Taking action- Overcoming procrastination and the feeling of being stuck

You know that you need to overcome procrastination and the feeling of being stuck. If you’re unhappy with your situation right now, if you’re uncertain about your future, if you face anxiety, if you’re unhappy about your life, or if you’re unhappy with your personality, if you want to take yourself to the next level, then you need to change!

But you know that, you’ve known that for a long time. But there’s something stopping you.

You’re stuck in this place, it wasn’t your fault, but you’re stuck. You either don’t know what to do, or you just don’t know where to start! You’ve even got goals, you’ve even got a mission. Maybe you even know that when you can get out of this bubble, that you will persist and that you will make it out, and thatyou will take yourself up to the next level.

On top of that you also know that your thoughts and feelings are a strong lead up to action. You also know that you actually need FAT (feelings, actions, and thoughts) to really help transform your self. Yet, something is still holding you back. Even though your thoughts, and feelings are aligned, there is still some sort of void.

You’re not a victim though! You’ve realised this! You know that the self destructive behaviours that you had were stopping you in the past from moving on. But you’ve accepted that and you’re ready to accept ownership of your actions and your situation.

But there are are a few scenarios where you’re failing to take any action.

What is holding me back from taking action?

  1. You lack energy or are lethargic to take action: This is a different article which I won’t talk about here. But take a look and analyse your day, your diet? is it your health? is it your lifestyle?
  2. You’re just being lazy or have been procrastinating. Maybe there’s a hint of paralysis because you’ve been overthinking it too much
  3. You are absolutely stuck and you don’t know where to even start, you’ve may/may not have all these grand plans but ultimately you just don’t know where to begin.
  4. You’ve got all these grand plans, but you attempt to do, or want to do everything at once.

The solution to these is simple.

Small. Daily. Habits.

See, action trumps everything. Your thoughts, mental capacity, feelings, they all become null and void in comparison to lack or in the presence of action. But until action happens then these thoughts, mindset, and feelings are all you have.

The problem, when we want to change, often is that we come up with grand plans. Much too grand. Whether it’s starting a business, or whether it’s losing weight, or whatever it is. We create this goal and we plan it all out. But it’s way too big. We don’t think about the tiny details, the tiny steps it takes to eventually get to these goals. We don’t think about the short term, intermediate hurdles that stand in the way. In fact we often become paralysed thinking about the goal. Yes paralysis through analysis is real.

Feeling Sad because you procrastinate too much!

So the solution is to break it down so that you start thinking small. Break down  your actions and repeat the small actions daily. Do this successfully, and you have habits.

The First Few Rule: How to Prevent Procrastination?

The First Few Rule is simple. It’s so simple, but so effective that you can stop procrastination, forever! Alright so that might be a slight exaggeration. It might not help every single time, because you know, being human and all! But it will propel you into taking action and achieving your goals.

The First Few Rule is all about doing the first few of minutes of whatever activity you were planning on doing. It’s the first set of actions that are required. The First Few Rule is the plan to only do the first few ‘things’, no more. You don’t plan out or intend on doing any more than the first few <insert your actions>.

For example:

  • Writing a blog article? The First Few Rule stipulates you only write out the first few sentences
  • Going for a jog? You only do some ‘star jumps’ indoor
  • Writing some software for your business? You only write the first few lines of code

This is ideal, especially if you’re just feeling a bit lost, you don’t have the energy, or you’re just procrastinating over your action. Remember, the intention is to only, and only do the first few things. You just want to make a start, and have that as your goal. You don’t think or contemplate how you will do any more than that.

There’s a beautiful thing that normally happens when you follow the First Few Rule. Well firstly, you’ll have overcome procrastination. Secondly, even if you only do the first few things and leave it at that, you’ll still have some pride on starting the task at least.

But thirdly, and most likely, you won’t just stop at the first few. You’ll actually continue to chip away at your task. The First Few Rule gives you the slight push that you need, it gives you the momentum to continue and get the job done.

But once again, I repeat, the intention is not to finish the task. But to only do the first few actions to start the task. Not even do more of the task, but just to start the task.

Here’s some more examples:

Writing a book? Start with just one paragraph.

Creating a website? Take only the first few steps- buy the domain, pay for the hosting.

Want to run a marathon? Start by doing 50 star jumps!

Let the momentum carry you

Juggernaut- if you’re familiar with the X-men comics or movies then you’d be familiar with a character called Juggernaut. Juggernaut is able to smash through things. The way he does it, is through building momentum. Without any momentum, Juggernaut is weak. It’s a bit like putting a ball on a flat surface on top of a hill. Well the ball is stationary, because it’s on a flat surface- even though it’s on a hill top.

 

Prevent procrastination and the the feeling of not moving or being stuck.

The Juggernaut, as appearing in Uncanny X-Men #410 (Oct. 2002). Art by Ron Garney. Source: Wikipedia

 

All it needs is a slight push. Apply a gentle, small enough force to it then gravity will take care of the rest. The ball will start to roll. But it won’t just roll at a steady pace. The momentum will continue to build and the ball will continue to accelerate. It’s speed increases, and increases. The ball doesn’t need any other forces now.

I want you to apply the same principle to your life.

The first push or nudge comes from The First Few Rule that I explained earlier. The momentum in your life comes from the persistence you apply to your actions. Keep on repeating these actions until they become habit! You no longer need to think about these habits- they just happen.

 

I’ve got all these plans but I just don’t know where to start!

So let’s take a look at the first issue. The issue that I started writing about at the start of this article. You know you want to change, or you have these goals, but you’re just stuck, you don’t know where to start.

Example scenario is this.: say you’re in a dead end job, you want to get promoted, but you’re just stuck. So your options are to get a higher qualification (study more or go back to study), up skill yourself,  look elsewhere, negotiate with your current employer, or so on. There are so many options, so where do you start?

Remember, you want to create small, daily habits that help you transform yourself. You do that by firstly breaking down your goals into smaller actions.

So in this case your small daily actions would be for example, ‘browse through a list of jobs’. That’s it. Small, right? Doesn’t take much effort. Just browse your favorite job listing website and maybe add certain jobs to your ‘favorites’.

If you’re really stuck and hit a brick wall then you always want to start with the smallest step possible. Just as a toddler shouldn’t try to run or think about how to run when he or she can’t even yet crawl. The same applies to your situation. Think small. Do small. But then, repeat.

Repetition will be the key here. You want to then do the same thing every single day. Without fail. Browse through the jobs every day. Then set it so you start receiving notifications of jobs in your inbox.

The next small action will be to apply for these jobs. But there’s so many jobs you don’t know where to even start! Well, let’s think small. What’s the smallest thing you can do right now to help you progress? Maybe it’s to write out your CV or a template cover letter. So let’s do that. You write out your resume. You start buy just outlining it.

So try and repeat this in your mind (or write out) for whatever goal you have. As you do, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is your goal or the change you want to create?
  2. List out some of the milestones or things you need to do to achieve the goal or make the change?
  3. Breakdown the actions to first few things that are critical to achieving your goal
  4. What is the one thing that you can or should do every single day that will help create lasting change?
  5. If you were to do this tiny thing every single day for the rest of the year or for the next five years, what would your life look like? Imagine that!

I’ve got all these plans and I’m ready to take them all on!

Let’s assume your big goal is to lose weight.

If you follow this blog, you know that to lose weight there’s a few things that are critical, you also know to not believe in the bullshit the media and supplement industry throw at you! But I digress.

So let’s assume you want to lose weight, you know that after reading my other articles, that the best way to do it is to:

  1. Eat clean and healthy
  2. Exercise, preferably a strength building routine combined with high intensity exercises
  3. Reduce calories in moderation and very slowly

So your typical strategy to losing weight may be to do all the above, but generally, considering our plans are fairly grand (as discussed earlier). We probably would want to start doing all of that, from day 1! Tomorrow you will clean up your diet completely, you will hit the gym, do a 2 hour workout, and through out the day, you will have eaten much less than today!

No. I don’t want you to follow what the typical person tries to do but fails miserably in achieving a permanent state of transformation. The typical process of trying to everything is not helping your ability to create small, daily, habits. So like our earlier example and the process, you need to ask yourself the same questions as the process is exactly the same.

For this example, it might be something like breaking down your workout so that you can do at least 10 minutes every day or even every other day at the minimum. It might be replacing your sugar laden unhealthy breakfast with a  healthier alternative, rather than changing all your meals. Or it might be not eating a certain food that’s been helping you put on weight for the last 5 years. Otherwise it may be cutting out heavily processed foods as an example.

I want you to break down your actions to the smallest you need to do. Focus on doing the smallest action possible that you can then repeat so that it becomes second nature.

 

Conclusion

You can transform yourself through small daily actions. You don’t need grand plans and grand milestones, because although they help define your trajectory, they don’t actually help you launch and achieve your goals. So you start with just the smallest of the steps, baby steps. You let these actions build up, daily. Until you no longer need to think about them or contemplate over them. They just happen.

Congratulations, because when that happens, you’ve just formed a habit. This is your first step to forming desired habits that will help accelerate you to the person you really want to be and unleash your potential. I want you to transform not just inspire action, not just create daily habits, but create everlasting change where it becomes your lifestyle.

The thing with habits is that, if you don’t do it, you feel this void inside. You feel like you’re missing something. Any habit, bad or good, will give you this sensation! The aim is to create desired habits– ones that you do want to have. So that you’re being motivated internally to keep on repeating it, without having to think about it.

So, in summary:

  1. Create your roadmap, your mission, and your goals
  2. Apply the First Few Rule to overcome the initial hurdle, procrastination, or if you’re just stuck from moving forward
  3. Break down your goals and do the smallest action possible
  4. Repeat the small actions, daily if possible, understand that persistence is required
  5. Continue to persist without overthinking it until it becomes second nature
  6. If you feel like quitting then learn how to stop being a quitter!

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