clothes out the night before. I don’t need more decisions to make when I wake up.

5. Move your body. 

Moving your body, moves the anxiety out. This isn’t about crushing a workout. This is about doing whatever releases the stress and anxiety for you. For some it’s yoga, others cardio, others strength training, or simply stretch for 10 minutes. Play with it and see what gives you the best relief. 

6. Move your mind.

Journal. Do a brain dump. Write down every single thing that is on your mind. By clearing your mind and letting go off all that stuff, you manage the anxiety instead of it managing you. 

You don’t have to let anxiety hijack you. You can meet those moments and manage them. Whether those moments are when you wake up or it’s the anxiety that comes at night, or the anxiety that is your companion during the day.

Anxiety is a normal part of life. Having a simple process allows you to respond to it vs. reacting to it. It’s an essential skill that makes a profound difference in your ability to move through your life and face the obstacles that life throws at you. 

I’d love to hear what works for you. Give yourself permission to find your best way to manage your anxiety. 

Raise your hand if you’re a self-proclaimed perfectionist. You too huh?

PER-FEC_TION-ISM

/PER-FEK/SHUH-NIZ-UH M/

Noun

Obsession with “getting it perfect” to avoid criticism and failure.

Did you know perfectionism is one of the biggest confidence killers? 

The pursuit of perfection can be crippling. This perfectionist thinking mostly plagues women.

If perfection is your standard, of course you will never be fully confident, because the bar is always impossibly high, and you will inevitably and routinely feel inadequate.

I used to think perfectionism was about having a high standard for myself. But it was actually an excuse I used to procrastinate on something I didn’t have much confidence around. It was my way of insulating myself from criticism.

In a previous FB video, I shared how action is the antidote to self-doubt. Well, here’s the rub, perfectionism keeps us from action. Perfectionism is the greatest form of procrastination.

We don’t answer questions until we are totally sure of the answer. We don’t submit a report until we’ve edited it to death.  We don’t sign up for that triathlon unless we know we are faster and fitter than is required. 

We manage to extend the perfectionist disease to our entire lives. We obsess about our performance at home, at school, at work, on holiday, and even at yoga class. We obsess as mothers, as wives, as cooks, as sisters, as friends, employees, bosses, and athletes.

Here’s the secret I discovered: perfection is NOT possible. Looking for it will only hold you back. Why are you driving yourself crazy over something that isn’t even attainable?

Let’s say you get anxious in social situations and you want every conversation to be perfect. That’s never going to happen. You can have a good, even great conversation but not a perfect one. So instead, you avoid connecting with people. You’re missing out on the joys of being part of things.

You’re standing on the side-lines instead of getting in the game, all because you fear being judged or rejected because you aren’t perfect. 

Perfectionism comes at a cost. It keeps us stuck in the cycle of self-doubt. As harsh as it sounds, it is an EXCUSE to avoid something we don’t like or we don’t have much confidence around. 

It keeps us from putting our great ideas and our great selves out into the world. 

I invite you to join me and be imperfect. Be ruthless, hardworking, driven, insightful, kind, open to constructive criticism, and most importantly be yourself.

An imperfect you is always better than an incomplete life.

Learn more about how to crush self-doubt. Get your free guide here.
 The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

Do you believe that you are either good at math or bad at math? You can’t change it no matter how much you try? That is what is called a fixed mind-set. In other words, you believe that your abilities are fixed and cannot be changed.

Confidence is less about what you were born with, and more about what you make of yourself. 

Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, found that the most successful and fulfilled people in life always believe they can improve, that they can still learn things. Let’s go back to the example of how women and men approach their math skills. Most women think their abilities are fixed. They’re either good at math or bad at math. The same goes for a host of other challenges that women tend to take on less often than men do: leadership, entrepreneurship, public speaking, asking for raises, financial investment, even parking the car.

Many women think, but I’ve never had the confidence to try. It’s not that I assume I wouldn’t be good at it—I assume I’d be terrible at it, that I’m not a natural businessperson, driver, investor, speaker, and on and on we go.

Running a workshop, I feel quite confident, but being a keynote speaker terrifies me. I realize now that the only way to get the confidence I need would be to give it a try. And Dweck’s work allows me to see this as a skill set to develop rather than one I innately have or don’t have.

The key to creating a growth mind-set is to start small. Think about what you praise in yourself or your kids. If you praise ability by saying, “You’re so smart” or “You’re so good at tennis; you’re a natural athlete,” you are instilling a fixed mind-set.

If, however, you say, “You’ve worked so hard at tennis, especially your backhand,” you are encouraging a growth mind-set.

Making a distinction between talent and effort is critical.

If we believe that somehow we’re given talents at birth that we can’t control, then we’re unlikely to believe we can really improve on areas in which we’re weak. But when success is measured by effort and improvement, then it becomes something we can control, something we can choose to improve upon. It encourages mastery.

Do you have a fixed or growth mind-set?

Listen to that chatter in your head. And listen to your language when supporting others.

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from potential clients about the rise of business & life coaches they are seeing on social media since COVID19. Most are confused and suspicious by the “Trust me, I’m a #lifecoach” message. And, rightfully so.

This isn’t really new. The coaching market has always been muddied by the untrained, self-anointed “coach”. It seems some people have re-evaluated their lives and what they do. They say, “My passion is to help people find their passion.” “My purpose is to help people find their purpose.”

This is a noble and beautiful goal; to dedicate your life to empowering others to reach their full potential. According to a Gallup poll, 70% of Americans are disengaged with their jobs, and millions of people are depressed and unfulfilled. 

We need more coaches. More business coaches, relationship coaches, career coaches, leadership coaches, communications coaches, and even more life coaches. But we need coaches who are honest about the services they are able to provide to their clients. And more importantly, to be just as authentic about the services they are not qualified to offer.

In 2012, the International Coach Federation (ICF) reported that life coaching is a $2 billion a year industry. Since there is wide disagreement on the value of professional coaching certification programs and many coaches don’t pursue formal training, this number is probably higher.

Here’s the rub. It feels like every third or fourth post on my Instagram feed is a quote from some “guru” or a perfectly manicured story of how a coach has experienced self-growth and personal a-ha’s and somehow their personal revelations alone, now makes them qualified to help you. Low barriers to entry are allowing more people to anoint themselves as coaches – and that presents some issues.

Just to confirm, I am a huge fan of coaching. I am a Coach. I’ve had numerous coaches (business, life and otherwise) in the years I’ve been an entrepreneur and they’ve had a positive and significant impact on my life. Some of the most successful people in sports, business and in life all have coaches. A legitimate coach can take your life or career to a whole new level.

Yet most of these new coaches are not legitimate. Reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, watching a Dr. Brene Brown TED Talk and learning about chakras doesn’t give anyone the expertise or the talent to shepherd others through the major healings, breakthroughs or life changes they need to make – personally or professionally.

There are dangers present with this new dynamic. If you fall prey to, no fault of your own, a fake-it-till-you-make-it coach, they are not just being an imposter, they are misleading people at best, and potentially harming their lives at worst.

So what should you do if you want to get a coach?

Here are 3 questions to ask when looking for a legitimate coach who can serve your needs.

1. HOW RELATABLE IS THIS COACH?

Do they get you? Can they relate to what you’re going through? Many cannot. 

If you seek personal help, ask if this has coach been through and overcome the things you’re experiencing. This could include being stuck, low self-esteem, work/life out of balance, non-existent self-care, limiting beliefs, self-sabotage, trust issues, ADHD, parenting challenges, divorce, loneliness etc.

On a professional level, ask if this coach has started a business, created wealth or been at the levels that you want to reach? Ask them about their career and what they’ve actually done. Having a career of their own, does not make them qualified to be a career coach. 

In fact, while you want someone who can empathize and truly understand what you’re going through, their personal experience alone is not enough. Beware of the coach who over-shares their story. If it feels egomaniacal to you, it’s probably best to move on. 

Have they been coached?

A good coach usually has a coach. They understand what it feels like to sit on the other side of the coaching conversation. They know first-hand that coaching can be uncomfortable in a good, life changing way. They know what it means to be vulnerable and how difficult it is to do the difficult work of change. If you look at sports, a majority of sports coaches have played the game. They’ve been coached. 

2. HOW CREDIBLE IS THIS COACH?

Do they have training?

While many coaches undergo some type of training, in theory, there’s nothing stopping anyone from sliding “coach” into their Instagram bio or LinkedIn. Coaching is a skill that needs to be honed and practiced. A coaching conversation is much different than giving advice. Training isn’t a one -time thing. Most dedicated coaches are life-long learners, engaging in new methods and practices to stay current and relevant. 

First do no harm. 

Because there is no single regulating body that imposes oversight in the life coach industry, and when “experts” are self-anointed, there’s much potential to do damage. During my 2 years of coach training we explored the many differences between coaching and therapy. We were trained to not cross the line into therapy. Most well-trained coaches know just enough about psychotherapy to be dangerous. 

And while not every potential client may be rushing to unpack their most serious trauma, stakes run high when issues that are typically handled by a highly trained psychotherapy professional fall into the hands of an undertrained “expert.” 

Do they have certifications?

Many of the top coaching certifications cost several thousands of dollars and help provide tools and frameworks for coaches. While certifications aren’t everything, it’s certainly important to consider as a method for measuring substance and commitment. There’s no standard signifier indicating training, education and certification, such as MD for doctors or LCSW for social workers. 

Do they have references?

One quick way to validate a coach is to ask for references. If they are experienced, and effective, then they will definitely have great references. 

If the coach is too new to have references, that’s ok. Yet, they should be upfront about it. Then you can make a judgement call based on how you feel about them and their pricing.

BEWARE of the fake testimonial. 

Even if there is a name and picture, some self-anointed coaches have had a friend pose as a client. Watch the language used too. If there is marketing lingo like “I’ve been transformed.” “Something inside me has been ignited.” “My life was forever altered after only one session.” – It’s probably a total fake at worst or embellished by the so-called coach at best. If you wouldn’t use those words yourself, that’s a good sign neither did an actual client. 

How long have they been doing this?

When researching a coach, you should inquire as to their experience level in terms of number of clients, years of practicing, & hours of coaching. The latter is the best sign they are credentialed. Every credentialed coach has to track coaching hours. If they’ve just started, then it’s reasonable to assume that they don’t have the expertise, or they may not even be as committed to the work. If you see some history, that’s a great sign that they are committed, experienced and have value to bring.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to start from somewhere, yet an inexperienced coach can simply charge as much as an experienced coach. It’s important to understand the value proposition. 

A legitimate new coach commonly offers pro-bono and reduced cost sessions. It’s their best way to practice honing the skills of coaching. They are upfront with you that they are practicing. Do not get stuck paying top dollar for an inexperienced coach who is only using you to reach their own personal income goals. 

3. HOW LIKABLE IS THIS COACH?

First impressions are everything. In this digital age our first impression is usually on-line. Peruse their website. Research them on social media. Listen to your gut as you’re scrolling through Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Do they have a good photo so you can see who they are? Yes, that is important for first impressions. 

Or is every other post a picture of them followed by a caption saying, “Listen Babe, blah blah blah advice.” Coaching is not about giving advice. It’s quite the opposite and that’s for another article. 

If something turns you off, move on.  

FINAL WORD

While there are exceptions to every rule, determining if a coach is Relatable, Credible
and Likable
are effective in sniffing out any red flags. You want to feel comfortable on both pragmatic and intuitive levels. At the end of the day, you want to look for honesty, authenticity and expertise.

Use your mind to evaluate their legitimacy and use your intuition to feel out what is best for you. Then dive into the work. Good luck.

Tuning out her son army crawling across the floor to grab his headphones and helping her daughter make homemade tortillas for her Spanish class all while running a virtual team meeting was the breaking point for one of my executive clients.

Let’s call this client Claire. During our last conversation I could hear her exhaustion, frustration and overwhelm.

She sighed, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I’ve hit the wall!”

Can you relate?

After weeks and weeks “safe-at-home” we are hearing more and more that people are feeling overworked, distracted, stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. Adrenaline got us through those first weeks. Now we’re reaching into our energy reserves to get us through.

Claire knows she is not showing up for her team or family like she wants to or like they need her to. Not only is she distracted, but she’s got a short fuse. She says she doesn’t have any patience to listen to her family or team. She wants to simply tell them what to do and move on. Her stress is at an all-time high.

When our brains are flooded with stress chemicals, we lose the ability to show up with empathy.

Add to that, we are no longer getting that great energy from being with others in person.

And the cherry on top is that connecting virtually comes at a cost. According to Harvard Business Review, we are suffering from “Zoom fatigue”. They have found that when we are on virtual calls, we have to use so much more energy to focus. This explains why Claire is so exhausted after meeting on-screen at least 6 hours a day.

Meeting in person is like having a healthy, well-balanced meal and meeting virtually is like eating cheetos for dinner.

After talking more, we discovered Claire is not taking care of herself. Her sleep is erratic at best. Exercise is non-existent. She has her leaded coffee for breakfast, cheez itz for lunch and M&M’s for dinner.

Claire wants to do better.

I asked her what she could do now to empty all the crap out of her cup and fill it with things to reduce her stress and give her more energy and focus.

She said, “I think I need to make wellness part of my job description. Framing it that way will help me make it a priority.”

I usually don’t encourage clients to take on more than one change at a time. But Claire is ready to do radical self-care. She decided to tackle three areas that will have the greatest positive impact on her overall well-being.

Eating

  • Claire has committed to eating something high in protein with her morning coffee.
  • She’s blocking 30 minutes at noon each day to eat a healthy lunch with her daughter and catch up with her.
  • She’s telling her team that her workday is done at 6pm and will make a weekly plan with her family for getting a healthy meal on the table every night.

Movement (Exercise has a negative connotation for Claire.)

  • Claire committed to doing 15 push-ups as she rolls out of bed.
  • Claire will set her timer to go off 30 minutes into each meeting and have everyone get up and move for 5 minutes.
  • She committed to walking the dog with her husband every night after dinner.

Sleep

  • Claire will go to bed at 10:30pm and wake up at 6:30am every day.
  • She will do a 5-10 minute meditation to wind down from the day and clear her mind.
  • She will not check her phone in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. She will check her phone after she has had her breakfast.

This is the time to double down on our self-care.

In fact, Claire told me she was never this “messy” with her self-care. She can’t even believe what bad habits she has adopted these past several weeks. She’s confident she can get back on track.

If you’ve got some messy self-care going on, make your own action plan of specific things you’re going to do to start feeling better.

Kids with ADHD often interact in ways that can provoke negative reactions from peers.

Do any of these ADHD Behaviors sound like your child?

Dominating: Tries to dominate play or engage in ways that are too aggressive, demanding, and intrusive.

Bossy & Uncooperative: They may have trouble joining in with peers in the things their peers like to do. Instead, they may want to make their own set of rules, or engage in bossy, “unfair” or non-compliant ways, and generally may have a hard time knowing how to cooperate with other kids the same age.

Unaware of Social Cues: Many kids with ADHD have a hard time picking up on and reading social cues because of their struggle with attention.

Boredom and Distraction: Kids may become bored easily, get distracted and “check out” on friends.

Emotionally Reactive: Many kids with ADHD also have a hard time managing difficult feelings and can very quickly become overwhelmed, frustrated, and emotionally reactive.

What’s a Parent To Do?

Our kids do not want to talk with us about their challenges, and certainly not their social challenges.

Even so, there are things you can do to start building trust with your child. You want to be their safe place. They need a safe place.

The best place to start is by shedding your parenting cloak and show up as a coach for your child.

Here’s how to have a coaching conversation with anyone!

Use the PAUSE Method

Pause. Stop. Breath. Understand and take control of your emotions. The difference between an emotional reaction and a thoughtful response is the Pause.

Acknowledge. Acknowledge the other person’s feelings. Say, “I can see how important this is to you. I know this is a hard situation. I notice how much you care about this. I can hear in your voice how hurt you are.”

Understand. Get curious. Seek to understand the situation better before trying to fix it. Ask, “What else happened? What made you think that? What are you assuming? What is the worst thing about this? What is the best thing about this?

Solve. Partner with the other person to come up with solutions. You are not to fix-it for them. Ask, “What can you do about this? What do you have control over? What are your options? If you could do anything to fix this, no matter how crazy it sounds what would it be?”

Encourage. Nurture continued and future communication. Remind the person you are always available to listen. Be in a state of support, not judgement.

Coaching Conversations Guide Posts:

  1. Always ask “What” Questions. Never “Why”. Why puts people on the defensive.
  2. Always ask permission to share your opinion or your own story.
This takes practice. Be patient with yourself.

So much to do, so little time.

If you’ve ever thought that just a few more hours in the day would be a huge help in getting to the end of your to-do lists, then you’re not alone.

There will always be more work to do.

Creating an effective to-do list can help alleviate stress by getting all your tasks out in front of you, where you can organize them to be done in the most effective way.

Without some direction in your daily to-do lists, though, days can seem to drag on, filled with distractions, and lacking in productivity. We have trouble knowing where to start, over-commit ourselves, or fail to make room for the realistic deadlines.

How often do you end up moving tasks from today’s to-do list onto tomorrow’s list? This is not how to-do lists are supposed to work; it is a sign that your daily to-do lists are not working for you.

One LinkedIn survey estimated that about 41% of to-do tasks are never completed even though more than 60% of professionals use them. So why do so many of us fail our to-do lists?

Let’s assume that you’ve already made your to-do list for today based on urgency and deadlines. This is the stuff you MUST do today or your world will end. Well, not really. It kind of feels like it though.

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Here’s a sample daily to-do list:

~Do Laundry
~Send client emails
~Pay bills
~Prepare for staff meeting
~Pick up kids
~Write project proposal
~Meditate
~Journal

Now, see if you can lump any activities together under the same theme. For example:

Theme 1: Errands and chores
~Do laundry
~Pay bills
~Pick up kids

Theme 2: Self-Care
~Meditate
~Journal

Theme 3: Work
~Prepare for staff meeting
~Send client emails
~Write project proposal

This type of scaffolding helps you stay organized and focused and lets you knock off some of these tasks at the same time.

Try this and notice how you are also using your energy more effectively throughout the day.

I always tell my clients, “It’s not how well you manage your time that matters, it’s how well you manage your energy.”

Do you have a hidden advantage?

Maybe you live with ADHD and creativity comes naturally for you.

More good news; recent research shows individuals with ADHD have an innate creative potential that could put them among an organization’s most valued employees.

Researchers at the University of Michigan studied a group of college students with and without ADHD who were compared on lab tasks of creativity and found the research indicates that individuals with ADHD are:
  • More flexible in tasks that require creating something new, and less likely to rely on example and previous knowledge.
  • Less prone to design fixation or the tendency to get stuck in a rut,
  • Less likely to stick closely to what already exists when creating a new product.
This research provides more confirmation that the characteristics of ADHD can be an asset in creative endeavors. It also means that for those with ADHD, finding the right career to allow that creativity to flourish is essential

Is creativity alone enough to rise above the competition and put your innovations out in the world?

Of course, you also need the hard skills or technical skills, that you learn in school or training programs.
In order to ensure your ideas come to life you need a combination of technical (hard) skills and inter-personal (soft) skills.

Creativity is one of many soft skills that is essential in a world where innovation is paramount to an organization’s growth.

7 Other Soft Skills to Boost Your Creative Impact

  1. Communication
    With the number of emails, proposal and design documents, clear and compelling written communication is essential. Effective verbal communication is equally important.  If you work in the IT field, you often have to explain technical processes in clear, easy-to-understand terms for customers and employers. You must also be able to explain your ideas in such a way as to make others want to support and finance your projects. Without strong communication skills, your creative genius will be overlooked and your creative ideas will never make it to market.
  2. Determination
    A number of innovative projects stall because of a variety of issues: financial problems, issues with vendors, problems with software, hardware or processes, a lack of teamwork, or one of many other reasons. It is important for to stay focused on the ultimate goal and continue to work toward that result. Beginning a project with a clear and realistic timeline and budget can help you achieve your ultimate goal. Your employer will be impressed with your ability not only to plan a project, but also to see it through to completion.
  3. Flexibility
    Professionals often face setbacks or unexpected changes, ranging from a technical problem with their project to a last-minute issue with a vendor or a change in direction from management or the client. You must be open to suggestions and feedback, whether from an employer or client. Listen attentively to any feedback you receive, and be open to making necessary changes to improve satisfaction.You need to learn to be flexible, accepting these changes and immediately looking for creative solutions. Employers will appreciate this flexibility.
  4. Leadership
    Even if you are not in a management position, you will often be asked to manage a project or team. Being a project manager requires strong communication skills, the ability to delegate tasks, and a constant focus on the end goal. You may also be involved in client and vendor management. It is essential that you know how to communicate with clients and vendors effectively to ensure your company’s needs are being met efficiently.
  5. Listening
    It is not only important to communicate your own ideas, but you also need to listen actively to others. It’s important to listen closely to what the client or your employer wants so that you can give them exactly what they are asking for. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand the other person.
  6. Negotiation
    No matter what your position, you will need some form of negotiation skills, from making hiring decisions to collaborating with vendors or contractors to selling your idea to an organization. Being able to come to an agreement that satisfies both parties is a great soft skill that will make you stand out, particularly if you want to be promoted to a management position.
  7. Teamwork
    Innovation projects are often the work of a team of professionals rather than an individual. Therefore, teamwork is essential. You need to be able to communicate your ideas and listen to others’ suggestions, and know when to take a leadership role and when to be a team player.

Master these soft skills and your creative ideas will come to life!

“Lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin

If you have ADHD and/or are a chronic procrastinator, you’ve probably wondered why you can’t just get things done before the last minute. It’s not like you want to procrastinate; it’s this thing that just happens. And it keeps happening, no matter how many times you tell yourself it will be different next time.

Procrastination is a passive habit, which is partially why it is so hard to break. You have to be really creative and clever to outsmart your brain’s desire to avoid a project in front of you.

You want to be successful. And I want that for you too. So today I wanted to share with you some strategies that really do work. These tips work because they help you get around your urge to procrastinate. You don’t have to try to change who you are. Instead, you just need to change the way you work.

1. Always know what you will work on next

For me, the worst procrastination happens when I finish something and I’m wondering what I should do next. Big projects on my to-do list can start to seem like such a big commitment that I don’t even know where to start. So I don’t start, and the day gets away from me.

This won’t happen to you if you are prepared.

Every night, look at your to-do list. Decide which goal or goals are most important to work on tomorrow. What work will be the most meaningful?

Put 5 tasks on your to-do list, so that when you get to work tomorrow, you have 5 choices for where to start. When you finish one, now you have 4 choices of what to do.

You can even get more specific and rank them in order of importance. Start with the most important thing, and work from there. Don’t give yourself any option to deviate from the list — this is your plan, and this is what you will do.

2. Create super specific to-do tasks

If you procrastinate on big project because you are afraid to start or afraid to fail, try turning the project into as many tiny steps as you possibly can. Maybe you don’t feel confident that you can give a huge proposal to your company’s executive team. But I know you have the ability to google examples of good executive proposals. I know you can open a Word doc and write a paragraph about your idea.

Small steps are easy to do. They aren’t scary. And once you do one, the next one seems even easier.

It’s easy to go days without making progress on a big project because when you look at a task that’s too large, you know there’s no way you’ll be able to complete it today — so there’s little motivation to start chipping away at it.

You can fix this by turning every big project into a series of really small steps.

Spend time once a week (or even daily) turning your to-do’s into really specific actions. Close your eyes and visualize these specific actions.  Instead of “edit blog post”, you might write:

  • read blog post
  • make changes in the doc
  • send feedback/notes to the writer
  • create title
  • add blog post to the content calendar

Just like the last tip, this one is about leaving yourself no choice but to make progress. Every task should be so small that you can clearly answer yes or no if you did it.

3. Change your environment

If a place that you “work” frequently has become more of a place that you procrastinate frequently, you are more likely to fall into procrastination mode out of a kind of muscle memory. If you can, leave that place and go somewhere new like the library, a coffee shop, or another office or conference room in your building.

If you’re in an office where you can’t leave your desk, there are small ways to change your environment and make it easier to start working.

Instead of typing on your computer, see if there are steps you can do with on paper first. For example, outline a report you need to write using a pen and paper before typing it up on the computer. This accomplishes two things:

  • it gives you an easy task to start with
  • it changes what you’re looking at, so you approach the project with fresh eyes

4. See the value in certain kinds of procrastination

Do you ever use negative self-talk when you’re procrastinating? Do you think about how you’re lazy or stupid or how you always leave things to the last minute? This ADHD mind chatter is deafening.

That perspective is not motivating. The worse you feel about yourself, the less likely you are to feel ready to do the work you need to do.

Instead, consider this: sometimes procrastination is actually part of the process of doing amazing work.

When our minds are clear (like they are when we do things like taking a shower), our brains start using that free space to make connections. Information starts to fall into place. This free space is where great ideas come from.

So the next time you’re choosing to do a little task before starting on your big to-do, don’t get down on yourself. Acknowledge that this is part of the process. It is just one of many steps you will take in completing this project. Know that when you are done with this task, you’ll move on to the next step of your project.

Your confidence and new perspective will help that to actually come true.

5. Think about why you procrastinate – and work with it

Do you procrastinate because you need the pressure of a deadline? We know for the ADHD brain, that pressure increases dopamine and adrenaline and allows you to get stuff done. In fact, while neuro-typicals often crumble under this pressure, the ADHDer engages in hyper-focus and meets the deadline. If this works for you, try setting smaller deadlines for yourself over the course of a project. Break the project down into steps that you can complete in the weeks leading up to the due date.

Treat these deadlines like you would any other – even if that means working up to the last minute. The idea here is that by getting things done along the way, you have more overall time to do a better job than you would trying to do every single thing under the gun.

6. Hold yourself accountable – get an accountability partner

If you procrastinate because you struggle with motivation or accountability when you’re working on your own, try involving other people. Often, the pressure to not let other people down is far more motivating than the desire just to get the work done.

Ask a peer to help you put together an outline for your proposal, and set a date where you will have all of the necessarily materials ready for them to meet with you and help you.

Identify what’s really causing your procrastination, experiment with any of these strategies and soon you will make progress towards your goals, one step at a time.

Do you keep a to-do list? Some of us do and maybe we lose the darn thing. Perhaps our to-do list makes us feel like garbage at the end of the day when we only notice what we did NOT get done.

I have a complicated relationship with to-do lists. They are undeniably useful for plotting out your day or week ahead of time, and they can be a great way to hold yourself accountable for getting things done.

But they are designed to remind you of all the things you haven’t done. As soon as you cross off one task, another one or two or 10 await you. The whole exercise can be a dispiriting reminder that no matter how hard you work or how much you accomplish, there will always be more work to do until you die.

Focusing on what’s next (for example: our to-do lists) means we skate right past our wins, no matter how big or small they are. Students don’t celebrate a good grade on a test but instead start worrying about the next test. You finish a project at work and you rush to start the next thing you’re behind on.

Because of the discouraging nature of to-do lists, I’ve added a Ta-Da or Done List to recognize what I’ve accomplished. I call my Done List a Ta-Da List because it sounds more celebratory and fun. After all, celebrating your wins is the whole purpose of the Done List. 

A ta-da list is a log of the tasks you’ve completed. Keeping a ta-da list has the power to feed your motivation, and heighten positive emotions like joy and pride. It can make creative productivity more sustainable by helping you experience a sense of progress for work that matters to you.

The idea behind the Ta-Da or done list is simple, regardless of what the list looks like. Keeping track of what you do makes you feel productive, which makes you feel happy and energized, which translates into more productivity going forward.

The simple act of writing down and keeping track of what you accomplish is motivating. Your done list gives you credit for the full breadth of your accomplishments, capturing everything that came up during the day that might not have been preordained by your to-do list.

To be honest, the main reason I keep maintaining my Ta-Da list is that it feels good. Unlike most productivity hacks, it doesn’t feel like a chore or like something I’m making myself do; it feels like a pleasure. I get a buzz of self-satisfaction every time I update it. (For what it’s worth, it does not take much time to maintain—I spend maybe 30 seconds a day updating the list.)

You might roll your eyes at me for wanting to pat myself on the back for every little thing I get done. Butmost productivity techniques require a little self-trickery.

The process of reflecting and writing down what you’ve done – creating a  ta-da list,  has the almost magical effect of amplifying motivation and productivity at tasks that matter. 

When we reflect on progress, we practically metabolize it. Jot down completed tasks, and view them as “wins,” or progress towards your final goal(s), and you can externalize and recognize them. ” 

Small wins have power beyond themselves – Momentum

Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win.
If reflecting on our wins makes them seem more “real,” and small wins help generate more and often larger wins, the least we can do is write down our accomplishments, right?

Wins also heighten positive emotions and intrinsic motivation, which result in more creative productivity.

Given that we can’t always control external sources of motivation, like recognition from our boss, family and peers, drawing from our internal well of motivation by recognizing wins is a success strategy. The ta-da list means that we can create motivation no matter where we find ourselves or what’s happening around us.

How to implement a Ta-Da List

Keeping a done or ta-da list in addition to your to-do list is a quick and simple way to increase success and well-being. How do you create these lists in a way that fits your needs?

Here are some approaches to try. 
  • At the end of each day, jot down your wins for the day. Research suggests that handwriting activates different, critical areas of the brain that affords us clarity over typing.
  • At weeks end, review your ta-da list. Share with a friend, boss, co-worker or spouse your wins and ask them to share their wins. Speaking, requires translating thoughts into words, which externalizes those thoughts and allows us to see them for what they are so we can celebrate and move forward.
  • Got a project that feels overwhelming? Keep a done list for each project you work on. This can help you experience a sense of progress towards completing the project. 
    Why not trick yourself into feeling better about your work, just by paying closer attention to how you actually spend your time?

    How amazing would it feel to end each day focusing on your accomplishments, rather than the never-ending mountain of tasks waiting for you come morning?

    How do
    you recognize your progress for maximum results? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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