I was looking through some of my old blog posts and thought it was time for some of them to get updated and refreshed. They were full of useful information, but not necessarily well structured. I wanted to start with why you procrastinate, as reading it made me realise how far I’ve come on my journey to overcome procrastination, and a lot of it is down to these four points. So without further ado, here’s the post:
When I originally wrote this post we’d been living in our first house in Oxfordshire for about 3 months. We’d moved from a fully furnished to unfurnished house and took a 3 week honeymoon weeks after moving in. After a couple of months I’d unpacked nearly everything but there was one box left. A box of mine. Every morning I’d look at the box and think “today is the day I’ll unpack it”. And yet I wouldn’t get to it. And I didn’t for weeks. Initially I started beating myself up about not doing it. “It’s one box, it shouldn’t take long to unpack, just do it”. I added it to my to do list, tried to use reinforcement and broke it down to more achievable chunks (which for one box is saying something) yet it wasn’t getting done.
It was my journey with this box that led me to this article. Working through the 4 points got the box unpacked. It meant that when I moved again 8 months later there were no boxes left hanging around for months on end at all.
1: You’ve Not Set the Right Goal
You could be avoiding your goal because it isn’t really a goal you want to achieve. Information through social media, advertising and our social network bombards us daily. This increased connection does create heightened knowledge. But heightened knowledge creates more overwhelm and confusion. Throw into the mix the opinions of loved ones, which will differ based on the knowledge they’ve gained, and it can be hard to know which goals are the ones you really want.
I bet you can think of at least one time when you’ve heard someone say how they ‘should’ be going to the gym, ‘should’ lose some weight, ‘should’ drink less, ‘should’ be dating etc. Using the word ‘should’ indicates that these are not necessarily important goals to them. This may not be the case but it is always important to examine the root of the goal.
What to do about it
Take time to write down your goals. Are they specific enough? If the goals are too general it will be harder to achieve. If you need help with this, I’ve created a handy goal setting guide which you can get here for free.
Once the goal is written down, imagine whose voice is saying the goal to you. Is it yours, or your partners or a friend? For example, I always had a goal to get strong. Firstly too vague, so I changed it to dead-lift half my body weight. Definitely more specific, but I realised when I thought about the voice was my hubby’s. He is really into weight lifting, and so I have gained a lot of knowledge from him about it. And that had steered my fitness goal in that direction.
You might discover that this is the case for some of your goals, or you might not be able to identify a specific voice. It is harder to identify the voice when so much information is absorbed from person-less inputs – internet, magazines, newspapers etc. But you may realise it just doesn’t sound like you.
Does that mean you should give up on the goal? Not necessarily, but you need to connect with the goal to make it the right goal for you, which leads nicely to point number two.
2: You’ve Not Connected to Your Why
You’ve thought about if your goal is something you want to achieve and have decided it is the right goal for you, but you’re still not doing it. This could be because you haven’t connected to your ‘why’. The driving force behind the goal. Why do you want to achieve it? This will be what motivates you to actually do it. When thinking about the why it is important to know what kind of motivation works for you.
There are lots of theories of motivation but I like to keep it simple with two basic forms – away from and towards. So your basic stick or carrot model. Do you work better with the stick (away from) or the carrot (towards) or a mixture of both. So going back to the goal above of getting strong, this is something I do want to achieve, hubby’s input aside. But why do I want to get strong? For me what helped me connect to this goal was a combination of both types. Firstly, not having a CFS relapse is a motivator for me (away from/stick) and being able to carry/play with my child(ren) when I have them is a carrot/towards motivator.
What to do about it
This is a great exercise to help you work out which of these are a stronger driver. Think about the goal you want to achieve. Firstly, imagine what would happen if you didn’t achieve the goal – think about how it would be this month, in six months, in a year, two, three, even 10 years’ time.
After you have done that complete the same exercise except you do achieve the goal. How would that look? The key with this exercise is to go into as much detail as you can, and hopefully one of them will energise you more. It is worth noting that the energising one can change depending on the goal. This is a great exercise to do with a coach, as they can really help you reach that level of detail required.
3: You’re Tired
You’ve identified that it is the right goal for you, you’ve connected to your why but you’re still not doing it. Maybe it’s simply fatigue. We live in a fast paced society, have become expectant of being busy all the time and habitually don’t get enough sleep. This often means we’re tired and try to power through past the tiredness. Sometimes ignoring the tiredness stops you from achieving your goals. There is a model called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that proposes there’s an order of meeting needs.
To meet any of the higher needs, the needs at the base of the triangle must be met first. As you can see from this sleep deprivation would be part of your ‘physiological’ needs.
What to do about it
Take time to check in with yourself. Run a bath, close yourself away in the bathroom with a book (or just in your bedroom with a book if a bath is not your thing) and relax. Get to bed early. At least an hour earlier then you normally do. Having the bath beforehand will help you relax and get off for your early night. If your mind is racing, try journaling. Spend time writing down everything that is in your head. Getting everything off your mind should help with the relaxing.
FYI this was the one for me that stopped me getting the box done. I cut myself some slack, took a day off, watched Netflix and had an early night, and then the box was done the next morning, easy as anything!
4: There is Some Fear Around the Goal
You’ve tried all of the above and it’s still not happening? Then there could be fear driving the inaction. This could be both fear or failure and fear of actually achieving the goal. Fear is a complex process. There are lots of different thoughts, beliefs and emotions that can contribute to a feeling of fear, and often you may not even be aware there is a fear there.
What to do about it
This is often a good time to enlist support. This can be from friends, family or something more specialised. This is where a coach can be a great help. They offer you specialised time to focus on your goals and investigate the possible reasons you’re not achieving them, and if fear is blocking you. Taking time to talk through your thoughts and processes often helps bring the fear to the surface which then makes it easier to address.