Tagged: Motivation

Motivation vs. Procrastination

Many years ago I addressed a common culprit that keeps people from achieving their fitness and/or life goals – procrastination (see Finding Motivation)! I felt it timely to remind everyone once again that while motivation is what’s needed to propel you into effective action for changing your body or life, procrastination, if you’re prone to it, can be the cog in the wheel every time.

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Motivation: something that provides a reason for a person to act a certain way.

Procrastination: the act or habit of putting off or delaying.

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Depending upon your personality, you might not need profound motivation to achieve your goals and aspirations. Simply the desire to be or have what you seek is enough to drive you from step A to Z. Whether it’s weight loss, a change of career or home, or the ending of a dysfunctional relationship, some of us can stand up, make plans, take action, and manifest a change.

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However, if you are a procrastinator, making changes to your body or life can be difficult, if not painful. Planning may not be the problem, you may easily cogitate on ideas and pros and cons lists all day long, but if you maintain a state of reluctance to actually take action (i.e., procrastination), then changes never occur.

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Even if it there’s urgent motivation (your health, your finances, the needs of your family), to a procrastinator, obvious needs are often not strong enough to overcome a lifetime of chronic deferment. So how do find the right motivation to get off your butt and take serious action?

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Start by facing your fears. More often than not it’s fear that keeps you from action, rather than laziness. Cut to the core of the problem, and you can see the path to resolution. Fears generally boil down to one of these four types:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of pain
  • Fear of the unknown

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Once you name the fear that’s holding you back, then acknowledge what limits that fear truly contains (i.e., will it kill you or will it simply be difficult). Next, pick the hardest step first. We all tend to number our steps starting with easy (baby steps), progressing to the big and more scary steps. Reverse this. Tackle that which seems like it will take the most of your energy right off the bat. It’s all down hill from there (in a good way).

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Now keep your steps simple and brief. The longer things take the more likely you’ll loose motivation. Keep intermediary goals to something achievable in a short period of time (a few days or a week). Once you have several successes under your belt, you’re more likely to continue plodding towards your main goal.

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Lastly, seek support. Find family, friends, or co-workers who understand the cycle of procrastination. You may think having a go-getter in your corner will keep you accountable and focused, but for a habitual procrastinator a “cheerleader” is often a deterrent. But if you can find an ally who, like you, moves slowly and over-analyzes everything, you might find that while they’re stuck in their situation, they are great and helping you get unstuck. Then you can repay the favor when they see your achievements and get re-motivated to shake up their lives.

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In the end, remember that procrastination is a choice. If something in your life isn’t changing and you’re unhappy about that – make a new choice!

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No Resolutions

A few years back I created this post and it seems like a good time to remind you all to embrace the new year, and renew your motivation to change or meet goals you want to achieve. Set yourself up in a positive way and perhaps this time, you’ll accomplish more than any year prior!

Every year thousands of us make New Year’s resolutions that 99% of us break or don’t complete. Most prevalent are goals to lose weight and get in shape. But just like the chronic cigarette smoker who knows that smoking is bad but can’t stop because they’re addicted, losing weight and getting into shape needs more motivation than just your brain saying (along with everyone around you) that you need to do this to be healthy.

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When you’re in the thick of it, the last thing you want to do is stop doing something that seemingly makes you feel better (i.e., smoking, eating that pint of ice cream, drinking that bottle of beer). Even though you know that these choices are not in your body’s best interest, your brain is used to these comforts to deal with life’s stresses.

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This is why we fail at new years resolutions. They’re made because it’s traditional to make them not because we have complete conviction behind the need to change. So, while the concept of a resolution is good – setting goals and starting them on a pivotal date – there is clearly not enough motivation placed on these goals to sustain our focus, and motivation is key!

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So how then do you get and sustain true motivation? That, my friends, comes from within, when you are truly ready to acknowledge how unhappy you feel in the physical condition you’re in. It’s not about needing to get healthier for someone else; it’s not about wanting to feel sexier or more attractive; it’s not about wearing a different clothing size. It’s about YOU wanting to be different. YOU wanting to end the depression that follows you around because you feel unattractive or don’t have the energy to keep up with your kids or friends.

If personal changes are important enough to you, nothing will stop you.

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Once you want the change for reasons so strong that nothing can deter you, then it instantly becomes a goal you can achieve. You don’t need a date on the calendar to get your started. You don’t need an extreme diet. You don’t even need a personal trainer (did I just say that?!). All you need to keep your desire for change always in the forefront of your brain. What do you stand to gain by this change. Don’t focus on what you’ll lose (energy, clothes, life) – focus on what you’ll gain. Gaining something is actually a stronger motivator than losing something.

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So enjoy the holidays and your New Year’s celebration, but skip the resolutions. Instead contemplate what you want to gain and how badly you want it. Then go get it!

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(And of course, if you DO want a trainer, or a tailor-made workout routine created by a professional trainer, give me shout. I’m here to cheer you on and help you stay focused!)

Why Am I Still Fat?

In the last couple of weeks, at least three people (ranging from acquaintances to friends) have shared their frustrations with me about still “being fat” despite strictness of diets and/or hours of cardio and resistance-based workouts, wearing Fitbits, parking further away, taking the stairs, etc.

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I too would be frustrated if I was that diligent with my nutrition and exercise and didn’t see a difference.  But (no pun intended) what I know that they do not is that there’s no one-size-fits-all formula to successful reduction of body fat. Further, there’s more to it in many cases than just restricting and/or burning more calories. One must factor in emotional stress, sleep-deprivation, physical stress, illnesses, food allergies (that you may not be aware of), thyroid malfunctions, etc. etc. etc.

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A more important concept to me is that our society on the whole needs to look at fat differently. The World, and especially America, considers FAT unattractive. However, a huge majority of our population is visually fat and many have successful careers, happy marriages, are physically active, and live long lives despite their physical condition so what does that tell us?

Fat in foods is still widely misunderstood by most people – if avocado and peanut butter is okay, what’s wrong with butter and cheese? Sugar is still not really acknowledged as being one of the largest culprits in epidemic obesity, yet it is. Carbs are considered evil, yet I challenge you to get through a workout without them.

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Internally, there are obese people who do not have high blood pressure or diabetes. Conversely there are “skinny” people who have dangerously high cholesterol or digestive issues that cause them to not absorb essential vitamins and minerals from their nutrition.

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So in answer to everyone who has ever lamented why am I still fat I say look at your life as a whole entity, one in which every nuance plays a part in your physical health and body composition. There are so many negative “life” aspects that can affect your body:

  • High stress levels at work
  • Emotional stress at home
  • Illnesses, injuries, digestive or auto-immune disorders, cancer
  • Lack of sleep
  • Eating too fast
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Over-exercising (yes that’s a thing)
  • Not exercising enough or effectively
  • Eating out too much
  • Yo-yo dieting
  • Worries about money

and the list goes on!  Take stock of what’s going on in your life that might truly be sabotaging your efforts to be healthy inside and out. Then try to improve as many of these aspects as you can, or at least improve your perspective.

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What ultimately should be your focus is: (1) are you able to do what you want physically (strength and endurance)? and (2) are you surrounded by people who love you and find you beautiful from the inside out? If the answer to both is yes, then who gives a hoot about the fat?! If they’re no, then work on fixing that (i.e., focus on building strength and endurance, not fat loss, and surround yourself with more appreciative and quality people).

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In the end you’ll either successfully reduce your fat levels because your life isn’t fighting you on that goal, or at least you’ll realize that you’re healthy and happy so who cares about the rest.

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Are you giving up already?

Six weeks into the new year and I see many people/clients who were energized and committed to getting into shape (i.e., losing body fat and making healthier nutritional choices) already giving up. My standard motto is “you can lead a horse to water, you can’t make them drink.” This is highly applicable to those of you who are not fully resolved to the goal of taking healthier care of your body. No matter how many routines I create for you, no matter whether you follow one of my meal plans, or join Jenny Craig, if you are not absolutely committed to changing your body inside and out, then you have probably given up already – or are close to it.

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With that said, I hope to offer a little in-your-face re-motivation, and get you, or keep you, back on track. So let’s look at the WHY of your decision to get into shape. Did you decide to “diet and exercise” because you wanted to fit into a smaller size of clothes? Were you tired of having less stamina and energy? Was your health at risk according to doctors? Or were you simply being nagged by worried family and friends? I can tell you now that all of those reasons are not enough.

If I told you that you had one month to live unless you did 50 jumping jacks every morning and never ate another french fry again would you do it? Probably. That seems do-able, right?

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But if you could stave off death by spending 30 minutes three times a week at a gym and eating healthy small portions six times a day for five days a week (eating and drinking your favorite foods for the other two) would that be too much of a change to your lifestyle to commit too? The answer appears to be yes for many of you.

It all comes down to how badly you want it. Obviously none of you reading this are facing imminent death (presumably) so again the stakes seem less tangible – more immortal if you will. But I assure you, they’re not. If you have body fat levels of 30% or more you are in serious risk of heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and a significantly reduced life span. But like many humans, unless death is knocking blatantly on our door, we don’t consider the future when it comes to caring for our bodies.

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So if you’ve given up your 2015 quest for health, I implore you to dig a little deeper, make the stakes more urgent and personal, get up off that chair and just DO IT. Same goes for those of you who are starting to slack off on your motivation and giving your goals less importance.

As the quote goes from one of my favorite movies (Galaxy Quest) “never give up, never surrender!” The journey from fat to fit is tough but the end result is so worth it – and if you stick with it, you might just thank me when you’re 80!

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Stuck In A Rut?

Wake up call people — it’s already February of 2015. Raise your hand if your commitment to getting in shape that was so passionately fueled last month, has slowed it’s momentum or worse, stopped completely.  Now let’s see a show of hands of those who just never got their mojo ramped up enough to even get off the couch yet this year – the fact being that you are stuck in a rut.

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This is unfortunately all too common with 85% of the over-weight population in America. The task of shedding fat when you clearly don’t already enjoy exercise can seem very daunting. Combine that with poor nutrition, and the depressing momentum of increased weight with decreased energy and stamina and you will be STUCK in a cycle of immobility and negative thoughts.

So how do you get un-stuck? There’s no one-size fits all answer to this, but there are choices. Some are slow and steady, some are more aggressive.  It’s all about what kind of person you are, and how important your life and health are to you. The key here is motivation. I’ve written many times in this blog about tricks to getting and staying motivated. I won’t reiterate them here – surf this blog and read them for yourself. But know this, if you don’t really want to see/feel a change in your body and internal health, then you will stay in your rut and I suggest you just find a way to be happy there (yes my sarcasm is showing).  Below I list several options for starting your journey to health and fitness, beginning with the easiest and progressing to more aggressive choices.

Stand up! Right now!

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Set a phone or watch timer and every 30 minutes stand up and move. Walk some stairs, do some stretches, march in place, whatever low impact activity you can muster, but do it for 4 minutes. You do this 6-10 times a day and the changes to your body, stamina and mood will surprise you. Then progress to more energetic activities like jumping jacks, desk or wall push ups, air squats, etc.

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Take a walk.

No need to run – running is best for the young or non-obese. But walking – fast walking – preferably with a hill or two will get your heart in to the fat burning zone, tone your lower extremities and elevate your mood significantly. Start with a half mile, progress up to 3 miles. Bring music or a friend – use a smart phone app that spews out motivational reminders — whatever helps you stay on task. (A half mile will take you 10 minutes on average.)

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Do NOT diet or buy a new exercise DVD.

These options are too easy to quit, and too temporary. Instead, buy a cookbook of low calorie, easy to make meals and spend some time on your feet cooking. Join a gym and commit to 3 times a week doing something different each time – for only 30 minutes. This keeps your time commitment manageable, your boredom level low, and the constant changing up of what you do there will keep your body from plateauing thereby making results continue which perpetuate motivation for you to continue.

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Make a contract.

Get a workout buddy and sign a contract with each other to keep each other on task and accountable. Take turns designing the workouts – keep them fresh and ever changing. Let your egos take over as you try to one-up each other – while still not over-doing it however. (Injuries are the best way to get back in a rut!)

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Set a aggressive fitness goal.

Pick a 5k, 10k, half marathon to train for. Hire a trainer and set a body fat % goal. Join a rock climbing gym, pole dancing or salsa class. After a few months you should have achieved your goal and be ready to maintain your new health levels or set another goal.

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"Beginner's Pole Fitness class at ESTEEM Fitness."  (photo by Nicole Barrett)

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The key with all of these is to make shorter-term goals that are achievable and then progress incrementally. Whether it’s six months or one, you WILL get out of your rut. Once again I stress that you have to really want this! Take stock of your life and how different (better) it could be if you were physically in better shape. If that is something you want, follow these steps and you will achieve it.

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Dear Ariana

Today I thought I would do a little “Dear Abby” and share some of the emails I have received lately. I choose three, which represent the most common questions I am asked:

“I’ve been eating very healthy and working out for about six months now, but a lot of my friends and family say I workout too much and eat too crazy. How do you know if you’re doing too much? How much time should I devote to my workouts, and can I ever treat myself to junk food?

      ~Melissa F.

If you’ve followed my blog and Facebook pages, you know my motto is everything in moderation. Unless you’re training for a sports-specific goal, the average amount of time spent on your fitness goals should be no more than 30-60 minutes a day, with at least one day off every five days (ideally working out only five times a week). As for your nutrition, depriving yourself of something you love will only end up in you over-indulging on that very thing. I still enjoy wine and chocolate on a regular, but limited basis. Get your cake and eat it too, but only sporadically.tumblr_mc1uz9cgtJ1r6u05ro1_500

“It seems no matter what I do, how few calories I consume, and how much cardio I do, I can’t seem to lose the weight. I’ve had my thyroid checked, I’ve stopped eating gluten, sugar, and most carbs, but I still have tummy and thigh fat that won’t come off. I’m very frustrated!”

     ~Stephanie S.

This is the most common complaint I hear from my clients, and all aspects of my answer have already been stated in one article or another in this blog. So forgive me being repetitious but clearly it needs to be restated: successfully getting your body in shape, i.e., lowering your body fat, is not about excessive cardio, restricting and counting calories, or participating in fad diets or exercise regiments. Success comes from consistent, yet always challenging workout routines performed effectively (e.g., good form and correct pace) combined with eating enough of the correct type of calories (which does include carbs and healthy fats), getting enough rest, and managing your stress. If any one of these elements are not in place, you will not succeed. Lastly, I must remind you all again, that there is no way to “spot reduce” body fat. Just like you didn’t control where the fat deposited, you cannot control what body part reduces it first. You can only control your percentage of over-all body fat and the tone of ALL of your muscles!

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“In the last year I have alternated my workouts between P90X, Insanity, Cross Fit, Zumba, and Tabata. I feel bored and unenthusiastic and am finding it harder and harder to get the energy to workout. What can I do, what’s left?”

     ~Debbi, T.

I find that motivation is best renewed by successes. Therefore, I always recommend to my clients that they set small attainable goals and keep their focus on those goals. Then variety is less important than the challenge of the goal. For example, if you set a goal of being able to perform 25 burpees non-stop, and 20 plyo-box jumps at 24″ height – it may take you one week, it may take two months, but your focus will remain on something outside of your body’s shape.

Your workouts will consist of various exercises all geared to increase your stamina, agility, and core strength. Your enthusiasm will maintain throughout the goal period because each day/week you’ll get a little closer to success. Imagine how “fueled” your enthusiasm would be if you discovered after barely being able to complete five burpees, you could now do 10 or 15, on your way to your goal of 25.  At the end of one year where you’ve continued to achieve your goals, not only will your body be in tip-top shape, but your enthusiasm will anot have waned, and your motivation will keep you always moving forward.

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If any of these questions resonate with you, I  hope my answers offer some helpful guidance.  If you wish to ask me for any other advice, please feel free to contact me.  Ariana@danelifefitness.com  Now go workout!

Skip The New Year’s Resolutions.

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Every year thousands of us make New Year’s resolutions that 99% of us break or don’t complete. Most prevalent are goals to lose weight and get in shape.  But just like the chronic cigarette smoker who knows that smoking is bad but can’t stop because they’re addicted, losing weight and getting into shape needs more motivation than just your brain saying (along with everyone around you) that you need to do this to be healthy.

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When you’re in the thick of it (no pun intended) the last thing you want to do is stop doing something that seemingly makes you feel better (i.e., smoking, eating that pint of ice cream, drinking that bottle of wine).  Even though you know that these choices are not in your body’s best interest, your brain is used to these comforts to deal with life’s stresses.  This is why we fail at new years resolutions.  They’re made because it’s traditional to make them not because we have complete conviction behind the need to change. So, while the concept of a resolution is good – setting goals and starting them on a pivotal date – there is clearly not enough motivation placed on these goals to sustain our focus, and motivation is key!

So how then do you get and sustain true motivation?  That, my motivationfriends, comes from within, when you are truly ready to acknowledge how unhappy you feel in the physical condition you’re in.  It’s not about needing to get healthier for someone else; it’s not about wanting to feel sexier or more attractive; it’s not about wearing a different clothing size.  It’s about YOU wanting to be different.  YOU wanting to end the depression that follows you around because you feel unattractive or don’t have the energy to keep up with your kids or friends.

 

If whatever is to be gained by you changing is important enough to you, nothing will stop you.

Once you want the change for reasons so strong that nothing can deter you, then it instantly becomes a goal you can achieve.  You don’t need a date on the calendar to get you started.  You don’t need an extreme diet.  You don’t even need a personal trainer (did I just say that?!).  All you need to keep your desire for change always in the forefront of your brain.  What do you stand to gain by this change? How badly do you want it?

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Don’t focus on what you’ll lose, it’s too easy to say “well I don’t have that now anyway.”  Focus instead on what you’ll gain.  Gaining something is actually a stronger motivator than losing something. Take gambling for instance, we bet on what will win, not what will lose.  Focus on what you’ll win, and then remind yourself that any progress towards this goal leaves you in a better place than if you’d done nothing.  This wonderful quote by Winston Churchill sums it all up:

SUCCESS IS NOT FINAL.  FAILURE IS NOT FATAL.  IT’S THE COURAGE TO CONTINUE THAT COUNTS

So enjoy the holidays and your New Year’s celebration, but skip the resolutions.  Instead contemplate what you want to gain and how badly you want it, then go get it! (And of course, if you DO want a trainer, or a tailor-made workout routine created by a professional trainer, give me shout. I’m here to cheer you on and help you stay focused!)

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Finding Motivation: The Procrastinator’s Curse

In April of this year I posted to this blog What’s Stopping You (https://lifefitnessbydane.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/whats-stopping-you/) where I addressed many of the reasons that people do not achieve their dreams and goals, with the biggest culprit to non-achievement being procrastination.  Since that published that post, I have received many comments either defending or attacking procrastination as either a valid stumbling block or an overused excuse.  Mostly, I have been asked to offer a bit more help to those stuck in the vortex of I’ll do it tomorrow.  So here is my reponse:

     Motivation: something that provides a reason for a person to act a certain way.

Procrastination: the act or habit of putting off or delaying.

motivDepending upon your personality, you might not need profound motivation to achieve your goals and aspirations. Simply the desire to be or have what you seek is enough to drive you from step A to Z. Whether it’s weight loss, a change of career or home, or the ending of a dysfunctional relationship, some of us can stand up, make plans (or not), and manifest a change.

However, if you are a procrastinator, making changes to your body or life can be difficult, if not painful. Planning may not be the problem, you may easily cogitate on ideas and pros and cons lists all day long, but if you maintain a state of reluctance to actually take action (i.e., procrastination), then changes never occur.  Even if it there’s urgent motivation (your health, your finances, the needs of your family), to a procrastinator, obvious needs are often not strong enough to overcome a lifetime of chronic deferment.

So how do find the right motivation to get off your bum and into action?motiv5

Start by facing your fears. More often than not it’s fear that keeps you from action, rather than laziness. Cut to the core of the problem. Fears boil down to one of these four: Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of pain, or fear of the unknown.  Once you name the fear, then acknowledge what limits these fears truly contain (i.e., it will be difficult, but it won’t kill you).

Next, pick the hardest task first. We all tend to number our steps starting with easy (baby steps), progressing to the big and more scary steps.  Reverse this. Tackle that which seems like it will take the most of your energy right off the bat.  It’s all down hill from there (in a good way).

motiv1Now keep your steps simple and brief.  The longer things take the more likely you’ll loose motivation. Keep intermediary goals to something achievable in a short period of time (a few days or a week). Once you have several successes under your belt, you’re more likely to continue plodding towards your main goal.

Lastly, seek support.  Find family, friends, or co-workers who understand the cycle of procrastination. You may think having a go-getter in your corner will keep you accountable and focused.  For a habitual procrastinator a cheerleader is often a deterrent. But if you can find an ally who, like you, moves slowly and over-analyzes everything, you might find that while they’re stuck in their situation, they are great and helping you get unstuck. Then you can repay the favor.

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In the end, remember that procrastination is a choice.  If something in your life isn’t changing and you’re unhappy about that – make a new choice!

WHAT’S STOPPING YOU?

procrast1How many times a day do you put off doing something that you really want or need to do?  A chore, a desired goal, an important conversation, or even something to enhance your life like exercising or reading a book?  How many of those “somethings” can you look back and see trailing behind you like a ball and chain?

Yet still you put them off, procrastinating your life away.  There is always a good excuse why we don’t take care of business right then and there.  You are tired, you haven’t the necessary enthusiasm or focus, too many other things still need to be done, or simply that the moment’s not right.  You want to start on a Monday, or a new month, or even a new year.

But the longer we put something off, the more daunting it appears.  Even though we know there’s no time like the present, still we take no action.  Instead we stress over these neglected tasks/goals, allowing them to weigh us down.  We make lists and more lists, hoping that written organization will help lighten the load.  That’s a good start, but we drop the ball on taking action from these lists.

procrast2It comes down to this:  what’s stopping you?  Procrastination!  The dictionary definition is: to defer action; delay; to put off doing something, especially out of laziness…to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost.  Why do we procrastinate?  Because it’s easier.  Taking action is scary, and more importantly, it’s hard when you are already spent to exhaustion.

Many clients have sought my help in teaching them how to end the vicious circle of desire vs. time vs. drive vs. knowledge.  In other words, they have a desire or need, but feel so inundated with obligations they have no perceived time in which to tackle the new desire/need.  If time is not an issue, then they have no motivation (drive) with which to handle the task.  Lastly, they cite lack of knowledge as a stumbling block.  How, where, when to begin?

While there are a lot of ways/tools that I can teach you to become a proactive “do-er”, here are a few quick tips to help you overcome procrastination:

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1. Organize:  Create two lists of all tasks/goals.  Designate which are NEEDS and which are WANTS.  Make sure that your goals are realistic and achievable.

2. Prioritize:  Now create one prioritized list of your needs and wants.  It is good to have wants interspersed with needs so that your time and energy is not exclusively spent on needs.  We tend to feel a better sense of accomplishment when we take care of want to’s along with must do’s.

3. Start Fresh: Clean up your environment.  Piles of papers, or disorganized drawers, cupboards and closets, should be your first line of attack.  Sort the piles, throwing out everything truly unnecessary.  Place the remaining into neat labeled piles (i.e., filing, receipts, projects, etc.).  Organize rooms, desks, cabinets, closets – one at a time until your space is in order.  It may seem overwhelming, but just grab a trash bag and start the process.  If you organize just one room or space a day (a single drawer counts too), then before you know it your house is in order.  This alone will go far in keeping you motivated for more aggressive goals.

4. Start Small:  Tackle each task one at a time.  As you get better at prioritizing and time management, then you will be able to multitask and handle more than one goal at a time.  If any particular goal is multi-layered, break it down into manageable chunks.  It is always better to have a week of mini successes rather than forging ahead towards one big achievement months down the line.procrast4

5. Stay Positive: Focus on what you accomplish rather than what you do not achieve.  Remember, the cup is half full, not half empty!  Crossing items off your list is a visual confirmation of successes.

6. Just do it: To quote Nike – JUST DO IT.  Get up, take a step, and do what your brain and body is fighting against.  Pick up the phone, grab that book, clean out your closet, go to the gym – whatever it is, just one foot in front of the other and do not accept a NO from your brain.

Please understand that resisting procrastination does not mean you must constantly be in action.  It’s important to take time to relax and rejuvenate.  But ultimately, nothing elevates your mood more achievement and completion.  The opposite of procrastination is urgency.  Urgency motivates us to achieve.  So if you need rallying, just reclassify that need or want as urgent, and ask yourself what’s stopping you?

Change is Good

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Change is scary.  Change is inevitable.  Change is good – when we make it happen.  Nothing ever stays the same.  Change is a fact of life that starts the minute we’re born. The question is, do we fight it, do we become victim to it, or do we grow and learn?  There are three basic types of life changes that we deal with at any given time.

Change that is thrust upon us;

Change that happens around us which we then evolve with; and

Changes that we actively create or pursue.

It is this third type that I wish to address.   Changes that we make happen.

Creating a major life change is simultaneously the most intimidating and rewarding experience.  To dream of a goal, set on out the daunting path towards it, and then, often against many odds, achieve it – there’s nothing more satisfying.  Unfortunately, more often than not, nothing comes of those dreams.  Why?  In a word, fear: fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of rejection.  Those fears manifest in excuses such as not enough time, not enough money, or lack of confidence.

As a Mom there’s an even bigger reason why you have not achieved certain dreams and goals.  There’s already too much on your plate!  Between caring for the kids, possibly working an additional full or part-time job (the kids are already a full time job), cooking, cleaning, running errands – Mom’s needs always come last.

But no matter how packed your world of responsibilities is, you must make time for yourself.  Not only because you deserve it, but because actions speak louder than words.  Showing your children that Mom’s time and needs are just as valuable as theirs, teaches them to do likewise when they are parents. (I’m not saying that it should become “all about you,” I’m simply advocating the personal growth and health of every individual in the household.)

Now, while you may know you need to make a change, you may not know what to change, or how to change.  The what and how are easier than you might think.  It starts with defining the what and then detailing the stops of the how.  Then all you have to do is take baby steps of action!

1.   Write down your top three goals or dreams.  Don’t judge them, or label them impossible.  Just word them simply, make sure they are a true goal you have passion for.  Be sure to always state them with a positive outcome (i.e., I want to run my own business instead of I want to stop working for someone else, or I want to run a 10k race instead of I wish I had more time to exercise).

2.   Now focus on one goal at a time.  Choose the one you feel is the easiest achieve at this time, or the one that you currently have the most passion for.  Then list the pros and cons of that goal.  The obstacles in your way are the cons, and the enrichments/rewards to you and your life are the pros.

3.   Next, place the pros list in a prominent location where you can see it on a daily basis when you need motivation.  Visualize these stated “rewards” happening to you.  Visualization is a powerful tool toward achievement, don’t underestimate it!

4.   Finally, take the cons list and tackle one obstacle at a time.  Baby steps. One obstacle, fear, or uncertainty, at a time.  Just commit to that one little change until it’s no longer in your way.  Then move on to the next.  Might take a few days, or months.  But it’s movement vs. stagnation, and it’s a positive approach to being in charge of your destiny.

Whether your goals are weight loss, improved relationships, or a change of job or career, attainment is within your grasp.  There is no failure in the attempt.  Failure is only in lack of trying.

If one thing that holds you back is money (or lack thereof), at the risk of sounding trite: where there’s a will there’s a way.  Being cash poor is not an acceptable excuse to keep you from your dreams.  Goals definitely take longer to accomplish without money, but it can be done.  Just look at millionaires like Oprah Winfrey or J.K. Rowling (author Harry Potter) who all started with nary a penny.

Lastly, to all you Moms out there, be sure to involve your family in this.  If your children and spouse understand your motivation behind this desired change, and see your conviction and passion, they will support you whole-heartedly.  Family and friends will rally to your corner if you just reach out and communicate.

If you need more specific help, find a mentor.  Someone who’s been there and done that.  Or take a class at the local rec center or community college.  Educate yourself.  One class in your goal subject can do a lot towards boosting self-confidence and progressing you down that list of cons.

Do not be intimidated.  This is your life, and it is yours to change.  Just one step at a time.  Make plans, set goals, take action.  Remember, change is inevitable.  Change is scary.  But change – that we make happen – is good!