There is no secret to achieving your goals. All you have to do is get started.
“Don't wait, the perfect time will never come. Start with the tools you have at your disposal. Better conditions will arise along the way. It just begins. "
There are dozens of psychological studies, personal growth tricks and applications to beat the postpone, but the truth is that we could summarize it all with a simple word: Start.
Andre, are you taking me by the cube ?! I mean, let me understand: I've been reading yours for years articles on procrastination, I was among the first to buy Start!, your anti-delay guide, and you… you now have the courage to tell me it was all a joke and I should have just… STARTED ?!
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
Leonardo da Vinci, in one of his famous speeches, once said:
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.
Leonardo da Vinci.
Knowing the solution does not mean you have solved the problem.
To achieve that simplicity, naturalness and spontaneity to which Leonardo da Vinci refers, it can also take an entire life of intense practice. Artisans, artists and athletes know this well.
The same principle applies to the fight against procrastination.
Years of social conditioning and intense mental sawing have taken root in our mind automatic behaviors that push us to postpone all those tasks that we consider burdensome and which, coincidentally, are exactly the ones that will allow us to achieve our goals: studying with passion, Go to the gym, start the new diet, work productively, etc.
Even knowing that we should simply start, in fact we find ourselves spending hours between facebook, online news, text messages and so on and so forth.
We tell ourselves we have poor willpower, but the truth is that fighting against our mind, without the right tools, is a vain ambition.
To eradicate procrastination we should rather carry out a process called reverse engineering: we have to take our certainties, our beliefs and our habits, "take them apart" one by one and analyze them in detail. This helps us become aware of why we are behaving the way we do. Later, then, we have to put all the “components” back together to create a new version of ourselves that is more effective and focused on goals.
The articles I write on procrastination and my Start! Guide they want to be a small contribution to this "reverse engineering" process; if in fact it is true that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, in order to simply learn how to start, it is often necessary to acquire entirely new behavioral models.
However, this process doesn't have to be that complicated - there's something you can start doing today, right now (well, after completing the article!).
Why don't we start?
In one of his latest articles ("The Habit of Starting") Leo Babauta elegantly underlined the two reasons so getting started seems so difficult:
- What you are doing right now is enjoyable. Maybe you're browsing the internet or reading your e-mail (I caught you!) And these activities are far more enjoyable (and easier) than what you really should be doing.
- Getting started is too complicated. You don't know where to put your hands, you don't have the right tools or maybe you are simply tired and don't want to struggle.
Do you also find yourself in these 2 causes of procrastination?
Personally I prefer to think that starting is difficult for the same reason that in physical reality it is more difficult to move a stationary object, rather than doing it when it is in motion: this is due to the different values of static friction and dynamic friction. Hence the idea of coining the concept of static procrastination ™ (You! Guru who will resell this concept in a € 10.000 course: remember I have hounds everywhere !!! ;-)
How can we “oil” the floor of our activities to reduce static procrastination, or the difficulty of getting started?
How to get used to starting
Unfortunately, in order to completely eradicate procrastination and finally express our true potential, we need to do a good job on ourselves (a former professional serial procrastinator tells you). However, they exist very practical actions to establish the habit of starting and that you can apply immediately:
- Focus on the little things. Often when we have to start working we are filled with a thousand doubts; it's as if dozens of voices overlap in our mind, each with its own opinion on what we should do: that's what I called ours "mental parliament". To keep the wrong faction from taking over, learn to focus on the little things and the present moment. Forget the "flights of fancy" and fears for the work to be done; focus on one simple action: get started.
- Prepare in advance. When it comes to getting started, any excuse is a good one to put off. Maybe you have to go to the gym and you don't want to pack your bag or maybe you have to start that project and you don't have everything you need (a colleague's answer, that document, authorization, etc.). In these cases, the key is to prepare yourself as much in advance as possible so that you have no excuse when it comes to getting started.
- Leverage extended willpower. We already talked about this in a previous article in terms of public goals, actually extended willpower can be used in other ways as well: use a training / diet partner so that you can control each other; participate in study groups that meet regularly; involve collaborators in your projects with whom you can share goals and deadlines.
- Consolidate the container. The latter technique is especially effective when you're planning on start a new habit. You may have never noticed it, but every habit has a container and a content. The container of habit is the time and place where we make our habit, the content is the actual action that defines our habit. If we want to go for a run every day at 06:00 in the park near our house: running is the content of our habit and 06:00 in the morning and the park are the container. Of course, without the content we will never reap the benefits of our new habit, but in the early stages it is critically important to strengthen the container. This means that it does not matter whether you are motivated or not, tired or fit, happy or depressed: always respect the time and place of your habit, especially in the first days. Did you decide to go for a run in the morning and woke up like shit? Don't worry, you will run / walk for even just 5 minutes, but go out at the time you set and go to the park.
Then? Are you ready to start this week ?!