Why do we procrastinate? Is it a part of our lives?
There’s a funny thing about procrastination that everyone seems to miss.
Please answer these questions truthfully:
Do you procrastinate on watching Netflix?
Do you procrastinate on scrolling through social Media?
Do you procrastinate on Gaming?
Do you procrastinate on anything else that you love to do?
Our brains would never even think about passing up such an opportunity.
Our brains constantly makes one decision.
“Is this worth doing, or not?”
“Does it give me pleasure, or can I avoid pain when I do it?”
If the answer is yes, your brain will decide to do it.
Do I want to get up from my Computer, put on my gym clothes and lift hard weights for an hour?
Of course, your brain will say no. Exercise is one of the most uncomfortable things on this earth. Especially if you are sitting at home with a coke in your left hand, and the TV remote in the other, while sitting in the most comfortable position you could find on the couch.
Nothing beats that.
What if I gave you a million dollars to get up right now and run 5 miles?
You’d knock your front door out if you could and run like an animal who’s being chased by a predator.
We don’t procrastinate, if there is a clear advantage to it.
Bring out the trash? The first few days, you’ll want to leave it in the trashcan…
until it stinks like rotten hell.
Now your brain sees the advantage of bringing out the trash and you won’t hesitate to get that ugly sack of rotten food out of your home.
This is, quite simply, how our brains work.
Except in reality, it’s often much more complex.
Our brains are like spiderwebs.
It’s an interwoven web of our attitude, experiences, reactions, skills, beliefs, perceptions and memorized behaviours.
All of these make sense in their own way.
If you can’t smell the rotten food in your trashcan, you won’t mind it.
If you learned to bring out the trash regularly as a child, you will do it as an adult as well. (Not to 100%, but it’s much more likely)
If you believe that your apartment is your holy temple, then you won’t pollute it with the dirty smell of your leftovers.
Procrastination is normal.
Go to work, clean the dishes, walk the extra mile, start your side hustle, go up to that person, make that crazy request…
But it doesn’t always have to present. You can outsmart procrastination.
If one side of the coin is procrastination, the other side of the coin is action.
I have exploited a simple human mechanism to my own will, and you can do the same.
Before I tell you the secret, you need to know this:
Remember, the basic premise of the brain is:
“Does this give me enough pleasure to put in the necessary work?”
“Does this avoid me enough pain to put in the necessary work?”
The word “enough” is essential here.
Of course, you could give yourself a single, little piece of chocolate as a reward for doing the hard tasks that you’ve constantly been putting off…
But is it really enough of a reward? No.
I want a LIFETIME of chocolate as a reward.
That would motivate me, just like the million dollars for the 5 mile run.
This human mechanism is a golden opportunity.
You can use it like an “on-off” switch, whenever you want.
This is how I built my habit of exercise at 17, by myself.
This is what I will continue to exploit to counter procrastination.
This is the secret technique I used to willingly put myself under the weight hundreds of pounds three times a week.
I was 16 at the time and puzzled about ways to build the habit of exercise.
The few times I went, it used up all of my willpower and I was exhausted, tired and never wanted to exercise again.
“This can’t be it.” I thought. “There must be a better way.”
And I got the brilliant idea to give myself any reward I want if I exercised regularly for 30 days.
I made it a challenge.
But the main point is not the challenge. It’s the REWARD.
I chose a reward SO BIG, that I couldn’t BUT be motivated to go to the gym so I could EARN my reward.
And you can do the same.
Choose a reward that is SO BIG… that it exploits your brains mechanism and will turn you into an action-taker.
This is especially effective for building habits.
Even if your reward would be a TRIP to your favorite place in the world, but you’ve earned it by exercising every day for a whole month…
IT’S WORTH IT.
Because the habit of exercise is PRICELESS.
Heck, even if it cost you all of your life-savings to build a gym-habit… It’s ALSO WORTH IT!
So I didn’t mind paying for ANY Sweets and ANYTHING else I wanted, for the sake of exploiting my brains decision-maker.
I’m a big fan of rewards.
My reward was a huge Pizza, any sweets & snacks I can imagine, 7 days off training, re-watching the whole Hobbit Trilogy just by myself, and a glass replica of Gandalf’s Pipe… and yeah, I'll be honest… I used the pipe to smoke cannabis… while watching the Trilogy :D
But I’m still grateful I made the decision to reward myself, because I successfully built the habit as a result. I’m still exercising, 3 years later….
All from a simple reward, that genuinely excited me to pursue my challenge every day.
After a month, I didn’t need rewards anymore because I started seeing results.
The results became my reward, and they drive me since.
I traded MONEY for a HABIT… With myself.
I urge you to do the same.
You can set your own reward for your own set of behaviours that you want to achieve.
You can reward yourself for sticking through the last year of college…
You can reward yourself for any extra-work you don’t want to do…
You can reward yourself for SETTING UP this reward system.
There are no off-limits, no borders, no wrong rewards here.
Just you, what you want to achieve, and your reward that genuinely excites you, no matter how much it costs...
Because it’ll pay you back 100x later.