[vent] Motivation, procrastination and anxiety.

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[vent] Motivation, procrastination and anxiety.

Post by Guest on Sat Oct 11, 2014 7:12 am

I've been having a lot of trouble with motivation regarding my university studies. I procrastinate to the point where I cause a lot of anxiety and grief for myself as I leave important homework and coursework to be done at the last minute. I had failed a unit in the second year of my course and as a result I've had to redo the same semester. I often worry about making it through my degree. I wish that anxiety and panic weren't the main motivations that got me working on my assignments. It's almost as if I have an aversion to studying and doing work pale .

I think part of the reason I lack motivation is because I never had any clear ideas of what I wanted to be or do with my life. I used to be a Christian and the way I dealt with this fear was to sweep it under the rug through 'prayer' and deluding myself into believing that my life would just fall into place because.....fucking 'God' that's why. That went out well. I was and still am hoping that I'll somehow grow into my job. Not that it's the absolute worst job ever, but you need more reason than "I need money" to survive well in your chosen field.

I know that I need help and yet I'm hesitant to reach out for help. I'm apprehensive because seeing a counselor means having to expose myself as a mess and it means having to confront and stick my hands in the triceratops dung-hill that is my baggage, when I'd rather pretend like there's nothing wrong with me. Not to mention having to go through the rigmarole of finding a suitable therapist and being brave enough to allow myself the opportunity to open up. Who really wants to take a peek inside Pandora's box? That, and having to have the inevitable uncomfortable conversations about my anxieties with members of my family, who I've chosen to keep at arms length for a no. of reasons.

I never used to be this way(although that was a long time ago). I wish that I could get out of my own way.

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Re: [vent] Motivation, procrastination and anxiety.

Post by Mel on Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:25 am

That sounds really tough, Hermit, and I can relate to both your anxiety and your reluctance to try to seek help. Did you just want to vent or are you looking for advice too? I'm what I guess you could call a highly functioning anxious person--I'm pretty sure I could be or could have been diagnosed as having one or more clinical anxiety disorders but I've been dealing it with childhood and developed a lot of coping methods on my own and with the help of books etc. (The time I did end up seeking counselling it was for depression, which I find kind of amusing since I've been far more anxious than depressed, I just... know how to work around it.) So I might be able to suggest some stop-gap measures to try that might at least help you get by until you do feel ready to seek professional help.

In any case, sorry you're dealing with this!
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Re: [vent] Motivation, procrastination and anxiety.

Post by Enail on Sat Oct 11, 2014 12:12 pm

Blegh, that sounds very stressful. Motivation is such a ridiculously hard thing to create when you're not feeling it, too.

In regards to seeing a counsellor, plenty of people see them without being a "total mess", or even having a particularly serious or deep-seated issue (for example, I'm seeing one right now to deal with a major diagnosis, just because it seems like the sort of thing that's a good idea to do) , so I don't think you'd have to expose yourself as anything you don't want to. If you feel you need to tell people something, you could say it's to learn some better techniques against procrastination or for handling stress, you don't have to tell everyone everything about your anxieties to justify it.
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Re: [vent] Motivation, procrastination and anxiety.

Post by Guest on Mon Oct 13, 2014 1:27 am

I was mainly venting because I know that I'm being very immature about my work ethic at this point in uni. Although, I'm open to advice/suggestions on how to get over myself if that's OK....

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Re: [vent] Motivation, procrastination and anxiety.

Post by The Wisp on Mon Oct 13, 2014 2:02 am

A lot of universities have resources to help you figure out what field might be best for you, if you're willing to look into that.
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Re: [vent] Motivation, procrastination and anxiety.

Post by kleenestar on Mon Oct 13, 2014 11:18 am

One of the most helpful techniques I discovered for addressing my anxiety-based procrastination was to give myself a maximum time limit for work. I started with ten minutes. Knowing that I had to, no matter what, stop in ten minutes made it a lot easier for me to begin.
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Re: [vent] Motivation, procrastination and anxiety.

Post by Mel on Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:00 pm

HermitTheToad wrote:I was mainly venting because I know that I'm being very immature about my work ethic at this point in uni. Although, I'm open to advice/suggestions on how to get over myself if that's OK....

Well, I don't know about getting over yourself, but you might be able to find ways to make your anxiety work for you instead of against you.

I really really hate having deadlines looming over me. And I really really hate failing to meet them or (feeling I've) let down other people. So what I've basically ended up doing is forcing myself to become very, very organized.

When I was in school, I didn't just mark down when an assignment was due, for example. I'd work out the different steps I needed to take (researching, outlining, writing, editing), and schedule those into my agenda, working backwards from the due date. I'd want to be finished editing at least a few days before (to give wiggle room in case something threw my schedule off). I'd want to be done the initial writing at least a few days before that. I'd want to be finished researching and outlining at least a week before that, to give me time to do the writing. Etc. And then the steps were clearly marked out, and rather than having this looming big ASSIGNMENT in the distance, I could focus on the step immediately in front of me, knowing that once I got that step done, I'd already worked out the direction I needed to go in next, and that as long as I kept following those step-by-step, the assignment would end up done without my having to try to grapple with the entire scope of it all at once.

This is pretty much how I operate in every area of my life right now. Any multiple-part task tends to make me freeze up and procrastinate unless I break it down and focus just on one part at a time. And having the other parts written down relieves me of the anxiety that I will somehow forget the other things I'll need to do. I joke sometimes that half my brain is on my iPad's calendar/to-do list app, but this is actually fairly accurate--it lets me just not think about stuff until I actually need to do it, and it stops me from feeling I should be thinking about stuff constantly to make sure I don't forget.

This may or may not work for you. But you might want to give it a try to see if it takes some of the pressure off. Look at what's upcoming (tests, assignments, essays, etc.), write out what you actually need to do on a concrete level for each (maybe you figure that test will require five hours of studying, that assignment will require two hours of research and one of writing, etc.), and then figure out where you're going to schedule those steps into your life ahead of time ("I'll do one hour of studying on Tuesday after dinner, and then a half an hour of research for that assignment. Then I should be able to do a couple hours studying Thursday between this class and that class...") Always give yourself a little more time than you think you'll need so you don't panic if something throws you off.

The side benefit to this approach is it also gives you more chances to feel good about yourself--you can feel like a success every time you complete one step toward getting the big thing done, rather than only when you're finished the whole thing (and maybe not even then because you're unhappy with how rushed/late/whatever you ended up being with it). And the more times you feel successful, the easier it is to feel relaxed and confident about your abilities so you can cope if something does go wrong at some point.

A couple other things I'll address briefly:

-You made a comment about hoping you'll "somehow grow into" your job. Are you not happy with the field you're studying? That can be really demotivating in itself. It might be worth giving some thought to whether your difficulty working is actually your brain trying to tell you this isn't the right direction for you, and if there's another field you'd feel more motivated to work in. I think it's far better to re-evaluate your direction partway through even if that means you need to switch paths and feel a little embarrassed about that, rather than to force yourself through an entire program only to find that you can't get work anyway because of how your dislike for it gets in the way of your performance (or that you're miserable doing any work you can get).

-If you feel you need outside help to get any of this sorted out, it might be useful to think of a therapist not as someone who's going to expose your flaws, but as someone who wants to help you use your strengths. There are lots of approaches to therapy that aren't about digging deep into your psyche, but simply about helping you approach your difficulties in life with more effective strategies.
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Re: [vent] Motivation, procrastination and anxiety.

Post by Guest on Tue Oct 14, 2014 11:52 pm

Enail wrote:Blegh, that sounds very stressful. Motivation is such a ridiculously hard thing to create when you're not feeling it, too.

In regards to seeing a counsellor, plenty of people see them without being a "total mess", or even having a particularly serious or deep-seated issue (for example, I'm seeing one right now to deal with a major diagnosis, just because it seems like the sort of thing that's a good idea to do) , so I don't think you'd have to expose yourself as anything you don't want to. If you feel you need to tell people something, you could say it's to learn some better techniques against procrastination or for handling stress, you don't have to tell everyone everything about your anxieties to justify it.

I kind of feel like I do though. Because, don't all problems with motivation, anxiety, insecurity etc. overlap and intersect? I feel like my self-esteem and is the epicentre for what I'm feeling now and so the topic will find its way into the conversation anyway? (Does that make sense?)

The Wisp wrote:A lot of universities have resources to help you figure out what field might be best for you, if you're willing to look into that.

I feel like that particular resource will be wasted on me. I know that it's very inappropriate to be this way but, I've never had any particular aptitudes, talents or interests. How do you help someone who generally lacks motivation and isn't passionate about...well, anything??

kleenestar wrote:One of the most helpful techniques I discovered for addressing my anxiety-based procrastination was to give myself a maximum time limit for work. I started with ten minutes. Knowing that I had to, no matter what, stop in ten minutes made it a lot easier for me to begin.

This sounds like it could work (getting around to acting on it is another issue). Did you increase the frequency of 'work time' in a given day, or did you just increase duration?

Mel wrote:A couple other things I'll address briefly:

-You made a comment about hoping you'll "somehow grow into" your job. Are you not happy with the field you're studying? That can be really demotivating in itself. It might be worth giving some thought to whether your difficulty working is actually your brain trying to tell you this isn't the right direction for you, and if there's another field you'd feel more motivated to work in.  I think it's far better to re-evaluate your direction partway through even if that means you need to switch paths and feel a little embarrassed about that, rather than to force yourself through an entire program only to find that you can't get work anyway because of how your dislike for it gets in the way of your performance (or that you're miserable doing any work you can get).

-If you feel you need outside help to get any of this sorted out, it might be useful to think of a therapist not as someone who's going to expose your flaws, but as someone who wants to help you use your strengths. There are lots of approaches to therapy that aren't about digging deep into your psyche, but simply about helping you approach your difficulties in life with more effective strategies.  

I like the sound of your organization. I like order, structure and the security that comes with having a plan and yet, I'm messy, lazy and uncoordinated. I just don't understand why I have an aversion to work.

It's not that I'm not happy. It's....I dunno, I'm always unsure of myself and I keep questioning my place in this course. I often feel like I don't measure up to the responsibilities and skillset that allows some people to succeed well (Eg. Not great at speaking and thus not very confident and assertive with speech, clumsy, too shy, not an extrovert, airhead etc. ad nauseam). So I feel like it wouldn't even matter if I were in another field.

I wish I had the space to be so casual about changing courses. According to my prescribed life-itinerary, I should've graduated with a degree two years ago. I don't need the passive-aggressive disapproval and complaints that'll inevitably come my way from Le parents (mostly my dad) because I require them to keep working while they deal with the associated problems of old age. It has to do with the cultural expectation that requires kids that come-of-age to start taking care of their parents when they reach a financially stable position. South-East asian families tend to be a lot more co-dependant than families in the west, from what I can tell.

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Re: [vent] Motivation, procrastination and anxiety.

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