Help – I’m Stuck! How to Stop Procrastinating and Get Back into Action
We all put things off. Whether it’s starting an exercise program (again), getting a job search underway or just cleaning out your closet, taking that first step can be challenging. This may be the result of an approach-avoidance conflict. You want to get going, but something holds you back.
That something can be anything from laziness, to fear, to not being sure how to proceed. Whatever your reason, there is only one antidote. Action! You’re probably thinking, ‘if I could take action, I wouldn’t be procrastinating!’ I hear you, but if you don’t take action, you’ll just stay stuck and frustrated.
You don’t have to be motivated, courageous, or have the planets in proper alignment to take action. All you need is commitment. You can wait until you’re good and ready or… you can just do it. No magic, no shortcuts. By making it more complicated than it needs to be, you have a great excuse for staying stuck. Start by clearly identifying your goal, for example, starting an exercise program. Next, on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being least important to you and 10 being most important to you, give it a rating. The higher the rating, the more invested you will be in overcoming your procrastination. A rating of 5 or less is an indicator of low importance, which may explain your inertia. Putting lower priority items on the back-burner frees up energy for higher priority goals.
But what if starting an exercise program is a top priority and you’re still stalled out? Start by layering in accountability. The first layer consists of carving out time for exercise by entering it in your calendar. Now you’ve made a commitment to yourself. Treat yourself as you would anyone to whom you have made a commitment. Be respectful and Show Up!
The next layer of accountability is enlisting the help of others. Choose a trusted friend or family member to be your coach. This significantly increases the likelihood of success. Ask for their support in holding you accountable to yourself and to your goal. This can be done by giving them a progress report on a regular basis. Request that they offer encouragement and not scold you in the event of a lapse. You are now part of a team! Maintain this relationship for as long as you need it.
The last layer of accountability is building in rewards. You earn rewards for using your credit card, why not reward yourself for staying in action? A reward can be anything you value such as a special activity, an object or some time to yourself. Point systems can also be very effective in helping you stay on track. For example, give yourself one point every time you exercise and upon accumulating ten points, redeem them for a higher-level reward.
Finally, maintain your commitment by reminding yourself of what it was like when you were stuck. New habits take approximately 60 days to become second-nature so be patient, it does get easier. You can apply these strategies to any goal by tweaking them accordingly. So be uninspired…and do it anyway. Be afraid…and do it anyway. Be hesitant…and do it anyway. Just don’t let being ready hold you hostage.