I was recently speaking to a lady who was struggling with weight loss and wanted to stop procrastinating.
Her New Year’s resolution was to have lost nearly 1 stone by the end of March, but the truth is she’s still exactly the same weight as she was on the 1st January.
She’s so frustrated with herself. She really REALLY wants this goal, so why isn’t she making progress? Sound familiar? We’ve all been there.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
The truth is this woman ‘hates’ to exercise. HATES IT! But every time she comes to put her jeans on, they feel so uncomfortable that she tells herself again that she needs to change. This creates an internal conflict.
However Monday comes around again, and something crops up at work / with the kids / illness / an unexpected visitor and once again she doesn’t follow through. It’s now Tuesday and she’s already convincing herself that the week is ‘half over’ so she’ll wait again and start NEXT Monday. You can see how this easily turns from one week, in to months.
She wants the result, but doesn’t want to have to go through the process. She associates the process with too much pain, and we’ll usually (as humans) do more to avoid anything painful than to potentially gain pleasure.
Results come down to how bad you want it (the pleasure), and how much pain you associate to the process. Read more on the Pain / Pleasure Principle here.
So How Do You Stop This From Happening.
Some people would look at this and realise this is procrastination. Others would say they had genuine reasons to ‘put it off’ if unavoidable things enter their life beyond her control. However, I’ll tell you something I know for sure. EVERYONE has to deal with daily, weekly things that enter their life beyond their control. It’s HOW you deal with them that really counts.
It’s not about time, multi-tasking, energy levels, or how much you have to do in a week (Usually) It usually comes down to something else entirely….
You decide you want to make a change in your life, and you’re getting frustrated that it doesn’t seem to be happening. You know WHAT you need to do (i.e. eat better and move more in this case) but you keep ‘putting it off’.
Until you make this goal your absolute PRIORITY above everything else, or certainly up there with some others, you will never ever make any real progress.
So ask yourself are you prioritising your schedule? Or scheduling your priority?
The truth is it’s easy to NOT make progress on the things that REALLY matter to you, when you are in the habit of always justifying waiting for Monday OR putting your schedule ahead of your priorities. You HAVE to make time in there for what really matters to you – for the things that will transform your life.
These are the things that are rarely a 5 minute job. They usually require dedication, time, attention, courage, commitment and at some point, probably a bit of a sick feeling in your stomach. In other words, they feel a bit difficult for one reason or another (pain).
However it is these things, when you make them a priority – the things that are uncomfortable – that end up producing the most satisfying, and even life-changing rewards.
The One Thing You Need to Know To Stop Procrastinating on the Thing You Want
YOU’RE PROBABLY NEVER GOING TO FEEL LIKE IT!!!!!!
If you’re waiting until ***insert excuse*** then it really means you’re waiting until you feel like taking action. You’re waiting until you feel like being uncomfortable.
You’re never going to feel like it because your brain and body like to be on auto-pilot. They don’t like change too much – it’s too hard. Your normal habits and routines are way easier. Staying the same is easier – less scary, less visible, less risky – after all what if I fail????
But there’s something inside of you – your soul / spirit / the real you – whatever you want to call it, that knows there’s more to you than this. Your potential is busting to come out.
Creating massive change in your life is simple – just take consistent and massive action. The kicker is it rarely feels EASY. So just prepare yourself for that – get a bit of grrrrrrrr about you and as Nike would say, just DO IT.
You have to push through the bit where your brain is slamming on the emergency brake because you’re trying something new and it feels uncomfortable.
Take it from best-selling author and CNN reporter Mel Robbins
The rule is simple: The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must act on in it immediately (or within five seconds) — otherwise your brain will start leaning towards procrastination.
Ditch Excuses and Comparing Ourselves with Others (otherwise known as justification…)
Sometimes we see other people who have succeeded in areas where we are not making progress. We tell ourselves ‘it’s ok for her, because she…: –
- Doesn’t work
- Does work
- Has more time
- Has no kids
- Has lots of kids so lots of exercise
- Has a supportive partner
- Has no partner so free to do what she pleases
- Likes exercise more than you do
- Doesn’t need to exercise because she’s ‘naturally thin’
- Has the money to spend on a gym membership
- Blah Blah Blah
The top and bottom of it is, people who succeed in their goals do the things they NEED to do. Whether they feel like it or not.
Capture Your ‘Activation Energy’
There is something that exists called ‘Activation Energy’. It means the force that’s required to do something new. Yep it’s an actual thing. A chemical reaction. Who knew I was so ‘science-y’??!
Translated in to terms that I can understand, this means when you have the urge to change….to do something new…..to go after a goal that is important to you…TAKE ACTION IN THAT MOMENT!
To create change requires a physical force. It’s not enough to just think about it, or say you’ll do it. When you are thinking of your goal, and planning how you will do it, make sure you finish by actually physically taking action….
- Join a class and schedule it in your diary, organise the childcare and pack your bag the night before.
- Throw all the chocolate in the bin (don’t do the old excuse – When I’ve eaten all the chocolate, THEN I’ll start. You hear yourself say it and know how stupid this sounds! 🙂
- Make a phone-call to a Personal Trainer and book a session
- Make a commitment to a workout buddy and hold yourselves accountable by setting goals and targets (e.g. if we walk 5km this week, we’ll treat ourselves to a new lipstick)
- Join a gym
- Buy some new trainers
- Do some jumping jacks on the spot for 1 minute.
- COMMIT by physically doing something you wouldn’t normally do!!!
Stop Proacrastination with Quick Action
It doesn’t need to take longer than 60 seconds BUT DO SOMETHING IN THE MOMENT, when that little voice in your head is telling you that you want (or need) to change.
You have about a 5 second window before your brain applies the emergency brake. That’s it. 5 little seconds where you can say ‘let’s do this!!!’ or ‘oh never mind, I’ll wait until Monday.’ Except Monday isn’t coming.
Nobody ever really feels like doing it. I’d rather eat pan eu chocolate every morning than make scrambled eggs. I’m not a freak. However the more I push myself outside of my old bad habits and routines, the more I empower myself to take action on the things that are important to me when it feels really tough. Like pushing through that final round of burpees before your head blows off. It feels vile whilst I’m doing it, but afterwards I feel good. Proud, accomplished, content. Sometimes even EPIC.
Wouldn’t you rather feel epic NOW than wait until Monday to feel good?
When you live a life where your emergency brake keeps getting pulled, you always feel stuck. You always have regrets. You feel like you’re going around and around in circles making no progress. That’s because you are going in circles.
The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So…..
If you’ve said you’ll ‘start on Monday’ before, and have never reached your goal, maybe it’s time to try something NEW….like NOW.
If you are struggling with procrastination when it comes to feeling better about the way you look, the 3 best ways to get over it are: –
- Get ACCOUNTABLE to someone else – a trainer, a friend, a class, a gym…
- FOCUS. Change your focus to WHY you NEED to change NOW. Where are you going to be in 1 month or 1 year from now if you don’t take action today and keep waiting for Monday? What rewards will you experience or give yourself during the process and once you reach your goal?
- Have a PLAN. Plan to win, plan for your moments of weakness and plan for the specific results you’re after. Plan on ways you can learn to love the process and that’s when you’ll get long lasting results. For example, I can be prone to nibbling when watching trash TV. What stops me? Watching different TV programmes that are inspirational, or reading Health and Fitness mag whilst watching the TV. I changed my process/ habit.
Procrastination and Being a Stay at Home Mum
When I was a stay at home with very few commitments outside of being at home with the kids, I found exercising (apart from walking with the pram) really difficult to commit to.
I knew what I should do, knew what I should eat, but yet I wasn’t doing it. It felt like I had all day, every day to be able to conquer this, but because of that very fact, I kept putting it off until the following week. After all, I had all the time in the world.
Funny thing about time is that it waits for nobody.
As I started back at work, and got much busier, all of a sudden I had to get way more organised, and if I was going to accomplish any of the things I wanted for myself, get out of depression and towards fulfillment, I’d need to seriously look at my schedule and ensure there was time in there to dedicate to my goals on a regular basis.
Cut to Now.
I have 2 young pre-school children, I run a business and work full-time in between nursery runs, and (unfortunately) I am not (yet!) fortunate to have a cook, housekeeper, nanny, driver etc therefore all those mum jobs – cooking, cleaning, bath-times, bedtimes, dressing, washing, in addition to of course quality attention and time for each child and their often crazy outrageous demands 😉 are on my daily list of to-dos.
That’s not to mention running a business, managing staff, getting new clients through the door, managing existing ones and making sure we’re not only surviving but building and growing the brand.
Oh and of course there’s all the extra tasks that can come with having a child whose journey is a little different to their peers, as at the moment, I am in meetings with a variety of therapists, doctors, pre-school and new school, and ECHP liaison officers to ensure her development is moving in the direction I want it to.
So where is there room in my day for me? For the things I want? Simple. I MAKE the time to feel fulfilled on a regular basis by committing to more things that fill me up.
The things that drain me – like negative people, cleaning, going to the supermarket – I leave for days when I have the energy to do them, yet not be affected by them if I can.
I put the kids to bed every, single night and as I walk out of my daughter’s room at 7.45pm I then go down, put my trainers on and get in the car to go bootcamp. It’s become a habit now that I rarely break. I live by it. I’m back at 9.20pm feel fab.
Is it a long day? Yes often. Do I sometimes feel like putting my PJs on and watching TV? Yes. But what’s become so powerful and undeniable is that I now have so much evidence that a) it works (I have a strong, energetic body), and b) I NEVER, EVER regret going. I feel alive when I get there, and knackered in the most rewarding, wonderful way when I leave.
It’s built my will power, my strength (physical and mental) and my resilience. All essential skills for a happy, successful life that needed to be priorities for me.E
Exercising has transformed from something I had to MAKE myself do at first for a long time – at least a month – until I started to LOVE it. Now it’s something that I never want to or will give up.
That’s the key to lasting change. Find a way to LOVE what you need to get done to reach your goals. Find a way to fall in love with the process, and you will get the results.
But to get started and stop proastinating, it’s simple. Just start now. Go on. What are you waiting for? Don’t say Monday 😉