How to psych yourself up for a challenging assignment

With sky-high expectations, a tight deadline and a whole lot of moving parts, you’ve got yourself a pretty challenging assignment. Here’s how to finally get started once you stop groaning about it.

With sky-high expectations, a tight deadline and a whole lot of moving parts, you’ve got yourself a pretty daunting assignment. Here’s how to finally get started once you stop groaning about it.

Look fear dead in the eye

Peter Bregman, an author, consultant, and CEO of Bregman Partners, writes in the Harvard Business Review that you should “acknowledge” the fear you feel when you want to begin a major project, after mentioning how he wants to write a screenplay.

“Here’s why acknowledging your fear works: You’re scared because you expect a lot from yourself and you’re afraid you’ll underperform. When you acknowledge that fear, you’re acknowledging that you might not have all that it takes to meet your expectations; you might not have all the tools, information, skills, etc. Admitting that, in turn, reduces your expectation of getting it perfect right off the bat.

And lowering your expectation of getting it right is the key to getting it started.”

Figure out what’s standing in your way

Melody Wilding, an executive coach and social worker who teaches at CUNY Hunter College, writes on her site that you should “identify exactly what’s stopping you” when you’re losing the procrastination game.

“When you try to get started on your project, what stops you? For one week, document the reasons why you avoid getting started. By playing the observer, you’ll tackle excuses blocking you and reveal opportunities to change in productive ways. Perhaps there’s a skill you need to learn in order to move forward. Or if you’re struggling with feeling tired when you sit down to work, you could try eating a snack or showering beforehand to wake up.”

Remember, you don’t have to go it alone

Dawn Rosenberg McKay, an author and career planning professional, writes in The Balance that you should “find a ‘procrastinating buddy’ ” when procrastination is getting in your way.

“Partner with a coworker who also has a problem with putting things off. Show each other your to-do lists and then hold each other accountable for completing items on your respective ones. The stakes are certainly lower when you have to answer to a coworker instead of your boss, but it may give you the push you need.”

Break the project into manageable pieces

Starting your project is half the battle.

Kevin Daum, an Inc. 500 entrepreneur, author of Roar! Get Heard in the Sales and Marketing Jungle and Video Marketing for Dummies writes in Inc. that you should “set micro goals.”

“Take the project and divide it into smaller parts. Create a quality checklist for each goal so you don’t miss a beat. Then set clear timeframes and race the clock.”

Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.