Procrastination And The Power of Action
Except for a select few people, who has not struggled with procrastination in their life? Tax returns, cleaning out the garage, writing a blog, just to name a few. But what does the Power of Action to do with it? Let’s delve into
Procrastination And The Power Of Action
Taking action is something we often underestimate. How often do you hear people wanting to write that blog or increase their exercise say that it’s so hard because they lack enough motivation and if only somebody could help them to get motivated. They often become experts in procrastination
But here is the crunch. Nobody can motivate you. Looking for external help is shifting the responsibility away from yourself. Even if you find the magician (ie personal trainer, coach, therapist…) who makes you feel motivated you need to be careful to make sure that the motivation comes from within yourself. It needs to be a goal that is important enough to you and aligns with your values. Because if your motivation is based on the other person’s support and what they do to keep you interested, as soon as something changes that relationship, your motivation disappears as well. And changes to that relationship are easy. The coach might go on holidays, they say something that triggers you and all of a sudden you lost trust in them and the list goes on.
Look at the example of professional sports people. They do not wait for the elusive feeling of motivation to start training or adjust their diet accordingly. They have a goal in their sight and they are going for it, pretty much every day. I can only imagine how often their alarm goes off in the morning and the last thing they want to do is to go to training.
What keeps them going? They take action. Simple as that. They don’t care how they feel. Even if they feel like procrastination, they just take action. And the reason they take action is, that they are fully committed to the outcome, the goal. They want to be the best in their field. And only if they have that drive, are they able to stay committed. But every time they do get out of bed, they are creating a neuronal path that is the foundation of a habit – the habit of an action, in this case getting out of bed early to go to training.
And herein lies the secret, often we’re giving our thoughts and emotions way too much power. I’m feeling uninspired, I can’t possibly do stuff today. I’m anxious, so I better stay at home. However what happens if we give in, we’re communicating to our subconscious that we are powerless. Our subconscious gets messages from various directions, some come from the outside, some come from our self-talk, some from our actions and some from so deep within our unconscious that we are not even aware of them. Ultimately the subconscious listens to the loudest and most dominant input. Actions, when taken, have a very strong input, as has our self-talk.
How to step into action?
Action has a lot of power. The question is, how can we help ourselves to step into action? When procrastinating, there are two options according to a 2014 study at the University of Chicago. One option is that if we focus on what is not yet accomplished, we are motivated to move into action. The other option is to focus on what we already have accomplished it helps us to do move into action.
Focus on what has not been accomplished
This only works well if you are fully committed to the desired outcome. The most extreme example would be somebody who had a life altering accident and they need to do rehab to regain their full mobility. There is a strong commitment to the outcome at the end. The person wants to get well. Another example is that sports person who dreams of winning the Gold Medal. For these people it’s best to focus on what they haven’t accomplished yet, such as to be able to walk unaided for a certain number of steps.
Focus on what already has been accomplished
This is a great way to move into action for people who are not certain about their commitment to the goal. Examples could be studying for an exam for a school subject that is not very interesting or finishing a task at work that is not particularly appealing. If a person focuses on what they have already achieved they are more likely to move into action such as bringing into focus all the chapters they already have revised in preparation.
What does that mean for you? Next time you struggle with procrastination or motivation to do something, think about how important the outcome is for you. How committed are you to the outcome?
If there is a strong commitment to the end result, then focus on what needs to be done, develop an action plan and get going. And with every action that you take you are convincing your subconscious to continue.
If you are not strongly committed to the outcome at the end, then focus on what you already have achieved. Look back at all the action that you have already taken.
And if you struggle with chronic procrastination and need more help, feel free to reach out, either by contacting me or by booking in for a free 30 min exploration session to see how hypnotherapy can help you to become motivated: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Koo, M., & Fishbach, A. (2008). Dynamics of self-regulation: How (un)accomplished goal actions affect motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(2), 183–195.