There are two main reasons why you keep slacking: procrastination requires no effort and getting things done requires a lot of it.
In order to get motivated and tackle what is difficult, you need to learn to love the effort.
Effort is good, effort brings meaning to your day – and this is how it’s done – day-by-day, inch-by-inch, one drop of sweat after another.
Although remaining on your couch might feel good at the moment, after you’ve gotten rid of this nasty habit, you won’t miss it one bit.
Understanding Your Habits
Let’s break these down into two basic ones: the good habits and the bad ones. The only thing that these two have in common is the fact that they have a tendency to stick. The best part of disliking something about the way you’re living your life today is the fact that you’ll definitely be aware of what it is.
The only thing you need to do now is get rid of the bad habit and turn it into a productive, complementary one.
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to change the way your mind works, especially if you’re aiming towards turning your life into the polar opposite of the one you’re living at the moment.
In order to do so, you’ll need something to get you going. If you’re not one for looking at a myriad of motivational videos online and yet want to grab the opportunity to seize the day, fear not, we will guide you through.
Think of this as a spark – a spark which is utterly quintessential in order to start turning your life around. What you absolutely have to be aware of is how insignificant, yet crucial, motivation is.
This contradiction is laid out in the fact that motivation can’t do anything but get those gears moving. So how to bite down that sweet and sour chunk of a game changer? If you’re not one for motivational books, videos and articles, you’ll have to turn inwards – you’ll have to visualize.
Okay, so you are aware that you need to change something – if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this. So close your eyes (no, this is not a metaphor) and imagine a life to strive for. Visualize your perfect self and start analyzing: what does your imaginary (and hopefully future) self have (or lack) in comparison to your current self?
Okay, are you done? You’ve just got yourself a motivator – that which you crave of achieving.
The Establishment of Goals
Remember when we talked about habits? Yes, well, outlining clear goals is what comes before achieving them. It is vital that you take one goal at a time; if you pile up too much of them, you risk spiraling out of control right back into the lazy confines of that cozy couch of yours.
Take a piece of paper (again, not a metaphor) and jot it down. “Lose weight”, or “Get more productive”; that’s all that should be on your list, at least until you’ve tackled that point. Now get yourself a calendar and start crossing out dates. Use your motivation to get you through day one.
This is where the job of motivation ends. You will not go working out due to it, but because of the crossed-out day before. Day three: you will go at it again with even more heart, because of those two X-s before.
See where this is going?
No motivation here, just a matter of things becoming habits.
After a couple of weeks (perhaps even sooner) you will completely forget about why you started changing your daily life – you will do this because you know you have to. Just as being a couch bug was something of a habit to you up until recently, you’ll stop and think, as getting up in the morning and getting things done has become a brand new habit of yours.
You’ll turn into a machine and you’ll love every single moment of it.
Do Hard Things
In order to make progress, you will need to spice things up. In the beginning, you wouldn’t want to over-encumber yourself with too much weight (literally, nor proverbially) – you do not want to see yourself succumb to a challenge by overestimating your current self.
After a while, however, progress will have to enter your world. What was once motivation’s job will be inherited by achievements. A tomorrow better than the day before is quintessential for keeping your spirits up.
Say you’ve gotten in the habit of jogging: you’ve been covering the same distance for a while now, but today – today you feel particularly rested and energized.
You’ve completed the daily routine and you’re at a place where you usually dial down the tempo, until you’ve reached walking speed. But today, you could do more. In fact, today is the day you will do more – not a lot, mind you, just an extra mile or so.
So you go on and do it, an extra mile with sugar on top. Congratulations, you’ve reached your new milestone!
But the next day, you go out on the track again, and what do you know – your old milestone is no longer there – you are feeling exhausted and in need of stopping, but you push through tears, sweat and pain and you’re once again at the place you stopped yesterday.
A couple of days go by and your old milestone has become a distant memory, while everything revolves around the new one, that extra mile further down the track – until you’re feeling energized enough to get to the next one, that is.
This philosophy, while best described by means of jogging, can be applied to most aspects of life – with or without regards to sports and physical activity. It is the difficult that drives us.
Change things up
Of course, human beings get bored way too easily.
This is the reason why it is of grave importance to keep in mind that, while habit and routine are words that do collocate, they are not at all synonymous. Habit is something that drives us to do things, without questioning it.
Routine, however, is something that has a short lifetime and tends to get boring and depressing.
This is why it’s crucial to mix and change things up every now and then. If you’re looking to work on your life as a professional by doing extra work at home, getting it all done in the mornings will become tedious at a certain point.
Okay, so do the extra work after you’re home from work. If you feel that the habit of jogging is becoming a pushover for you, change directions, tracks, or opt for sprinting every once in a while – not only can changes in exercises work for your body and musculature, but a new, fun thing to do might do wonders for you.
Changing things up will replenish your need to come back to what you’ve gotten in the habit of doing in the first place.
Maximize the Nutritional Value of your Food
No matter what your goals are, eating quality, nutritional and healthy food should be at the very top of your list.
Even if you are completely satisfied with the way you physically feel and look, chances are that you are the subject of a bad diet (it’s simply the way of the modern world).
Even if you’re eating the healthiest of foods, cutting down on your cravings, while saving up on your budget, you are probably less healthy than you think you are. First and foremost, kicking junk food goes without saying. In order to make sure you stay healthy, you should start buying fresh, organic food.
Unprocessed, whole foods are ideal for both your physical, as well as your mental state. Next, always opt for cooking your food.
Frying it brings gallons of unnecessary, harmful fats to the table, which makes food more difficult to digest and poisons your body, as well as your mind.
Think about steaming it and look for many other available healthy alternatives online, such as carb cycling and cooking with as little water as possible. A healthy body provides a healthy mind – you are what you eat (at the risk of sounding like a cliché).
Everyone’s got a mindset of their own, encumbered by their own problems, reasons and difficulties that they will or will not want to share with you. Being a know-it-all, thinking you’d do things better than your peers has never helped anyone (and it won’t help you).
Start off by working on yourself and thus, completely unaware of it, setting an example for the rest to look up to and get things done.
Never gloat and never judge. In fact, don’t even judge and criticize your own self. Instead, get up from that couch and start getting things done – cherish the little victories and try your best to keep doing what you’re doing good.
There is no place for critique and judgement, only habits and motivation.
Waking up from a dream state of procrastination is difficult, but it is such for a reason – if it were easy, the whole world would stop making sense.
So quit moaning, meditate yourself into motivation, develop good habits and a nutritious diet, aim for progress, spice things up and be magnanimous – lofty and kinglike!
Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life. Follow him on Twitter