Procrastination and self-doubt are two of the biggest killers of dreams and goals. I’ve been there more than once in my life regarding some important goal I set for myself to achieve. Only when it comes time to take physical action on my plans in the real world, and expose myself to rejection or failure, I start experiencing paralyzing self-doubt and fear. This turns into procrastination in the form of distractions that only create a false illusion I’m achieving my goals. In reality, I’m accomplishing nothing.
Have you ever been there? If left unchecked and unresolved in your life, this cycle of procrastination and self-doubt will soon become a habitual downward spiral where you can go for months without having produced any substantial results towards the goals. Eventually you’ll just give up on the entire goal altogether, leaving the hopes and dreams you had associated with that goal to be delayed even longer.
Here are my 3 best tips for overcoming this goal-killing self-perpetuating cycle of self-doubt and procrastination:
1. Winning The Mind/Body Game
If you’ve studied personal development for even a few minutes, you should already know that anything and everything we ever want to achieve or experience in life first starts in the mind. However, there’s also another component to the process that is just as important to develop control over, and that is the body.
Our minds can conjure up an unlimited number of ideas, solutions, and businesses with ease, but if the body isn’t activated effectively to carry out these ideas and bring them into physical reality, then nothing is accomplished and the ideas remain as only a figment of imagination, not benefiting anyone.
To overcome self-doubt and procrastination in your life, it’s first important to realize that you must become 100% acutely aware of these two components of yourself and how they operate. There is also a third component to who you are – the consciousness of you, some call it your Higher Self, which is in control of both mind and body.
We as humans have the ability, at any time that we choose, to use our conscious intention and a higher level of personal awareness to guide our thinking patterns and our physical actions in a very focused and productive way. If done this way, we can create certain desired outcomes and achieve our goals.
Without this level of self-awareness, you’ll be almost totally powerless to overcome the negative forces of self-doubt and procrastination once they start gaining momentum in your life. Know that you have the awesome creative ability to observe, evaluate, and correct your own thinking patterns and personal habits from this higher perspective.
“You have to change your thinking if you desire to have a future different from your present.” – Germany Kent
2. Developing Brutal Honesty
When we find ourselves caught in a negative cycle of procrastination and self-doubt, one critical action you should take right away is to become brutally honest with yourself about the situation. When I do this, I get out a notebook and start writing out all the things (thoughts, actions, behaviors) that I know I should be doing in order to achieve my goals, and then I write out all the things that I’m actually doing so that I can see the stark contrast between the two.
This makes it plainly obvious to me why my goals aren’t being reached, and what I can do to immediately change that trajectory. Then, I like to contemplate and visualize the pain I would experience by not seeing my goals accomplished, and compare that to the minimal amount of “pain” I may experience from taking appropriate action and staying true to my goals. At this point, it becomes clearly obvious which is the greater of the two pains – which is not achieving my goals and living with regret.
3. Third-Party Accountability
Once you’ve started getting an understanding of your mind/body connection, and developed brutal honesty with yourself, the best way to tie it all together is to establish a third-party accountability structure with a trustworthy person.
For this role, a professional accountability coach is by far the best investment anyone could make into their future. Similar to a life coach, an accountability coach is specifically focused on helping you stay 100% accountable (or as close to 100% as possible) to the daily actions, behaviors, and habits that are necessary for you to make your goals a reality.
Not only that, but a good accountability coach will also impart a heavy dose of motivation, inspiration, and positive energy with every interaction you have with them. They’ll help you believe in yourself even when you don’t. They’ll be a trusted partner who walks with you step-by-step through the journey of creating your dreams and goals.
“Choose to focus your time, energy and conversation around people who inspire you, support you and help you to grow you into your happiest, strongest, wisest self.” – Karen Salmansohn
The top-performers of every industry all rely on having specific types of coaches, consultants and mentors to help them follow-through on their goals and achieve excellence in their results. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t even be in those top positions of their field.
How much has procrastination and self-doubt affected you? Leave a comment and let me know!
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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