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[EbooK Epub] The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play Download and Read online. The Now Habit at Work: Perform Optimally, Maintain Focus, and Ignite Motivation in Yourself Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format. The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play – Neil Fiore (free ebook epub/mobi).

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The now habit: a strategic program for overcoming procrastination and enjoying guilt-free play. byFiore, Neil Borrow this book to access EPUB and PDF files. One of the most effective programs to combat procrastination, THE NOW HABIT has sold over copies, has been translated into 11 languages, and is now . DOWNLOAD The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play By Neil Fiore [PDF EBOOK EPUB KINDLE].

I've broken down the steps further and provided more screen shots in those areas where I think it's easy to get stuck. I've also suggested some "how-tos" and "why-tos. We'll concern ourselves mostly with the Book View for now. Align your text. Check your ebook distributor's guidelines for how their conversion software handles text alignment. Generally, it's a good idea to left-justify your text also called ragged right. Left-justify your text 2. Style your paragraphs using the Paragraph button.

This sets your paragraphs to "normal style" in the same way that you would set your paragraphs to Normal using the Word Styles menu in Word if you don't use Word Styles, it's a great habit to get into for the purposes of ebook building. Again, if you already styled your paragraphs to Normal in Word, you can skip this step.

Use the Paragraph button to style paragraphs 3.

Style your headings. This step is important because Sigil will use your styled headings to generate an external table of contents NCX that readers can use to navigate your ebook. The summary is intended for: About the Author Ant Hive Media reads every chapter, extracts the understanding and leaves you with a new perspective and time to spare. We do the work so you can understand the book in minutes, not hours.

Create Widget. English ISBN: About Ant Hive Media. Learn more about Ant Hive Media. Also by This Author. Report this book. Reason for report: While you decide whether this is an issue of fighting for your freedom or one of tackling a job, your mind and body are frozen in procrastination caused by ambivalent and conflicting messages.

Attempting to resolve being stuck by adding pressure through discipline or specters of terrible catastrophes will only make matters worse. All of us know the feeling of ambivalence, pressure, and threat, and the resentment and resistance that go with them.

When I first met with Betty we needed to act fast. The annual report was already overdue and she was quite depressed and thinking about quitting her job. While Betty was very competent in her job as administrator for a large insurance company, she hated doing the annual report.

Each year she would waste considerable time before deciding when she would start. Whenever the annual report was due, her usual energy and cheerfulness would be replaced by a depressed and haggard look. Her back would become bent as if under a great burden and she would suffer from considerable fatigue, muscle tension, and insomnia. To get some immediate results and to snap out of her feelings of helplessness and victimhood, Betty needed to change her attitude while in the very situation where she was most likely to procrastinate.

Your mind and body will be able to cooperate with that message. The next day, Betty chose to work on a part of the annual report she hated the least and asked her boss for help with parts she found more difficult.

She also promised herself that if she chose to do this report it would be her last. Betty has given herself more alternatives in life, and by standing up for the child part of herself, she no longer feels compelled to procrastinate.

Betty applied the power of choice very effectively. She now feels more in charge of her life. The childlike side of her once felt caught between her need for approval from authorities and her need to express her fear and her power through procrastination. Now, with her own inner support system and the more productive language of choice, Betty is coping with work pressures in an integrated, unambivalent fashion.

Each creates the following negative, self-critical comparisons: Where I am is bad. Life is bad. My level of progress is bad.

Nothing is the way it should be. Most likely you will experience a sense of burden, victimhood, and failure. Being an art dealer was a labor of love for Don.

Unfortunately, while he loved art, Don hated the management and detail side of his business. Too bad; nothing I can do now about that. But what can I do now? Though all paratroopers are technically volunteers, my commanding officer told me I could volunteer for Airborne School or face the high probability of jumping without training. This was during a time when our unit was constantly on alert for every hot spot around the globe.

Somehow the effort necessary to get through paratrooper training makes you forget what all that preparation is leading to. Surely if I had worried about it I would have suffered from fear of success —the type caused by anticipating that your reward for hard work is even harder work. Our plane reached a speed of miles per hour and an altitude of 2, feet when they opened the door with the expectation that we should jump out.

The Now Habit at Work

In a line in front of me I saw the other young men attempt to deal with this fearsome task with great hesitation. As they approached the door of the plane, many put their hands on the inside, expressing their ambivalence about leaving; they had been instructed to place their hands on the outside in order to push away from the plane. They looked down at the hard ground, and you could see their bodies tense and automatically recoil inside, as if preparing for a failed jump.

From this awkward and unsafe position, they either tried to make themselves jump or were kicked out by the sergeant, which are not optimal ways to leave an airplane. Every once in a while, the sound of a terrible thud could be heard inside the plane as a jumper would fail to completely clear the plane and hit his body against the side. Because of a halfhearted exit he had increased his chances that the chute would malfunction and fail to open properly.

Initially, I was frozen in fear—as if on that board feet above the ground—unable to get myself to move. I had all the symptoms of stress: Watching those men who showed ambivalence on leaving the plane and hearing their bodies thump against the bulkhead helped me make my first choice: The change in my feelings at that moment was quite dramatic. Stress was replaced with purposeful action; a sense of victimhood was transformed into empowerment. Instead of looking down, in anticipation of failure, I looked up, in the direction of a cloud I picked as my goal.

I stepped up to the door with a single purpose. At the signal, I took a deep breath, bent my knees, focused on my cloud, and propelled myself through that doorway, safely clearing the plane by at least six feet.

The thrill of that first jump will always be with me, as will the memory of my joyful laughter as I safely touched down without a scratch. From Resistance to Commitment Limited options and unpleasant choices abound in life. Recovering from an illness, for example, is a common situation in which people can exercise choice. It also gives us the opportunity as we convalesce to watch, often with great surprise, the sprouting of an authentic desire to return to work.

Suddenly, we find ourselves choosing to do what formerly we perceived as an onerous imposition. Just let me get over this illness so I can peacefully, joyfully, and healthfully do my work. Dieters and people who wish to quit smoking often experience a rapid shift from resistance to commitment when faced with a life-threatening situation or with pregnancy. The Washington Post carried a story about Gina, who was pregnant with her first child.

She had been trying to stop smoking and trying to improve her diet for years. In came breakfast. Her usual lunch of cashews and a Diet Pepsi was replaced by a sandwich and a glass of milk.

In your everyday activities, listen to how images of passivity and powerlessness are created by your negative self-talk: Are you willing to live with the consequences of not doing these things? How much freer would you feel if you made a clear decision about any of these tasks? You do have a choice. But if you prefer it to the consequences of not doing it, you can decide to commit to it wholeheartedly.

Even when the choices are rotten ones, you can exercise your power of choice and learn to embrace the path that makes the most sense to you. And precisely because you have chosen to do it, it becomes less difficult, less painful, and more quickly accomplished. This is part of their cognitive and personality development—the development of a self separate from parents. For procrastinators especially, the ability to say no is a powerful tool for exercising choice.

At that moment of awareness, immediately choose to work or accept responsibility for choosing to delay. This focus will make the task seem even more overwhelming, almost impossible.

It needs to be challenged and replaced with a solid commitment to starting now. It automatically follows any worries about finishing and being overwhelmed, and replaces agitated energy with a clear focus on what can be tackled now. This is very important. This project has to impress everyone. This is my one big chance in life. One small step; one rough, rough draft; one imperfect sketch; one small hello.

All you can do now is pour the concrete for the foundation; hammer one nail; raise a wall—one small step at a time. You could never write an entire book now; you can only write one chapter, a few pages at a time. A single, small step is something you know you can accomplish now. When this one manageable step is compared with the colossal undertaking, it gives you time to learn, to relax, and to recuperate between a series of small steps.

With each step you will have time to appreciate your accomplishments, to gain perspective on your direction, and to recommit to your long-range goals. It also means that part of your self-talk is centered around condemning any small steps of progress as being insignificant compared with what you think they should be.

If you demand of yourself a perfect presentation, a project that is beyond criticism, perfect adherence to a diet, or a spotless home, you are setting yourself up for defeat and inevitable self-criticism. The more perfectionist and self-critical you are, the harder it is to start on a project that you already know will never be quite good enough.

Holding on to an image of perfection will make you afraid of seeing what your real product will look like, it will keep you from preparing for failure with a plan that helps you bounce back, and it will increase your tendency to abandon your project when confronted with a normal problem in the developmental process.

Ironically, being a perfectionist and criticizing yourself about mistakes makes failures more likely and worse. Accept so-called mistakes really feedback as part of a natural learning process. You need self- compassion rather than self-criticism to support your courageous efforts at facing the unavoidable risks of doing real, imperfect work rather than dreaming of the perfect, completed project. For procrastinators blocked by an addiction to perfectionism, I often recommend a direct attack to unlearn this insidious pattern.

Try to be imperfect. If you work on a computer, try a yellow pad; if you work in ink, try a pencil or a crayon—but do it with human imperfection. Then watch your natural motivation for excellence take place as you appreciate the genius in your early steps and commit to the work of polishing the project.

Repeating these statements creates the feeling of having a life of obligation and demands that cause you to miss the things other people enjoy in life. Knowing that you have something to look forward to in the near future—a firm commitment to recreation and time with friends—lessens the dread of difficult work. The application of these five positive self-statements lessens the pain associated with work while increasing your chances of finding that work itself can be rewarding.

In addition, your quality work increases the enjoyment of your proudly earned guilt-free play. And reinforcing small steps with frequent rewards will increase the likelihood of consistent progress. Instead, you can use your awareness of the old pattern to alert you to choose a more effective path.

Each time you choose to switch your energy from your procrastination self-talk to the language of the producer, you are wiring in a new track of brain cells—a new neural pathway in your brain.

After you switch from the old path to the new several times, the new associations will strengthen, becoming easier to initiate, while the old ones will atrophy. Each time you make a conscious decision to create safety for yourself and to speak the language of the producer, you will be unlearning the habits of a procrastinator while strengthening the new healthy habits of a producer.

Practice shifting from your usual self-talk to the effective self-talk of producers listed on the right. Post them around your computer, your desk, and on your refrigerator. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon—instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our window today.

We often let its insidious cycle prevent us from experiencing the rewards of accomplishment in our work and the full enjoyment of our play. Not only does it keep us from completing the really important tasks in life, it lessens our respect for ourselves by keeping us engaged in destructive, delaying tactics such as overeating, excessive TV watching, the investment of time and money in a succession of halfhearted and rapidly abandoned hobbies and schemes.

Attempting to skimp on holidays, rest, and exercise leads to suppression of the spirit and motivation as life begins to look like all spinach and no dessert.

It is no coincidence that similar characteristics separate workaholics and long-term procrastinators from producers and peak performers. Charles Garfield, author of Peak Performance, tells us that peak performers surpass workaholics in taking more vacations, being healthier, and accomplishing more of the tasks that make a real difference.

Both workaholics and procrastinators tend to: They see themselves as always working, yet undeserving of a rest. They see work as infinite and insatiable, requiring deprivation and sacrifice, which workaholics are willing to make, often to avoid getting too close to anyone.

Procrastinators exaggerate the sacrifice, escaping to halfhearted play out of fear of never being able to play again. Both workaholics and chronic procrastinators are either working or feeling guilty about not working. Marilyn Machlowitz, in her book Workaholics: Living with Them, Working with Them , and Dr. Alan A. McLean, the medical director for IBM, in his book Work Stress , indicate that many workaholics are in poor physical shape and suffer from stress, Type A behavior, and burnout.

Producers, on the other hand, tend to know the importance of play and the importance of enjoying it without guilt.

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I have my own sense of purpose that helps me combine work and play. Work is fun for me; not the hard, arduous task my early training in the work ethic told me it would be. And I am energetic and motivated—not at all lazy, the way I was taught to believe all people are by nature. A firm commitment to guilt-free play will recharge your batteries, creating renewed motivation, creativity, and energy for all the other areas of your life. Knowing that work will not deprive you of enjoying the good things of life, you can more easily tackle a large task without the fear of having it rule your life.

Knowing that work on a large task will be interrupted by commitments to friends, to exercise, and to free time, you can approach the task with less fear of being overwhelmed. Guilt-free play is based on the seeming paradox that in order to do productive, high-quality work on important projects, you must stop putting off living and engage wholeheartedly in recreation and relaxation.

My first assignment as a new psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, Counseling Center was as coleader of a group for graduate students who were procrastinating on their doctoral dissertations. We met weekly to provide support for these students going through the intense, stressful, and often lonely process of completing the largest single project they had ever faced.

I became interested in the differences between those who were taking many years to complete their work and those who were able to conclude their research and writing within two years or less. The real difference seemed to be that those who took three to thirteen years to complete their dissertations suffered more. These long-term procrastinators: They kept themselves busy producing concrete work.

Work was supposed to be difficult; they had to suffer in order to do good work. Many of them were in poor physical shape, and their homes were generally a battle zone of papers, books, old coffee containers, and dirty laundry.

On the other hand, those who were making good progress toward finishing in a year were dedicated and committed to their leisure time. Their health and recreation were high priorities and an integral part of their overall plan to do good work on the dissertation.

They had to swim, run, or dance almost every day. They had to be with friends for dinner several nights a week. Their lives were full. They were living now—not waiting to begin living when their work was completed. Guilt-free play offers you a way around this problem by insisting that you plan recreation in your weekly schedule. Making play a priority in your life is part of learning to overcome procrastination. Adults usually think of play as being separate from learning and work. Through play we learn the physical, mental, and social skills necessary for adult life.

With toys and imagination children create scenarios that prepare them for work, relationships, and conflict. Through play children express difficult feelings, negotiate and renegotiate promises, solve problems, and learn perseverance, absorption in work, and deep concentration. British psychoanalyst and pediatrician D. Winnicott wrote in his book Playing and Reality that it is in playing that we build confidence in the reliability of our creativity and our excitement about discovery—the movement from not-knowing to knowing, from lack of control over problems to control and resolution of problems.

Adults use these skills learned in childhood to work alone and sit still for hours in front of a computer terminal, a drafting desk, or an accounting ledger. They call upon the mental and physical states of concentration and creativity that were learned decades earlier while playing in the security of the home.

Later in life they will need these experiences to face tasks that require persistent problem-solving and the risk of mistakes and rejection.

Children have no problems with motivation. A three-year-old will insist on being involved with sweeping the floor or helping with the dishes. But that native excitement about learning gets lost through the process of being taught how to conform to social expectations and that there is punishment for not conforming.

And the loss of guilt-free play in our lives makes the tasks of life seem more onerous, depriving, and difficult than they need to be. Guilt-free play can revive your early excitement about learning, problem-solving, and participating in challenging activities. But the anticipation of extended isolation from friends and recreation is likely to promote procrastination. The effects of such work habits on your mind and body are similar to the experiences of prisoners in solitary confinement and subjects in sensory deprivation studies, who are wrapped like mummies to minimize sensation.

Each of these activities drastically reduces physical movement and visual stimulation, making the mind ripe for any anxiety created by self- criticism, fear of abandonment, and threats of failure. We are more likely to work productively when we can anticipate pleasure and success rather than isolation and anxiety. Demanding twenty—or even four—hours of tedious work involving confinement and struggle is hardly calculated to get us motivated, especially when there are so many more pleasurable alternatives available.

Given the choice between completing your income taxes and seeing an old friend, the odds are strongly in favor of the old friend—unless you have a strategy. When attempting to motivate yourself to start working on a goal, do you push yourself toward the goal with threats, or do you use your attraction to the goal to pull you forward? The fact is that the random action produced by punishment or fear is not directed toward a goal, but rather, like procrastination, toward escape from the fear.

These punishing tactics often create a paralyzing rather than a motivating effect. Too often this harsh method is used more to exercise authority and control than to achieve positive results.

The use of threats by those in authority is an example of how the attempted solution, rather than generating positive motivation for the goal, is counterproductive and contributes to procrastination by creating resistance to authority, fear of failure, and fear of success. For example, those in authority might say: A more enlightened person in authority might say: The promise of future rewards for hard work has little control over what we choose to do now.

Instead, the more immediate and definite rewards of life, such as leisure, seeing friends, and eating ice cream, are immediately and definitely followed by tangible pleasures and have, therefore, a higher probability of occurring. It also indicates that the chances of choosing this kind of work over leisure activities are even slimmer. After all, fun, goofing off, and overeating are rewarded immediately, and any punishment is in the distant future. In other words, to control your work habits you must make the periods of work shorter less painful and the rewards more frequent and immediate more pleasurable —interlacing short periods of work with breaks and rewards.

If, therefore, you are interested in tackling a large task and minimizing procrastination, you must structure the rewards so as to increase the probability that you will start on the task each day.

For those of us raised to believe in the Puritan work ethic, it is hard to grasp that humans are motivated more by pleasure than by pain. In fact, even the original Puritans had to stop work on the Sabbath. Our modern word recreation comes from this early workaholic principle. But in the last three years, he had failed at countless attempts to complete a single scholarly paper, and he began to think of himself as lazy and as a procrastinator.

Initially, he was a good example of how ineffective the push method of motivation can be. Jeff was stuck. He felt guilty about not making a contribution to his field and was feeling pressure from his colleagues to publish.

But he was unwilling to make the commitment to the long hours of solitary work that were required to read professional journals and to write.

After talking with Jeff for a short time it became clear that he had tried, with almost no success, to overcome his procrastination by using every method he could think of for pressuring and scaring himself into writing.

I had learned the hard way not to compete with such resistance. We needed a whole new strategy, not more of the same pressure and pushing. So I decided to say something that I knew would shock and yet intrigue a bright guy like Jeff.

I counseled him to stop all this self-torture that only leads to frustration and depression. He auditioned for a play and was assigned a minor but substantial part. Jeff quickly found himself with a commitment of twenty to thirty hours a week for rehearsals. This meant he had no time to consider, much less feel guilty about, his professional writing for the entire next two months of rehearsal and production.

Jeff enjoyed the entire process of acting so much that he miraculously managed to find over twenty hours a week—and the energy that that required—to work hard and meet his commitment to the director and the rest of the cast. The play was a success, but more importantly for Jeff, it was fun.

Getting thoroughly involved in doing that play was like going on a long-dreamed-of vacation. By some definitions he had worked hard; after all, he had put in enough time each week to constitute a part-time job. But Jeff felt rested and satisfied because it was a labor of love that he looked forward to eagerly each day. In addition, life during those two months had become more than trying to work and feeling guilty about failing to reach his goals.

Jeff had learned in a very concrete way that he could commit himself to something and find the time to meet that commitment. At the conclusion of all that work on the play, however, Jeff was mildly depressed. Jeff learned that it took a lot of commitment, focus, and time to be in a play.

That meant sacrificing some of the other activities he enjoyed.

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He felt an emptiness now that those twenty-plus hours of intense activity and satisfaction were no longer in his week. Jeff began to realize that, having cleared twenty to thirty hours a week from his schedule for two months, he could find plenty of time to write an article. But first he would need to change his thinking about this large, imposing task.

Jeff now knew how important it was to have something in his week that he really loved to do to lessen the sense of burden and deprivation from working on his research project. He changed the task in his mind from being an all-consuming one—requiring all his spare time—to being one that he could do part-time, ten to twenty hours a week. Jeff reorganized his schedule to include firm commitments to exercise and friends. This made it clear to him that his periods of work in isolation would have to be short and focused.

Equipped with a greater sense of his ability to enjoy life, Jeff returned to the task of starting on his article. Finding ten hours a week for writing was relatively easy after having cleared twenty hours for rehearsals. Getting started was still rough, but by maintaining a certain momentum through daily periods of work, Jeff quickly saw the article take shape.

From there it was simply a matter of persistence as his natural interest in the topic carried him through to completion—pulling him toward a goal he could now see was achievable. Jeff found a way to reintegrate writing into his life without making it a burden and without the use of force or threats.

He had his first article ready for submission to a journal in a few months. After an initial rejection and some rewriting, the article was accepted for publication by a prestigious journal.

The cycle follows a pattern that usually begins with guilt-free play, or at least the scheduling of it. That gives you a sense of freedom about your life that enables you to more easily settle into a short period of focused, quality work.

In turn, your capacity to enjoy quality, guilt-free play grows. Your deep sense of having earned time away from work enhances your ability to have focused, quality time with friends, which really begins to pay off as you engage in creative work while playing. At this stage in the cycle, the seeds of earlier quality work flourish subconsciously into new ideas and breakthroughs. And you feel motivated to return to the task interested in applying your new solutions.

You are now well rested, inspired, and ready for greater quality work. Guilt-free, creative play excites you with motivation to return to work. When seated in front of your computer or making calls to clients, you are primed to work in a way that synthesizes the best of your conscious and subconscious processes because you have learned the secret of guilt-free play.

As you include guilt-free play among your tools for overcoming procrastination, you will find that insights come to you throughout your day. Suddenly you find that playing golf, jogging, reading a novel, or talking to a friend provides rich metaphors for your sales program, for negotiating a contract, for your presentation to the board of directors, or for achieving your goal of quitting smoking.

This can happen when you are relaxed because while your conscious mind is focused somewhere else for two hours of guilt-free play, your creative, subconscious mind can provide clear, almost effortless solutions.

Thus guilt-free play leads to greater quality work and creative, rapid solutions. Well, Carlos was the guy you gave things to if you wanted them done quickly. He had always held at least two jobs from the time he was in high school. He had a part-time job for at least fifteen hours a week all the way through college, while finding time to be active in extracurricular activities and to maintain an active social life.

Carlos came from a working-class family where work was accepted as a fact of life. He did not waste time holding any grudges against work, whether it was schoolwork, his part-time job, or the work of putting together a weekend trip. He was as committed to his play as he was to his work. Clearly, he had earned it. And when it was time to return to work, Carlos did so without the slightest hesitation because he felt recharged, revitalized, recommitted. Carlos was a classic example of someone committed to guilt-free play and optimal performance at work.

The vitality of his play carried over into his work and he thoroughly enjoyed challenges in both spheres of his life. When he had something to think over, he knew his leisure time would provide an alternative perspective from which to consider his options. Not only was his recreation enjoyable, it was a source of some of his best ideas and most creative solutions.

This emphasis on the importance of play is not meant to deny the need for work and perseverance. The type of work and commitment that is more compatible with the Now Habit is a commitment to a mission that focuses your energies and brings about inner harmony, a commitment that comes from a pull toward a goal and an excitement about the process of getting there.

Charles Garfield, in his book Peak Performance, writes of the power of commitment and the shared mission of the Apollo moon-shot program: They had a mission. I saw men and women of average capabilities tapping resources of personal energy and creativity that resulted in extraordinary human accomplishments.

I saw their excitement and pride come alive, affecting everyone around them, kindling imaginations with the possibilities that arose from what we were trying to accomplish. One thing became very clear to me—it is not the goal, but the ultimate mission that kindles the imagination, motivating us toward ever higher levels of human achievement.

In this positive work atmosphere, you are more likely to demonstrate extraordinary capabilities and motivation. Regularly scheduled periods of guilt-free play will give you a fresh outlook on work. Your play time will let you experience your own native curiosity and willingness to do good, quality work. Guilt-free play provides the link between work and play, in which each improves the quality of the other.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Grant me the stubbornness to struggle against things I cannot change; the inertia to avoid work on my own behaviors and attitudes which I can change; and the foolishness to ignore the differences between external events beyond my control and my own controllable reactions. But most of all, grant me a contempt for my own human imperfection and the limits of human control.

Until you can find tools to cope directly and positively with that response, your fear or phobia will block your ability to take action. Procrastination, by enabling you to avoid what you fear, is a phobic response to work that is associated with worry, struggle, failure, and anxiety.

When it is your sole defense against something you fear, procrastination becomes a difficult habit to unlearn. While both phobias and procrastination also tend to be addictive because they reward you by lowering tension, they can be unlearned. Armed with Now Habit tools, you can unlearn the phobic response of procrastination and learn alternative ways of coping with your fears. In addition, each time you apply a constructive alternative to help you approach a difficult task, you will be unlearning the old pattern and breaking your addiction.

These three blocks usually interact with each other and escalate any initial fears and stresses. Overcoming any one of the three quickens the destruction of the remaining blocks because you build confidence as you face and live through any fear.

Studies have confirmed that as little as thirty seconds of staying with a feared situation—a barking dog, a crowded party, giving a speech—while using positive self-talk is enough to start the process of replacing a phobic response with positive alternatives. Learning to stay with any fear will be much easier when you have weapons and tools that give your brain alternatives to running away.

When you survey the task before you, you will commonly experience a surge of energy stress or anxiety as your body tries to be in several places at once along the imagined course of your project.

This picture collapses the steps involved so that your body responds with energy to work on all the parts—beginning, middle, and finish—simultaneously. Being overwhelmed by a large or important task is a form of psychological and physical terror. As an eager and productive new lawyer, Joel found great satisfaction in working on depositions and briefs that he could complete quickly.

However, he shied away from more complicated cases. His fear and procrastination began to get in the way of his advancement in the firm. Whenever he was faced with an important or risky case, his physical and emotional reactions were so strong that he felt stuck, unable to do anything. His worrying resulted in insomnia, indecisiveness about small issues, and increased use of coffee and alcohol.

As Joel put it: I become so intense about the possibility of losing the case that I stop myself from ever starting the necessary preparation. Eventually, my nervousness and procrastination leave me less time to take depositions and meet court dates. Conquering the feeling of being overwhelmed starts with anticipating that it is natural to experience a certain amount of anxiety as you picture all the work involved in completing a large project.

This normal level of anxiety will not become overwhelming unless you: Insist on knowing the one right place to start. Have not permitted yourself time along the course of your project for learning, building confidence with each step, and asking for help.

Your two-dimensional view pressures you to be competent now at the beginning. Instead of allowing yourself to learn along the way, you expect that you should feel confident at the start. The starting point and the path of trial and error have little legitimacy in comparison to your goal.

You have little tolerance or compassion for your current level of imperfection and your current level of struggle. This critical comparison keeps you jumping back and forth between your negative image of yourself at the start and your ideal of yourself at the finish point.

The Reverse Calendar When Joel applied three-dimensional thinking to his assignments, he was able to see the entire process, directing his energy toward dividing the project into small, manageable parts. This view lets you mentally spread the work out over the days and weeks ahead, creating your own deadlines for the subdivisions of the project. When you learn to look at projects this way, you rapidly diffuse the condensed effort of two- dimensional thinking into a three-dimensional and four-dimensional view spread over distance and time.

I call this the reverse calendar. As you picture several smaller deadlines—all within your control —the paralysis caused by trying to complete a large project with dire consequences if you fail disappears.

This revised image of your project enables you to use your other tools to focus in the present, where you can start on the first step. But with your mind focused on the here and now, where work can be started, your body provides the right level of energy to start and you experience it as excitement and effectiveness.

The reverse calendar starts with the ultimate deadline for your project and then moves back, step by step, to the present where you can focus your energy on starting. You will find the reverse calendar extremely useful whenever you face tasks that require work over a long period—painting the house, mounting an advertising campaign, or perservering through a weight-loss program. And the reverse calendar should be used immediately if you feel overwhelmed. Ultimate deadline:The consequences of falling or making a mistake would probably be death.

Style your headings. Not only was his recreation enjoyable, it was a source of some of his best ideas and most creative solutions. Instead, you can cultivate the Now Habit: Initially, I was frozen in fear—as if on that board feet above the ground—unable to get myself to move. My personal favourite is classless HTML. Three-dimensional thinking and the reverse calendar will show you how to control the terror of being overwhelmed by important tasks by creating a step-by-step calendar of your path to achievement, with adequate time to rest and to fully appreciate your accomplishments.

Try to be imperfect.

MOZELLA from New Jersey
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