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The Mindful Entrepreneur

Imagining Ahead is Like Shooting Yourself in the Face – The Doubt Problem

Categories: Fears & Anxieties - Freedom - Productivity - Simplicity

How often have you put off a task, an errand or something positive in your life, simply because you’ve envisaged it, and it;

  1. Seemed too difficult
  2. Felt like it was going to take way too much time
  3. Didn’t go according to plan

Well, that’s your imagination for you, and it can play utterly, utterly filthy tricks on us. Even looking forward to the next couple of minutes (in a negative way, as worry or doubt) can have dire consequences and can lead us straight into procrastination, rather than doing something beneficial, productive or amazing. Some of the best work is done when you haven’t envisaged it or you’ve envisaged it, imagined it not working out, but then gone “what the hell” and done it anyway. One of the main reasons for this is because you’re entering unchartered terriority, and therefore you’re paying attention to the event, being in the moment and giving it your best. If we tend to imagine something not working out, we’ll often carry out the task how we’ve imagined it. It’s a sort of self sabotage. You’ve imagined it bad, so as to prove yourself correct, you’ve done it bad. That way, you haven’t really failed, because you were right to start with.

Not the Way to Live Life

If you go through life like this, then you often miss out on experiences and new creative opportunites, because you’re always applying the past to an event. Your imagination bases itself a lot on your past, so you may just do a task the same way as you always would have in the past. Throw away this burden and you start to look at things in a whole new light. It’s a light of being in the moment. Of applying your brain to the current situation, which will always be different to any prior situation. You may have gained knowledge to handle a situation better from your past experiences, but you still need to tackle every task with a fresh, unbiased and clear perspective.

You see, the truth is, we have no idea what is going to happen in the future, even in the next few minutes. We can take a best guess, sure. But that’s not something we need to actively think about. Releasing this burden, allows us to be in the present, and the future is only shaped by what we do right now. Our intuition, our instincts take care of what may be about to happen next, rather than our thoughts. As long as we are fully realised in a given moment, then we can deal with the next. The future is only shaped but what we do now. Not what we think about doing. Remember 100% of what you think is purely a thought, and often a thought that doesn’t represent us as best as it should.

we have no idea what's going to happen - release the burden

How? The Distinction between Imagination and Worry

A key thing here is to recognise when you are casting your eye into a negative future. You might realise that you’re thinking about doing the washing up. But rather than thinking about it, you could just do it, and what’s more, if you weren’t overrun with pre-conceived ideas about the job, you could actually have fun doing it. Tasks don’t need to be chores, and indeed they’re not – everything should be approached as a brand new experience, that you should embrace, even remedial tasks like the washing up. If you’re approaching a task with a fresh perspective every time, you can easily make it fun, even if that simply involves flipping on some tunes and getting down to some beats whilst washing. You may not have considered even a small change like this, if you tackle it like a chore and approach it as a robot presented with a job that “MUST” be done.

The key thing here is that when you catch yourself, you need to pull yourself back to reality. One way to do this is to take in your surroundings, pick up what is next to you, examine it, feel it. Another way is to be grateful for your surroundings – once you start appreciating what you have, then you start to regain focus on the now. Another method is to get in touch with your feelings; how do you currently feel? What do you need to do to satisfy your feelings – you’ll often find, it’s the same thing your mind was trying to sabotage you from doing. You can also try slow breathing, in and out for a few minutes, until you regain clarity and drop your imagination into the future.

It’s not always easy to recognise when you are sabotaging yourself. You’ll get more used to it, the more you do it. But there can also be levels to the sabotage; you might catch yourself thinking about doing a blog post, and coming up with reasons about why it will be so hard to execute or take so long, but because you’ve caught yourself, you can let those thoughts go. But then your brain might approach it from a different angle, it might start thinking about all the other things you need to get done aside from that blog post, so the blog post can wait, right (WRONG – see next section)? You can even find yourself doubting that you should be letting go of these thoughts, which is a whole new cycle of self doubt, which removes you from the moment – once you recognise this, you can accept that how you are now is exactly how you need to be, and this thought process is your current one and the right one. Decide on it, accept it, and allow yourself to commit to it.

It’s important to point out that imagination itself isn’t a bad thing, in fact it’s extremely useful. But in these situations, your imagination is manifesting itself as doubt and as worry. These things are not useful to you or anyone else around you. Doubt and worry simply lead to procrastination. It’s also important to note that using your imagination to come up with ideas for future events, inspiration, or even positive future visions, is absolutely dandy, and indeed a cracking idea. That’s not what I’m talking about here.

This manifestation can also occur when you’re considering say, a purchase, you might end up in a constant cycle of weighing up the pros and cons of a particular purchase. Trying to decide what you will do with it, how it will help and whether it’s a valid purchase. STOP ALL THAT. Trust your instincts, trust your gut feel and either buy it or completely forget it. Drop it. Move on.

WRONG; Just Get Started

The moment you think of the task and feel the need, the desire, to do it. Then jump to it. JUST GET STARTED, and you’ll soon be well into it before you’ve even realised. Often the only thing stopping us from reaching greatness is ourselves. It’s like an instinctive fear that if we commit to something then time will move too fast, or we’ll neglect something else, or worst of all, we’ll fail. When in fact the opposite is true – those things will only happen through not doing, rather than doing. If we are doing then we can always choose to do something different if it doesn’t work out the first time. Often it’s the things we put off that we need to do the most. If we can do these without doubt, fear or worry about how they could pan out, then we’ll find ourselves in a much better place, and that better place is called IN THE MOMENT.

One thing that is Worth Looking Forward to

Is a GOAL. If what you’re doing is designed to get you towards a goal or a vision. Then look forward to that goal, rather than the process in hand. Once you overlook the process and focus on the goal, this will also pin you back to reality, because you’ll realise that to meet it, you need to put the effort in NOW.

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About the author: I’m the Founder of Own the Web (aka. Mindful Marketeer), & I’m passionate about helping good causes, local & small businesses grow by bringing clarity to situations. I do this through my work at Own the Web, whilst practising mindfulness & blogging about it here. Other quick facts also include I’m a vegan, an individualist, equality champion & a mindful free thinker. Connect with me on Twitter or Peter Leigh on Google+.

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