AIBU to think maybe I have some sort of disorder?(79 Posts)
I have recently come to realise how hard I find it to complete actions or take action on ideas and would love to know if this rings any bells with any of you. For background, I am late thirties, married with children, and have run my own business for years. So I am generally competent, busy etc.
Here's my problem: a while ago I spent quite a while researching something to purchase. Not an easy decision, pricing and quality varies wildly etc. I found the best company, pleased with my decision, a page of notes to show for my research..... and yet a month later I still have not purchased said item. No reason other than requiring a bit of time to sort it out. I do this sort of thing a lot - I seem to excel at the research stage but never seem to actually finish the job I start.
Similarly, for my business there is a job I need to do, which although new and challenging, I have done enough training in my free time to know full well what needs doing, and frankly am fairly confident I'll do it well. I have been meaning to do this thing for a couple of years now!! And it's an important thing of direct benefit to the business. So why the hell can't I just DO it??!!
Or, for example, I really need to get into doing regular excercise. I am generally pretty fit & active.... but we all know I need the regular cardio etc. So I tell myself I just need to find ONE thing I like and just do it 3 times a week, no biggie. And I know I would genuinely enjoy doing it - I can think of a few sports I'd like to do. So why the ... hell can't I just do it? I find out about classes and times at different venues near me, make a note, think about it, plan on it...... and then never go. My phone and computer are full of tabs open of things I mean to do, buy, see, read..... I wish I could just either do it or delete it.
I remember at uni feeling so excited about all the new clubs and sports I could join, and wanting to try all sorts and yet, you guessed it, I did the sum total of bugger all. Maybe the odd class here and there but never stuck to anything.
I'm starting to feel like maybe there is some sort of therapy that could help me. I feel slightly embarrassed about starting this pity party.... but I think I need help. Anyone else out there had any experience with this?
I feel your pain. I bought a rather nice acrylic paint set a few months ago. Not used it yet. Bought a dog to encourage me to walk - it doesn't happen (often enough!) The guitar lessons petered out, the crochet sits in its basket, uncrocheted! Not a disorder, I just can't be arsed!
You're just not a completer finisher type, more a driver and inspirer. I HATE finishing things too but we should all focus on our strengths and for others to complement the areas we're not so strong in.
The thing is, I am not lazy, I'm pretty proactive and motivated. I get lots of things done and ticked off every day. But it's like something's stopping me doing the bigger things. I know the tricks in theory... do the big jobs first thing, then the little ones later etc..... but I still won't budge!
I think you're suffering from procrastination. I have it too.
Every so often I manage to grab the bull by the horns and actually do something.
On your list I'd say the business one is the more important as you say it will be of direct benefit. So by Friday, make sure you've done it. Put a reminder on your calendar and a leap of faith.
As for the keeping fit, you need someone to nag/cajole/support/bully you into doing something. Do you have a friend who'd go with you to an exercise class or go running with you? I managed to get my lazy arse off the sofa by offering to help a friend who was running but wanted company. I started off walking but now I can run (though currently on time out because of an injury).
I like that @ApplestheHare, hadn't realised that was a thing! Kind of makes it feel OK when you give it a name. I don't have any employees though! Maybe time to start..... Do you actively aim to get others to finish stuff for you?
I know this sounds stupid, but have you tried telling yourself out loud to stop procrastinating and effing get on with it?
I used to be like this. It’s a sign of being a perfectionist so if you don’t finish something it can’t be judged.
Once I learnt this I realised it was this ‘fear of failure’ stopping me finishing things. My DD was delighted when I finally hung the last two strips of wallpaper in her bedroom (many years ago) as she’d put up with it being a ‘work in progress’ for months. It wasn’t perfect and I learnt that it didn’t matter.
I do exactly the same.
Extensive research; very few actual purchases
Beautifully written cards; never sent
Talk to people about potential retraining/jobs etc; never follow up
Many creative projects planned; none started
Even with mumsnet. I write out heaps of long posts then decide it’s not quite right and don’t press post.
A few years ago I bought DD a dolls house for Christmas. Always appreciating a bargain I bought a £50 plain wood one instead of the £100s painted ones. And promised her I’d paint it.
Well, I did it in dribs and drabs, through the end of a pregnancy and a new baby in the house, and finally nine months later I finished! Every time I look at it I’m astounded I finished it, because for the last thirty odd years of my life projects like that have ended up abandoned and forgotten.
So it’s possible for me to stick with things, and I am getting better at occasionally just thinking of something worth doing and acting on it, but progress is slow.
My additional problem is that when I do have occasional spurts of energy and do something like book a holiday I’ve been ruminating on, or complete a load of filing that’s been needing to be done for years, I then get a kind of action hangover where for the next few days I feel wiped out and unable to contemplate even tiny decisions and chores...
I also find if I deviate from my daily chores that I always prioritise in front of the one off type tasks that require decisiveness and a degree of commitment, then the feeling of chaos that follows makes me so anxious I spend a good while spending extra time getting back into the routines I have for keeping on top of all the daily stuff.
Anyway I’m waffling. I don’t have any answers, but I sympathise is the tl;dr.
It's a Belbin type and while I'm not totally sold on Belbin there's lots of food for thought: www.belbin.com/about/belbin-team-roles/
And yes, in the workplace my team do the finishing bits. I had to learn to do them and make myself do them to work my way up through junior roles but I'm much happier coming up with ideas and inspiring others.
I’m like this. I wonder if it was lack of encouragement as a child. There was a lot going on when I was little and I had 2 older DBS whom I suspect got the encouragement, by the time I came along folk had lost interest. On the other hand I could just be a lazy arse - I do do stuff but lack commitment.
@Missy - every day!! I'm aware it sounds pathetic. The thing is..... I do get loads done every day (and in the past I think simply not having enough time has been the main problem) it's more to do with prioritising the big scary things.
@Llangennith I totally relate to that and have found it helpful to recognise that - it has improved things somewhat. Well done on the wallpaper!! I just completed a similar home improvement, long overdue!!
I bought a book about procrastination a few year ago, but haven’t got around to reading it yet. True story.
Are the big things important or things you feel that you should do? More for appearances maybe than being something you really want? Maybe you are just contented with your lot as is and the other stuff just isn't really worth it.
If it is having a negative effect on money or managing life etc, maybe if not laziness, maybe fear of failure? And/or lack of self worth? That you have got over just enough to make life work pretty well, but not got over enough to chance the big stuff. Fear of suceeding maybe? It is a thing!
Perhaps over time you have just lost the self discipline to just compel yourself to knuckle down to do something, and maybe there are no real consequences to not doing those things for yourself - since probably the only one to lose out is yourself? And being self-employed you can fudge things to make the procrastination/ fear less obvious and no one else except you feels the consequnces of leaving stuff undone?
Or perhaps the problem comes after the big things are done (or would be done) - of what it means to you to have finished something or committed to something. What would be changed? Who would benefit from the completion? Does it mean there would always be something else to fill the gap. Or would you have an empty list? What would an empty list feel like?
I have an condition that makes it hard to get things done but in completely different ways to this, so am just guessing!
I’ve always been as you describe op. Then came menopause and added mental confusion. I’m almost catatonic at times now.....
Oh my goodness @coriandersnell - beautifully hand written cards never sent - YES! Many times. I really relate to everything you have said. Well done on finishing the doll's house.
@ApplestheHare - reading up on that now, thank you so much. It's resonating with me.
@seafret, interesting questions, thank you! I will ponder and may discover something about myself!
@ohyesIam oh gawd.... sounds a nightmare! I shall try to learn to appreciate this stage then!
I can relate. What I've found is that completing the preliminary work but then leaving the last steps for later is a sure sign it'll never get done. What they say about procrastination is true: "if it can be completed in less than a day, do it today. Don't put it on tomorrow's to do list." I find I'm much more likely to be successful if I block out enough time to work on a longer task from start to finish. So for example, don't research the type of whosit or whatsit you plan to buy unless you are sitting down with the credit card to purchase it and an internet connection ready to go so you can just order it as soon as you decide.
From a behavioral standpoint, what happens is your need to be productive and motivation to do something is fulfilled by doing the research and planning phase, leaving you with no drive left over to follow it through. Your brain has already rewarded you for the task so physiologically, your brain sees no reason to continue. It's not a disorder, just the way your mind works. You can make it work for you or against you depending on how you schedule future to do lists. The only caveat here is that if you lack motivation in all areas of your life, including lacking the drive to do activities that previously made your happy (hobbies, family outings, getting together with old friends, etc.) that can be a sign of depression, dysthymia, or an anxiety disorder, and you should seek an evaluation.
It’s a learning curve!
But the pre menopause part, I think it’s a way of bring not a disorder. You actually sound quite productive.
I am a procrastinator. I would do maybe 80% of something, whether it be housework, an assignment, anything, then just run out of steam.
I realised I was subconsciously waiting for somebody else to come and finish it for me.
Now, when I get that feeling of running out of steam, I just say to myself:
I am an adult.
I am in charge.
Nobody else is going to finish this for me.
It's very hard to change, but sometimes that helps
Totally understand what you’re taking about here and I run my own business too so know the extra challenge of not having a superior to put pressure on me!
It is definitely perfectionism, I have to research and plan everything to make sure I have every single bit of information and have evaluated it objectively and then when I have done 99% of the work I can back off completely and never get to enjoy the benefits. I think it’s that perfectionism that makes you think ‘maybe this isn’t the right decision, maybe there is one tiny detail that I have neglected to consider, maybe I should think again etc etc’
I am getting better though. A really useful mantra that I repeat to myself when procrastinating is ‘done is better than perfect’ I literally repeat it in my mind when I am fretting over an irrelevant detail that threatens to derail a whole project.
Another thing that helps is deciding to take the action that I think is right without endlessly ruminating on the potential outcomes (especially if that’s going to affect people, and of course lots of my decisions affect my employees). 99% of the time you just can’t predict outcomes anyway so why waste your time and energy on something that will probably never happen. My mantra for that one is ‘action without attachment’
It’s really useful to find someone to hold you accountable, maybe you could ask a friend, but pick someone with whom you’d feel uncomfortable if you’d not accomplished the task. Alternatively consider employing someone, maybe only for a few hours a week to finish tasks off for you, it might turn out to be an amazing investment and really make a difference to your business.
The only book I’ve found helpful on procrastination is The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. I combine some of the techniques with the pomodoro timer technique. Mines all about anxiety - could that be part of it for you?
Could it be something to do with the cost/expense of these things? That’s why you research t so carefully, to not waste money?
It’s just a lot of the things you have mentioned seem to have a monetary cost attached.
I know for myself, I have to buy things for my work, and I research it obsessively and ask my husband which one is better, etc, all because I cant bare to waste money and love to get a good deal. I think it was drummed into me as a small child the value of money and not to waste it, and I know how hard I work for it, so I spend it carefully.
Could you put a date in your diary, like, Monday at 6pm-7pm is time to organise...... and then on Tuesday it’s time set aside for ..... and then it’ll be done before you know it!
Oh god so much of this is me! I put it down to anxiety (about not being good enough or putting myself out there...) - I read a blog post (can't remember who wrote it unfortunately) about how this can be the result of being a smart kid and never failing as a child. Not sure that helps get over it though!
Isn't that just life? I have about 9 things to do for work/exams ... but you can bet your life I've put them off for a week. I enjoy them/am good at them when I crack on but I HESITATE.
It took me six months to start the embroidery set I bought. Never joined any of the 800 clubs I wanted to at uni. I'm capable as hell, could take these exams by storm .... but I don't and it makes me miserable. Deadlines are the creator of my success, when the fear of failure overrides the procrastination I am a whirling dervish.
It's fear, plain and simple +laziness caused by perfectionism.
Or if there is something wrong with you ... let me know because I have it too.
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