If there are things on your to-do list you keep deferring — this one is for you.
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Are you one of the people who made exercising their New Year’s resolution, but failed to go to the gym even once? Have you ever said you will finally get a drivers license, but have never signed up for a driving lesson?
Do you keep saying you are writing your thesis, but still haven’t written one word?
If so, it seems like you could make use of some how-to-deal-with-
You have probably read some listicles on that before. And, since you’re here, they obviously didn’t work.
Here are some tips that will make it easy for you to start:
1. Take It Easy
Imagine you give up on your goal or, for some reason, you can‘t go on with what you promised yourself you’d do.
For example, there is a law that bans it, or you catch an allergy that excludes you from doing it. Whatever works.
Would it be such a big loss? Or maybe you’d be relieved?
What would you use the newly released time and energy for?
Maybe you could use these resources to take up some other, more important task from your list?
Sometimes we come up with an idea, and then we stick to it for years, not allowing ourselves to understand that we haven’t really wanted to do it in a first place.
Dare to admit that you don’t care about something so much anymore.
So, do you care?
If you are not 100% convinced of something, let it go.
You won’t be able to do everything this year (even this life, let’s be honest). In that case, isn’t it better to let go of all things you are unsure of and do something that makes you excited?
Something that makes you say: Hell yes! It’s damn important to me!
2. Lower Your Expectations
Something that makes it difficult to take action (especially when we really care about something) is high expectations.
When you want to start working out, you think of doing fifty push-ups, hundred sit-ups, and fifty crunches right away.
When you want to write a story, you imagine you should write a few thousand words a day.
Such an attitude raises makes our emotions resist. A conflict appears.
The frontal lobes of your brain responsible for planning begin to argue with the limbic system responsible for emotions.
This doesn’t last long, as the limbic system turns out to be a bigger trickster: it takes control of the cortex by rationalizing:
- Today is a really bad day for it, tomorrow it will be easier for me to start.
- I’m about to take care of it, I will only check what’s new on Facebook.
You can fight this kind of rationalization (ie. excuses pretending to be something rational) by being aware or changing your perspective.
Or, instead of telling yourself that you have to work hard and with great effort, it is better to arrange something much more modest.
Do you want to start working out? Make a deal with yourself for one set per day. Why not? Maybe it will not change anything, but try to do one set a day, every day for a month and see how many times it turns out you did more than one.
Set such small goals, that it would be ridiculous not to comply.
3. Set The Time And Place
A trivial matter: when, where and how exactly will you start?
What time and place will be the best to get on with your goal?
What time will you have the most energy at your disposal?
If, for example, you plan to write after 10 pm, when you have very little energy and focus left, don’t be surprised that you will keep postponing it.
Of course, for someone else, this may be the perfect time for writing.
Question: what is the perfect time for you? When is the time you won’t have to fight yourself overdoing it?
Where will you have the right conditions? Where will nobody disturb you?
4. Find Your Point Of No Return
Imagine that the whole action consists of at least 20–30 steps.
For example, if you want to work out, it might look like this:
I walk up to the closet and take out my work out clothes and shoes.
I put them in my bag.
I get dressed.
I’m going out.
I get into the car.
I arrive at the parking lot next to the gym.
I park and get out.
I enter the gym.
“I’m going back home” would be somewhere at the 40th position.
Imagine that all these points make a path. For some time, the path runs along an even ground.
It’s as easy to go ahead as it is to go back. But at some point, it is easier to move forward than to go back.
Find the first step, which makes it easier to continue than to let go. This is your point of no return.
Let’s assume it is when you leave home. It will be stupid for you to come back. It‘s more likely that you’ll get in the car and go to the gym.
If you identify this moment, focus on it.
Don’t tell yourself:
My goal is to work out for 2 hours
My goal is to leave the house with a packed bag.
5. Find What You Are Afraid Of
If the suggestions above won’t help you move forward with your goals, see if there is something you are afraid of.
Something that can happen when you take action, or when you’re done with what you’ve planned.
What could be the worst thing if you sat down and started writing this book? What could be the most unpleasant, exhausting or depressing thing about it?
Hmm … it could turn out that you aren’t creative enough, that it‘s too difficult for you, or when you finish it people will laugh at you.
What could happen if you started writing your master’s thesis?
You could write something that is not smart enough, thoughtful enough. While writing, you could feel hopeless, the promoter would criticize you, etc.
Sometimes, what scares us is not the unpleasant things. Sometimes what scares us is success.
What would be the worst thing that could happen if you finally took up that online store project? What could happen if you succeeded?
My husband would get mad. I would have to face his jealousy. I don’t know if our relationship will survive.
If you find this kind of resistance, first consider whether your fears are justified:
- Can it really turn out that you are too stupid, too weak, not strong enough, not very brainy?
- Will the possible success (or failure) really change the situation so much?
It often turns out that we expect the worst without any reasons to it.
Yes, there is a risk, but the world won’t end.
6. Try To Act Despite Your Fears
Ask yourself: Am I able to get on with it despite the fears?
We often think that people must act in harmony with their emotions. Maybe some do, but how is it with you?
Are you a person who is able to get into the water even though the water seems cold?
Are you a person who is able to stop at the red light when you’re in a hurry?
If so, you probably can do what is important to you, even when you feel the inner resistance.
Instead of looking for ways to get your fears off your back, get on with what’s important. Accept the fear and focus your attention on the task. Often, in the course of action, everything that bothered you somehow disappears along the way.