Kings and Queens of Procrastination

Procrastination. I first heard of this complicated word back in 2004, while chatting on MSN with a friend in New Zealand. I asked her what she was up for and she replied “procrastinating”. I had no idea what that was and immediately searched online for its meaning. To my surprise, there was a word that described the action of postponing tasks such as studying, writing essays, etc. In my mother tongue, we simply use the verb “to roll”, which I’d always used. If there is a specific word for that in the dictionary, then it must be something important, popular or even a disease, or am I wrong?

There are several aspects that could be discussed regarding procrastination, but today I am going to highlight a few thoughts  I came up with on my way home.

1) Sense of urgency

Our lives are busy I know, but that is tricky because being busy does not mean everything we do is important. And let’s be honest here, we enjoy doing some things more than others, probably because they are fun or easy. However, I am sure we are all guilty somehow for procrastinating on important things that are not always fun to do.

2) Working under pressure

Yes, many people procrastinate and then get desperate when the deadline is approaching because there is a mental alarm reminding us that things can go really wrong if we don’t do certain things. However, the key is to create an inner sense of responsability towards ourselves. What does that mean? We must put ourselves before anyone else in order to get organized and finish things for our own satisfaction. Working towards this, we will reduce the anxiety and build motivation to finish what we need instead of feeling afraid of the punishment that we usually create before the deadline approaches. 

3) Time management

This one is no secret: Procrastination is caused by poor time management. We always believe there is room for another task or to fit an appoinment now and there. We accept invitations, enroll into courses and our responsibilities just keep growing. Sometimes we forget that we are one person trying to fit a 24-hour schedule. Worse: we try to do everything in 24 hours and neglect that we don’t actually have the entire day to finish them (most people need to sleep, right?). The cycle never ends and when we realize, we are overwhelmed and stessed out, resulting in procrastinating even tasks we used to automatically. 

4) Illusion of organization

I remember very clearly my first day of class during my Master’s program. One of the professors mentioned about our thesis topics while introducing his class. I looked at my classmate and mumbled: “What? We are graduating in 2 years from today! He must be joking!” You guessed right, although I learned about my thesis and could have started working on it since day 1, I opted to procrastinate until I started writing my thesis a couple months before graduation. I am not proud of doing this because my thesis was poorly written and I had to rewrite it in order to pass. This is a real story and I want you to know the consequence I faced for procrastinating. There is always a reason why, so if the professor asked us to start preparing for the thesis 2 years in advance, it actually meant we required all that time to work on it. 

5) Rewards

Finally, procrastinating is terrible because it creates a sense of self-indulgency that we don’t need. In our minds, we are suffering from having to do a hard or boring task, so we feel that we deserve some rewarding in the process. “I have a difficult exam tomorrow, so I can’t hang out with friends. But because I stayed home, I deserve to eat an ice cream and watch one hour of series. “. Read that again, does this make any sense? You got it.

Fighting procrastination demands some behavior and habit changes, and I can advance that overcoming it will not be sweet. So here are three simple tips that might help:

1) Decide if a certain task is really necessary and assign time slots to work on it. If the task is not mandatory or it will result in more work than it actually worths, then be firm and give up. This will save you future worries and stress.

2) Define a realistic deadline, based on your personal and work schedule. For instance, if you have a deadline on 26 December and you know that you will celebrate Christmas on the 24th and 25th, then set the deadline for 23 December. It seems obvious but it works heavenly. Also, I love setting reminders (usually 1 month before, then 2 weeks before) in my phone calendar, as well as writing important tasks and deadlines on my diary. Keeping track of all your plans will do miracles, I guarantee.

3) Find your motivation behind any task you feel like procrastinating. Believe it or not, I enjoy washing dishes and I always reserve time to do it, even if I need to write it down and block a slot of my day. Besides the motivation of keeping the house clean, I know it will benefit not only me but those who are involved in the house dynamics. Everything we do is important regardless of its nature, we just need to remind ourselves our purpose.

Disclaimer: I’ve just applied my tips to the process of writing this post. Because I committed to my friends who requested this post that I would work on it today, I’ve set to myself the deadline, found motivation in helping and I am focused to posting it by the end of the day even though I started a nutrition course tonight that finishes at 10:50pm. Well, I started writing before leaving the house, typed a bit during a 15-minute break and continuing now during my Cabify ride home 😉

Judging others

“She’s Asian, must be a nerd.”

“His body is covered with tattoos, must be a rebel.”

How many times do we find ourselves judging and labeling people? We dare to judge people before we even get to meet them, or even strangers we will never talk to. Often times it is involuntary, automatic. I am confident that many of us don’t do it on purpose, but why are we so judgemental?

Humans are visual and our brains work super fast. We process multiple information before we absorb them with all of our senses. It’s like we have a limited database in our minds, that have this will to relate every single thing or person we see to something we know, or believe we know. For instance, “I’ve read somewhere or know someone who is Asian and smart, so naturally I will generalize every Asian I see and label them as such.” Of course I am being very extreme here, but I just wanted to illustrate with this popular example, clichet I admit.

The reason I am writing this is because I am judgemental myself, and I’ve been working on this, especially because as a life coach, the first requirement is to be non-judgemental. Actually, let’s say I was very judgemental until a few years ago, when I had no idea how harmful that was, not only to the innocent strangers or celebrities I commented about, but to myself. 

Because when one judges, one is putting himself on top of the object of judgment. Moreover, it’s a way of depreciating one another, based on poor judgement and stereotypes. The truth is, when we stop for a moment and think of the reasons behind our attitudes, it only proves the lack of confidence we have on ourselves, and I risk to say that it has to do with pride as well. 
Why so? Because it’s easy to hide our flaws and point at other people’s, isn’t it? Because we humans are competitive and envious by nature. Instead of admitting that we admire someone or wish we had the courage to do something the other person has done, what do we do? We criticize, we judge, we compare. 

I’d like to propose we think of someone we had criticized or commented negatively. Let’s be reasonable and not think of bad politicians, criminals or people who harm babies and animals. I am talking about people we usually judge regarding looks, harmless behavior, taste, etc.

Why do you feel such way towards him/her? Why do you even bother to talk about this person that might not even know of your existance? Why do you feel good about bad-mouthing this person? 

I think this is an extensive topic, worthy of further discussion. That’s it for now, hope you enjoy the reading. 

See you next time!

24-hour Fasting Experience

Hiya!

Today I am inspired to write about something a bit different from what I usually post here, and it has nothing to do with coaching.

Recently I joined a Fasting and Purification Retreat in my hometown called “Nyungne”. It happens every year and has the duration of 2 days. In the first day, starting at 6am, one can drink water or tea and have a light lunch. In the second and main day, the goal is to fast completely between 6:00am until 6:00am of the following day. That being said, no consumption of water or food for 24 hours.

This is the first time in my life I fasted for an entire day. Back in 2009 I had the opportunity to experience the Ramadan in Pakistan, which is a month of fasting during daylight time (between 12-16 hours every day) and at sunset everyone has a feast (Iftar).

The retreat I participated was also a silence retreat, so the purpose was to be more introspective, avoid dancing and singing, using the phone and social media, speaking only the necessary, dressing simple and wearing no jewelry or makeup. When I signed up for the programme, I thought it would be unbearable and that I would feel very sick.  We had an introductory class at the evening before and the teacher said that we would enjoy the experience a lot and that in fact, we should consider it as a gift. Moreover, she explained that perhaps we would not understand the meaning and purpose of the retreat immediately, and later in our lives, we would know exactly what it had served for.

I might not know what the future holds for me, but I can affirm that I already have a hint of what it is. Because I am feeling happy and grateful. I can’t really express in words the exact feeling but I will try my best to do so here. I was not planning to write about it at all, but I feel in my guts that I must share my thoughts. The teacher said that we fast in attempt to stop hunger in the world. Yes, I also had my doubts back then when she said that. However, it makes sense, as you must have heard that in order to reach world peace, one must be at peace with oneself.

I must briefly describe what I felt while I was fasting so you understand why I feel good and grateful. Skipping dinner was alright, as I had a late lunch and I am aware that many people choose not to eat dinner on a daily basis. In the morning I was OK, just felt a bit hungry, just like how I usually feel before lunch. My stomach is usually noisy when I eat, and I thought it would be much louder once I stopped eating, but I can say it didn’t embarrass me so much. Surely my energy level was lower, and during the session breaks, I took naps and walked slower. My skin was dry and threatened to break out. I had symptoms of a cold, like muscle pain, sneezing and runny nose. I could have complained about all that, but then I had the following thought: “I had a choice, what about those who do not have a choice?”

When I took the subway home on the last day, I saw a girl eating chocolate and I wanted too. I saw a guy with a bottle of water and I craved it too. I passed by several restaurants and cafes, and I did not walk in. I would be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind to break the fast  a few times. I had the means to go to a restaurant and sit at a table without being ignored, I had the voice to order a meal, I had the money to pay for anything I ordered. Do you get the idea? 24 hours mean nothing when we know there are people starving for weeks. How spoiled are we when we complain about trivial things every single day? I realized that I have never felt hunger and I hope I don’t.

And my conclusion after fasting for only 24 hours is: I don’t want anyone to feel what I felt at the subway.

I am publishing my first book!

A few months ago I wrote about my writer’s block and how much I was struggling to write my first book. Today I am proud to announce that the first step finally came to an end is the book is printed! The official launch will be in my hometown, São Paulo (Brazil) on 19 April. You can find more details at the end of this post.

When the idea of writing a book arrived to me, I got very excited and everything seemed to be “easy and organized” in the sense that I was able to create a timesheet, drafted the chapters and came to the conclusion that my agenda would work perfectly. Even though I took into account my real schedule and activities in order to fit the book writing into my routine, in reality things were not that easy. Why?

You must have guessed right: Inspiration. Because writing a book is not the same as reading one or studying for an exam. Unfortunately creativity is a rebellious creature that only starts working when it wants to. One cannot force it or push it when the alarm goes off. And once it starts flowing, one should not stop it when the time is up either! That is why it was so challenging for me, who consider myself an organized life coach with reasonably good time management skills. If only writing could be as easy as typing whatever crossed my mind…

I believe that the process of writing a book, regardless of the talent of the writer, should always have deadlines, time management and organization. It is important to include slots of time to relax, get inspired and consequently, brainstorming. The more ideas one have, the more fluid the writing becomes. But as I said, because there are deadlines to obey, it is inevitable to get organized. I assume that is where I failed, as I was confident regarding the subject and thought I didn’t need any brainstorming. Only because I wrote about memories, it did not necessarily mean that I did not need creativity, does it make sense?

Another crucial fact that contributed loads to me getting the book done was to create a crowd funding campaign to finance my self-publishing. It was a way for me to arise my sense of responsibility towards my decisions. For me, having an audience supporting my writing and ideas at the same time as expecting results, was the key-point to my ability to meet the publisher’s deadline and my own deadline to launch the book in mid-April.

I can say that I am relieved and happy, but restless because my next goal is to translate the book into English, as its original version is in Portuguese.

Be my guest on 19 April between 7:00-9:00pm at Padaria Pet (Rua Oscar Freire, 502, Sao Paulo). Pets are welcome too!

Have a lovely week you all!

 

 

 

Where is my inspiration?

This is so ironic because I am currently encountering writer’s block for this post and also because I am struggling to finish a book at the moment.

Today I’ve decided to dedicate my writing to open up my heart, and for the first time, I just want to have a frank conversation to whoever is reading this today, and apologies if this is not a motivational article. Although rare, I feel fatigued due to some work, travel and lack of sleep and workout, and thought “this could be interesting, people may relate to a real experience and even a life coach has his/her bad days”. So this is a honest and realistic description of how one struggles with finding inspiration.

I wonder if inspiration is something everyone has by nature and that can be lost sometimes, or if it’s a talent we all need to develop. Either case, I am sure I am not the only one facing it right now. Would it be lack of focus, then? Well, I know I am motivated to publish a book, I have also set it as a priority, but why do I still find it so hard to just sit at my computer to write?

The book writing started a few months ago and the first pages went smoothly until I got a total block for some weeks, then I was able to resume the writing and at the moment I am 75% done. However, now I am stuck again, and I am afraid it’s not because I’ve already exhausted all the content. Actually, I have new ideas and insights all the time, but I “just” can’t translate those into words. I’ve been an editor before, so perhaps it wouldn’t be so hard if I already had everything I wanted put into a fluid text. At the same time, typing everything that comes into my mind ain’t something I fancy doing either, so probably I am stuck because I aim at typing a final art, which we all know it’s impossible. There is no such thing, right?

Another hypothesis for my writer’s block could be anxiety. Perhaps I have been skipping a few processes and instead of going step by step, I am already dreaming of the book launch, or picturing the final draft, or even the hard copy! But how would I reach those if I can’t manage to finish the first draft?

So I guess I already have an answer just by writing my feelings and emotions right now!

~Ok Suzana, take a deep breath, remember your motivations, focus and follow the steps in the correct order. You will only get the book published if you sit down and write. Inspiration comes and goes, but if you have what you want clear as water and understand why such thing is important, you will get this right, and done!~

Thanks for reading and please share if you have been through lack of inspiration or writer’s block before. If you have, how did you manage to finish your project?

 

 

 

 

Weight Loss is a Mean, Not a Goal

weight-loss-700x495It has been a while since my last post, but I have been developing personal and professional skills, and some of those include incorporating healthy habits into my routine. The concept of “healthy” may vary according to different cultures, costumes, ideology, etc; but what I am going to discuss here is far from imposing a “right” way of conducting a healthy lifestyle.

In my opinion, being healthy is a combination of mental and physical health, and it is no secret that well-being is a result of a balanced life. I believe many of you have already heard that what we eat reflects on how we feel and look, but I would go further and affirm that the formula must add positive feelings and conscience. Actually, conscience and discipline, because without those there is no purpose that validates the result.

For instance, let’s take someone who is desperate to lose weight in order to fit an old pair of jeans and goes straight for a nip and tuck. This person wants a quick solution and is not interested in going through a conscious diet or nutrition education. Since it is common to mix up goal with strategy, one must always think over the actual reason and importance of losing weight. Also, it is very likely that the purpose of losing weight it not very clear, and the person should think further on why he/she wants to fit an old pair of jeans. Would it be to look younger? Would it be to feel more attractive? Why does the person want to look younger? Why does he/she want to feel more attractive?

That being said, instead of believing that the weight loss is the goal, one must comprehend that a few pounds less is a mean to achieve something else, such as confidence, being healthier, preparing for maternity, etc. In another words: reasons that seek long-term results.

For me, a healthier lifestyle includes eating more natural foods, avoiding sugar, cooking, working out regularly, spending time with friends, studying, keeping organized, spending quality time with family, and dedicating time for other hobbies. However, those are my personal combination of habits that make me happy, and it took me a few years to understand my body and mind in order create my package of “healthy habits”. Every person must understand and respect their own limits before trying to reproduce someone else’s life recipe. Getting inspiration from others is helpful and generates motivation, as long as one adapts it to his/her reality.

I hope you feel inspired to think about your own healthy habits and do not push yourself too hard if you don’t believe it will bring you satisfaction and happiness. Respect your body and mind and make decisions based on your long-term goal. First remember WHY you want something and only after figuring that out, think on HOW to get it.