Okay, I’ll admit it. I put off starting my first blog effort for a good while. Before I started I had to clean the bath, cook the latest gluten and dairy-free cupcakes, do a 90-minute yoga class, quick pedi, neck a few cocktails to discuss blogging and I definitely needed to polish my silver.
Why do we procrastinate? We claim being busy, laziness or exhaustion, but usually I find there’s something more behind it. To start with, you need to be clear on what the outcome is you want and why.
Let’s say you have a tropical holiday coming up and you want to lose a few kilos to complete your poolside look, but you’d also love it to stay off permanently. You know how to do it but you still consistently sabotage your efforts: It’s raining, or you’re far too tired for the gym, the extra helping of lasagna/choccie mouse was too good to say no to, and as for finding time to make a kale rainbow leafy salad, are you kidding me?
I believe we come up with our brilliant avoidance strategies because at some level we associate more pain with giving up the opportunity for a sleep in or extra carbs than the necessity of giving those things up and the eventual pleasure of losing those extra kgs. We’re focused on short term rather than long term gain. That wee voice says, “Oh but you’ll probably just put it all back on so may as well wade into a second helping of brownie right now.” And, boom! Back to square one.
Eventually the holiday is one week out and we’re in desperate mode. So we go on a crazy leafy, juice detox and the weight potentially drops off (as our time in the bathroom goes up). Unfortunately, the quick fix doesn’t last because we’re still making neuro associations of pain in our brain with giving up our ‘yummy’ food in exchange for watery lettuce drinks. So as soon as the detox is done, helloooo hot chips.
The good news is we can condition our minds, bodies and emotions to link pain or pleasure to whatever we choose, which will in turn change our behaviours. To really make a long term difference in this case we have to link pain to eating excessive bad food and lack of exercise and replace it with the pleasure of eating food that nourishes us and an exercise routine which gives us the result we want.
Or in my case, get real on the pain around not starting the blog and the opportunities I might miss out on, and associate the pleasure of being able to write this each week and what I will gain from it. Heck, even if it’s just mum and I reading it today, I’m happy with that if it gets me to where I want to be.
If you’re procrastinating, ask yourself these questions:
- Why am I procrastinating about this? What pain have I linked to taking this action in the past? E.g. It’s such hard work. I feel I don’t have time to squeeze in exercise.
- What pleasure have I gained from indulging in this choice? E.g. Instant gratification of delicious brownies, or staying true to your ‘story’ about having no willpower.
- What will it cost me if I don’t change now/ in six months/ five years/ 10 years? How will it make me feel? What will I tell myself? I will be unhappy with how I look. I will probably have health problems down the track.
Finally, make a big list of everything you will gain from taking this action right now. And remember, keep it emotionally charged as that’s what motivates us the most.
Written by Bec Williams, owner of The You Project