Busy Without A Cause: Why Lists Bring Decision Paralysis And How To Get Moving Again

"What does success look like?" we ask to help avoid failure. And the answer may be easy mid-task. "When this is finished!". But then what?

David Bird Cognitive Hypnotherapy Leighton Buzzard, Fear of Failure, can't prioritise, procrastination

I've long been a list person. People would remark how organised I was. Though it wasn't because I wanted to be. I needed to be. Not being organised meant becoming a gibbering, anxious mess.

At first I'd feel better with everything down in black-and-white. But once I had the list, I struggled to prioritise it. Each item having a consequence of not doing it sooner. Cue decision paralysis. And procrastination. And looming dread.

It's age-old wisdom to talk about 'baby steps'. And breaking a journey into manageable milestones is a proven strategy. But if you've punched the wrong postcode into your SatNav, all that time and petrol won't necessarily bring you any closer to the intended destination.

Except, it's more like:

Every postcode sounds like it could be wrong. So you start driving anyway to counter the late-panic. With only just enough time to arrive on schedule. And every single location sign most definitely looks like it could be where you need to go. So you absolutely MUST stop at them all.

Exhausting, right?

My mind saw a list as yet another way to fail. Because without a safe and repeatable method for defying the current laws of physics, there was no way to do every task at once. And that was the problem. I was missing the bigger picture.

Because I hadn't created it yet.

Things become more motivating to do when we know why. And what we're really doing them for. It sounds simple, but it's often overlooked. And a great way to check is to ask:

"What's important to me about this?" "What does doing this bring me?"

And we can keep asking. Because sometimes the answers reveal avoidance. "Because then I won't get in trouble". That can be incredibly motivating if the deadline's tomorrow. Not so much if you're still three months from judgement day.

It's not the magic pill to make the worries fall away. But what it does do is bring clarity. And that can be enough to know at least we're headed the right way.

(Struggling with anxiety, procrastination, or overwhelm? Cognitive Hypnotherapy in Leighton Buzzard can help you. Get in touch to learn how).