A Special Type of Procrastination: Preparation Paralysis

Have you ever spent so much time preparing to do something that you never actually got around to doing it? Preparation paralysis is a very sneaky form of procrastination, because you find yourself very busy working on the intended task but you never really get to the actual completion of it.

Let’s take a peek behind the curtain at what’s behind this paralysis? Fear – plain and simple. For whatever reason, we fear doing the actual task. It could be that we fear rejection – what if we call the client ask for their business and they say “no?” [heaven forbid] Perhaps we fear public embarrassment – what if the audience asks questions I don’t know the answer to? [Oh my gosh! Who knows all the answers? Seriously!]

Fear is what keeps us from moving forward. If that’s the case, then what do we do when we find ourselves deep in preparation paralysis? We take a peek at what’s behind it, shine some light on the fear, and then move forward anyway.

How can we prevent preparation paralysis? When you set a goal that requires preparation, lay out a plan on how you will prepare, making sure you start by doing the actual task before the preparation is complete. For example, let’s say you want to finally write that book you’ve been talking about for years. Knowing that preparation paralysis would probably lead you to do all kinds of research and organizing before you actually sit down to write the book, you prepare a plan that details how you will get yourself ready to write. Let’s say the plan spans several months of research and organizing, to include getting all the proper tools, such as a cool software program to organize your notes, etc. You’ve got your 180-day plan to prepare to write the book. Guess what? Start writing a month into your plan. By then, you’ve done enough initial research to start and over the next five months your write more and more as you research more and more. Wa La!

In what areas of your life do you find yourself in preparation paralysis? What is the fear behind it? Develop a plan to start working on your goal before you are fully prepared. Decide on what’s good enough preparation to start. You can still prepare while you’re in action.

Now, get to it!