Pretty much all of us are very familiar with procrastinating with our work … but actually procrastination is a problem that goes way beyond work tasks.
If you’ve put off your Get Active habit at all this month, or if you’ve ever put off exercise in the past, that’s procrastination.
If you’ve put off cleaning your house, putting things away, filling out tax forms, sorting through your mail, paying your bills, cooking the healthy meal you were planning on making, meditating … these are all procrastination.
And so we see that a lot of our habit problems are really procrastination problems. And procrastination, it turns out, is a fear problem.
Procrastination is usually one of two fears: fear of failure (you’re worried you’ll mess up) and fear of discomfort (i.e. you fear doing the really hard tasks).
When we put off the Get Active, we are procrastinating, usually because of fear of discomfort. It’s hard, and we’d rather do the easier thing (TV or Internet, usually).
So this is how the typical exercise procrastination problem goes:
- We intend to exercise, but we see the exercise as hard.
- So without thinking, we put it off. This is procrastination.
- At its root, this procrastination is a fear of discomfort.
- At the root of this fear is an ideal we have (wanting to be comfortable) and we fear not getting that ideal. This ideal is not based on reality, just a desire. A fantasy.
- This ideal stems from wanting to control life, which is uncontrollable.
And so the solution is not to control the uncontrollable, but to embrace reality. Which is wonderful and real, but can also be uncomfortable. We can get good at being uncomfortable, with practice.
We can also appreciate many things about the present moment, even when we’re uncomfortable. We can appreciate our bodies, our ability to move, the feeling of exertion, our surroundings, and more. This uncomfortable moment is actually pretty awesome, if we pay attention and learn to appreciate it.
So what can we do about this procrastination problem? Here’s one method to try this week:
- Recognize when you’re procrastinating with exercise. See the resistance in your mind, see your mind wanting to run to something easier.
- Recognize that you’re afraid of the hard exercise, afraid of the discomfort.
- Recognize that you have an ideal, of being comfortable and doing easier things.
- Recognize that this ideal is an attempt to control things, but a futile one (for example, sitting and not exercising leads to bad health, bad productivity, bad feelings, all of which are ironically uncomfortable).
- Recognize that this ideal and this fear are hurting you. Decide that you want to change the pattern to something less damaging.
- Instead, be open to the present moment. Be open to discomfort. Learn to be OK with it. Learn to appreciate the present moment in all its glory, even when you’re uncomfortable.
- And embrace the exercise â€” or getting active â€” instead of running from it. Embrace its wonderfulness, discomfort and all, and above all embrace it as an opportunity to practice your new skill of not running from the difficult.