You have this great idea. You have a beautiful vision of how things could be and how you could accomplish it. In fact, you have lots of things you want to do. But somehow they never seem to work out. Instead you have half-finished projects, plans start in your head and never get realized, and the virtual or physical mess is still around you. It’s not that you are lazy or unmotivated. Most likely you are suffering from ducks-in-a-row syndrome (DS).
So ducks-in-a-row syndrome is not an actual diagnosis in the DSM-V. But it’s a real thing that a lot of people have, and could be classified as a subset of perfectionistic thinking. Many people grow up with the idea that in order to do something, you need to have everything prepared ahead of time. Before you start cooking, read the recipe, have all the ingredients laid out tidily in cute little bowls. Before you travel, read as much as you can about the place, and have a whole itinerary laid out ahead of time. Before you go to college, know exactly what you want to be doing in five years and map it out and how to get there.
Now, I don’t want to diss planning. I believe that planning is a sign of great emotional maturity and healing. However, we also live busy lives and being able to have everything done and prepared ahead of time is not always possible. Also, a lot of people feel like they need to mentally feel better before they can take on a difficult task. And that is really where the DS comes in strong and wreaks havoc. The truth is that those positive feelings happen after you take on something difficult and develop confidence, bravery, and a sense of achievement. Waiting until you feel well enough to take on a task, means well, you may never take it on. You might as well be waiting for Godot.
The truth is that ducks never walk or swim in a straight line. Neither should we place impossible standards on ourselves. Don’t let those phantom ducks get in the way of progress. Instead, take little steps to take back your life and accomplish your goals. Set small goals each day or week, and enjoy the renewed sense of motivation and accomplishment as you move on to bigger goals. And if your ducks are not perfectly in a row, just remember that’s natural.