Spring time naturally gets me thinking about my outdoor space. Though, admittedly I probably do more dreaming about it than actually making it happen (anyone else relate?).
So, this month I decided to get going by doing something 'small'.... just one single pot. A tired old plant that brought me no joy was ditched and replaced with a vibrant bougainvillea. I chose this plant because the purple flowers made me smile.
This activity led to a few more small pots, some of which I even painted and then filled with herbs, lavender and a little tropical greenery. Before I knew it, the outdoor space I had been thinking about was taking shape.
It dawned on me that my procrastination in getting started was connected to a belief that it would "take hours of work"... "would be too difficult"... or "that it might even fail...!"
However, I pleasantly found that the exact opposite happened. The process was quicker than I had imagined, was far less complicated than I thought and the plants are still alive and actually growing.
Indeed, this phenomenon has long been recognised by psychologists and supported by research. For instance, Albert Ellis and William Knaus way back in 1977 described in their book, Overcoming Procrastination*, the powerful links between expectations, negative personal evaluations and behavioural avoidance.
In other words, what we think about our ability to do something or our expectations of the task itself, can and does impact on our motivation to perform it.
Instead of overwhelming yourself with the largeness of a task or the uncertainty of success, put your belief to the test by getting started anyway.
Make this spring a season of opportunity. You might just surprise yourself!
*Ellis, A & Knaus, W (1977). Overcoming procrastination. New York: Institute for Rational Living
By Katherine Hurrell, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist, Sydney, Australia