Fear and Procrastination

This blog is for those of us who find ourselves in a cycle of frustration and procrastination. If you’re a singer or performer of any kind struggling with moving towards dreams or goals then I’m sure you will relate to this post.

Admittedly I myself am a procrastinator of the perfectionistic kind. In fact, part of my self therapy is writing this blog – because if I don’t I shall keep putting it off because “its not good enough” (perfectionism 101). When I dig into my perfectionism, what I truly uncover is the dirty F word – FEAR. And this fear is my motivation and justification for procrastinating. I am not the lazy kind of procrastinator, I have many pots on the boil both professionally and personally and I do my best to fulfil all of my obligations. However, the things that I care about most and desire the most are frequently held back by my fears of “not being good enough”, or worrying about what others might think (which imeadialtely sparks shame in me because I know that stems from pride – yikes!) The point is that when my fear takes over it motivates my procrastinating and demotivates my dreams and aspirations.

As a singer and performer you may relate to my plight. Maybe you’ve stopped practicing, or haven’t gone for that audition, or not finished the song you’ve been writing? Have you found ways of distracting yourself from these things – justifying not moving forward because you’ve been “busy” or your voice hasn’t been behaving well lately, or you found somewhere else to go on the day you were supposed to be at an audition? If you are honest with yourself are you sabotaging your next step to success by procrastinating due to fear? When fear becomes the motivator it will justify itself in ways that will leave us in a state of inertia, frustration and anxiety.

It is vital to identify when our procrastinating is due to fear so that we can find ways of moving through. Yes, this can make us feel vulnerable and open to criticism and we may need help through that with a professional coach or the help of trusted friends and family, but it is crucial to step out!

As a teacher and coach working with singers I notice that the type of fear linked to procrastination is not motivational and manifests commonly  as perfectionism/pride, laziness/indifference. All of which stand in the way for even the most gifted performer. I notice the symptom of procrastination when singers think they are not good enough or will never be (linked to perfectionism), or fearing the loss of respect from peers or being rejected.  These thoughts and stories demotivate them, preventing and excusing them from moving forwards with practice, training or taking the next career step.

So how can a singer stop procrastinating because of fear? It begins with first identifying that you are in some kind of fear space – Being precise in naming the fear requires honesty and ownership.  Ask yourself questions about the fear – where did it start? Is there any truth behind it? Be compassionate with yourself, not accusing – just open and curious. It might be useful to write things down or record yourself.

The next step is to reframe the fear. What if you now take the chance to turn that fear on its head (in your mind)? Take everything that is negative about the fear and change it to a positive or neutral statement. This may feel awkward at first, but don’t judge it – just write it down or say it. How about remembering a time when you last confronted a fear (even if its totally unrelated)? Remember how you felt when you conquered it (powerful right?)

Finally – Action!! Moving beyond fear based procrastination requires decisive action. Even if it makes you feel uncomfortable – yes, I’m currently feeling uncomfortable writing this (a little bit of fear) but I’m determined to lead by example. I know that despite my reservations, writing this blog will NOT kill me, nor will it deter my students! I also know from experience that if I do not step into “action” my mind and body have ways of making me feel worse leading to more procrastinating and frustration. So now it’s over to you – make some steps today towards action. It doesn’t have to be a high stakes scenario, just a decisive baby step outside of your comfort zone. I promise you that its worth the risk, and I also promise that you will feel motivated to achieve the goals and dreams that you have.

If you want to speak further about this subject or book in for a session please get in touch!