Classic avoidance behaviors are those things we’re doing when we say, “I really need to study”, or “I should be focusing on my writing”, or “One of these days I’ll get around to my marketing.”
Students find reasons to do almost anything – the list is endless – which tells me that either school is really freaking boring or that they’re following a career path they’re really just not that interested in. The cost of that, of course, is far in excess of just the student loans – it’s years of wasted time, lost opportunity, and only simulated happiness. Good luck. It’s important to do the work, and some of it is tedious, but if it’s all like that, you really should be paying attention to classic avoidance behaviors.
Writers commonly say “a writer is someone who writes”. I my experience, a writer is someone who doesn’t. Those who are writing are writing. “Writers” spend enormous amounts of time agonizing over minutae, something the people who are writing refuse to do. Writers spend a lot of time reading about writing, talking about writing with other “writers”, and getting peole to critique the 1000 words they wrote a month ago. Classic avoidance behaviors. Everyone has a half-finished novel – doesn’t make us writers.
Small businesses are always planning to do marketing. Most never actually do any marketing, at least not in a concerted or frequent way. They might throw a little money at a boxed solution, spend a few hours, stay at something for a couple of months, but the rest of the time they’re doing “work” – “business”. It’s not that doing the job, and invoicing, and bookkeeping, and all that aren’t necessary. But things that are necessary also make the most effective classic avoidance behaviors. We tell ourselves that because it’s necessary we’re not really avoiding other, equally, perhaps more necessary things.
People ask, “So how do you avoid classic avoidance behaviors?” Maybe avoidance isn’t a constructive attitude. After all, that’s what we’re already doing, right? I have no boxed cure, and I don’t think avoidance itself should be treated as the illness – I think it is, in fact, a symptom. We avoid because of something. The easiest answer is “because I dont’ want to do it.” Yeah, but that’s not deep enough. Why don’t you want to do it? I think if we dig under the avoidance, we start finding fear. Maybe it’s fear of learning, fear of effort, fear of thinking, fear of other people, but fear of something.
So how do you overcome fear? Well, that’s something, fortunately, we’ve got a lot of good information about. There’s lots of good resources. Maybe if someone expresses interested, I’ll throw in my two cents. I have more than one idea about this. But for now, I’ll say I think a negative is often treated not directly but by replacing it with a positive. In other words, instead of concentrating on the fear, maybe we start reassessing more fundamental questions. What is it we want. Why do we want it. Do we really want it? What are we willing to do to get it? Etc.
I also am a big subscriber to the idea that fear is overcome by imagining your worst fear coming true, then imagining life after that, and what you’ll do next. These things have typically worked for me. Some things are complex and have lots of nested problems to unpack. I’m not a guru, so I can’t help with that. The point of this piece is that we can learn to recognize our classic avoidance behaviors, and consider what it is we’re afraid of. At that point, if you can lay fingers on the specific fears, you’ve got work to do, maybe changes to make.