Just Do It
I’m a procrastinator.
There! I admitted it. And not even just on big things—more often than not, it’s the little stuff. I’ll procrastinate on texting a friend back or writing an important email or going for a quick run or taking the road trip I’ve been dreaming about or even heading to the grocery store for more food. (Which means I’m left with only a not-so-healthy frozen pizza for dinner. Convenient.) These seem like no-brainer, easy-peasy tasks—they don’t even account for the bigger tasks and goals and dreams that I want (and I’m sure YOU want) to achieve. I know I want to get these things done, so why don’t I?
Well, like I said, I’m a procrastinator.
But while true, that answer hasn’t been good enough for me lately. I want to know more. And I want to do more. I want to know what is inside of me that’s holding me back from doing the things I want to do? I want to know why I’m afraid to push through my stagnation and my fear and get moving? Recently, I read a book called Time Warrior by Steve Chandler. I loved this quote from it: “All fear comes from picturing the future. Putting things off increases that fear. Soon we are nothing but heavy minds weighing down on weary brains. Too much future will do that.” YES, I thought. That’s it. Too much future will do that. And so, I’ve begun the work of breaking the pattern; the pattern of procrastination, of fear over action, of too much future. And I know you can do it, too. Here are a few ways I’ve completely changed my procrastinating ways:
Put On the Shoes
If you’re anything like me, you head to bed most evenings excited and motivated to wake up to a new day, refreshed and ready to work out. And again, if you’re like me, you wake up most mornings feeling exceedingly tired and exceptionally uninspired to do much beyond pulling the covers over your head and going back to sleep.
I get it. I do.
So, here’s my solution: Just start with the first step. You can do whatever you want from there. In this particular instance, that first step would be to put on your workout shoes.
After that, if you want to crawl back in bed, you totally can—but 99% of the time, you won’t take the shoes back off; you’ll just put them to good use!
Make Your Bed
Put on your shoes. Make your bed. See, these aren’t so hard! :)
Though this task may also seem small, it’s impact is invaluable and it will change how you start your day! By making your bed in the morning, you start the day feeling accomplished and organized—and confident that you can take on any other task that comes your way.
Most people disregard this advice, thinking that they don’t have time for the 5-minute activity or (wrongly) assuming that it won’t make much difference whether they do it or not. Though I understand the sentiment, I obviously disagree.
Not only does making your bed make you feel more accomplished, it helps you start your day on a positive note and acts as an anchor for other good habits, too! Show yourself that you can do this one small thing every day, and you’ll be well on your way to accomplishing everything else you’ve been putting off!
Acknowledge Your Ego
Your ego serves a purpose, but it can also be a bit of a saboteur. (Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Mine is too.)
You might recognize it as the little voice in your head that tells you:
“You don’t have time.”
“Just wait until tomorrow, you will have more energy then.”
“You are not worthy of that kind of happiness.”
Here’s the thing: the ego doesn’t really like being ignored. So pretending like you don’t hear it (or worse, actually believing what it’s telling you) won’t do you much good. Instead, acknowledge that little voice in your head, and kindly tell it that you don’t believe a word it says.
Because you shouldn’t.
By saying “I hear you, ego, but I don’t believe you,” we acknowledge and then dismiss that negative voice that keeps us tied to our fear, and thus, our tendency to procrastinate.
Set An Alarm
A big part of procrastination is fearing what the future holds. Unfortunately, we can’t yet do anything about the future. Sure, we can plan and organize and dream and vision board, but the reality is that the actual circumstances of our futures are largely out of our controls.
Remember what I read in Time Warrior? “All fear comes from picturing the future.”
So, it’s time to snap out of that! And the best way to do that is by actually setting an alarm to snap yourself out of all future-tripping reveries. Set a regular alarm on your phone that simply asks you: “Am I present?”
And when it goes off, actually answer the question!
By setting up a regular action to break your visions of the future—and the fear and procrastination they lead to—you’ll more easily come back to the action or idea you want to accomplish or pursue in the present moment. Why do we hold off on the things that we know would bring us so much joy? Well, if we’ve learned anything today, we know that all of the time we spend in fear (of overcommitting or of being overwhelmed or of some bad, scary vision of the future) is less time we spend doing the actual things we want to do in that moment. Much like Nike, my mantra lately has been to avoid fear of the future and “just do it.”
Just take the first step.
Just put on your running shoes.
Just make your bed.
Just stay present in this moment.
If we can convince our egos to just take the first step, however big or small, it’s amazing what we can accomplish. The momentum has begun, the fear has been vanquished; it’s time to get stuff done.
I have realized in the past few months that taking the first step is the most challenging, but most rewarding gift I can give myself.
And I hope you will, too.