Stop Overthinking, Start Exercising: 3 Techniques for Kicking Procrastination’s Ass
Most humans procrastinate.
It makes sense if you think about it. Life is hard. Doing hard things is hard. Doing life things that are hard is nearly impossible. So we push off hard things in favor of easy things.
I’ve been helping people get in shape for a long time now, and can unequivocally tell you this: Most folks don’t have a fitness problem, they have a procrastination problem. They know what to do, they know how to do it, but they don’t pull the trigger.
It’s easy to push things off until “tomorrow”. It’s easy to say, “Eh. I’ll start next week.” Except next week turns into next month. Next month turns into next year. This inability to get started is what’s holding you back most.
Here are a few suggestions to help you kick procrastination’s ass.
1. Planning is procrastination
Planning is procrastination, and should be avoided as much as possible. While that may sound controversial, I promise you it’s not.
Too many folks become consumed by the planning process. They plan and scheme until they’re blue in the face, attempting to account for every minor detail from now until forever. They do all the research, watch all the videos, obsess over their workout programs, but don’t actually do anything.
Planning is an insidious beast, really. Planning gives the appearance of work being done. Don’t get me wrong, planning is necessary to some extent. Some type of framework is necessary to guide your training. But at a certain point (earlier than you might expect), planning becomes superfluous, getting in the way of real work being done.
You don’t need to schedule your workouts for the next 52 weeks. You don’t need to make sure your PDFs are properly formatted. And you especially don’t need to color coordinate your exercises based on muscles worked (I’m very guilty of that one).
Establish your framework. Get to work.
2. Procrastination is not one-and-done
Congratulations. You’ve successfully avoided over-planning and are now thoroughly into your routine. You’re seeing progress (albeit slow) and feel better than you have in a long time.
You’re not out of the woods yet. Not by a country mile.
Oftentimes folks will complain of a “lull” in motivation once they’ve been training for about six months. As they find themselves deeper and deeper into this lull, things begin to fall off one by one. 3–4 workouts per week drops to 2–3, then 1–2. Cheat meal numbers begin to slowly creep back up. The workouts themselves see a significant drop in intensity.
Before you know it you’re back to square one.
Procrastination isn’t a mountain you climb once. Procrastination is that rolling hill you encounter on your regular running route again and again and again. If you’re not careful you can easily slip back into the bad habits you were trying to avoid in the first place.
Thankfully the solution to avoiding such a lapse is rather simple: switch things up.
If you’ve been slogging away in the gym for a while, take your training outside when the weather turns. If you’ve just completed a marathon, don’t hop into another training block. Try yoga or pilates. If your intramural soccer league just ended, get into the gym and work on your strength. Kick that ball a little harder next season.
Novelty is what keeps things fresh and holds procrastination at bay.
3. Avoid crappy people
You’ve heard how important community is in fitness. The right community can energize, motivate and inspire you to great heights. I’ve experienced this over and over for myself, which is why a portion of my training includes a community aspect.
Just as important is avoiding crappy people.
Crappy people bring you down, man. Their negative energy saps you of your positive energy like a black hole traps light. I’d go so far as to say crappy people drain you of your very life force. It’s hard not to procrastinate when crappy people are part of the equation.
There are so many good people in fitness. People that are kind, hard-working, and just as excited for you to succeed as they are for themselves. You may have to work a little harder to find them, but they’re there, like diamonds in the rough.
Seek out these people. Get to know them. Their habits, their goals, their communities.
Someone smart once said, “You are an accumulation of the five people you spend the most time with.”
So spend time with good people.
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