My daughter has the stomach flu. The school asked me to get involved with the auction. Work just gave me a big project with crazy deadlines. I couldn’t find a way to fit it into my calendar. Life is tumultuous. We’re busy people working through distractions that compete with the priorities that give structure and purpose to our lives.
Still many of us, despite our best intentions, allow the boundaries around our time to be compromised. Learn about 6 powerful insights from professional experts so you can say “Yes” to the right things and get more done.
Testing one, two. Check, check, check…
Speaking of tumultuous lives, and putting off what’s important, unless you were traveling in one of the last places on earth without cell coverage, you already know about Prince, and like the rest of the world, shed a purple tear over the sad news of his way too early death. And if you’re part of the 98% who are active in the social sphere, then you also likely heard that Prince did not have a will. Shocker right? Hardly really. According to a recent GYST poll, when registrants were asked “What is the status of your will?” 80% answered “Not Done” and 12% answered “Needs Updating” – let’s start a revolution for a whole new band. (And a huge shout out to the 8% of you who answered “Done” – GYST thinks you rock!)
“You say you want a leader but, you just can’t seem to make up your mind”
– Purple Rain, Prince
Riffing with brilliant minds…
Last month we interviewed a group of leaders across a range of professional fields. From pragmatic life coaches to empathetic financial planners, from emotionally intelligent social workers to country music lovin estate planning attorneys. Our team traversed the issues of procrastination with these discipline experts and found powerful insights in how they deal with clients. Then we made our own GYST remix of 6 practical strategies to harmonize the noise in our busy lives.
#1 Emotional hang-ups don’t mean we’re procrastinators…
“Procrastination has a negative sentiment” said Owner of My Whole Life Coaching, CJ Liu “We don’t as individuals sit on the couch, and not write our wills because we’d rather be lazy and eat potato chips. No, we avoid things like writing our wills because we don’t enjoy contemplating the idea of death. We have emotional issues that prevent us from our doing rational things for ourselves and our families.” Liu says, “For some people the idea of death is just too painful, so people avoid the pain these experiences bring altogether but, that doesn’t mean people are lazy.” Liu’s advice is to “explore the root cause behind the emotional issues that are causing those the behaviors to be present.”
#2 Fears motivate us, impulses are often hard to control…
“People are too busy living their lives today to take time out and plan for their not being around tomorrow” says Karen Ramsey, Certified Financial Planner, Founder and President of Ramsey & Associates and author of Everything you Know About Money is Wrong “they need to go to the grocery store.” Ramsey’s point is valid.
In a recent GYST poll, over 46% of respondents ages 25-54 claim they are “too busy” when asked about why they haven’t completed their will or living will.
Referring to issues such as blood pressure, weight or financial stress, Ramsey says, “change is hard but, when the fear associated with not doing something becomes higher than the pain of doing something, that’s when you’ll see people modify their behavior.” Ramsey’s advice, “to understand the causes of procrastination reminds us to explore better ways of controlling our impulses and knowing the limits of when it’s best take on a new responsibility for the school auction to managing the urge to buy something we find on the internet that doesn’t work with our life’s priorities.”
Shonda Rhimes says…
Shonda Rhimes, award winning television writer and producer, in her recent book: “Just say Yes,” shares how to say “no”.
“No is a complete sentence. I’ve heard that cliché over and over. So I decided to treat no in the same way I treat saying thank you. Say no and then don’t say anything else. I come up with three different clear ways of saying no …
- I am going to be unable to do that.
- That is not going to work for me.
#3 Understand a person’s willingness as well as ability…
To understand the source of procrastination it’s important to appreciate the challenges that come with competing priorities. Erin Galvin, LICSW, HR Manager for Pagliacci Pizza, explains, “people are complex, where does a task sit in terms of importance to that person?” Galvin emphasizes the need to study a person and their ambivalence toward a meeting or task.
“Procrastination sounds like a judgement but, most often people have a rational or emotional reason for not to doing something.” – Erin Galvin
Galvin, a student of Motivational Interviewing (MI) says, “a person might be willing to go have a conversation about end of life with their family but, conclude that they don’t have the ability to engage their family in a conversation and decide that they are not going to go through with it.” Galvin’s advice is to “take the time to explore blockers that appear to be in the way with someone who, ideally, is not invested in the outcome.”
#4 It’s not procrastinating, we’re too embarrassed to admit we don’t know
“Sometimes people just don’t know what to do,” say Liu. “ For example, if I say, ‘put together a networking plan’ and then when I meet with them next time ask to take a look at their networking plan, and there is no plan, it’s as if they’re stuck. This isn’t because they’re procrastinators. It’s because they’re like teenagers who are too embarrassed to admit they don’t know how to create that plan in the first place.”
Liu has a solution for those who are stuck, “I find the easiest way to help clients is to break it down for them and offer simple suggestions. Things like, start by making a list of people you want to meet, create a list of questions you want to ask those people, have a clear agenda along with a clear set of deliverables you can send in an email with a clear call to action and next steps. So when you give a task like putting together a networking plan, it’s important to understand that for many it feels like a herculean task each with five small tasks embedded inside each big task.
The problem isn’t that people are too busy or too lazy and procrastinate, most often it’s because they’re just are too afraid to ask questions like, “I am struggling with where should I put the call-to-action – should I place it at the beginning or end of the email?” Liu says, “when a person is asked to create a plan, they not only don’t know what the big tasks are, but they also don’t know the 25 little embedded tasks within each, so they often just give up.”
Liu’s advice, “make people comfortable admitting what they don’t know and start by helping people parse things into little tasks.”
#5 Don’t do what you read, do things in your own natural way
“Many of my clients” Liu says, “buy books – they read them, they try out the strategies and say, ‘I tried it and it’s not working for me. I give up.” Lui says the problem is not that an author like Stephen Covey is wrong. It’s that people haven’t figured out a way to apply the thinking in the books a way that works for the natural way my clients like to get things done.” Liu likens it to learning to teach right-handed people to switch and write with their left-hand. “It’s just not natural,” says Liu.
Liu’s advice, “start experimenting by doing what you know.”
Liu says, “If you don’t like working out by yourself, don’t force yourself to go to the gym for exercise – you’ll resent it. Instead find something you like doing, say like hanging out with a friend and choose an activity you’ll both enjoy, like dancing. This way you get exercise, have time to hang out with a friend and do something that hopefully you and your friend both think is fun.”
#6 Get over it already, it’s simply a maintenance plan for your life…
Tim Burkart, Estate planning attorney, and member of the American College of Trust and Estate Council, says, “Doing your estate plan is one of the things that responsible people do and is similar to retirement planning or making sure your home is properly maintained.” A small minority of people are superstitious and fear that if they sign their Will, they will die shortly thereafter.” Burkart adds, “my clients are busy people with active families and professional careers.” Speaking about the challenges people have with getting their documents in order, Burkart says, “My clients often don’t’ feel like taking time away from work but, in the end it’s just what reasonable people do to protect their assets and their families.” Burkart reminds that one of the more common conversations that slow people’s decision making process down is the conversation around that of guardianship for minor children.
Burkhart advice, “get started – it’s a maintenance plan for your life.”
Ways to get started today
GYST NEW CHECKLIST:
Our updated checklist now includes: wills, living wills, life insurance, emergency financial planning and community. Each breaks down the task into a series of steps and gives you an easy way to get started. There are reviews of services, lists of attorneys and guides to help you learn more about these topics.
Having someone hold you accountable can help you along the way. Think of getting these plans in place as a goal and who you could share that with that will help you be successful.
LIVING WILL/ ADVANCED DIRECTIVES:
Start researching which option is best for you to create a Living Will/Advance Directive.
You digital details are all of your accounts, numbers and passwords, but getting them all sorted out and organized can seem overwhelming. In fact task is just like what Lui describes, one task with a lot of smaller tasks embedded. Solution, just break it down and knock off a few of these at a time. Learn more in this article.