Turning Procrastination Into Motivation

We can all struggle with procrastination.

So what’s the answer?

Well the short answer is we’ve got to turn procrastination into motivation.

(RELATED: http://theglobalsuccessacademy.com/all-the-inspiration-youll-ever-need-to-get-motivated/)

But in reality there’s a fair bit involved in making that switch.

And here’s what happens.

Let’s say you’re on a holiday break – that’s when we tend to get a little bit excited about what we should be aiming at. The break takes the pressure off us a little bit and we start thinking, you know I really ought to do something about more me time / being a better parent / actually losing the five kilos that I’ve been saying I’m going to lose for the last five years – that kind of stuff.

The problem is we’re looking at everything we should be doing and we are kind of ignoring that everything that we should be doing is probably more than your average human being can fit into a normal time period.

So we start to make a big list.

The problem with that is not the list itself. You would know that I’m a big fan of setting goals, but there’s a lot that’s got to work in behind those goals.

The first thing we’re need to do is understand that we are likely to overload ourselves. We set the goals: I’m going to lose that five kilos. I’m going to make that extra money, I’m going to get this thing going etc.

But what we fail to do then is go to the next step.

What we don’t do is say ‘what’s it going to take’?

In other words, what’s the action plan that’s going to get me there?

If it’s lose the five kilos, then what is the diet and exercise programme that is going bring that five kilo loss? (because whilst mindset is a great thing and it’s very important as far weight loss is concerned, it’s not the only component in a weight loss programme).

The other thing that we don’t do is put anything in place in terms of milestones and accountability systems that keep us on track.

We tend to have a goal more as a hope (or a wish) than a system that we’re going to follow. What should follow from a goal or target is a system of how are you going to do that.

We need to break the goal down into small, achievable steps along the way.

Instead we get launched and then start to run into barriers.

And what happens is by the time you’re on the diet for three or four weeks (or three or four days) is we hit the barriers. That might be, if you go on a diet, you get hungry, or that you get a headache (if you’ve gone off sugar, then you are definitely going to get a headache).

Generally speaking, the things that we plan to do involve us changing our behaviour. Doing what we call being ‘good’.

But there quickly comes a time that we want a treat as a breakout from the denial that is inherent in being good (because being good sounds like not much fun). I’m not going out, I’m not drinking and the chances are after a week or two, I’m going to be feeling like I’ve been ‘good’ for a long time and there’s a sense of denial. The sense that I’m missing out. That I’m missing out on fun. That I can’t go and have a beer with my mates because I said I was going to do this.

So I start looking for a treat and if it’s not going to be alcohol, then it might be that I’ll have a breakout food-wise, or that I’ll have a day off and do nothing, or whatever it is.

Most personal change involves a sense of denial and that makes us vulnerable to the treat that’s going to make us feel good. The ice cream suddenly becomes much more attractive.

And then we use treats to recover from treats.

Alcohol is a classic example, but there are really many other things that fit in this category. What happens if I feel like I’m missing out? I’m going to go, ‘All right I will never get to the end of February without a drink so one day won’t matter’. Then that night I don’t sleep as well. I don’t wake up as well and so because I’m tired the next day, come 4, or 5, or 6 o’clock in the evening, you know what, another drink would help.

Sure enough, (I’ve noticed this with alcohol, and certainly I’ve noticed the same thing with sugar), the recovery from the effects of it can be overcome by re-dosing. The treats are used to recover from the damage done by the treats and we spiral downwards.

If that wasn’t bad enough then what’s happening is we fail to realise something really important. The goal that we set for ourselves has been set because we want to create a feeling. The goal to deepen my relationship with my partner or my children for example is actually designed to create an emotion. That emotion is a sense of being in love, or a sense of being a good parent, or that the feeling that I am more connected to the people that I love. The whole idea of losing the five kilos is so that I’ll feel fitter and healthier, have more energy and therefore I’ll be more confident. I’ll feel more capable. That kind of stuff.

We tend to set goals which are designed to make us feel good.

They involve a mood altering result.

Really what we’re saying is I won’t be happy until I’ve got my boat. There’s a kind of recognition here that the boat, or the house, or the car, or the plane, or the weight loss, or whatever it is that you’ve got as a goal – the reason behind it – is because I’m going to feel this way.

So take a moment to think about one of your goals – just bring it to mind right now and say to yourself ‘I want that goal because why?’

For example, I want to double my income because why?

Well, because I’ll be more secure.

Okay, I want to be more secure because why?

Well, because then I will feel less at risk.

Okay, I want to be less at risk because why?

If you keep asking yourself because why, you will find you will work your way to an emotion.

To say, ‘I’ll be happy when I pay the house off. I’ll be happy when I get the next promotion. I’ll be happy when I lose that five kilos’, is not really what we need to do. We need to decide that we can generate that emotion before the end result. Then go about getting the end result anyway because these goals really are your way of determining your own personal development programme for the year.

If we look at life as a learning process, the lessons you’re going to get are the lessons that are determined by the goals that you’ve set. So if you set a goal to learn nothing, if you set a goal to get by on the dole, then don’t expect to learn anything. There’s no real challenge in that. But if you set a goal to climb Mount Everest, you can expect a few trials and tribulations as a consequence of that. You may or you may not get there but you’ll definitely become a better person in the struggle.

The real question is are you a mongrel to be with until you’ve had your go at Mount Everest, or are you a great person to be around even before you’ve had your go at Mount Everest and after you’ve had your go at Mount Everest.

The question isn’t can you lose the five kilos? Of course you can.

The question is can you happily lose the five kilos?

The question is not can you get the next promotion at work? Can you double your income? Can you deepen the relationship with your partner and your children?

The question is can you do that in a way that enhances you as a human, has you reaching more of your potential.

Are you a better person to be around whilst you are involved in the battle to reach these goals and these habits? (Some of which you are going to reach and some them, you are not).

We set the goals because they look like they’ll be good, not realising that there’s this emotional connection to them.

At the same time, we set the goals because who wouldn’t want to double their income? Who wouldn’t want to lose five kilos if you could make it drop off and it was healthy for you?

But sometimes our biggest problem is that our goals and our values don’t line up.

For example you might say that the most important thing to you as family. But reality is you’re a workaholic because you’re trying to double your income (therefore, you don’t get to spend enough time with your family to feel enriched by your connection with your family). This is what we call a goals – value conflict. You might double the income but feel empty for some reason. The reason that you feel empty is that the connection with your family is lost.

The thing is, we can’t pursue our goals to the exclusion of the things that actually matter more to us. You’ll notice that people who go through high stress events, life-threatening events in particular, you’ll hear them say that is when they decided what was important. Usually what that means is it’s a recalibration of their goals to things that matter more than all the other stuff that they’ve been pursuing.

It’s very important that as you look at your goals and your targets you get an alignment between your values and your goals. Because to reach a goal in an area that’s low on your values list is going to leave you feeling empty. It’s a recipe for disaster. When we’re involved in this struggle we begin wondering if it’s worth it or not.

And then we start to procrastinate.

The reason we start procrastinating is that we’ve lost our connection to how important the goal was and we’re wondering if it’s worth the effort. Wondering are we getting what we want? Or are we just the rat in the wheel?

The easiest thing to do when you’re wondering if you’re just a rat in the wheel is to start procrastinating because while procrastination is many things, it is also a version of ‘me time’. It’s actually you devoting some time to yourself. You’re actually spending some time away from the difficulties, away from the things that look challenging and look like they’re going to be hard to do. Take Facebook for example. There’s a little bit of me time. It’s not very satisfactory, not very rewarding and you don’t come away from it feeling fulfilled. You might feel updated. You might feel jealous. You might feel glad to be able to share successes with people who had them, but it lacks a lot in terms of all the things that we could do.

And this is how the cycle manifests itself in life…

What we tend to do when we are feeling like a rat in the wheel, is we look at the things we’ve got to do (these are actually tasks that we’ve set for ourselves), we look at them and we feel uninspired. The reason we feel uninspired is because the benefit of having the goal hasn’t turned up yet (because we won’t get the benefit of the goal until we reach it). We said ‘I’ll be happy when I get the boat’ and if the boat’s not here then we don’t have the benefit of the boat.

What we’ve lost focus on is that you might be a much better person working towards getting the boat because you’re overcoming challenges along the way. Meanwhile, we feel a bit uninspired because the boat’s not there, we’re still a bit overweight, we’re lacking that connection, the next promotion at work hasn’t turned up, or whatever that thing is. That leads us to thinking now is not the right time to launch. Now’s not really the right time for me to give it all I got. I should wait until a better time.

The problem with now not being the right time is that it leads to the next issue. And that is now’s not the right time, but I’m wasting time because I’m doing nothing. So we think ‘I’m in the wrong mood. You know what I should do? I should wait until I feel better. I’ve kind of blown an hour on Facebook and I only had an hour and a half for the task. I should wait until I feel better. Let’s just let it go until tomorrow. What I’ll do is I’ll sleep on it because I’ll probably feel better tomorrow. Since I haven’t started on that, I seem to be relaxing. We might as well call it all off, let’s go get a meat pie because we kind of buggered the day and we’re starting again tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be a fantastic day to get started anyway. I’m not going to lose anything from that meat pie, especially with the sauce on it, which is mostly sugar and salt. You know what, a pie without a beer is just not right, so bugger it, I’ll start tomorrow.’

Guess what happens tomorrow? The same thing again and we kind of go round in a circle. And it’s a vicious cycle really. The procrastination cycle. If you haven’t been on that cycle at some point in your life, then I don’t know where you’ve been. And it’s the worst feeling. It’s so ugly. We hate ourselves for it.

When we get stuck on that cycle the first thing that happens is our self-esteem takes a dive. It’s very hard to develop self-respect when you know that you should be getting on with something that you’re not.

So here’s an exercise for you.

I want you to make two lists.

The first thing to do is to make a list of the things that you know that you should stop doing.

The other list is a list of things that you know that you should start doing.

These two lists are critically important.

Maybe you need to get off sugar. Maybe you need to have an alcohol free month, or year. Maybe it’s speaking rudely to someone. Maybe it’s being less judgemental. You know the things that you need to stop doing.

And when you stop doing them, your self-esteem is going to take a lift.

You also know the things that you should be doing more of and maybe that’s more exercise, or eating healthier, or getting up earlier, or whatever that is.

And you need to get back to doing them as soon as possible.

This week is good, but tomorrow would be better.

Get back to doing those things you should be doing more of because every class that you go to, every healthy thing you eat, your self-esteem rises. Your children see you doing what’s most important for you. And you’ll drag yourself out of the rut that you’re in.

When we get stuck in the procrastination cycle, we feel so bad we get in a mood. A mood is an emotion prolonged. If someone has ever said to you ‘what’s got into you today? Did you get out of the wrong side of the bed?’ What they’re talking about is that you seem to be grumpy or not happy for longer than just the fact that you just broke a glass, or fell over, or whatever it is.

Generally speaking, the procrastination cycle creates a negative mood.

The problem with the negative mood is that we hate it. We hate it like you wouldn’t believe and so we try to make it go away. And there are some very simple and some very convenient methods to making it go away.

Most of the time, we go for what I call a mood altering experience and there are two ways to do this.

A mood altering substance or a mood altering activity.

A mood altering substance is something that you can put into your body that just changes how you feel. A beer will do that. A cigarette will do that. Food will do that. There’s any number of substances (many of them are illegal, but there’s unbelievable number of legal substances you can put into your body to change how you feel).

And there are activities that will change how you feel. Anything that you are addicted to as a means of changing how you feel, we should put “holic” on the end of it. Alcoholic is the most common and most well-known one, but chocoholic, workaholic, shopaholic, sexaholic, TVaholic. There’s just an endless list.

What you’ll see is that these things fit into the categories of either substances or activities.

The problem with that is they change how you feel but they don’t change the reason why you feel that way. Take a chocoholic. Chocolate works fine as long as the taste of chocolate is in your mouth. Once the taste is gone away, then the chocolate is not working anymore. That’s why you can have it in your pantry for a month, but when you break it open then you have one block of chocolate, then the next block follows, and the next one, the next one, the next one, and away we go. All of a sudden an entire block of chocolate has vanished and we’ve eaten 370 to 500 grams of chocolate. At the end of it, we’re still not feeling that much better because of the chocolate. We were enjoying it while we were eating it, but you can knock it over in half an hour. At the end of that half an hour, what we’ve got is feeling bad because I had the chocolate. And guess what. One of the ways of making yourself not feel bad about eating the chocolate is you say ‘oh bugger, this goes really well with a beer’, or with red wine, or with chips, or whatever and it kind of spirals down.

It doesn’t matter what you choose. If you look at a shopaholic, it works fantastic until you’re outside the shop. Whilst you’re in there, deciding whether I’ll buy this sand coloured suit, or that coloured suit, or whatever it is, while you’re handing over the credit card then everything is fine because the thrill is there. The mood’s been altered by the thrill, the adrenaline of the purchase. But pretty much by the time you got the credit card back in your hand and you’re starting to wonder what you were doing. I’m sure you’ve had that feeling of ‘I didn’t need it, or didn’t want it, or I shouldn’t have bought it’. Of course if it’s clothes, chances are you’re going to take it home and stick in the wardrobe and see if you can stop it from annoying you because now it’s gnawing away at you.

And what about a workaholic? Fantastic until you shut down the computer, close the office door and go home. Then the benefits of being a workaholic wear off.

All of these things are benefits that wear off quickly.

So here’s another exercise. Grab a pen and paper and start to list what procrastination has cost you in the following areas.

Financially, what’s it cost you in lost deals? What’s it cost you in promotions? What’s it cost you in trades that you didn’t do? What’s it cost you in promotions that you didn’t go for. That kind of stuff. Opportunities that you did not take up.

(Now when I do this exercise in a live class 80% of the hands in the room go up when I say ‘put your hand up if you could count this money in hundreds of thousands over the last 20 years!’)

Have a look at trades. When I talk to people who trade the stock market and I ask them what it is that cost them the most money, they say it’s not pressing the go button because of self-doubt. They say ‘I procrastinated and it’s cost me a fortune’. Most traders suffer from paralysis by analysis, but it’s actually the fear of getting it wrong showing up as procrastination. They say it’s the most frustrating part of the whole deal.

But let’s assume that you haven’t lost any money. Let’s assume that financially you’re okay. What has procrastination cost you in relationships that didn’t go to that next level? Relationships that could easily have gone to the next level if only you’d picked up the phone or if only you’d stepped in and said can I help, or are you okay, or whatever that might be.

If it was just those two things, we could say okay it’s not too bad. But what has procrastination cost you in terms of health and fitness issues?

Look around you. Look at the population. We’ve got this massive problem with obesity, and everybody is wondering how to fix it. There is a very simple solution and that is put a tax on sugar. Even if you didn’t believe in that, you don’t have to. All those people who are overweight could go on a weight loss programme that would work. There are hundreds of weight-loss programmes that actually work, so why are they not doing it? They’re procrastinating.

What does that procrastination cost them in health and fitness?

I want to give you my own personal example. In 2003, when they said ‘Mr Blackburn we’re very sorry to tell you that you have aggressive prostate cancer. How long have these symptoms been going on?’ I said, ‘Three or four years.’ They said, ‘You know what, if you had come in and seen us at the beginning, as soon as these symptoms showed up, we could have fixed this with a tablet.’ I procrastinated for so long it became a life-threatening thing. I had to have an operation, cost $30,000 at the time and involved a week in hospital. A terrifying time for my family all because I procrastinated.

When you think about that, you can justify the money and say the money doesn’t matter and the relationships don’t matter, but my procrastination on my health and fitness put my family through the worst period of their entire lives.

Procrastination can be hugely expensive.

So what’s procrastination cost you in terms of happiness because you didn’t go for something? Because you didn’t loosen up a little bit? Because you’re a bit too serious?

Most importantly what’s procrastination cost you in self-esteem?

Procrastination is the most damaging concept as far as self-esteem is concerned (and that’s from 32 years of experience working in this field). Of course, we’ve all got things that we wish we’d never said or done, but that doesn’t do anywhere near as much damage as the self-criticism that comes from ‘yeah, I said I would get up in the morning and run around the block, but I didn’t. I said I would do this, but I didn’t. I said I would do the other, but I didn’t. How come? Because I was just stuffing around, because I was just procrastinating.’

Procrastination’s heaviest cost is not in the money and it’s not in the relationships. It’s in the health and fitness, and in the self-esteem area. Those things happen to be going on inside your own body so they’re easy to disguise. Most people don’t know that we’re damaging ourselves almost irreparably every day because of procrastination.

But let’s have a look at it from a different perspective. So the procrastination cycle creates this horrible mood. And we feel the need to alter the mood. But what we’re going to look for now is how do I alter my mood with positive substances and positive activities?

(The diagram is actually the same on the top line as the bottom line. We’re just looking at the difference at the ends of the sequence).

Let me give you a brief list of suggestions; exercise, meditation, mindfulness, and simply taking action. Now these are things I could spend hours describing but fortunately I don’t have to because you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t already have personal experience with the benefits of pushing yourself in the gym or meditation or mindfulness. And all of us know that taking action makes you feel good.

Even if the action is on something so small and so ridiculous that it kind of hardly counts.

Let’s have a look at how we do that because this is a mood altering process that creates the positive end result that we’re looking for.

What that boils down to is this.

When you’re procrastinating, you need to say to yourself ‘Okay, so what do I want to do?’

I’m going use a personal example here. It pretty much boils down to the big life changing experience I’ve had in the last 12 months. We moved to Queensland so that I could get onto the water, so that I could get up at 5 o’clock in the morning and go on my stand-up paddle-board. So I could spend an hour to an hour and a half just mindfully and meditatively paddling that board. Getting fit, but spending some time being still. Getting all the benefits of the things that I’ve just talked about.

I was 64 when we made that move. I’m 65 now. That’s very late in life to be starting to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning. I’d spent my life trying to get up early in the morning and been unable to do it. In Queensland, the sun gets up early. It comes straight in through the window like someone turned on a searchlight. That happens at 4:30, 4:45, 5 o’clock, depending on the season.

So what happens is I wake up in the morning. That’s my target. My personal success routine revolves around getting up at 5 o’clock. Getting out of bed. Getting on a board.

What I’ve found is that’s two big goals. And too big of a jump.

So the trick here is to find out what’s the simplest action I can take.

What I’ve found is that I can wake up quite easily at 5 o’clock, but my lifetime history has been to go back to sleep.

What’s the action? The action boils down to this.

What is the smallest action I could take that would create a sequence?

The answer?

Roll over. Because if I roll over (because it’s easy for me to go back to sleep, I could sleep on a barbed wire fence) I’m on the wrong side. I’m on the side that’s not so comfortable. I roll over and that stops me from going back to sleep.

(Okay, so not quite like that. But you get the idea).

And as I’m rolling over I’m saying to myself, what is the next action?

It’s to get my feet onto the carpet. That causes my head to come up vertical, my torso to come up vertical.

Once my feet are on the carpet, then the next action is actually the third action in the sequence and that’s to stand up.

It might look to the outside observer that I just woke up and stood up, but there’s three separate actions that I take that are so small that I don’t have to focus on anything except what is the next action. By the time I’m on my feet, the board shorts are going on because I got them out the night before. I put them somewhere where I’m going to stumble over them so it’s kind of hard to get past the board shorts without recognising that if I’m walking past them, I’m actually letting myself down. There they are and they’re on before I look out the window and see that it’s pissing down rain and blowing a gale. Because if the board shorts are on then I’m still going to go.

Why? Because I am ready now.

Away I go. I’ve got a sequence of events. Then I also put the GPS on my wrist and walk down to the board. Get it in the water. These are all separate actions. You know, it’s just get it in the water. Just pick the thing up and put in the water. Then grab the paddle because it’s going to float away without the paddle. You got to put the paddle on to stop it blowing away. Then step onto it. Then turn the GPS on. Away you go.

I’ve got this circuit that I go around. It’s about six kilometres. I can do in an hour. I’ve got all these goals and targets about how quickly I can get around. The original target was to get around six kilometre circuit in an hour. That became the goal, to lessen the time. There was a competition against myself.

Every time I can get inside 12 1/2 minutes per kilometre, then I’ll go closer to the one hour because originally it was taking me an hour and a half to get around. It’s taken a year to get there, but these are successive goals that are based on this small action because as soon as I can get a time that was better than a month ago, the motivation kicks in.

Even when I miss the hour, the motivation comes like crazy because I think you know what, I got fitter. I didn’t do so well this morning in terms of my time around the circuit, but I got fitter and so my chances tomorrow are better.

What that means is because I know that I got fitter, I’m more motivated to take some more action. That’s the way it is. Motivation creates more action.

What most people don’t realise is that there is a cycle that you want to get trapped in.

When you’re writing a book just aim at the smallest possible action. That is just write one sentence because writing one sentence may not be the book. In fact, that won’t make a book but lots of sentences will. Writing the one sentence simply means that you find the motivation to try another sentence. Another sentence is more action so whether you’re losing 100 grams overnight or whether you’re writing one sentence, the more you get it broken down into smaller and smaller goals, the simpler it is to take an action that gets a result.

So your goals and targets need to be broken down into the smallest possible thing, or the largest number of sequences.

When I get that feeling that pushes me towards procrastinating, I’ve need to say to myself, ‘What will I get from this? What will I get from sitting down and having a beer as opposed to what will I get from walking the dog?’

What you’ll find is that sitting down having the beer is the initial impulse and I need to ask myself if I want to respond to the initial impulse or if I want to look deeper. What would I get if I didn’t have the beer? What would I get if I walk the dog? Well, I’d get wet because it’s raining, but I’d get a sense of self-respect. I would get a sense of a job well done. I’d get a sense of I looked after the dog. I got a little bit fitter myself. You need to ask yourself, ‘What am I going to get longer term from this consequence’, rather than look at the feeling that’s going to take place in the next five minutes.

Basically procrastination is two things.

The first one is that not starting is a way of not finishing – because if I don’t start, I can’t actually fail. So if you don’t start a new business you get to not fail in that business. If you don’t write the essay, you don’t fail the essay. If you don’t start writing the book, you don’t fail at writing a book and so on.

And the second thing understanding that procrastination actually allows you to feel like you are treating yourself.

The problem is that procrastination used in this way of not failing, or having a little bit of me time, a little bit of a break from the pressure, so to speak, doesn’t actually deliver a result that we feel good from. Sure it’s a relief but it’s nothing more than relief. It’s kind of like you’re in pain, we’ve taken the pain away but boy oh boy here it comes again. Here’s the pain back again. Thanks for coming.

Big Secret # 1

The first big secret in overcoming procrastination boils down to this: You’ve got to be good at disconnecting for small periods of time so you can devote that period of time to actually putting something good into action. That’s like I would say to you, it’s fair enough to go and do some Facebook after you’ve written that sentence, which is going to be a part of your book. Once you’ve written that sentence it’s fair enough to go and do something for you.

Get good at disconnecting for small enough periods of time so that you can actually make something happen. Then you can go connect again to Facebook or check your emails or your phone.

RELATED: http://theglobalsuccessacademy.com/unplugging-for-success/

(TIP: Don’t walk around with your phone in your pocket. Put your phone somewhere because the moment that there is a break, we pick it up and we check it. Do not use your phone as an alarm clock. It’s tempting. It’s convenient. It’s a bloody good idea. Researchers are telling us that the alarm goes off, that’s good. But if it’s your phone, you grab it because you need to turn it off. Now that you’ve got it in your hand, guess what we do? For most people who use a phone as an alarm system, they end up the first hour of their day is 40% to 50% influenced by what’s going on because we just go, okay, I’ll turn the alarm off, now I’ll check my emails. Just look at the news. See what’s going on. That is the worst way known to man to start your day. So go and buy one of those old alarm clocks that you wind up. It just rings like crazy and makes a noise. You have to get out of bed and shut the thing down. Do not use your phone because it introduces you into an anti-personal success routine. Your personal success routine needs to reflect what puts you in good order. That means that if you know that getting up and meditating is the thing that puts you in the right mindset then that’s what you’ve got to do. If you know that going to the gym is what you need to do, check the phone while you’re in the gym, but get to the gym. That’s the critically important thing.)

Big Secret # 2

Big secret number two. Your goals have got to be broken down into smaller pieces so that you can actually just do one thing. Being able to take one small step is critical.

When they were putting a man on the moon, when John Kennedy said ‘we’re going to put a man on the moon before the end of this decade’ (they had nine years). NASA, the group who put a man on the moon actually had not been formed at that point. When they formed NASA they got all these scientists together and they said the first thing to do is to map out the task. In other words to put a man on the moon and bring him back. Then they asked ‘what do we know and what do we not know? What’s got to happen in sequence?’ They jotted it down. It took them months to do it. They identified over 2 million things that had to happen, in sequence to be able to put a man on the moon and bring him back. What they found was there was about a million that they knew how to do and there was about a million things they had no idea.

For the things they had no idea about, they had to start taking action and they eventually figured out how to do these things. They put them in sequence and then they were able to put a man on the moon and return him to earth.

Pretty cool huh!

And here’s another thing. Basically, once you’re out in space you can kind of correct the direction that the rocket is going, but you can’t stop the rocket from over correcting. They estimate that a rocket headed towards the moon is on target for around about 3% of the time that it’s on the journey. The other 97% of the time that it’s on the journey, it’s actually not facing the moon at all and left alone it would get off target. Now, if ever I have seen an example of how a human being behaves during a year, that’s it right there. We start at the beginning of the year. We know the targets. We know the sequence. We know the things that we need to do. We kind of drift off target. We’re not too sure how to get back on target. We’re not too sure how to realign. We have a few attempts at it, but sometimes it gets so far off target that it really looks impossible to get back on target.

Of course, the secret is lots of small corrections.

To get a rocket onto the moon NASA constantly monitored progress and every time they needed a correction they just gave them very small inputs. It was kind of like, push, push, push and they’d just bring it around slowly. Watch it drift and let some time pass. The thing is, the capsule is travelling at thousands of kilometres per hour so very small inputs would get it to come around, but it would keep swinging around past the ideal. And they’d have to go back the other way.

If you think about it, our progress through life is exactly like that. Most people don’t have in place a process for getting themselves back on track when they inevitably get off track – because let’s face it, there’s going to be some hurdles between now and next Christmas.

Big Secret # 3

Big secret number three is most people don’t pay enough attention to getting a like-minded group together. Find a group of people to hang out with and just get involved with them because if they’re going in the same direction as you, it’s fundamental to your momentum to be surrounded by that. If you can’t find them, start the group yourself. It’s so important because the only people that we can get inspiration from are people who are struggling along beside us, or people who’ve already made it.

A bit over ten years ago, we formed our own group. We couldn’t find the mentoring that we wanted. We couldn’t find the group we were looking for. So we got together with two other couples we knew kind of vaguely and we talked through the idea of working together. We formed our own group.

I’m suggesting that you look around and see who is on the journey about the same level as you. It’s fine for people to say go and find yourself a mentor or find someone who is already there. Get yourself a multimillion dollar mentor and get them to help you or someone who is brilliant at being a mother or father and get them help you, but they’re hard to find. Usually if they’re successful, they want to get paid for their time because the time that they’re devoting to you they could use it to make money themselves. They’re not greedy. They’re just saying, ‘Listen mate, I can make a $1,000 an hour doing what I do, so if you want me to take an hour off to help you, I kind of need to be paid’. But if you haven’t got the $1,000 an hour, find others who are on the journey with you.

You can just meet up at a restaurant or coffee shop, or maybe even go on a cruise together (like we do). Do whatever you want to do, but formalising it is a critical thing. And put it on the calendar. The benefits were so great that we had to actually go, ‘okay we let ourselves down here because we didn’t get it in the calendar’. A peer group is no good unless you have calendar organised get-togethers; whether they’re on the phone, whether they’re on Skype etc. Because, if it’s not in the calendar, it’s not going to happen. That’s critically important.

Big Secret # 4

I think the other secret that most people don’t understand (because they haven’t been schoolteachers) is that there’s value in spaced repetition. Spaced repetition is essential to getting yourself back on track because with space repetition we say the same thing, but we say it differently. We leave a gap between the last time you heard it and the next time you hear it. That’s why it’s good to get together with peer groups because they say the same stuff, but they say it in a different way. It just moves you back on track.

Spaced repetition is what school teachers use over and over again. You might of heard it called revision. Let’s review what we did last week. It’s kind of like a secret that teachers don’t tell you. It could bore you to death if you’re already on top of it, but it essentially keeps classes on track. Keeps groups of people on track. Spaced repetition is a very, very important concept.

Big Secret # 5

And here’s another big secret. How do you get a hold of the right material at the right time and save yourself having to look for? (Looking for it is one of the most time-consuming activities there is) We know there’s heaps of good material out there for you to get hold of. There’s more good material coming out all the time. Trouble is you need to stay in front of the right material at the right time because it’s pretty time-consuming going and looking for it. And we instinctively know that. That’s why we share it when we find it.

So let me summarise all of this for you.

The first thing, and I guess it’s obvious, is that for every goal that you set for yourself you need to break it down into the maximum number of steps. The more steps the better.

Then once you have all the steps outlined, prioritise them. Make a post-it note for each step. Then stick them all on the wall so you can move them around. Quite often, step number three should be taken before step number two. It doesn’t look like that until you got all mapped out in front of you. So it’s an important step in the process.

The more steps there are, the easier it is to move them around. Once you’ve got it right, photograph it using your phone. Then load that as a background on your computer so that your desktop is actually the steps for how to get to the goal. Then set mileposts and deadlines.

That means in the case that I want to lose the five kilos, I might give myself three months to do that. That’s about a kilo and a half per month roughly. That’s probably about 500 or 300 grams per week. Chart it all out. Of course, it’s not going to follow in a dead straight line. You can stay close to that line and every time that you veer away from it in the wrong direction, you can say ‘what is the corrective activity?’ That might be I didn’t lose my 200 grams today, or 300, or 100, or whatever it was. Tomorrow I’m just going to drink water all day. Whatever it is that you’ve got planned.

I’m pretty sure there’s not a person reading this who’s going to suffer by drinking water all day. Of course, you’re going to go through a bit of hunger pain. You’re going to get a headache and all that sort of stuff, but you’ll get yourself back on track. The fact that you did all of this will really motivate you to be eating properly the next day because of the pain you went through on the day when you just had the water. This is a ridiculous example and I’m not suggesting you only drink water for a day. I’m illustrating the same corrective action.

It kind of all works really, really well.

As long as you keep it all in small, easy to organise steps and you get someone to be accountable to. We know that the people with a training partner go to the gym more often. When they’re at the gym, they train harder. What does that tell you? It simply means that you’ve need to find somebody who gets it. Find somebody who is willing to go on the journey with you when you can’t keep yourself accountable. That means someone that you say ‘if I don’t lose x kilos this week (maybe I’m not going to worry about up or down 200 per day) if, by the end of the week I haven’t lost that one kilo for the week, or whatever it is, bingo that’s the day when I’m on the water and you’ve got somebody who’s going to hold you accountable to that. Not that it’s their job to make you drink the water. It’s your job to do that, but you said it out loud.

From that point of view, what I’m going to suggest to you is that you find four or five people that you should share your goals with. It’s probably no more than four or five people. I call it a public declaration because that comes out from inside your own head and into the public arena. It’s really important that you do that. Don’t share your goals or targets with anybody who doesn’t get it, but there are people, you know who they are, people who are willing to support you. Willing to not take it easy on you. Willing to say ‘you’d better buck up buckaroo. It’s about time that you got a bit serious about backing yourself.’

That means you need a reward and penalty system. I’ve been talking about that from the point of view of the day when you only drink water, but if we go into another example: I have committed to myself to paddleboard five days out of seven. If I don’t get 5 days then I’ve got to go longer. So the sooner I knock over the 5 days the better… the easier it’s going to be to stay back on track, and get on target.

Remember, join a group that’s going somewhere. It’s so, so important that you get involved in the group that’s going somewhere. Like I said, if you can’t find them, then there’s a thing called MeetUp and you can start a MeetUp group.

Who knows what could happen? (I was talking to a client in Sydney a couple of months ago who set up a group to go walking in the park – within the month, she had two and a half thousand members).

And this can all be summarised by saying…

The best way to predict the future is to actually create it.

(NOTE: Want the Procrastination Into Motivation diagram? Download it here.)