When we decide to make changes in our lives, one of the biggest obstacles we might need to overcome is procrastination.
We all want to change (of course we do), yet we keep putting off the very steps that will create the change we are so desperately looking for. A lot of times we feel like a mental patient always starting and stopping, starting and stopping.
Why can’t we just do what we need to do and be done with it?
For most people unfortunately, it’s not that simple unless they have an iron will like David Blain (and even his will is overcome severely at times).
So what can we do?
Well, the best thing we can do to have even the slightest chance of succeeding is to create strategies that will ease our transition through the tough changes we want to bring about.
Here are six strategies that can help:
Use reminders to keep you on the straight and narrow
To make a lasting change in your life you need to create new habits and oddly enough, one of the hardest parts of creating those new habits is remembering to do the new habits we wanted to implement! A habit, by definition, is something we do HABITUALLY and automatically, kind of like flying on autopilot in a plane.
Most of our lives are spent living on autopilot, and for good reason. But, when we live there constantly, we lose sight of the promises we’ve made to ourselves. We might grab a cookie and start munching mindlessly on it, even though we vowed to avoid sugar. Or we might realize, 10 minutes before bed time, that we never did find time to exercise that day (this one has always a big one for me!!!).
One way to avoid this is to put visible reminders in very visible places in your everyday environment. For instance, put brightly colored sticky notes on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror (I normally have some reminder or another on my bathroom mirror). Be outrageous with the reminders. Make them unforgettable or should I say unavoidable! However, do try to limit the notes to no more than 4 or 5, and be sure to change them relatively frequently so that your autopilot doesn’t file them away in the don’t “pay attention” bin.
Another thing you could do is create a planner for yourself and get into the habit of using it every day. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just something where you con jot things down in. Now at night before you go to bed, set aside 10 or 15 minutes to write down everything you need to get done the next day, including the new habits you are trying to implement. Keep your journal somewhere handy and where you can readily see it so it is the first thing you see when you wake up the next day. Over time you’ll set your new habits on auto pilot and you won’t need the reminders anymore! GREAT!
Keep you eye on the prize – visualize you goal
Most all of us avoid tasks we think won’t be enjoyable. God knows I do!
So what can we do about this?
Well how about thinking about WHY you WOULD enjoy those activities. State your reasons out loud (this is key), and reaffirm to yourself all the benefits you’ll enjoy for getting off your butt and taking action.
“I enjoy working out because it makes me feel good, I can release tension, and I get that great endorphin rush!”
Now, visualize the outcome of working out in your mind. See yourself with a strong, firm, healthy body. Imagine yourself having plenty of energy to run around and play with the kids. See yourself in that slinky new dress and heels you’ve been dying to wear but can’t. Visualization allows you see the outcome and make it real in your mind so that huffing and puffing and sweating for 30 minutes doesn’t seem so bad.
Psych yourself up
Repeat after me:
“I want to do this. I can do this. I deserve to do this. I am powerful enough to create the life I want. I refuse to be held back by my fears and negative habits. I am capable of so much more than I’ve done so far. No matter how successful I get, there is always room for improvement and growth. Yes I can, yes I can, yes I can!”
Using affirmations like this, you will feel your resolve grow stronger, and your excitement build, and you will actually look forward to taking the steps that lead you down the path to success.
Just five minutes – This is probably the biggest one for me
If you’re still struggling to get moving, vow to yourself that you will begin working on your tasks and stick with it for just five minutes. Five minutes is nearly nothing! Tell yourself that you can do anything for five minutes, and simply start. If you know that you only have to work on it for five minutes, it will seem less overwhelming and that will often be enough to nudge you into action. After the five minutes are up, give yourself permission to stop if you really want to. More often, however, you will decide to keep going. It’s the start that holds so many of us back.
Once you’ve gotten started and worked on your goals for at least 5 minutes, give yourself a pat on the back! This can be verbal praise, or an actual physical reward like a new book or trinket you’ve been wanting to buy. If funds are tight, your rewards don’t have to cost anything; how about a 15 minute bubble bath or a visit to a favorite website? In fact, make it a priority to praise yourself often. Encourage yourself just like you would a best friend or loved one who is working on making their dreams come true. Become your own cheerleader!
Consistency wins the game
Remember that forming new habits and overcoming procrastination is a moment to moment decision. It would be great if we could just decide to change and have it be so, but it doesn’t usually work that way. We need to become aware of our self-defeating actions, and make the effort to change them moment to moment, day to day, week to week. In fact, keep that in mind when setting your goals. Rather than setting yourself up for failure by vowing, “From now on I will…,” turn it around and say, “Just for today, I will…” This makes change less intimidating and you won’t feel so pressured to be perfect.
In the end, it is our willingness to keep getting up again after we’ve stumbled or fallen that will eventually strengthen our will and lead us along the path to success. So, if you have been struggling with procrastination, don’t despair! Simply set yourself up for success by developing strategies that will blast your excuses right out of the water.
What strategies do you use to get your butt in gear?
Be great today!!