How to stop procrastination and reach big goals with less effort
What I wanted to explain first, was a tiny fact about our brains. Because, hello, brains are very complicated and I just happened to know this one fact right now that can potentially help you stop prcrastination and reach these goals with less effort..
Our brains love patterns
I have come across this information from a few places, and the numbers like 50 000 - 80 000 decisions a day are what our brains are dealing with. Ok, let’s actually take a moment here and think of this number. That's a huge freaking amount of decisions, poor brains of ours. So in order to survive the day, our brains love creating patterns which will make behaviors automatic. Therefore, if we do the same thing every day, even in small amounts, our brains find the patterns and follows them on autopilot. Meaning that our brains love routines so it doesn’t need to make even more decisions in our crazy fast pace world. Therefore whatever we do consistently becomes a habit. If it is a good or a bad habit, that is totally and fully up to you.
Now that we know all that, let's see how we can make use of this.
Do you know the feeling when you are super inspired to take on a challenge, you want to reach a specific goal, or you want to make a significant change in your lifestyle? Which can be from starting your daily yoga practice, cutting sugar or alcohol for a while, reading a book every week or just making more time for you to relax and chill.
So you set your big goal, which is usually something like; "for the next 30 days, I will do yoga every day for 1 hour". And that is your entire game plan for the challenge you’ve taken on. But somehow, you cannot seem to start with the challenge at all, finding excuses of putting it off just until tomorrow, or you are a few days in and something interrupts your new pattern and you fall off the wagon and go back to you “old” ways?
Let me tell you the problem here. The main reason why people procrastinate and are unable to reach their goals is that the goal itself is so huge that even thinking about it makes you shiver and crawl back in your hole. Not to mention the huge pattern changes your brain needs to adjust to. Which is trying to save energy by not making too many new decisions in a day, remember right?
In order to actually be able to take on a successful habit, a lifestyle change or whatever your goal is:
We need to cut the end goal into tiny, and I mean tiny little pieces.
And that is actually the number one secret ingredient in fighting procrastination and start moving, slowly but firmly towards your end goal.
My personal way that I have recently starting to practice is what I call a “7-day challenge”
What is this challenge all about?
First step: Define your big goal. Be very specific.
Let’s take my own personal goal I have going on at the moment:
I want to to do yoga every day of the week for 1 hour.
“Girl, with your current lifestyle, there is absolutely no freaking way you can do 1 hour of yoga every day” (That is my brain freaking out and screaming at me after I have introduced my new way of life).
Second step: Cut it into very tiny pieces.
Something like this:
“I will do yoga every day for the next 7 days, for 10-15 minutes”
“Girl, that is totally doable, I can definitely squeeze in 15 minutes, every morning, right when I wake up. Just for 7 days. Easy”
Now my brain seems to really like the idea, thinks it’s doable. Plus I am setting a specific time of the day, where I know I am able to make 15 minutes available. For you, it might be afternoon or evening. It doesn’t really matter, what matters is that you schedule this into YOUR day.
The key here is to really make the goal that you want to achieve and cut it into pieces you know 100% for sure, that you are capable of doing this.
The idea is that in order to make myself feel bad about not doing yoga at all because I cannot find 1 h a day, I do way less than that, but I am actually DOING it. That is awesome already on its own.
After a successful week, we see how much we got done, maybe we skipped a day or 2, not a big deal. There is defiantly a success number written down. Even if it is just 3 days. Congratulations, you moved a few steps closer to your goal, and you left procrastination out the door.
Third step: Evaluate and adjust.
Next step is to really evaluate the situation and either keep going with the same goal, make the task of the day EVEN smaller, or if you feel really good, pump up the number of minutes, thus making the challenge just a little bit harder.
After every 7 days, see where you are, adjust the challenge and keep going. Before you notice, you are a whole month in, doing yoga every day. Feeling good, successful, happy and more confident.
Has it worked for me?
I am happy to announce that with this method, I have finally introduced practicing yoga into my every day. I am practicing between 20-40 minutes and it depends on how I feel. Thus knowing that the goal 1 h a day was not even serving my higher purpose. I have learned to listen to my body more deeply and I know that I can trust it telling me exactly what it needs. With this method I have also introduced some other successful habits into my life, like; not touching my phone for the first 2 hours of the day, drinking herbal tea, instead of coffee in the morning, and having a solid morning journaling practice. And I am very much inspired to keep this challenge going. I feel I am on top of my game and it's not even that much effort. All I have to trust is the knowledge that by taking small steps, big changes can come closer.
As you can see this challenge is highly adjustable. This is all up to YOU. You can add more additional things to your “7-day challenge” once you have automated the new patterns and your brain is ready to take on the next thing.
Let me know what is the area in your life you a trying to change or what kind of goal you are trying to tackle this very moment. Also, let me know if this method has been helpful to you!
Exited to hear your stories.
Love and Light