The Monster at the End of Your To-Do List
February 6th, 2008
I really loved this post from Christine Kane. All her posts are great, but this one I thought might be particularly relevant to all the Creative Every Day folks. The article is all about "Creative Procrastination."
If like me, you are already a procrastinator in general, you probably also procrastinate with your creative urges. I think I've experienced all the symptoms that Christine lists. And it's true that fear is behind them all. Coincidentally (or not), I'd just been talking to the hubster about this...this recognizing what holds me back. And most of it is that big monster, Fear (of rejection, failure, etc...). I've found that the best way to deal with fears is to move straight through them with a dose of compassion and firmness. Beating yourself up over what you've procrastinated about isn't going to get you any closer to your goals, so how to help yourself along?
I try to tackle something that scares me daily, even if that something is super-duper-teeny-tiny. No one else can judge what scary means for me, except me, so I decide. Yesterday that teeny tiny thing, was writing a magazine to get the name of the managing editor, so that I could properly address a query. And the wonderful is, the feeling of getting past that fear, no matter how small, gives me a boost. And suddenly that big monster gets smaller. Heh, I just realized I was picturing the monster as blue which reminds me of a book I had as a kid. The book was called, There's a Monster at the End of this Book. Throughout the pages of the book, Grover (a blue, fuzzy monster), pleads with you not to turn another page. He's terrified of meeting the monster at the end of the story. He begs and even builds brick walls while trying to prevent you from getting to the end where he'll have to face this monster. I always felt a little badly for Grover as I turned the page, but I did keep turning. And then you get to the end of the book and it turns out the monster is him.
How perfect! Just like in the story, the monster we put up all these walls to hide from, is nothing to be afraid of. Whatever the negative voices and imagined stories you've created, swirl together to create this big, scary monster, when in reality, the monster is yourself. And with a little compassion, you can see that this "monster" isn't so bad after all. And maybe like Grover, it just needs a hug.
I love to keep lists. I have to-do lists on nearly any paper surface within reach. But I've noticed that to-do lists are never-ending and when they start to fill up with scary things, I start to avoid looking at them. In the past couple of days, I decided to keep an "Already Done" list. I realized that not everything I do and feel good about is on a list and it's really helpful at the end of the day to look back and see what I've actually done. A sense of accomplishment is a major boost and helps keep me motivated to tackle the next little monster on my list.
So, if you're finding yourself stuck with a monster on your list of to-do's or a monster sitting at your crafting table, try showing him or her your list of "Already Done" and see what happens. What happens if we keep turning the pages? Is there a loveable blue monster on the other side of your to-do list?
p.s. More fun synchronicity...I had to get in my car before I finished this post and a song came on the radio with the lyrics, "there are no monsters under your bed."