Are you constantly putting off your workouts until "tomorrow"? Here's how to beat procrastination once and for all. On Wednesday I had the chance to spend an hour talking to kids at the Peel Institute in North London about the benefits of health and fitness.
It was a fun and insightful morning: most of them seemed eager to understand, to learn and to experience something new.
I had come with one idea in mind: to show the children how movement, eating and relaxing can be fun and enjoyable.
Because the way they perceive fitness now can determine how active and healthy they will be when they grow up.
And because that, my friends, can be THE one thing that holds people back from living a healthy lifestyle.
I have seen this time and time again: we learn our beliefs about the world at a very young age. We then develop habits built around our perceptions.
And so, if we understand that exercise and eating healthy is boring and downright hard work, we carry that belief through to our adult life. With disastrous effects on our health!
Years down the line, when we decide that we want to change our habits, these limiting beliefs come back to haunt us, affecting our behaviour in various ways.
One of the most common symptoms is the big P: Procrastination. Try as we may to eat well or exercise more, we keep putting it on hold or leaving it until tomorrow.
Here's how to overcome it:
1. Be aware of when you are rationalising
"I am too tired to go now, I will go tomorrow for sure."
"I will have one last slice of cake: tomorrow I will eat better"
We all are wonderful storytellers. We all have a very high capacity for talking ourselves out of something we don't want to do or are afraid of. We do it over and over again, time after time, day after day.
Learn to listen to yourself, to the way you rationalise and invent excuses and reasons not to act. Look for patterns, triggers and habits in your behaviours that are telling signs of some hidden belief.
2. Find out what lies beyond it
Once you are aware of your rationalisations, take a few moments to figure out what lies beyond the excuses. What are you afraid of? What do you fear might happen? What emotions or feelings are you avoiding?
Spend some time interviewing your mind; go as deep as possible, without judging yourself. Just be curious...
3. Show yourself a new perspective
Next, it's time to reassure yourself by seeing a different perspective, in order to start building a new supportive belief. Imagine or find examples of when your fear has showed to be untrue. Use your own life, but also stories of friends - anything really. Even ask The Google!
4. Sweet-talk yourself into action
Further reassure yourself with positive self-talk. Negotiate with the fear or limiting belief: let it know that it is loved, that it is safe, and that you can be trusted.
Find a What-If scenario on which you can make a promise to yourself. For example: "If after 5 minutes of running I still feel sleepy and tired, I will stop and come home."
5. Build your Trust Muscles
And of course, follow through with the promise you make to yourself - time and time again. Trust and self-belief is like a muscle: the more you act on your promises, the stronger your trust muscles will grow, and with them: your self-esteem. Et Voila: your procrastination is a distant memory! Procrasti-what? (Ain't nobody got time for that!)
ACTION STEP: Take a minute right now to work on one of your most common excuses for procrastinating your exercise and eating. Run through the 5-step process described above, and leave a comment below with your results!
Love & Health,