Everyone procrastinates. We usually do it to avoid a task that’s unpleasant or daunting. If you find yourself procrastinating on beginning that diet, or any other task, because you feel worried, uptight, and stressed-out, then it’s time to finally break through.
Here are 9 steps that will get you to your goal. You’ll reap numerous benefits, which include enhanced mood, elevated self-esteem, better health, a sense of accomplishment, and skinnier jeans.
1. Identify your goal
First, write down the specific task you’ve been putting off. For example, “I want to develop healthy eating habits and lose ten pounds before my fall trip to Paris.” Having a clear and precise goal will keep you oriented and motivated.
2. Pinpoint your emotions
What’s preventing you from reaching your goal? The answer is your emotions, typically one or more of our three core emotions. Perhaps, you’re afraid you’ll fail (fear). Or you’re resentful about having to restrict what, when, and how much you can eat (anger). Or you’re bummed that you’ve gained twenty pounds in the last two years (sadness). Identifying and physically expressing the underlying emotion will help you realize what is truly getting in your way.
3. Deal with those emotions
It’s helpful to know that emotions — sadness, anger, and fear — are just pure energy in your body. Look at the word “emotion.” It’s energy (e) in motion. Take some time in private to constructively express them. That means, simply make sounds or use words to name what you’re feeling, such as “I’m just mad. I’m frustrated. OOOwwww.” Or “I feel so sad.”
If the emotion is anger, find a healthy way and safe place, to pitch a fit. Stomp around, scream into a pillow, or pound the heck out of cardboard boxes. If you’re feeling anxious, shiver, quiver, tremble and shudder all throughout your body for a couple of minutes. If you’re feeling down and defeated, have a good cry.
By crying to honor the sadness, punching or yelling into a pillow to release the anger, or doing some exaggerated shivering for the fear, you will move the emotional energy out of your body. When the energy dissipates, you won’t feel stuck. It’s like letting steam out of a pressure cooker. You’ll be on your way to making positive changes.
4. Find some “truths”
Identify the sabotaging thoughts that are hanging in the wings, ready to derail you in a weak moment. Then you need to find a couple of statements to support you and contradict the negative, self-defeating thoughts. For example if you continually tell yourself “I’ll never be able to do it,” or “I can’t imagine never eating cookies again, you might say to yourself, “I can do this” or “My health is more important than anything else” or “I’m taking this one day at a time.” That’s the plain and simple truth.
To support your cause, you might remind yourself on a daily basis, “Eating too much and exercising too little causes weight gain. I’m doing this because I want to feel healthier and sexier” or “I’ll feel better when I lose these added pounds.”
5. Do some planning: break your goal into a series of small, doable steps.
Good planning is the foundation of success for almost any project.
Starting a weight lose regime requires making a step-by-step game plan that entails breaking down the seemingly gigantic task. That means, exactly what will you do? Get specific. Make soups or steam veggies so there is always something healthy available? How long will you do this regime for? Maybe you’ll limit yourself to one glass of wine in the evening. Maybe you won’t eat out at lunch but bring something and take a mid-day stroll. Maybe you’ll take fruit for snacks and pass on the bagels and donuts.
When you feel the impulse to gobble down something or find your resolve fading, take just a minute or two to release the pent-up emotion in a physical and constructive way. Then you’ll be able to make a more relaxed and conscious choice.
The important point is to set and write down your simple, doable guidelines. Write them on a 3 by 5 card and post it in your bathroom, on the refrigerator, or at your desk. Don’t set weight loss goals that are almost impossible or so restrictive that you rebel. Remember that you are developing new healthy habits for life. Go on a mental journey, plotting out what your meals and snacks will be and when you’ll prepare them. When you’ll weigh yourself and when you won’t. When you’ll exercise and for how long.
6. Anticipate roadblocks
Once you’ve created a game plan, step back and imagine challenges and obstacles that are likely to pop up along the way. For example, what will do when you’re hungry and impulsively buy a bag of potato chips, get an invitation to attend a birthday party, or need to make cupcakes for your son’s class. For every scenario, have a tactic ready so you can stick to your original plan. Maybe you decide to find a buddy to support your efforts, preferably someone who also wants to lose weight or overcome a bad habit of their own. Check in regularly at a predetermined time, offering praise for little victories and strategies for transgressions.
7. Take the leap
With all this preparation, it’s time to get started. Before you do and every morning, remember and read your goal and truths you’ve selected to support you. But equally important, acknowledge your emotions–whether it’s anger, fear, or sadness—in general and when you have the urge to deviate from your plan. Restricting food intake and exercising more often, can bring up emotions. You need to recognize when emotions start to run your show and move that emotional energy out of your body. If you do this, then you’ll be able to make choices from a place of clarity.
8. Battle resistance
As you move through your day, you’re likely to meet with resistance in the form of rationalizations, bad moods, and discouragement. Meet resistance with tenacity, and continue to deal with any emotions that surface. Say to yourself, “I can do this. I’ll feel fabulous when I resist. Just focus on today.” Say it over and over until it’s set in your mind. Any time you are tempted to cave in, shiver and refocus on the goal and what you need to do in the moment. Stay out of the future. Modify your plan if it turns out not to be reasonable.
9. Focus on the upside
Losing weight is incredibly satisfying. Praise each little step along the way. Reward yourself with things besides food as you stick to your plan. Remind yourself at every step that you’ll feel incredibly virtuous when you reach your goal. You’ll feel proud about yourself. You’ll sleep better at night. You’ll feel more energetic and less stressed. You know you have the power and formula to create positive changes in any area of your life.