Motivation is a Myth
I just purchased a book titled “The Motivation Myth.” I liked the title because it describes what I believe: that the concept of “motivation” is really nothing more than nonsense. I have no idea what the book has to say (it’s being delivered this week), however I’m excited to read it.
In my personal experience, I have never once been “motivated” to do perform tasks that I don’t want to do. Procrastination, for me, is nothing more than the process of sitting around waiting for the “motivation” to do something. I don’t “feel like” doing it, so I don’t, saying to myself things like “When I get motivated, I’ll do it.”
I’m never going to like the prospect of doing something that I don’t want to do. 3 months ago, I had dental surgery: I can tell you for sure that I was not motivated to do that. I just went and did it, because it had to be done.
One of the keys to a successful life is to be able to overcome the desire to procrastinate. I believe that we do this simply by committing to do those things we’d rather put off. Nike says it best: “Just do it.”
The Procrastination Trap
I alluded to this in the previous section: overcoming procrastination is what we mean when we say we want to “get motivated.” Why do we procrastinate?
Dr. David Burns believes it’s all about the payoff. It costs us less (either in time, money or stress, etc.) to do nothing rather than to do the thing we’re putting off. So, we don’t do it. Human beings are pleasure-seeking and pain-avoiding animals, so we seek to minimize our personal discomfort. That’s all that procrastination is, really.
There’s a problem with this view, however. It’s doesn’t tell the whole story. Many of us come to a place where it’s actually more painful to continue to avoid the thing we need to take care of, yet for some reason, we do nothing. We’re paralyzed. We’re afraid of taking action, and of not taking action. We seem to know that we’d feel better if we actually dealt with it, but we can’t. Fear prevents us.
And so even when it’s more painful to do so, we continue to procrastinate.
How do we escape this trap?
Do One Small Thing
Weight loss is something that people often procrastinate on. They know they need to lose X pounds, but they don’t get around to it. But, when we’re in procrastination mode, how do we get started?
Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition teaches us to change one small thing at a time until we hit a certain “critical mass” of changed behaviours. It may mean that we decide to start drinking more water each day, when before we didn’t pay attention to our water intake. We do this for a week or two, and once it has become a habit, we add something else in, like limiting the number of trips through the fast-food drive through.
Eventually we find that we’ve changed enough of our behaviours to effect weight loss. We begin to (finally!) move towards our goal, and we’ve hardly noticed the changes we’ve had to make. This is because we did it incrementally.
All-or-nothing thinking gets in the way of making these kinds of choices. We say to ourselves “If I can’t do it all at once, I’m not going to do it at all.” Unfortunately, not doing anything results in nothing getting done!
So, whatever you’re procrastinating on, don’t wait for the motivation to come for you to start doing it. Try this instead:
Avoiding Becoming Overwhelmed
How do you eat an elephant? “One bite at a time.” By breaking down a larger, seemingly-insurmountable project in to smaller, manageable tasks, I reduce the chances I’ll become overwhelmed. It’s perception that the project is just too mammoth that keeps me stuck in procrastination, after all.
When I choose, instead, to take care of one smaller piece of the project at a time, I’m less likely to become overwhelmed by it all. It’s the feeling of being overwhelmed, “in over my head,” that fuels my desire to procrastinate. I need to find ways to reduce – or eliminate – that feeling.
So, I choose to do one small thing at a time, one day at a time. When I do this I discover that, instead of procrastinating, I’m actually working towards my goal. And that feels good.
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On the Subject of Procrastination…
Have you been thinking about coming to get an erotic massage, yet you keep putting it off? Why not break that down in to manageable tasks. Consider trying this:
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