I recently coached Logan, IME Community Social Media Strategist, who wanted some life coaching on procrastinating and some help staying off his phone. He’s taking 17 hours (5 classes) as a sophomore at UNL this semester and is having a hard time getting stuff done. He doesn’t hand things in late, has always done really well in school, and really likes to learn the material. He always gets it done, so there’s that too. I asked him why it’s a problem at all if he always gets it done. The problem he said is he’s in a pattern of making it harder on himself and spending only a couple of hours on a paper that he thinks he should have been working on for a whole week. He then feels badly about himself. When he thinks about his class load this semester or a paper that was due a couple of hours from when I coached him, he thinks, “If I can’t learn the way I want to, then what would be the point.” So, his problem is he’s not showing up as his authentic self and is stuck in a pattern that may have worked fine for him in the past, but isn’t going to work for him as his classes get harder. Logan was blaming his class load when that’s a circumstance, and the real problem is that he is creating a feeling of defeated from his thought, “If I can’t learn the way I want to, then what’s the point.”
Here are my notes I sent Logan after the life coaching session:
Here’s your unintentional thought model. It shows how your current thinking creates your current results and not the circumstance of the class load or the paper.
Circumstance: 17 hours and 5 classes
Thought: If I can’t learn the way I like to, then what’s the point.
Action: buffer by going on phone; feel bad about myself; blame class load
Result: I’m not positioning myself to learn the way I want.
You had some beautiful awareness of thoughts. You also said your thought was, “This is for later,” and “This is a lot,” when you sit down to work on the paper. The feeling that comes from that thought is overwhelm.
Thoughts will come up as will uncomfortable feelings as you sit down to work on a paper or study. There’s nothing going wrong. A thought is just a sentence in your mind or a cloud going by or a rainbow. You don’t have to believe it or make it mean anything. Also, we talked about the motivational triad and how our brains are literally status quo comfort machines that will keep us avoiding pain, seeking comfort, and seeking pleasure. You can be curious observer and just say, “Hey, Brain. I’m onto you. I see what you’re doing here. There’s nothing going wrong.”
We also talked about buffering which is something we do that creates a relief or happiness, that little zing of dopamine, false pleasure when we are trying to get out of feeling an uncomfortable emotion. You said you feel relief and happiness as you go to your phone.
To create an intentional model, try on a new thought that serves you and that you believe and that is in alignment with your ideal self, who, as you said, is someone who really likes to learn. You can also ask yourself, “What’s my desired outcome?” Then, think of what’s in your way. First, it’s your thoughts and then there are other obstacles and challenges that you can turn into strategies.
Circumstance: 17 hours and 5 classes
You can start on any line you want. If you want to start on the result line, no problem. Then, go to what actions will create the result you want, and what feeling drives those actions, and what thought creates the feeling you want. This is all the best news ever. Logan, all you have to do is unlock the power of your mind and you have all the power you need to create any result you want!