Going From Creative Avoidance to Creative Confrontation
First heard the term 'creative avoidance' at least 15 years ago. It's
a great term to soften the blow when you don't want to face the fact
that you're simply procrastinating - putting off the important, the
valuable, the HARD tasks, in favor of something that feels
productive, is easy to do, and creates a dopamine surge.
That might be something truly worthy - like spending an hour getting
an oil change for your car. Or a couple, doing it yourself - then
you'll really feel good about yourself. Maybe you suddenly realize
the laundry and the dishes need to be done, and, by golly, you'll
really feel better in a clean environment. Or, it's getting to that
next level, or five, of Candy Crush, or leveling up on Halo. It feels
GOOD, doesn't it? You DID something. But, you didn't do what you
originally set out to do - finish important paperwork, write a few
pages in your book, send out 10 marketing inquiries - whatever it was
you knew you should do, but just didn't want to face.
I'm great at creative avoidance. I literally have it scheduled into
my day. Each day I'm supposed to listen to an audible book, read 20
pages in a real book, read my 'Bible in a Year' email, and extend my
consecutive day Kindle reading streak. Because, that makes me feel
good. Doesn't help me market myself, though. Creates virtually zero
money - though I'm learning some good YouTube strategies right now in
Brian G. Johnson's YouTube Ritual.
Scheduled creative avoidance isn't all, of course. And I am almost to
level 4100 on Candy Crush Soda. I expect a large sum of money soon
What's the solution? Heck if I know. I'm 54 years old and I haven't
beaten it yet.
Small victories have come when I work with scheduling time for
important work - short bursts of 15 minutes (or 17 Minutes lately,
thank to Darren LaCroix's recent book). Sometimes I actually lose
track of time and get 30 full minutes of important work done. Other
times, I just write another article for LinkedIn.
My biggest successes, though, come when the sh*t hits the fan. I'm
great at last minute work. Deadline work. Gotta get the money to pay
the rent work. Which, for me at least, is indicative of the real
problem. Creative avoidance sends us to pleasure to avoid pain - one
of the oldest motivational maxims around. Deadlines force us to the
pain, and the only pleasure that moves us away from pain, is actually
doing the work.
Which means, perhaps, the best solution is to increase your
deadlines. Purposely increase your pain. Go beyond your 'why' - push
past it to envision your 'what if I don't'. What's your worst case
scenario? Is it bad enough to get you past your creative avoidance?
If you don't believe you can truly end up in a worse situation by
continuing to do what you're doing, it's easy to just stay where you
are. Envisioning lots of money, big houses, private jets - for most
people, we just don't really believe it's possible, or even
necessary. But if you could lose your house, your spouse, your life -
that's real. That can push you forward.
And you might just go from
'creative avoidance' to 'creative confrontation' - and work harder
than you thought possible. And end up on that private plane you never
thought you needed. Or at least a decent Honda Accord. Then you'll
REALLY be living your #WinAnywayLife!