20. A Process for Defeating Fear

By now, you know what fear-based procrastination is, what causes it, and how it manifests itself in your thoughts, emotions and behavior. Now we can discuss a solution. It basically involves your being aware of your fear as it occurs, and substituting a more functional response to it for your current dysfunctional one.

1. The dysfunctional response you’re replacing is procrastination; more specifically, the obstacles that threaten to bump you off your path—including not just the Big Three (Perfectionism, Negativity and Hypersensitivity), but any Logistical or Situational obstacles you face. Also, of course, Panic.

2. The functional response you want to substitute for the dysfunctional one is to (1) recognize and acknowledge your fear; (2) not panic, or take steps to defuse your panic; (3) characterize the specific nature of, and solution to, your obstacle(s), using journaling and other tools; (4) overcome the obstacle(s); and (5) if possible, return to your path without having lost too much time.

This substitution usually takes practice to get right, although if you really work at it, improvement should happen fast.

In Chapter 7, you learned about the Three Productivity Behaviors: showing up on time, doing the work you’re supposed to be doing, and doing it for an hour or more. And in Chapter 8, you learned the following seven-step Behavioral Change Process for incorporating those behaviors into your work and personal life:

1. Educate yourself.

2. Marshal needed resources and support.

3. Break the change down into a series of modest, attainable goals, then tackle those goals one at a time.

4. Maximize your positive response to any “success.”

5. Minimize your negative response to any “failure.”

6. Anticipate and cope with plateaus and backsliding.

7. Keep at it!

If you’ve been making good progress toward solving your procrastination problem using the Three Productivity Behaviors, then there probably isn’t much fear underlying your procrastination, and you may not even need to use the Fear Defeating Process described in this chapter and the next. If, however, you can’t manage to adopt the Three Productivity Behaviors no matter how hard you try, then you probably do have fears and/or a panic response you need to address. The Fear Defeating Process described below will help you do just that. It is basically an additional sequence of steps inserted into that Behavioral Change Process:

1. Educate yourself.

2. Marshal needed resources and support.

3. Break the change down into a series of modest, attainable goals, then tackle those goals one at a time. (Utilize the Fear Defeating Process if you’re having trouble achieving your modest, attainable goals.)

4. Maximize your positive response to any “success.”

5. Minimize your negative response to any “failure.”

6. Anticipate and cope with plateaus and backsliding.

7. Keep at it!

Once you use the Fear Defeating Process to dissipate your fear and panic, you can usually stop procrastinating and return to both the Behavioral Change Process and your daily path.

The Fear Defeating Process consists of these nine steps:

1. Use Mission Management and Time Management to establish reasonable goals and a reasonable schedule.

2. Start your work: catch yourself procrastinating.

3. Don’t criticize, berate or shame yourself!

4. Start journaling.

5a. Defuse your panic through journaling or other means. (5a, b and c all happen simultaneously while you journal around the problem. I’ll explain journaling in Chapter 23.)

5b. Characterize your obstacles.

5c. Design a solution for overcoming your obstacles.

6. Start to implement the solution and, if possible, return to your path.

7. Celebrate your victory.

8. Repeat when needed.

And . . .

9. Watch change happen!

I’ll discuss each step individually in Chapter 22. First, however, you need to be aware of two basic requirements for this process to work, which I discuss in the next chapter.