Covid blues – Ooops, you procrastinated!

I am hoping that about a week ago I had you all motivated and ready to roll on conquering your fears and the dangers you had identified from my earlier posts. There is nothing like that feeling is there? When you are feeling motivated to do something. That you are going to take control of a situation. That the sheer strength of your will is going to carry you to success. And then it doesn’t, and procrastination sets in…..

Along with procrastination we also fall into a judgement-infused guilt fugue which further breaks down our self-esteem, motivation and general ability to even try and move forward. Now I have already said my bit around these emotions in my blog “Managing the COVID Blues – Looking at Emotions” so I will say no more. But I am sending you a virtual (and suitably social distanced) hug and again reminding you as I did in the first blog in this series, “Covid-19 – Why we Feel so Bad” that we are under extraordinary pressure right now in a world that is fairly unsure of itself. So it is time to exercise some self-care again.

This week I want to look at one way that you can increase your self-care by being aware of your gifts and what you bring to the world.

What makes difficult tasks even more challenging is when we don’t have the skills to complete them. Logical, right? Then why is it that when things get difficult we try and take on more, and do more without evaluating whether we are the best person for the job? Why would someone want to build a wood cabinet, having no tools or skills to do so, when they can have one built for them? Now, if the person had an interest in learning, that would be a different kettle of fish, but they are unlikely to take on such a huge task under pressure.

This is where gifts come into the way we plan to address issues or achieve goals in our lives. So often during coaching, where clients are assisted in setting and achieving goals, there is the need to stop and ask ourselves whether the action steps are practical and viable in this person’s life? For example when someone who has a spontaneous nature and enjoys arts, creativity and constant interactions with others want to become an accountant in a small business then we have to ask whether this is feasible? I am not saying it is not possible but it simply does not seem to align with the person’s strengths, and therefore is not setting them up for success.

As a bit of background, research has shown that when we work within our strengths, we enjoy the tasks more, find it easier to learn about what needs doing, can be energized by the tasks – instead of drained, remain happier and more productive because of it. You can see therefore why we would be concerned about the example above.

This is why it is important to ask, as we set out dealing with COVID-stressors, what strengths we have that can be used to achieve our goals. According to the CliftonStrengths profiling tool, from Gallup, there are four major domains that strengths fall into and while it is possible to have a strong preference for one of the domains, it is also possible to tend to more than one of them. These domains are:

  • Executing Domain – “How do you make things happen?”
    These strengths may help you turn ideas into reality.
  • Influencing Domain – “How do you influence others?” 
    These strengths may help you take charge, speak up and make sure others are heard.
  • Relationship Building Domain – “How do you build and nurture strong relationships?”  
    These strengths may help you hold a team together.
  • Strategic Thinking Domain –  “How do you absorb, think about and analyze information and situations?” 
    These strengths may help you make better decisions and create better outcomes.

When planning your goals you can do the following to find ways in which your strengths can be used to make achieving your goals easier. Reflect on the following:

  1. Which of these four domains do you enjoy being in the most. Think of previous successes and see if there are any clues in there. Be honest, it does not help choosing a domain in which you have no strengths, you are setting yourself up for failure.
  2. Take one or two of your biggest goals, as defined previously if you were following this blog series, and see which goals, and subsequent actions, align to these strengths.
  3. For the same goals see where you have actions that do not align to your strengths. Notice how those are the areas you managed to procrastinate on?
  4. In order to set yourself up for success, see whether you can apply some of your strengths, in different ways to make the actions you didn’t take align more with your strengths.
  5. “Call a friend” as they say in the game shows. You may have a domain that you do not have any strengths in and that is when you find support and ask for assistance from someone who does enjoy those tasks. Remember, in my previous post I pointed out that asking for help is one of the least used tactics at this time. Much to everybody’s detriment.

As a Strengths coach I realize that the list below is an extremely simplified approach to strengths work but at the same time, I do hope that it takes you one step in the right direction so that you can use the best of you to succeed in these challenging times.