Thursday, August 4, 2011

Daily Review 7: How To Overcome Laziness And Procrastination

One of the problems that I have faced over the years is how to overcome laziness and procrastination. In fact, as old as I am now I'm probably a seasoned pro at both being lazy and procrastinating. Just like everybody else, our mental state of mind has a lot to do with our motivation level and what we can get done in a given day. I first started looking into this problem many years ago when I was having trouble getting things done. I found many books on the subject, watched my share of day time talk shows as well as many night time specials on how to get rich selling real estate and oh yes, the buy a tiny classified ad in a bunch of newspapers approach.

Ultimately, in search of answers, I bought a Tony Robbins CD pack complete with journal and everything. Thus prepared, I began my journey through the materials of my first self help guru. I was intrigued by his approach and learned that, according to him, people don't take action unless they are going to feel pain. What I was instructed to do was write down all the pain I would feel if I didn't accomplish something and to attach as much pain to not doing an action to motivate me to do it. I know that pain is a huge motivator. He also taught me that small actions build up to larger accomplishments. This I thought was an even greater revelation.

But laziness and procrastination boil down to one problem and that's lack of action. Lack of action breeds inaction. It's a lot like working out. If you don't do it, physical activity gets harder to do and it becomes less likely that you will do it and the more likely that if you go all out at exercise at a level your brain might remember, you'll injure yourself.

Just like physical activity, mental activity is just the same in that your brain is out of shape and you need to retrain it to regain the mental edge you need to execute. The potental is in there and the great thing about exercising your brain is that for the most part, you can train yourself to have a world class brain before you could ever become a world class athlete.

But the real question is this: How do we overcome our inherent laziness and end our procrastination?

I suppose it's at this point that many people would look at the causes of procrastination. Things like being a perfectionist, having a lack of focus, a feeling of worthlessness. We could brainstorm the causes and problems all day and come up with a healthy list of reasons why we don't execute - why we don't achieve or live up to our potential. The truth of the matter is that, the reasons while they matter, don't solve the problem. And after watching enough cable news shows, I am also frankly tired of listening to all the problems that everybody thinks we have. The real problem though is not working on solutions. Everybody can identify problems. What we need are solutions. I'm so dead set on this that I've committed the Black Belt Project to focus on solutions and action plans to reach the promised land of full potential. And, if you are a member, I want you to adopt that mindset. YOU and I are problem solvers and NOT problem finders.

Now, I'm not sure that I can get you to buy into my approach. For many of you, my approach won't work. You'll need to find someone else for guidance. But I've been where you have been. I know what it feels like to lay around all day and feel like you wasted the day. I also know what it feels like to reach my potential and have successful days one after another. So because of that, I feel like I'm an expert and that I know the path. I know the way to achievement and I can share it with you. I can believe in it. I can even show you step by step how I do it. But none of that matters unless YOU want to do it. You've got to want to start training and improving. If you have that desire, then you can and will get better.

The first thing that you have to know about laziness and procrastination and how to beat it is that a lack of inaction is temporary and there's no sense in beating yourself up about it. There's also no sense in labeling yourself as "lazy" or that you are a "procrastinator". The past doesn't matter. What does matter is what you do next. The first thing you must do is quit telling yourself you are a loser. You are just out of shape and with the right training program, you can get back in shape over a period of time.

The second thing you need to know is that your brain didn't get out of shape overnight and you won't gain a mental edge overnight either. It's going to take some time to get back into shape.

So, on my end, here comes the hard part. How to figure out what your training program should be. I mean we are all different - right?

This does pose a challenge.

But when I go to the gym and workout, you know what I see? I see the same equipment for everybody. And whether you are runner, basketball player, football player or just want to look better, the tools are the same. The training is just tailored to your goals. For just about everybody though, the idea behind each workout is to challenge the muscles. You do this by lifting what you can and then over time, you increase the weight. This is called progressive resistance. As you progress you slowly increase the resistance and this process makes you stronger.

Mental training as I describe it will work the same. The tools, or equipment, will be the same for both of us. And we will also use progressive resistance. Only instead of the resistance being weights, they will be tasks we need to accomplish. In the gym, you might be able to start by lifting more than me but we will both progressively increase our weights. In our mental training, you might be able to do more tasks than me right now, but this idea of progressive resistance is the same. We gain mental strength by increasing the tasks as we get comfortable doing them.

The tools we are going to use are the basic pen and paper. The advanced mental gym will have a computer, a word processor, an internet connection, a supply of paper, a printer, a binder with some dividers and a pen.

Your main piece of equipment will be the checklist. It's on the checklist you will put your tasks to complete. As you gain mental toughness, you'll add more tasks to increase your strength just like at the gym.

If I was your trainer in the gym, I would start you with little or no weight. This is so you could start with good form and get through the workout easily and also reduce the risk of injury. The next workout, I would add a tiny bit of weight to increase the resistance slowly. Even if you could lift it, instead of adding twenty pounds extra, I might only add two pounds or five pounds so that there is an increase in resistance to slowly bring you along.

With mental strength training, I would do the same thing to help you beat procrastination and laziness. I would start you with a checklist of one item that you need to complete. Once you can complete that one item easily everyday, I would then add another item and once you could do that easily I would add another.

Before you know it, your checklist will grow larger just like your muscles would. And the success of completing tasks will give you the momentum you need without burning you out.

This is the process that you use to overcome it. The only thing you have to decide are what are the tasks that go on your checklist. I recommend that you start at the beginning of your day. Start by adding the easy stuff. As you gain mental discipline, add everything to the list no matter how small the item. I know that the first thing that I put on my list was just merely getting up. Don't be afraid to start with very few tasks. Just be sure to keep progressively adding more. I do this by committing to a task for at least thirty days (see my post called What Is A 30 Day Challenge) and then committing to doing that task from that point forward and adding another later, repeating the process. As you get stronger, you can move to shorter time periods. The point it to start. Gain some success and move forward a little bit each day, each month and each year.

I talk more about this in today's daily review. If you are a member you will see it below this post. If you do not see it, join now to have access to it.

[private_white belt]

[S3AUDIO file='audio/blackbeltprojectdailyreview080411.mp3']

[/private_white belt]

Related Article

Michael Kuhn

Black Belt Project: Build Mental Strength


Excellent post. Have you ever read "The Now Habit" by Niel Fiore? That book virtually changed everything for me.

Yes I have read that and can recommend it to others as well. I think the one thing I took away from that book is to block out your time and add your fun first. If I remember correctly, he also suggested getting started for 30 minutes at a time which is good advice as well.