One of the interesting things that I have found is that almost everyone that wants to be successful in whatever they want to achieve wants crunchy tactics that can be used right away. We focus more on a productivity app or a “hack” then changing self from the inside out to become a finisher.
To show you what I mean, here is a powerful quote from a young woman who desperately wants to lose weight, but just cannot get around to do it, and NO her problem is not
“It may be hard to believe… but I really REALLY want to loose weight. I want to so much I cry myself to sleep. But I just can’t seem to make myself exercise. I yell at myself in my head constantly, telling myself to just get off the computer and go exercise. To just work out for 5 minutes, then 10, then 15. But I can’t even make myself do 5.
No one ever believes me. They say if i wanted to lose weight bad then I’D just stop complaining and start exercising. That if I really cared enough to lose weight, I would just do it.
I know How to exercise, that isn’t the problem. The problem is getting motivated to do it. I know I can go to the gym, or go for a walk. I know I can cut out junk food and eat healthier. Again, that isn’t the problem I am having. What I need help with is making myself Do all these thing. Its not what to do but how to get motivated to do it?
So what is wrong with me?”
We’ve all felt this way before, I know I have. I have called myself lazy and unmotivated when I didn’t do what I said I would do. After all, if we really REALLY wanted to do something, we’d just do it, right?
It is very easy to dismiss her problem as lack of desire, knowledge or motivation. But if we analyse her psychology and look a little deeper at her story:
- Desire isn’t her problem. She wants to lose weight more than anything (notice the haunting “cry myself to sleep”)
- Lack of knowledge isn’t her problem. She knows exactly what she needs to do (eat less, exercise more), but she doesn’t do it.
- Even though she thinks motivation is her problem, it is not. She is very motivated both by her desire to get fit and her desire to stop feeling bad about herself (positive and negative motivation!)
And most people are no different. We beat ourselves up about our lack of desire, motivation, or the ability to “figure it out” ALL THE TIME! Yet I believe that none of these are actually the problem. The problem with most inaction is that we become paralyzed with fear, anxiety and stress.
- Fear of failure: “I won’t go to the gym because I’m afraid I won’t follow through, and it would just reinforce my belief that I can’t get anything done”
- Fear of success: “If I start a business, my clients will expect so much from me and my life will become more stressful”
- Fear of judgement: “I cannot go to XYZ networking event, I am not an expert on anything, I will be revealed as a total fraud!”
It’s easier to ignore these fears then to actively battle them and overcome them. For me and I suspect most people: procrastination, inaction and “laziness” are not the core problems. They are merely symptoms of our fear and anxiety.
Since we continually try to treat the symptoms and not the problems we fail time and time again. Overtime failures becoming so habitual that we think there is something deeply wrong with how we are wired: “I’m lazy, I suck, I’m unmotivated”
This is insidiously destructive. “I suck” is just not true. The truth is people who finish things have the exact same fears and anxieties as everyone else. The difference is that they process those emotions in a different way and a starting step is to change your language.
Ramit Sethi, New York Times best selling author and an expert on psychology and persuasion talks about invisible scripts that guide our life like:
- “I really need to get my act together”
- “I know I am smart but I should stop being so lazy”
- “Having more facebook friends means more people like me.“
As such beliefs are deeply embedded to change overnight, Sethi suggests that we can start to gradually reprogram them by simply changing the words we use- our “self talk.”
As standing up straighter makes you feel more confident, (its true!) changing our language can gradually change how we feel about ourselves and our goals. The language we use matters.
Also, if you hate talking about yourself, you are screwed! Here are a few action steps that I found very valuable to change my self concept:
# 1: Think about the last time you struggled to finish something. Maybe you were procrastinating at the end of a big project or maybe you couldn’t force yourself to run for 5 minutes. What self talk do you remember hearing?
Maybe it resembled something like this:
- “I don’t have the discipline to exercise regularly”
- “I am not the kind of person who can start a business”
- “Go talk to her! Don’t be such a wimp”
# 2: For 1 week, try to catch yourself whenever you use such language and then instead of beating yourself up, turn it into something positive.
- Instead of “I’m so lazy…” try “I’m human. Everyone struggles with this.”
- Instead of “I am not the kind of person who….” try “What if I tried to…”
- Instead of “I AM GOING TO FAIL!” try “I will be fine. Even if the worst happens and I do fail, I’ll still be ok.”
Leave a comment below and share your biggest insight about negative self talk! After you examined some of the crippling fears and invisible scripts that hold you back you will find that laziness is not the problem and you don’t need “get motivated” to work towards your goals.