"Starting next Monday, I'll go jogging at 6 a.m. every day and drink a green smoothie afterwards." On Monday, you actually wake up at 8, drink your usual coffee, and go to work. Maybe next Monday would be a good time to start...
"Starting next Monday, I'll go jogging at 6 a.m. every day and drink a green smoothie afterwards."
On Monday, you actually wake up at 8, drink your usual coffee, and go to work. Maybe next Monday would be a good time to start your new healthy lifestyle instead...
If this sounds familiar, don't worry! It's not your fault. Procrastinating when trying to start a new habit is very, very common. In fact, 95% of people procrastinate at least once in their lives (and the other 5% probably lie about it).
Procrastination isn't a sign of weakness or laziness; it's just how the human brain is wired. On the one hand, you know that there's an important task at hand and it must be done. But on the other hand, there's a primal part of your brain that just wants to have fun and do activities that bring instant gratification.
And since building good habits takes time and effort, your more primal "monkey brain" does its best to prevent you from doing it. In other words, you end up procrastinating.
But how do you outwit your own brain and stop putting things off?
Fortunately, there are quite a few tricks and strategies that will help you beat procrastination.
Try the one-minute rule. When starting a new habit, try doing the activity for just one minute. Meditating for a minute or walking for a while in your running shoes is irresistibly easy!
You'll notice that once you actually start an activity, it's much easier to continue. If you've already got your running shoes on, why not take a walk around the block?
1. Be kind to yourself
There's no need to do things perfectly! Just do them. It's okay to miss a workout, eat fast food, or forget to meditate from time to time. Don't be too hard on yourself. Studies show that you don't need 100% consistency to build a habit.
2. Manage your excuses and temptations
If you notice that you can't resist the smell coming from the bakery on your way to work, take a different route so you won't be tempted to eat cupcakes every day. If you keep missing workouts because your knee hurts, opt for joint-friendly exercise instead (e.g. ride a bike instead of jogging). This isn't self-punishment. You're simply removing temptations and excuses that prevent you from building the habits you want to build.
3. Reward yourself
Your brain likes rewards, so be generous to yourself! Promise yourself that you'll watch an episode of your favorite series after your workout… and stick to this promise. Just be careful and try not to reward yourself with junk food, compulsive shopping, or other behaviors that you'd actually like to avoid.