We’ve all been there, there is something you need to do that requires a commitment of time and effort. You know you need to do it but then comes all the doubts because whatever it is probably is difficult. Doubt leads to hesitation, then procrastination, and finally you fail to act. The current podcast episode should get you on the right track.

visualize_tackling_difficult_stuff Logo

Awhile back I was on a live stream panel and the subject of mindset came up. Everyone looked at me funny when I said “Mindset is less about what you think and more about how you think.” This definitely applies to tackling things you view as difficult because going back to that moment of doubt, some of the first thoughts that come to you are: I’m not smart enough to do this”, and slides into “this is going to take so long and eat up a great deal of time to finish…” I don’t know about you but following this line of reasoning I wouldn’t rush to do whatever it is that was hanging over my head.

Carol Dweck in her ground breaking book “Mindset: The new psychology of success” advances the idea that we approach tasks from two very different perspectives, either from a fixed or an open way of thinking. The fixed mindset views the world as “That’s just the way I am. I’ve never been good at doing that.” On the other hand, the open way of thinking says “Let me work at it and see how far I get. If I don’t understand something, I can find a friend or a book that can get me over the parts that are unclear.” See the difference. And that is what I meant when I said mindset is not about what you think but how.

So how does all of this apply to tackling difficult stuff? Approaching a task with a fixed mindset closes off an attempt before you allow yourself to even start. The following are a few tips to help you reshape your thinking:

Understand your resistance
In your head you view the task as difficult but asking yourself why it is difficult goes a long way toward helping you find a way around what you view as difficult. We humans have an amazing ability to be creative in getting around stuff and you are no different.

man-leaping-entrepreneur-business 1Once you move the task away from that big catch-all of “This is going to be difficult” and toward admitting things like “I don’t know enough about this part” or “I’ve got a lot on my plate and don’t know where I will find the time.” Then you can go about finding a resource to help you understand the parts you are unsure about or deciding what you need to give up to make the time. I’ve provide steps for doing this in a previous post “Procrastination Maybe More About Fear” and recommend you try them.

Begin by tackling small parts of the total task.
Once you know what needs to be done, looking at it in total allows it to become a brick wall that gets higher and higher the longer you delay. Begin by committing to do small blocks of it like 30 minutes to an hour a day until the task is done. This turns the wall into a smaller hurdle. Part of your resistance is based on the amount of time you’ve imagined you will have to devote to it. Doing it in small stages gets you started and you might go beyond the time set if you’re at a critical point but now you’ve turned resistance into desire.

Take pause breaks
If the approach of allotting small amounts of time to tackle the task does not work because a deadline is now staring you in the face, a different approach is required to deal with the cards you’ve been dealt. Let’s first admit that some people like the push that a deadline provides and seem to work better in a “back against the wall setting.” If it works for you then it works for you. The one caution I would provide is rather than pushing through no matter what, allow yourself pause breaks. What you are doing is tackling the task in small parts down to hours rather than days as in the case of deciding to work a set time each day on a project.

Taking pause breaks of 10 to 15 minutes has proven to work wonders in allowing your brain to rework or consolidate information you’re working on. Telling yourself that you will break for 10 minutes every one or two hours during an all-night project helps at the very least to motivate you toward that next break while also providing a short period of time to let your mind reset and organize. Now that you know it won’t be work until you drop, that thinking may be enough to reduce resistance even if it comes down to the back against the wall moment.

These tips should get you thinking about ways to shift resistance as you try them. Some of you may have tried variations of what I’ve mentioned and never really thought about it in this context. I’m also sure I’ll hear from some of you about ways you’ve found to reshape them to different situations. Now go out and step by step tackle those difficult task. Happy working!