I talked for months about changing my office to make it a more focused place before I found the key that propelled me into action. Guess what that was?
I had to decide which wall in my living room I wanted to paint.
Sounds crazy, I know. Here’s how it played out.
I had bookshelves in my office. They were my view when I sat behind the desk. I’d look up from writing and see JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett, and JRR Tolkein all staring back at me. Like I need the pressure. Not helpful, dear role models.
Books can be really loud possessions.
And then there was the desk. The desk had been my husband’s and it was…well, enormous. It begged me to make piles and make sure it got covered in papers and books and stuff. Even when the surface was clear, there was so much of it that I couldn’t even imagine how to rearrange the room because all I could see was DESK.
I spent months “thinking” or “considering” how to change my office. I was “too busy” to spend a lot of time on it. I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on furniture. I didn’t want to start moving things around and make a mess until I had a plan. I should go look on Pinterest for even more ideas…
Round and round on the carousel-of-inaction I went. It felt busy in my head, but nothing was happening.
Then one day, I snapped.
I realized I was never going to decide how to change my office until that desk was out of there and I could see a blank space. So I started walking backwards through the steps I’d need to do to make that happen to find a place to start:
- To move the desk I had to move the bookcases.
- To move the bookcases I had to empty the bookshelves.
- I wanted the books to go into the living room.
- To put the books in the living room I had to move the living room bookshelves around.
- I also wanted to paint one of the walls in the living room. I would have to move the bookshelves away from whichever wall I painted, and I only wanted to do that once.
- So I had to decide which wall and what color in order to get started.
Once I got to that point, it was easy to get moving. We already had paint in a color I loved. So all I had to do was get my family in that room and ask “this wall or that one?” We picked the wall, and within a couple of weeks I had a reorganized living room AND office.
What’s really holding you back is the decision you haven’t yet made. (click to tweet this)
The decision might be something simple and concrete, like mine was about the living room wall.
The decision might be that it’s OK to take just a tiny step and do nothing more. Kel talked about this (on the Dao of Doing) when she was stalled on her octopus mural. She had to decide that it was OK if one day, her only action would be to get on her hands and knees in the garage and find the paint she needed. Until she made that decision, she kept waiting for “enough” time.
The decision might be about what you really want or need. It’s easier to go through your books once you’ve decided that you’ll only keep the ones you love AND will read again. Until you’ve made that decision, you keep getting hung up on your love for books and what they meant once upon a time.
The decision might even be that this thing isn’t something you want to do anymore.
Once you realize that it’s not the project or change you’re delaying but a decision, you can stop beating yourself up over procrastinating, and start looking for the decision you need to make to get into motion.
Think of a project or change you’ve been putting off. What decision haven’t you made yet?
Even just identifying the decision to be made will get you closer to where you want to be! Let’s help each other out–share what you figured out in the comments.