What is the real cause behind that delayed task?

While working with a client this week I helped her to identify the real reason for her to delay a very important action and putting it off for more than a month.

Two sessions before the client, that I will call AB to protect her privacy, decided that it was pivotal for her business to hire a VA (virtual assistant) to help her concentrating on her main job and becoming more effective.  Having a list of three well known VA in the area she committed to ring all of them and evaluate which one would best suit her needs.  AB stated that the whole operation would have taken about one hour that it would have been completed by the next session.

Two session and a month later the action was still pending so I decided to be investigate a little the thinking process about an action that:

  1. it a was a necessary step toward the achievement of the goal we are working on
  2. it required short time to be completed

I therefore tackled the conversation as follows:

Massimo: I see this action is still incomplete: can I ask you what is getting in the way?

AB (a bit embarrassed): oh, well other things got in the way.

Massimo: if I may, I would say you are somehow avoiding this action.  Do you think it is still important for the achievement of your goal?

AB (trying to hide her deeper emotions): yes of course but…

Massimo: I have a feeling that you have a deeper reason for avoiding this action.  Is it something you could share with me?

AB (looking more relieved): you know… I have been thinking for a long time about these three VA and I don’t like any of them so I don’t thing I would like to work with any of them.

Massimo: that’s interesting and what could you do about this?

AB (more relieved): I guess I could look for others available in the area.

Massimo: do you think you could do this over the next two weeks?

AB (smiling and full of motivation): yes absolutely.

Massimo: great! I’ll add it an action and we’ll discuss it during the next session if that’s ok.

Five days later AB sent me an Email stating that this action was complete: she found the right VA, she hired her and in 2 days her work was already showing great progress for AB’s business.  What I did in this case was checking the emotions around her decision process: procrastination in this case was caused by her not liking the people she was supposed to ring and an entire month went by before we managed to acknowledge these emotions and help AB to move forward.

Next time you are procrastinating on a particular action try having a good look around what emotions are linked to it:  you may find yourself thinking quite intensely about something completely different from what you are supposed to be doing.

Posted under Coaching in Action

This post was written by massimo on 11 December 2009

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