I remember the day that I overcame my resistance.
First let me tell you about what was going on at that time in my life…
I had just dropped out of school for the second time. My stepmother died and my father became ill afterward due to his heartbreaking loss. Not only was he physically ill but he was emotionally wrecked as well.
So instead of finishing up my biology degree and pre-medical school class requirements, I chose to give up school and help him recover.
The problem was that I was broke. I had spent all the money I saved from personal training going back to school. I also stopped training clients so I would have enough time to study for my classes.
I’m no genius and catching up in chemistry, math, physics and biology took all my brainpower and time.
I had no money, no clients and no foreseeable way to start making an income. But I knew I needed to do something fast.
I loved studying science and finding out new and exciting ways to improve human health. But I hated learning about business, marketing and all the other things you need to be good in to have a financially successful business.
But I knew I had to do it or else I’d fall into financial ruin.
So back to that moment I overcame my resistance…
I hopped out of bed as soon as my alarm went off and I started putting together a plan to build my business. That was first time I’d been able to get up out of bed right after I woke up and get after a goal.
What I’d usually do is wake up and lay in bed until I got bored or hungry. Then I’d get up and do something productive.
Tell me if you can relate…
The reason that I wanted to stay in my nice, warm comfortable bed a little longer so I could avoid the realities that would hit me in the face as soon as I got up…
My father was ill and needed help.
I had just dropped out of school and my chance of going to medical school was gone forever.
I was in a bunch of student debt and I had to start making payments since I dropped out.
I wasn’t making very much money and had to figure out something fast.
I did NOT want to train clients anymore but I needed to figure out a different business model.
Maybe my exact circumstances weren’t similar to yours.
But I bet you that the procrastination you feel comes from the fact that there are things you need to do…and you have ZERO motivation to do them.
So you procrastinate and things get worse…
How To Overcome Procrastination And Take Action
I bet you have big goals for 2018. Maybe you want to start a business.
Or perhaps you’re planning to finally start exercising and eating right. Maybe your New Year’s resolution is to start traveling to see more of this amazing world we inhabit.
Well, that sounds great. And I’m happy you have big plans.
Unfortunately, you’ll probably never accomplish these goals. Even worse, you may not even take the first step to making your dreams a reality.
All your amazing ideas and aspirations will remain locked inside your imagination with no hope of every becoming real.
And when you sit down in a moment of reflection and think about why you were never able to bridge the gap between who you are and who you really want to be, you’ll say, “If I only had more motivation I would’ve accomplished what I set out to do.”
The problem is that’s a lie. In fact, motivation is a lie.
Motivation Is A Lie
Too many people have bought into the idea that motivation is the secret sauce that will finally push you to go after your biggest goals and make your dreams a reality. And the best part is that since you’re so motivated, it’ll be easy to take the consistent action necessary to achieve everything you want. Like the Nike slogan, you’ll “Just do it.”
The truth is that you’re never gonna feel like taking the first step towards your new life. The motivation will never come. And if you decide wait around for motivation to help you tackle your goals, you’ll end up like this guy:
You Have Everything You Need To Succeed…So why Can’t You?
If you’re reading this right now then I have news for you: you know EXACTLY what you need to be doing in order to get what you want.
In fact, every single person with internet access is a Google search away from figuring out an action plan to accomplish every single one of your goals. I bet you’ve even listened to several podcasts, Youtube videos, read a book or two on how to solve your problems.
If that’s the case, why don’t you take action?
“Knowing what to do will never be enough. You must develop a habit of taking action.” – Ted
Then the question becomes…why don’t we take action when we know exactly what we need to do to get started?
The answer lies in the 6 inches between your ears.
Your Brain Is Working Against You
Because of the way your brain is wired, your goals can be at war with your feelings. Your goals reside in the prefrontal cortex. This is where thoughts like “I’m going to start exercising and eating right because it’s good for my health” arise. It’s the more human part of you.
Your feelings, however, are controlled by an older and more primitive part of your brain. You may have heard of your amygdala before. It acts as the emotional processing center of the brain. Your amygdala also behaves like a built-in alarm system.
The biological purpose of life is to reproduce and survive – the brain is wired to do this job. And your amygdala works perfectly in this regard…for the dangerous prehistoric lives of Paleolithic men and women.
But it doesn’t work so well for the stressful modern lives we live. We don’t run from saber tooth tigers or harsh weather. We have to pay our mortgages, save college money for our kids, exercise so we don’t get out of shape and watch what we eat so we don’t get fat.
So what happens is something like this:
- You have an important goal to accomplish
- Your brain assesses the task and determines if the task will have a positive or negative effect.
- Your brain figures out that a positive result isn’t going to be immediate so anxiety sets in.
- Unconsciously, our brain fears a negative result. So we feel intimidated and humiliated by the task. The end result is procrastination.
In those moments that we feel overwhelmed by too much to do or by a very difficult goal, our brain experiences a fight (resistance) or flight (ignore) response. Norepinephrine and adrenalin take over and you feel anxiety and fear starting to kick in.
Compare that with how we respond to pleasurable experiences that release dopamine. We prefer the effects of dopamine so much that foods and activities that release it can be addictive. While most people understand that drugs like cocaine can be addictive, Facebook and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s are all examples of thing that stimulate high amounts of dopamine and can encourage addictive behaviors as well. If fact, if an activity has a high likelihood of producing dopamine, we’ll feel much motivated to pursue them while avoiding other less-pleasurable pursuits.
That’s the science but I want you to think about this in the context of your life.
What would you rather do…eat ice cream or kale salad? What about playing video games or doing your tax returns? Or watching your favorite Netflix series versus going to the gym to hit a workout? I think you’re starting to see the picture.
My point is that there will NEVER be a time where you prefer the tedious, hard stuff over the things that give us that immediate shot of feel good emotions.
If our brains are constantly working against us and we’ll never feel motivated to do things that aren’t pleasurable, then how to do take action to pursue—and eventually achieve—our goals?
The 3-Second Rule
I first heard about the 3-second rule when I was studying how to get better with communication. The idea is that if you want to approach someone to have a conversation but you feel anxiety about it, start counting 3-2-1…then take action.
The concept works because the counting will override your brain from talking you out of taking action. Before the monkey mind chatter begins, you just start counting and make your move.
If you do this often enough, you start to build this into a habit. And once it’s a habit, doing the things that you don’t want to do—but need to do—will get easier and easier.
So if you have a goal of losing fat and getting in shape, take action right now by going for a 20-minute walk or by doing some push-ups and bodyweight squats.
If you have a goal of eating better to lose weight and improve your health, go to your kitchen right now and clean out your kitchen. Gather all the junk food and your trigger foods and bring them to a food bank. Then go shopping for lean meats, fresh vegetables and fruit, and raw nuts and seeds.
Build a Habit of Taking Action
Don’t fall into the all-too-common trap of assuming that you need to wait until you’re motivated to go after your goals.
In fact, forcing yourself through your resistance is better because the sense of accomplishment will trigger more positive feelings than leaving it unfinished. And the more times you take action in the face of resistance, the more you’ll build a habit of taking action—even when you don’t feel like it.
If you do that, in time you’ll find yourself light years away from the version of who you used to be.
The fact that you took the time to read this blog tells me that you are already taking the time to invest in yourself, which makes me even more excited to see how this simple change in habit can change your life in 2018. Let me know how the 3 Second Rule works for you in the comment section below.