There are lots of ways to give yourself a kick in the butt!! First, though, you have to know what’s causing your “excusism.” Mick and I coined this term to describe this culture, this mentality, that has so many of us trapped!
Excusism is a treatable condition that we all get at one time or another…symptoms include:
For example, “I can’t go to the gym today! I’m doing [important thing] tomorrow, and I don’t want to be tired.”
Wait a minute, is that really enough of a reason to skip the gym completely? Will exercising more moderately really make you that much tireder? Or…have you found yourself an “out”? Stop making excuses and start making changes!
It turns out, our brain loves defaulting to autopilot mode!
Science shows that there’s a part of our brain in charge of going on autopilot, and, in order to conserve energy and strength, our brain shuts off…well, whenever it can!! The darn thing! (Hold tight…I’m about to tell you how to HACK into this part of your brain!)
When you say, “I’ll start after I watch an episode of this TV show,” you’re opting for instant gratification instead of delayed gratification. Have you heard of that experiment where a scientist tells kids, “You can either eat one marshmallow now, or two in 10 minutes?” Some of the kids could wait, but some just couldn’t…
We’re still those kids!! We want our reward now, even if we know that patience and hard work will get us a better reward, or that rewarding ourselves NOW by procrastinating will have consequences…
Help! How do I Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Changes??
Like I said, you can “hack” your brain using a few strategies that have been scientifically proven to prevent you from spacing out, and to fight brain fog!
First and maybe easiest way: Get someone to help you stay accountable! That way, somebody else knows about your goals and your progress, and not only can they help motivate you, but you won’t want to let them down…
Next, research shows that if you’re working on a project, taking short breaks is better than taking long breaks, especially if you do something refreshing with that break. Just little things like jogging up a flight of stairs or walking around the block, as I mention in my article.
Next, promise to reward yourself after you’ve finished something, and stick to that.
It seems obvious enough that giving yourself a reward to look forward to is a good motivator. But science shows a way you can amp this effect even more!
Researchers took people with phobias and showed them pictures that would make them scared. But then, immediately after, gave them positive affirmation and also a little $$ reward! By the end of the experiment, they were all much less afraid!!
What does that have to do with procrastinating and making excuses? Well, it shows that if you get into the habit of consistently rewarding yourself, you can get over your aversions (in this case, an aversion to working hard…).
Similar studies show that having a nearby photo of the reward increases the sharp motivational clarity, as opposed to being a distraction. Yet another study showed that looking at photos/videos of people working hard (like typing at a computer, or running) were motivational triggers for the mind!
Also, for me, having a list of not only my goals, but a list of why I’m working towards those goals — and keeping that list next to me when I’m working on a project! — skyrockets my sense of focus and organization!
The best way for me to stop making excuses and start making changes is to have that list as a visual reminder if I’m working at my desk and my attention wanders…when my eyes land on that list, I remember what’s important, and I’m back to work once again…