In our Haven program, we have just started a new series on ‘Overcoming Procrastination’. In our group, we all agreed that it’s a topic that we all do in varying degrees but most of us are stumped on how to eliminate this nasty habit permanently.
If you have taken our monthly 21-Day Challenge then you would have learned that fear is usually at the root of why we procrastinate. Many of us never make that association, all we know is that we keep putting off exercising, starting our new meal plan or tidying the house; but we can’t seem to figure out why. See if you can identify yourself in one of these fears and then commit to putting together a strategy to stop this nasty thief who’s always waiting in the wings to steal our time and our dreams.
1. You procrastinate because of your fear of losing control.
You can’t imagine adding one more thing to your schedule—especially something that is going to compete with your other priorities. Feeling over-whelmed is really a fear of being out of control . You say things like, ‘I have too much on my plate,’ ‘I’m sooooo busy,’ or ‘I’m just trying to keep it all together.’
In your mind, you (probably) have an unrealistic list of what it would take to reach your goal. Since you don’t like change, all the things you don’t know; new skills to learn; time to be invested; problems that will ensue, just leaves you wanting to bury your head in the sand rather than take action.
1. Understand that even your best efforts will never be enough. The only way to have success with your weight (or any other goal) is to submit the issue to God.
2. Start the ball rolling. Instead of, ‘I’ll start eating better on Sunday,’ think, ‘what can I do right now?’ Go and drink a bottle of water- there, you started. Or instead of ‘I’ll join the gym to get in shape,’ start by marching-on-the-spot for 1 minute- there, you just started your fitness program.
3. Break the goal into chunks. When I don’t feel like I have the time to workout, I sometimes talk myself into just doing the next step. So instead of making the goal ‘go to the gym’, I make the goal, ‘put on my workout gear.’ Then once that’s finished the next goal is, ‘getting in the car.’ Once I’m already sitting in the car it’s easy to set the next goal as ‘drive to the gym.’ Since I feel silly just sitting in the gym parking lot, it’s easy to sell myself, ‘just stay on the machine for just 5 minutes.’ This almost always turns into at least 30 minutes.
4. Address the competing priority. If you can’t make time for your health because you have told yourself that “you’ve got to pay the bills’ or “your kids need you” then you have conflicting values which need to be addressed. Otherwise any time any two life priorities conflict you’ll end up procrastinating, having a difficult time deciding what is the ‘right’ thing to do. Take a few minutes to sit down and write out a list of your top priorities in life. Now rank them from most important to least considering the cascading effect each has on the others. For example, earning money and being available to your children will no doubt be highly important but being in good health benefits and enhances both of those. Consider this: More than 80% of wealthy people make their health a top priority but fewer than 10% of underprivileged people rank health highly. Once your priorities have a clear hierarchy knowing which to do first becomes second nature.
2. You procrastinate because of your fear of success
Who could possibly be afraid of success? Isn’t that what we all want? Yes, we want success but in our minds there are sacrifices to be made and consequences of being successful and we’re not sure if we really willing to make those sacrifices in order to be successful.
We believe things like, “I’ll never be able to enjoy my favourite foods again”, “For the rest of my life, I’ll have to spend countless hours at the gym” , “I won’t be able to maintain it”, or “I might receive unwanted attention.” We have many fears attached to what it means to be successful that subconsciously stop us dead in our tracks. Here are some solutions to combat these fears:
5. Write Down your ‘Why’. Why is being healthy so important to you? Make a (long) list of all the reasons why and refer back to them whenever you feel yourself waining. I always tell my clients, ‘until your reason to succeed list is bigger than the list of excuses you tell yourself, you will continue to struggle. Be sure to make a list of your reasons to succeed.
6. Treat ‘good’ behaviour. Health should not be about deprivation. Although the healthier you get the less you will crave undesirable foods, if you fear that you are going to be deprived then allow yourself a cheat day or a cheat meal. That way you won’t feel like you’re always depriving yourself or that you won’t be able to maintain such a rigid lifestyle.
7. Focus on health; not exercise and dieting. This is similar to the last solution. Health has very little to do with going to the gym or trying the latest diet. It’s about living a life that energizes you and makes you feel alive and vibrant. What small things can you do each day to improve your health? When you focus on health then you don’t have to worry about ‘falling of the wagon’ because it’s a lifestyle and not a short-term fix.
3. You procrastinate because of your fear of failure
This fear is very common for anyone whose dieted before. Just the thought of another program, conjures up the ‘been-there-done-that-didn’t-work’ memory. ‘So why am I going to be successful this time?’ you ask yourself. You say things to yourself like, ‘I wasn’t meant to be thin (or successful or in a relationship)”, you keep your ‘fat’ clothes just in case or you don’t tell anyone that you’ve started a new health program just in case you fail, you won’t have to be embarrassed.
8. Take baby-steps. We often fail because we try to change everything at once and after a week or so are dispirited by how difficult and impossible the task appears. Take baby steps each day instead as this slowly breaks the poor habits AND starts to build momentum in the right direction. Start with one small area of improvement and master that. Perhaps for the first week you just drink water instead of soft-drinks or juice (even diet soft drinks are a poor health choice). Every time you have success with achieving the small goals, you progressively dissolve your procrastination habit by replacing it with a take-a-small-step habit.
9. Lay out a plan to achieve the goal. Many of us never reach our goal because we have no idea what it takes. We over-estimate our will-power and level of commitment and we under-estimate how long it will take, as well as, our caloric consumption! Without a S.M.A.R.T. goal setting strategy, you’re simply setting yourself up for failure.
10. Accountability and Community. Are you trying to reach your goal on your own? That is a sure-fire plan for failure. Whether its weight loss or any other goal; we were not meant to do it on our own. Find an accountability partner and an on-line or in-person community who have similar goals as you and who will love you enough to hold you accountable.
You may find yourself procrastinating because of 1 of these fears or maybe all of them. If you’re committed to ending procrastination once and for all take your first small step right now.
Pray this Prayer:
Father, I seek your kingdom above all else. I put you before my agendas, my time-lines and my priorities. I walk in power, victory and a sound mind. I do everything on time and in order. All my steps are ordered by you. I will accomplish everything I set out to do in the name of Jesus.
If you have been procrastinating in starting you weight loss journey all year, start now by joining us for our last challenge for the year – starting this Sunday. Register here:
Want to learn more tips on how to end procrastination? Join Christian life coach, Ginny Edwards as she shares her strategies for how to over-come procrastination. Ginny will share from her experiences of releasing 50 pounds over 7 years ago as well as from her bold leap in a new business venture. Register here at: Success Webinars