There has been lots of of research and observations regarding the nature of procrastination, and with good reason. We have all done this in all sorts of areas of our lives. In particular, when it comes to starting up a new exercise program, it can feel a bit like deciding to climb Mt. Everest without a guide.
I think that it is summed up well by Jeremy Dean, author of Making Habits, Breaking Habits: “…when anything is possible, when anything can be done, sometimes nothing is possible, and nothing gets done.”
And along those same lines, from S.J. Scott, author of 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits, “…you’d be surprised how often procrastination strikes when there’s an uncertainty of where to start.”
But just to show you how confusing finding a solution can be, here’s a few “helpful hints” that I have run across.
On our human nature:
- “Developing a good habit will be most successful when we do it for it’s own sake.” (Jeremy Dean, Making Habits, Breaking Habits)
- “…tightly restricting…freedom..is the best cure for procrastination.” (Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational)
- “…each person’s habits are driven by different cravings.” (Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit)
On our outside influences:
- “We think we are in sync with our environment, but actually it’s at war with us.” (Marshall Goldsmith, Triggers)
- For more on this perspective, there’s, Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess, by Daniel Akst and The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud.
Out of all the noise out there around this topic, I think that there are a several ways to meaningfully approach this topic in order to “crack the code”, if you will.
Yes, there are books with lists of ways to stop procrastinating, but I think that in the background are two important things to remember about how we humans are.
- As outlined in a recent article from the National Council of Strength and Fitness, most procrastinators fear discomfort and uncertainty, and will switch to some other task that doesn’t stress them out.
- Along these same lines, in the book, Procrastination on Purpose, Rory Vaden points out that we are all driven by feelings, moved by impulses, the need to be accepted, are tempted by pleasure, get tired, stressed, and seek connectedness.
In other words, you need to address that emotional side of procrastination.
Here is where the solution gets a bit abstract, and then extremely specific.
In order to conquer, one of the keys is to distance yourself from your current habits and temptations and get philosophical.
- Pinpoint WHY this new habit is important to you.
- Then, think about your attitudes toward the new habit, and nail down reasons that the idea of it may be uncomfortable or seems unattainable. Once identified, you can find solutions to help you change those mindsets.
- It is also hugely important to think about the consequences for you if you don’t get started.
THEN, get specific. This includes giving yourself permission to procrastinate!
- By delaying just a bit, you give yourself time to research what will work best for you.
- You can also use the time to figure out how much time you can devote to it, and when you will be doing it. Here it is important to realize that your exercise does not need to take over your life. It has a defined beginning and end.
- Lastly, as Chip and Dan Heath (authors of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard) so eloquently put it, “shrink the change”. They call it “laddering down” to a specific plan that starts small. Starting small helps you bust through the discomfort factors, helps you feel at ease with your new schedule, and discover if your new habit is how you imagined it.
So, go ahead and procrastinate, but use the time wisely, to plan, discover, and empower yourself with an attitude of gaining control over what you are doing now so that you can shape your future.
Check out “Your 5 Step Fitness Blueprint” and the “2017 Start Strong Cheat Sheet” on my home page for more on how to get started.
NEXT WEEK: Exercises that you can fit into your day to help you “start small”.
© 2017-2020 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.