If you’re experiencing ambivalence about returning to work, one of the effects might be procrastination. ‘I don’t have to call my old colleague today’, ‘I’ll sort out my CV after I’ve taken the dog for a walk’ are the kinds of thoughts we can have. The problem with these thoughts is that without some sort of focus or sense of purpose, we somehow never get around to calling that old colleague or working on our CV.
Sense of purpose
So how do we gain a sense of purpose? For most of us this comes from having some clarity about what we want to do next and why. In the absence of this clarity, none of the things we could possibly do (make a call, write our CV, do research, work out how to tell our story) seem urgent or even relevant. If you are feeling unclear about your next role and you are perhaps struggling with too few choices or too many, taking a look at our previous posts could help. If you are not yet ready to return or embark on a search for a role, you can start to gain a sense of purpose by thinking about the question of what you might like to do next.
Sometimes we procrastinate when we feel overwhelmed by the scale of the task ahead and this prevents us from taking a first step. So, even when you’ve decided that you want to go back to work and have some clarity about the kind of role you want, you can still be daunted and make little progress. Professor Richard Wiseman's research into the psychology of change has found that simply knowing our end objective, and imagining how great life will be if we reach it, does not motivate us - we need to clearly plan the steps we will take to achieve the goal. So the solution lies in subdividing your end goal into individual smaller stages. Each time you are able to complete an action you will be moving towards your overall goal and you will gradually build momentum and confidence. Wiseman suggests that you can further increase your motivation by 1) telling other people about your goals 2) recording your progress (in a journal or on a chart) and 3) rewarding yourself for each sub-goal you achieve.
Finally, procrastination can result from the way we order our priorities. When there are a myriad of tasks to do and demands on our time, we can find it easy to relegate the tasks that will move us forward in our career thinking to the end of the list. It is almost as if we need permission to put ourselves higher up the priority list, particularly if we have spent recent years in a caring role. Who is going to give us permission to focus on ourselves and not feel selfish?
If you've been able to answer that, what is the first thing you will do with your new sense of purpose? We would love to hear from you.
Posted by Katerina