In April of this year I posted to this blog What’s Stopping You (https://lifefitnessbydane.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/whats-stopping-you/) where I addressed many of the reasons that people do not achieve their dreams and goals, with the biggest culprit to non-achievement being procrastination. Since that published that post, I have received many comments either defending or attacking procrastination as either a valid stumbling block or an overused excuse. Mostly, I have been asked to offer a bit more help to those stuck in the vortex of I’ll do it tomorrow. So here is my reponse:
Motivation: something that provides a reason for a person to act a certain way.
Procrastination: the act or habit of putting off or delaying.
Depending upon your personality, you might not need profound motivation to achieve your goals and aspirations. Simply the desire to be or have what you seek is enough to drive you from step A to Z. Whether it’s weight loss, a change of career or home, or the ending of a dysfunctional relationship, some of us can stand up, make plans (or not), and manifest a change.
However, if you are a procrastinator, making changes to your body or life can be difficult, if not painful. Planning may not be the problem, you may easily cogitate on ideas and pros and cons lists all day long, but if you maintain a state of reluctance to actually take action (i.e., procrastination), then changes never occur. Even if it there’s urgent motivation (your health, your finances, the needs of your family), to a procrastinator, obvious needs are often not strong enough to overcome a lifetime of chronic deferment.
Start by facing your fears. More often than not it’s fear that keeps you from action, rather than laziness. Cut to the core of the problem. Fears boil down to one of these four: Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of pain, or fear of the unknown. Once you name the fear, then acknowledge what limits these fears truly contain (i.e., it will be difficult, but it won’t kill you).
Next, pick the hardest task first. We all tend to number our steps starting with easy (baby steps), progressing to the big and more scary steps. Reverse this. Tackle that which seems like it will take the most of your energy right off the bat. It’s all down hill from there (in a good way).
Now keep your steps simple and brief. The longer things take the more likely you’ll loose motivation. Keep intermediary goals to something achievable in a short period of time (a few days or a week). Once you have several successes under your belt, you’re more likely to continue plodding towards your main goal.
Lastly, seek support. Find family, friends, or co-workers who understand the cycle of procrastination. You may think having a go-getter in your corner will keep you accountable and focused. For a habitual procrastinator a cheerleader is often a deterrent. But if you can find an ally who, like you, moves slowly and over-analyzes everything, you might find that while they’re stuck in their situation, they are great and helping you get unstuck. Then you can repay the favor.
In the end, remember that procrastination is a choice. If something in your life isn’t changing and you’re unhappy about that – make a new choice!
2013 is almost half over! Are you ready to stop complaining about what’s not right in your life, and change the things that are under your control? Or will you watch the months speed away until another December is here and you’re making the same resolutions all over again? You know my tag line: wake up, what are you waiting for? So what’s not working in your life? For most, it is usually one of these top three issues:
- Dissatisfaction with your body;
- Dissatisfaction with your job or career; and
- Dissatisfaction with your spouse or mate.
REALITY CHECK! These issues will not go away until YOU make a change.
“I just don’t what to do or how to do it!” you say? That’s where someone like me comes in. The strategies and plans I employ with my clients vary depending on the individual and their circumstances, and are too detailed for me to state herein. But I can give you some general guidelines that will put you on the path to successful achievement of change.
1. Dissatisfaction with your body.
Fuel in vs. fuel out. Eat fewer calories than you burn and you will lose weight. So if you goal is weight loss, change your nutrition to be balanced and healthy (lots of fruits, veggies, and water; and avoid sodas, sugary and processed, high-fat or fried foods). Eat six small meals a day (and I mean small) and stick to a commitment of at least three one-hour workouts each week (minimum). Nothing too difficult here, right?
There is no dieting (that implies temporary)! You will not no join a gym for three months, then fizzle out. There IS only a permanent decision to eat small quantities of healthier foods at frequent intervals (still allowing yourself to enjoy the “sinfuls” like ice cream and alcohol, just in very moderate amounts), and a strict realization that you are important enough to commit to at least three gym visits every week – period.
2. Dissatisfaction with your job or career.
I know that now is a scary time in the work force: layoffs, budget cuts, etc. But you still owe yourself this bottom line: Life is too short to work at a job that brings you no joy and no reward (including financially). At the very least, a job that you have no passion for must be a short term stepping stone, or means to an end to get you to your primary career goal. Have a plan so that this soul-sucking job has an end in sight!
As you ponder what it is you really want to be when you grow up, consider your strengths and weaknesses. Create an honest list of what you have to offer, what you are good at, as well as what kind of work does not suit your skills and temperament. Remember: there is no success without an attempt. So make those attempts, try to do something new, network with people, scour the internet, or simply create a way to offer your services where they are needed. If you focus on what it is you WANT to do rather than fretting about what you ARE doing, you’ll be surprised what fortunes come your way.
3. Dissatisfaction with your spouse or mate.
Ah, the biggie. Raise your hand if you are in a relationship that has gone stagnant, or never quite fit to begin with. Are you in a relationship because you hate being alone? Have you ever noticed that you can feel far lonelier in a dysfunctional, unsatisfying relationship than when you are single?
Below is a compatibility quiz. Note, that these items are listed in no order of priority. They are simply the eight items that help relationships have little discord/strife. Discord is what tears us down, ruins intimacy, and builds resentment.
1. Similar family backgrounds (upbringing, family size, involvement)
2. Similar views on children (how many, how to raise them, etc.)
3. Similar views on religion (or spirituality)
4. Similar views on money (save it, spend it, hoard it, waste it)
5. Similar views on sex & affection (frequency, style, comfort zones)
6. Similar styles of communication (big talkers or pretend nothing’s wrong)
7. Similar likes on activities (movie tastes, sports, hobbies, vacations)
The more of these items you have in common the more successful the union. (This is not to say that you cannot have a satisfying relationship with few of these commonalities, but it will require more work and energy). So if you ware in a relationship that has run its course or is simply too incompatible for longevity, think about moving on. What are you waiting for?
* * * * * *
My final comments to guide you to a New You epiphany is this: the only thing that holds us back from anything in life, is fear.
Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of pain. Fear of the unknown.
Figure out which fear (or fears) is holding you back, and face that fear. You are not alone. You are stronger than you think. Push though the obstacle and have a better life. Now is the time!
How many times a day do you worry about your weight? Do you spend hours wishing you looked differently, obsessing about what you’re eating (or not eating), and/or trying every single “get six pack abs” video, exercise pins on Pinterest, and/or radical weight loss diets?
We are a Nation of obsessed bodies! I have clients, friends, and family who spend massive amounts of time fretting over what they can eat, when they can eat, and how they can change their diets to accommodate quick weight loss, while still enjoying all the things they love to eat and drink. First everyone followed The Zone, now it’s Paleo; P90X was replaced with Insanity (literally).
On DLF’s Pinterest page (http://pinterest.com/DaneLifeFit/), I see at least 25 new and different “these are the best exercises for toning the abs” pins every day! Of course, many of the people (mostly women) who pin these to their boards might not remember (or know) that the models in the pictures are usually women in their early 20’s, who work out 2-3 hours a day, and eat a very strict and regimented diet.
I am routinely questioned by clients obsessed with reinventing the workout to affect a change faster and better: is alternating sprints with incline walking better use of a treadmill than 40 minutes of straight running? Are core workouts on a ball or TRX cable better than old-fashioned weight lifting (now re-named the less intimidating “resistance training”)?
Dear friends and followers, the answers to these questions that plague you day and night, and all that you obsess about when it comes to nutrition and exercise, is this:
ACCEPTANCE is the first step.
Accept your body type.
Are you an ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph? (Look ‘em up!) Take two people of equal age, height, and frame. They may look the same, but they can have a weight differential of as much as 15 pounds. There’s more to a healthy body than an average height-weight scale that our doctors impose upon us. There’s more to you than what size shirt you wear.
Accept that permanent change happens slowly.
There are no quick fixes to re-shaping the body, especially if you want these changes to stick. Remember too, that a”diet” implies temporary. Therefore, as soon as you resume your “normal” (old habits) of eating, you will gain weight again. As for exercise, if you have or make little time for it, or just plain dislike it – no video, class, trendy running of 100 steps in Brentwood will work in the long run because you will get bored, or see so few results that you’ll give up.
So rather than obsessing, let’s accept. With that hurdle jumped, we can address those issues that we can actually do something about.
Set a realistic goal for what your body can look like.
Once you figure out what your body type really is, and how much time you can give to exercise and proper nutrition (see the points below), you can set a realistic goal – one that you can actually achieve and then feel satisfaction and accomplishment about.
Where there’s a will there’s a way. If your job or home responsibilities are too stressful, I guarantee with a little “un-panicked” soul-searching you can find a way to make even a small change that will allow you enough time to schedule regular and consistent exercise. Between the positive stress-reducing effects exercise offers, and the changes in your body that will please your head, even that small change will result in something huge.
As for financial concerns, there are very inexpensive options to exercise and nutrition that you can adopt. You don’t have to join a gym or shop at Whole Foods to make these changes.
Again – change happens slowly. So make a plan, and step by step execute it. Think of all the time you sat around wishing and obsessing instead of doing. If you start taking baby steps towards your goals – and stay focused – within a matter of months, you will be closer (or even there) to achieving what you wish for.