Dread. Locks.


These days I’m trying a bunch of new stuff. And sometimes, when I’m trying a bunch of new stuff, my mind starts messing with me. Mostly, it tells me I need a nap.

So, sometimes I take the nap instead of doing the thing I need to do.

That’s cool.

Except sometimes, the VERY NEXT TIME, I’m supposed to work on the thing I KNOW I WANT TO achieve, it seems like I ought to “clear my head” and go to a movie or something.

You know, to get a blank slate upon which to work.

So, sometimes I go to the movie.

And that’s cool.

Except sometimes, the THIRD time I’m supposed to work on the new thing I want to happen in my life, I decide that we really need some healthy groceries in the house, or I really ought to clean out my email files first – you know, to clear the decks before I get started.

I seem to like my slates blank and my decks cleared.

So, about the third time I’ve put something off, after I’m rested, entertained, and noshing on some anti-oxidants while looking at my pristine Outlook files, it occurs to me that what I’m really doing is NOT DOING.

Oh, my “not doing” is all dressed up in Self-Care Drag, but really, truly what I’m doing is NOT doing.

I’m procrastinating.

Because I have dread.

Of the new thing.

I dread getting going. I dread having to “waste” time on learning curves and such.

A really slick way I procrastinate around my dread of learning curves is “research.” I’ll just read and read and read about how other people are successfully doing the thing I am NOT doing, though it will feel like I am “sort of” doing the real thing.  I’m living my dream vicariously.  Well, actually, I’m lurking in the background of OTHER people living THEIR dream, but that’s close, right?

Last week, we talked about the “near beer of happiness.” When you procrastinate by reading about other people doing the thing you are not doing, but want to do, you get the “near beer of accomplishment.”



It locks you into inaction. It locks you into “sort of” achieving your dreams. It locks you into being a spectator in your own life.

So, here’s what I suggest we try today.

Let’s begin with the thing we dread most. But just give it 5 minutes of effort. It’s amazing how that first 5 will unbar the door of willingness that dread has locked.

Give it a whirl. And let us know in the Wisdom Circle space below what you dreaded, what you did, and how it went.

Go ahead, love. Unlock that door and cross that threshold to your own beautiful life.

Love, Jen

Photo: Flickr, sfslim

P.S.  We’ve still got a few spaces for our “Craft Your Comeback” workshop.  It begins next week.  Register here.  You’re worth it.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Dread. Locks.

  1. Syl says:

    I am looking at and dreading starting to clean up my living room and kitchen, in fact the whole house, that is in an embarrassing, overwhelming chaotic mess which I think reflects my mind and way of life for the past 4 years, everything needs sorting particularly finances and me too and I am on top of nothing and can’t get started, its stopped me in my tracks, I almost feel paralysed by it, yet appear to all others that I a carrying on normally…my life/existence….Help !! and thank you if you can get me going again Syl xx

  2. Karen says:

    Okay, I may not be able to start doing the thing I dread for a few minutes because I am rolling on the floor laughing about “…all dressed up in Self Care drag.” Nice one.

  3. Connie says:

    I am sooo good with dread locks….thanks for bringing light to yet another issue.

  4. Kelly says:

    Even as someone who gets to make a full-time living helping women take better care of themselves, I agree — it can absolutely be a massive form of procrastination/resistance/dreadlocking. Proper self-care does take discipline — it’s like enjoying a couple of [flaxseed-infused, made with whole grain oats] cookies, but not 12 — otherwise, you’re just adding to the imbalance issue. That said, my 5 minutes is all about copywriting. Wish me luck. I just may need a cookie.

  5. I had an EXACT day like that yesterday and in the end, I ended up feeling horrible..and guilty (which I hate) instead of simply letting go of what I did not do and enjoy the beautiful day.

    So sometimes it’s the “which direction” that keeps me from going in any one of them. I have to push myself to just “choose and move”.

    We fail at 100% of the things we don’t try right?

  6. This is such a great exploration of this kind of procrastination, Jennifer! “Dread locks” is a fabulous way to explain what happens, too. We dread failure. We dread rejection. We dread success, and all the new pressures it brings. The five-minute approach is really the only effective measure to combat it that I know. It’s even more powerful when you do the 20-minute “Worst Case” exercise – just keep writing down what you fear, and keep exaggerating it all to the absolute “worst case scenario.” You’re afraid of failing, then you’ll fall into a deep depression, and you won’t be able to get out of bed, and you’ll develop bed sores, and you’ll get evicted, then you’ll be homeless and bedsore-ridden, pushing your shopping cart down the main drag in town, everyone pointing and whispering “that’s what happens when you FAIL” … and one of two things will inevitably result: either you’ll realize your worst fears aren’t that scary, and even if the worst happens, you’ll survive, or you’ll realize your worst fears are, in point of fact, high-lariously funny, and you’ll laugh yourself back into working.

    • Jennifer says:

      You’re so right. I have all these exercises, too. But then, at some point, even doing the exercise is STILL NOT DOING the thing I know I want to do. So, at least with the 5-minute method, you made some progress on the actually Dream Work.


  7. Andrea says:

    I get stuck in the not knowing what I want to do next…that stops me in my tracks. If I knew I know that I would take action 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      Oooh, I do that one, too. Now I just try anything, because getting stuck for me is about having to do the “perfect” thing and then I get lost thinking about what would be most perfect.

      You could also try the elimination method, where you just try something you don’t hate too bad. And then the next time, try something you hate even less than that thing.

      • Andrea says:

        I agree…that can help…but I sometimes feel like its just been so many “false starts” that have been a waste (well, not usually a total waste) of time, energy and resources…when I feel that way I hope (and wait) for that “this-is-what-I-was-put-on-earth-for” inspiration…and it just hasn’t shown up in a long time 🙁

  8. jana says:

    How did you know to say what I needed to hear? I’ve been living with such fear about what is happening in my life that now I’m paralyzed… So I faced it for five minutes, and now I know where to begin. Dread had me locked, but no longer. Thanks for your help in ‘unlocking’ the door.

  9. You nailed this one, Jenn! If I may add, with a “hilarious” spin to it:)

    Rewind back, hmm about a year and a half ago. I felt the spark to get rid of everything, quit my job, travel and start writing. Well, at first, I came up with all kinds of excuses as to why maybe it best I didn’t. I mean, I had come up with really good excuses that actually made me look like a hero. ” I can’t be away from my nieces and nephews, I want to be there for them.” Or, “I can’t leave my friends and family behind, they are too important to me.” Although, I do love them very much, I was using them to put off the thing I wanted to do the most. You see, I came off as being the “awesome aunt”. NO I wasn’t!!!! I was just hiding behing my fear…

    Here is how I started to go ahead with it. I started telling people about my “dream”. I started telling them that this is what I would do. By doing this, now, I didn’t have a choice to do it. Funny thing, in doing so, it actually felt like a reality, it felt like it was possible and a lot less scary. Furthermore, I had people giving me valuable information in terms of contacts and guidance on getting started.

  10. Christiena says:

    A timely wake-up call. Thank you 😀

  11. great post – I really WANT to write a comment now, but in the spirit of today’s piece I’ll put it off until later….

  12. Donna says:

    Oh, Jennifer!! I have been searching for AGES to find an online haven like yours—you really, REALLY GET IT!! I swear, you could be my twin, mindwise! For about two weeks now, I’ve put off learning how to use a digital camera (which I’ve had for about a year and a half) and upload pics to the computer ( I am SO technology-challenged). All day today I’ve pored over all kinds of instructions and tomorrow I’m taking action! Now that I’ve started, it’s not so bad.

    Thanks for being here, KEEP UP THE SASS!!!!

  13. Heather says:

    I’m so guilty of all this. As a writer, I write a ton of copy for other people. I’m working on my own website and I’ve noticed how I keep pushing it further and further down my to-do list. Embarrassing, really! Thanks for sneaking into my brain and holding me accountable Jennifer! I’m pushing past resistance.

  14. Linda says:

    Ditto for me what Donna says! I agree, you really get it! I’ve bought things to use but don’t get to them for months (sometimes a year or more)! I get stuck in overwhelm so do nothing because I don’t know where to start. I procrastinate about cleaning out a closet I dread doing, getting someone to clean my windows and screens inside and out, and so on. I have found that just making a list helps so that I can cross off one task at a time.

    • Jennifer says:

      Or you can start and just clear the back left corner floor of the closet. Just that part. And then quit after 5 mins. Tomorrow, move clockwise and do 5 more mins. See if that helps.

  15. Susan B says:

    Thank you Karen….I could not have said it any better!!

  16. Laura says:

    I’ve been thinking about writing a book and have been thinking about it for a few years now. So, instead, I’ve become really good at editing OTHER people’s books. I make the excuse that at least editing other people’s books pays the bills while there is not much money to be made by writing a book myself (unless I’m JK Rowling, which I’m not). I like your “5 minute” idea; if I had spent 5 minutes each day x 365 x 3 years, that would have been 5475 more minutes than I’ve actually spent on my book.

    • Jennifer says:

      3 years from now, an additional 5475 minutes will go by. So, we don’t regret the past, we learn from it. Take your 5 minutes today. That’s all that matters at this point.

  17. Cindy says:

    To hear someone else commiserate is wonderful. I am going to take that 5 minutes now (and peek) at my finances (ouch)…

  18. Teresa says:

    I’d love to see art around your “self-care drag”, there’s a great costume waiting to be birthed there.

    As always, thank you for making me giggle with empathy.
    I think starts are hard for most of us and most of us also do all the things you outlined so beautifully. But we also do finally get down do business, whether in drag or not.

    I dread completely learning completely new technical skills on my own. Even with tutorials, there is some issue with learning that I know stems from my childhood learning issues that was never addressed and I am right back there, feeling unsupported and afraid. And sometimes, it’s just something I’d rather even pay someone else to do because maybe my time is better spent creating a wonderful blog post like this one you did here 😉
    aWeber is something of a dread for me right now, and I already know once I succeed from start to finish with my first opt-in, I will ask “why did I make that so hard”? But I think it’s important that we also recognize, as women, we tend to not cut ourselves enough slack, or even as much slack as we tend to offer friends and loved ones. So, if I have to take a few days or even weeks avoid the task with dread self-care, in order to meet that door, revisit some old stuff and face that stuff head on while I get the task done, so be it. Did I grow as a person, did I love myself in the process, did it make me stronger than before, and did I shed another layer of stuff in my way? Most often the answer will be yes, to one or all of those things…but unfortunately as women we are too focused on the expectations and forget that the (((journey))) is what really matters.

    I’m glad you take naps and do movies for dread self-care. You’ve inspired me.

  19. Lynda says:

    I am going to set the timer for 5 minutes right now. I’ll report back.

    • Lynda says:

      Success! Great progress facing a dreaded pile for 5 minutes! Was actually disappointed that the timer went off! I’m stopping, so it will really be 5 minutes. Looking forward to another 5 minutes sometime soon! It temporarily looks messier, but it’s finally being dealt with! Yippee!
      Thank you Jennifer and friends!

  20. Loved the way this was written. I used to practice this one. I’m going back to it now.
    I’ve started using index cards to write what I need to do.
    I separate them and make them smaller chunks.
    BUT, I still have things that stay there for a long time.
    Dread. Locks.
    I’m breaking out. Still dig the hair (my husband has dread locks) but I’m breaking out and doing it first.

  21. Susan Butler says:

    Jennifer: You’re the only person I know who can make me laugh out loud (LOL) in less than two sentences! Yes, you are brilliant, and I love you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *