The dread


Okay, who here loves to make calls to tackle a thorny insurance question, or to dispute a credit card charge, or even to explain to your medical provider about some worrying symptoms? Yeah, me neither.

Calls like these are a pain, and there are lots of reasons we procrastinate. The issues are often complicated, we’re unsure of what we need to do or who can help, we don’t like to argue with people. (Hey, if it were easy, we would have done it already!) Such calls can even be a source of vague dread, something we want to escape.

As much as I want to avoid them, I also really don’t like having such calls hang over my head. Delay often makes matters worse. And while I’m stalling, I’m still paying a price psychologically, carrying around the worry, with a side order of self-blame that I can’t just get the thing done.

I’m open to the possibility that there is some deep spiritual work that would change me into a person for whom this would never be a problem, but for right now, a few simple strategies are a good place to start. I have two of them to share.


To deal with lack of motivation, recently I’ve been putting calls on my digital calendar. I pick a specific day and time for “call health insurance.” I won’t deny that I’ve resorted to rescheduling, kicking the task a few days down the road, but at least it’s staring me in the face, and I’m less likely to let the vague dread drag on.

The second helpful innovation is that I open the notes field of the calendar appointment and enter the relevant details, including the contact information. Baby steps!

In fact, I’ve begun writing myself a little script: “Here’s the situation, here’s what the other person told me, here’s my question, here’s what I hope you can do to settle the matter.” Doing that work ahead means I’ve divided the task up into more manageable chunks. When I’m actually on the call, I don’t have to be trying to keep everything straight. I just read my script.

Setting the appointment and writing the script are ways of lowering the barriers to getting it done, making it enough easier that I won’t put it off. And I can put it out of my mind until it’s time to call. That’s a win for me.*

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go call my health insurance company.


*El Guapo adds this tip: make a note of the name of the person you’re talking to, and/or write down the reference number they’re likely to provide, as the follow-up to this kind of difficult call is sometimes another call, and that info may end up being helpful.

[Images:, google calendar]

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