?I’ll do it when I’m in the right mood?
The first thing to notice when you say this is that the decision to put off doing the Task has already been made and it isn’t getting done. The second is to notice that this is a self-soothing statement because its purpose isn’t about making a plan but serves to make you feel better about yourself for not having started. You have just put off doing the Task but once you’ve said these magic words to yourself, it feels better, it feels like you have just made yourself a promise.
The third thing to notice is that it’s not true either. If you’re not in the mood now, you’re never going to be in the mood. What does being in the right mood to do the Task look like anyway? So there is another purpose in saying this to yourself, it avoids dealing with the real reason why you don’t want to do it – perhaps it’s hard, or boring, or requires application, or you think you might not do it well, or you don’t know how to start, or it is something that makes you anxious even thinking about doing it.
The secret here is to recognize that you are procrastinating and to notice that you are just soothing yourself. If you can’t persuade yourself to start it now (and you probably can’t) then you could think about replacing the thought of doing it “when I’m in the mood” with something a bit more concrete. Arrange with yourself a time that you really will start it, perhaps set an alarm so that you know that time has arrived and notice now that when the time comes you aren’t going to be in the mood to do it then either. But at the appointed time, there will be a slight difference. Whereas before, when you told yourself you would do it when you were in the mood, the decision not to do it had already been made, when the appointed time comes around and the alarm goes off and you think about doing the task, the decision to put the Task off won’t already have been made. If the thought pops into your head now, it won’t soothe you. Your ready made excuse has gone away. You might still put it off though, we have plenty of defences.
More on this in the next post.