Every year I do the same thing. I get close to the deadline for submitting my tax return and then I am under pressure to actually get it done.
There is more pain in thinking about to my taxes and actually doing them. There is a physical tension in my stomach so I go do something more interesting or I just put it off, until it just HAS to be done and there is this great flurry of activity and stress.
Is it like kids playing outside, having a good time and being forced to come inside to do homework?
Instead, I would like that on the day I get all the external things in; I get the damn return done. Before I had to suffer the thinking about it.
Do I frame it like homework? Is it a frame problem — something I have to do? Something that must be unpleasant if I’m forced to do it?
There is an experiment researchers like to do with kids. They give one group a puzzle and leave them for 15 mins or so to play with it and another group where they say they will pay them some money if they do the puzzle for 15 mins. So which group would you predict would continue with the puzzle after the time is up? The group that hasn’t been paid. The paid group frame the doing of the puzzle as a chore or task they need to be paid to do I guess.
As soon as I make a demand, or have to bribe or threaten, the frame changes to unpleasant. If I was in a fun learning situation doing a tax return I would probably be fine. If I were filling in some form to get $1 million and the sooner I finished, the sooner I got paid, it would get done pretty fast.
If I think of something as an unpleasant task or not something of my choosing, I will always have lots of real interest in things I would rather do.
Lots of exciting things mixed with this nagging little voice that says “you have to do your tax return” Which leads to me feeling resentful of having to do it rather than other things.
So the strategy is See the task -> tell myself I should do it -> feel bad
NLP motivation process uses anchoring and involves.
- Rather than imagining doing the task, get a picture of it being done (dissociated)
- Do the task in your mind quickly using mental imagery.
- Get a sense of the feeling of how good it will feel completed; this can be the relief of having it done or having the benefits.
- Each small piece of actually doing the task then becomes linked to that feeling of completion.
So is it a framing or anchoring issue?
I guess I resent the interference with my flow. I feel like I am on a roll. It’s a distraction to take care of an external demand. It’s framing it as a demand – using modal operators of necessity like “I have to”, “I should”, and “I must”.
Maybe just changing how I present the task to myself like
Seeing it done -> saying to myself “I would really like to do this early” -> feeling how great it would be to have it done really early