Are you a procrastinator?
Most people have a basic idea of what they want and at least a vague sense of how to get it. Yet each day millions of people avoid doing what they need to do to achieve their goals.
We pay for gym memberships that we don’t use and eat junk-food we know is bad for us. We work at jobs we hate without applying elsewhere. We stick with relationships and friendships out of convenience.
All the while we keep telling ourselves “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “Once xyz happens, then I’ll make a change.”
Then there’s all the times we talk ourselves out of taking action by making it seem impossible:
- “It’s too hard.”
- “I can’t afford it.”
- “It will create a big problem.”
- “I don’t know how to do it.”
These are all signs of low motivation.
As a coach, most of my work is in helping people overcome motivational barriers. Most people know what they want and have the ability to achieve it. They don’t need me for that, they just want someone who will make them do what they need to do.
Over the years I’ve learned some common tricks that have a great effect on increasing motivation and removing barriers/excuses.
1) KNOW YOUR DREAM
Having a clear idea of what you want is crucial. Otherwise, you’re traveling without a map.
This is huge for people trying to lose weight or get fit. They eventually crap out at the gym or go back to eating bad food, mainly because there is no end in sight to the battle. They don’t know what they’re doing it for.
Create a tangible description of what it is you are trying to achieve overall. Give yourself a reason WHY. Make sure the detail in your description paints a picture that excites you.
2) BREAK IT DOWN INTO MANAGEABLE STEPS
Looking at the end goal can be quite intimidating.
Thinking “I want to start my own successful coaching business” and not even having a single client is overwhelming. It provokes thoughts of “It’s not worth the effort” or more commonly, “I’m not good enough.”
So break it down! Figure out all the smaller milestones that stand between you and the end-goal. What will you need to learn? How will you build up to the bigger picture? Where do you start?
Answer these questions and then just focus on one step at a time.
3) USE SMART GOALS
“I will go to the gym” is a goal that will never get achieved. It contains no information that can aide you in making progress.
Set yourself written goals that you can focus on each week. Forget the big picture, and even the future milestones. Create goals that bring you closer to the next milestone and only pay attention to these.
Run your goals through the SMART goals filters and rewrite them accordingly:
4) MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS BY YOUR ACTIONS, NOT YOUR RESULTS
At the beginning of your mission, there will be more effort than results. You can count on it!
It can be disheartening to not see much progress towards the big picture… if you are measuring your success based on outcomes, that is.
Instead, track your progress based on your own measurable actions. Make sure you are keeping a journal that measures how well you stuck to your goals. Learn to measure your progress only on things that you can control.
Outcomes and results will never be fully under your control, but your behaviour is.
5) USE A ROUTINE STRUCTURE
Having to problem-solve and figure things out all the time can drain motivation. It’s so much easier if you get all your planning done at once, and then just follow the plan.
Set your goals at the beginning or end of each week. Decide what actions you will take for the week ahead, and plan these down to time and day. Create space to do these, and a task-list that you commit to.
Then it’s simply a matter of following the plan, without the need for creativity or last-minute scheduling.
6) CREATE A “MINIMUM EFFORT” GAUGE
Showing up is the most important step. So sometimes we can trick ourselves into taking action by actually allowing ourselves to give up.
Let me explain further…
Going to the gym, for example, is actually a task comprised of micro-steps. First you need to put on your gym-clothes. Then you get in the car. Then you drive to the gym. Then you enter the gym. And so on.
Create a list of micro-steps for the goals that you struggle with. Make a promise to yourself that you will always take Step One, no matter how motivated you feel. Here’s the counterintuitive part: Give yourself permission to give up after Step One.
If you can take Step Two, then do that as well. And then Step Three. At any stage you’re allowed to give up, with the exception that you MUST always take Step One.
You’ll find you can use this method to trick yourself into completing the entire task. Like the goal-setting, this is all about breaking seemingly difficult tasks into basic easy-to-manage steps.
7) ANALYSE FAILURE AND IDENTIFY MICRO-GOALS
Instead of beating yourself when you procrastinate, take the time to analyse why it happened. Ask yourself “What barrier prevented me from taking action?”
Usually the answer is in one of three areas:
See my book The Legendary Life for more on how to keep these factors high.
Once you’ve figured out which area let you down, ask yourself “What could I do to increase this area?”
You’ve now set yourself a micro-goal. Complete this micro-goal before going back to the main goal.
8) RECOGNIZE 3 ACHIEVEMENTS EVERY SINGLE DAY
Most peoples’ brains automatically and pessimistically track failure, but are not as inclined to track success. The ratio is usually lop-sided.
In order to keep things balanced, you will have to put effort into tracking your successes. Otherwise your perspective on how well you’re doing will slide down into despair.
What I like to do is make myself recognise three thing I’ve done well, every single day. I write these down and re-read the list once per month.
I once decided to stop doing this, just to see what happened. I was shocked at how quickly I became critical of myself again.
9) MODERATE YOUR SELF-TALK
The language you use with yourself is instructional. Everything you say to yourself is a command, and your subconscious registers it as truth.
So when you tell yourself that something is “impossible”, or that you are “useless”, or that you “can’t do it”, your brain will log that as the truth. Not very motivating, right? You can imagine the impact this has on the problem-solving and creative parts of your brain. They are being instructed to stand down!
Take better care with your self-talk. Choose to use words of possibility and rationality, rather than self-loathing and unfair extremes. Rather than saying “I can’t do this,” say “I don’t know how to do this YET.” See how much more accurate and motivational the second option is?
Catch yourself out when you use pessimistic language, and challenge yourself by asking “Is that 100% TRUE?” Find examples of previous things you have done that prove the negative statement wrong. If you can develop this process into an automatic habit, your success in all areas of life will sky-rocket.
10) MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
Keeping your goals a secret makes it easy to bail out on them. All you need is some excuses, justification and procrastination, and BOOM… no more progress.
Before you get a chance to lose motivation, share your goals with someone you admire. Someone who will hold you accountable and kick your ass if you slack off.
For example, when I wanted to become a coach, I impulsively announced it on Facebook to hundreds of people. This put me in a position where I felt obliged to follow through!
FOR MORE ON HOW TO BUILD MOTIVATION AND CONFIDENCE, JOIN THE INNER CIRCLE FOR FREE TODAY!