Have you ever had that experience where you set yourself a great big kick ass goal?
You’re all fired up and raring to go.
You’ve made lists of lists of things you’re going to do to get into action.
You tell yourself ‘this is it. This time I’m going to do this thing’!
You set yourself a start date and you wait with excited anticipation for the date to come.
Your motivation is through the roof, you’re feeling totally prepared, totally ready and you know that this time is going to be different. You can just feel it.
Now at this point a couple of things happen.
Either, you’ll do exactly what you say you’re going to do. The ‘start date’ will arrive and you’ll dive into action like a rocket launching into space.
Or, in between writing out your to-do lists, getting prepped and actually getting to the start line, you somehow manage to talk yourself out of getting going. You convince yourself of all the reasons why it won’t work out and why now isn’t the right time after all.
Let’s take a look at scenario number one because this is looking like the better of the two options right?
So there you go, you’re flying. You’re ticking off items on your to-do list quicker than you can write them and you are ON FIRE!
For a day or two. Maybe even a week or two. If you’re really fired up, maybe even a month or two. Then blow me, one day you get distracted and you miss one of your list items.
Gradually doing all the great new things stops being quite so easy. The novelty wears off. You feel your motivation giving way and old habits start to creep back in.
You get despondent and start to feel like a failure – again!
You desperately start looking for that lost motivation. It must be somewhere, you know you had here before – why can’t you find it again?
You’ve read all the motivational social media memes so you know you need to go back to your ‘why’ and do whatever it takes to remind yourself why you wanted this in the first place.
You’re doing all the right things, but that elusive motivation still won’t show itself.
So you go back to your old ways. You miss your goal. You blame yourself for being too lazy or too disorganised or too hopeless to stick to anything long term.
What was the point of starting anyway – you always fail right?
You simply made the mistake of assuming that motivation alone would see you through.
I’ve got some news for you. It won’t!
But, you’re thinking to yourself, other people seem to manage to stay motivated so it MUST be my fault, my failing, my flaw.
Nope, wrong again.
No one reaches their goal in the long term simply by relying on motivation. It just doesn’t happen.
So what about scenario number 2, how come you didn’t even get off the starting blocks.
Well, here you’d already convinced yourself you would fail so why even bother starting.
You’ve recalled all the times in the past when things didn’t work out. Maybe you’ve tried scenario one a dozen times before and it always ends the same way, so what’s the point.
You’ve created stories in your head based on past experiences that you somehow believe are true. They must be true because that’s what you believe, and all the evidence is just further proof that it’s true!
You’re basing your beliefs on flawed information and erroneous evidence.
You see there’s a couple of things happening here.
Firstly, let’s understand the motivation issue. If you can’t rely on motivation to keep you going, and will power is finite, how do you make the changes necessary to reach your goal.
How do you get out for a run when it’s cold and raining outside?
How do you stop yourself from reaching for the wine to help you ease your stresses each night?
How do you stop yourself from binge watching box sets on Netflix?
How do you keep going when every fibre of your being is telling you to give up and give in?
Well, first off, you stop trying to be so damned perfect!
You’re human and by nature of being human you’re imperfect. You’re flawed. You’re normal! You’re not super woman (or man!) and no one except you expects you to be.
Second, you’re trying to change too much at once. It’s overwhelming. The mind can’t cope with all this change. It’s scared and it wants to protect you from the unknown.
Third, you’re over thinking it. You’re giving your mind time to consider what it wants you to do. And believe me the mind wants you to do what is easiest. That way it doesn’t have to work so hard.
The human brain is amazingly efficient. It finds ways to automate and take the easy route for pretty much everything. And that’s a good thing. Imagine if you had to consciously think about every single little decision you made every day!
Imagine if you had to consciously think about remembering to breath, to blink, to digest your food…
You’d be exhausted. So the brain does a great job of taking the pressure off your conscious mind by automating a huge chunk of your decision making processes – we have a name for these unconscious decisions, we call them habits.
So your mind is constantly looking at ways to automate its processes, building habits that keep your primal brain feeling safe – doesn’t matter if it’s what you want or not. Your brain defaults to the security of what it knows and trusts.
So how do you overcome inertia, mind blocks and inaction?
You have to make the unconscious conscious.
You have to override your unconscious mind and start making conscious decisions.
You have to accept that motivation is not the answer and fight through all the self-imposed barriers that your mind is putting up.
You have to TRICK the mind into action.
Mel Robbins, in her book The 5 Second Rule, has a very simple tool for tricking the mind into action.
Here’s what she says you should do.
As soon as you get the intuition to do something towards your goal you count backwards from 5 to 1 then physically move!
Try it, it works.
She backs this simple little life hack up with some pretty solid science. Explaining that in doing this you’re engaging the pre-frontal cortex, the part of your brain you engage when you take action and change your behaviour.
You see what you have to rely on are small decisions. Decisions that keep you moving forward, one step at a time.
There is no magic in hitting a goal. It’s not that some people are more gifted at sticking to their goals than anyone else. It’s not that some people are smarter, more committed or more genetically wired for success than anyone else. It’s simply that they have found the way to power through their mind blocks.
They’ve learned to override their subconscious objections. Their inner resistance. Their inner fears.
And it takes effort and again, as Mel Robbins says in her book, it takes ‘courage’!
Let me tell you about a goal I set for myself and I how I felt about the outcome.
A couple of weeks back I drove down to London to attend a seminar. I knew that one my favourite podcasters was going to be speaking there and I set myself a goal to speak to him and ask if he’d be a guest on my own podcast.
This guy is like the number one health and fitness podcaster in the UK – I have a tiny little podcast and I’ve only been doing it for a couple of months so this was a BIG KICK ASS goal I’d set myself.
I had a 2 and a half hour drive down to London, and all the while I was driving I was thinking about what I was going to say to him. The mind chatter went something along the lines of ‘YESS! I’m going to be brave and just go up and introduce myself and say hi, and ask him outright if he’d be a guest’. The immediately my monkey brain kicked in ‘don’t be ridiculous you’ll make a complete fool of yourself, he’ll never say yes to you’.
Then again I’d push forward with some positive self talk ‘don’t be stupid, he’s only another human being, what’s the worst that can happen, he says no, so what!’.
But then off I’d go again, my ego getting in the way ‘But if he says no, which he probably will, you’ll be so embarrassed and EVERYONE will know you messed up’.
I’m not sure how I thought EVERYONE was even going to know but that’s the monkey brain for you.
Anyway we got to the first break at the seminar and I got the opportunity to say hi and introduce myself.
I had a choice, give in to my fear of rejection, or dive in and see what happens.
In a split second I had to make a decision.
I’ve never been good at putting myself forward in situations like this. I’m not the sort of person who can walk into a room full of people and just go up and join in a conversation. It terrifies me.
My hands were clammy and my heart was pounding in my chest.
But I did something in that moment. I made a decision to act.
I didn’t allow myself enough time to talk myself out of it. I smiled, said hello, introduced myself and you can listen to the podcast I recorded with Ben Coomber here.
You see, he said yes. All my fears were for nothing. And you know, even if he had said no, no one would know. No one would even have cared. But if I’d not overcome the inertia of not making a quick decision I’d have missed the opportunity to get one of my favourite podcasters as a guest on my own podcast.
What is it they say, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!
Without realising it at the time, I’d applied Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule and it worked.
I also applied her rule earlier today when I sat looking at a long list of organisations I wanted to contact to see if they might be interested in hiring me to do some training for them. I hate making cold calls. I fear rejection. It literally fills me with dread. I’ve been putting it off for weeks.
But I know that if I don’t make the calls I will never get any business and I will never make a sale. And if I can’t make a sale I can’t stay in business. And if I can’t stay in business I have to find a job. And that means all my goals, my dreams, go out the window!
So I made a decision to contact a minimum of 5 organisations today. I set a timer on my phone and gave myself an hour to do it. The timer ticking down meant I was under pressure to take action. I made the calls.
I didn’t die. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I got to do what I love doing most – talking to people. What’s so scary about that? It’s what I do in my coaching practice all the time.
But I bet you, when I set the clock tomorrow morning and contact the next 5, I will still feel the fear, I’ll still want to avoid doing it, but it’ll be just a tiny bit easier than last time.
So that’s it – how do you overcome inertia and get out of your own way?
Just make the decision and do it.
Bev Thorogood is owner and founder of Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching . She’s a PN1 Certified Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, a personal trainer, exercise instructor, wife, mum and Nan!
I work with clients to help them make the health and lifestyle changes necessary to thrive, rather than simply survive, through midlife and beyond.
I’d love to invite you to book a FREE 50 minute breakthrough call with me to see how I can help you to achieve your health and lifestyle goals.
You can book directly using the link below. You’ll be under no obligation and the call is absolutely free.
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