“I’ll get to that tomorrow.”
“I don’t have everything I need to get this done.”
“If I can’t do it perfectly, I don’t want to do it at all.”
If you’ve ever said one of these silently to yourself, you know just how easy it is to put off the things that need to get done. You can call it whatever you’d like: procrastination, laziness, lack of drive.
In the end, though, we’re not really talking about your motivation or lack thereof. What we should all (yes, all of us) be focused on is our habits.
It’s not motivation that will carry you through the thousandth version of the same repetitive task. A witty meme isn’t going to be there to push you to do your last lap at the gym.
As humans, what we all thrive off of is habits. It’s what makes us do those little tasks that we’d be otherwise too ‘lazy’ to do.
But how do we form those habits? Keep them? Adjust them to allow for new information or needs? Our team pulled together a list of the best ways to get those habits rolling — and how to stick with them.
Quit Thinking About Willpower
Framing every single one of your actions as a matter of willpower is exhausting, to say the least. Imagine having to ask and answer the same question — do I have to? — every time you needed to do something. Instead, shift your focus onto habits. This makes it easy for you to (most of the time) take actions that benefit you in the long run without getting mentally run down.
Remove Barriers That Aid Laziness
Are you trying to create a habit that benefits your health? Think of something as simple as flossing your teeth. How likely are you going to follow through if you keep your dental floss in a drawer compared to on your bathroom counter? You can apply this to any habit you’re trying to form. Just identify the places in the past that have stopped you from doing what needs to get done and find a permanent fix where you can.
You’ve likely heard plenty before about how you should start with a small goal and work up to larger ones. It’s a great tactic to build momentum and confidence in yourself. An important part of this process is to not get caught up in how you feel about your starter goals. Maybe you run for just 5 minutes once a week. Maybe you floss just the one tooth. Some days you’ll complete far more than that, while others you might just need to hit the bare minimum. Recognize the value in both.
Experiment On Yourself
Tackle your biggest task first. Knock out 5 tiny ones first thing. Start comfortable and work your way up. These are all different methods for structuring your day to avoid falling into lazy traps. The thing is, no one method works the same for everyone. On top of that, you might need to use different versions on different days. It’s worth it to try anything once and see how you perform.
Face Your Failures
Failure is bound to happen. You don’t need to run from it, though. Facing failure — whether it’s missing a deadline at work or falling off the healthy eating wagon — and learning from it is an effective way to build better habits. Stop looking at it as a simple loss of willpower. Look instead for ways to tweak your environment or your goal habits to better fit you.
Now that you’ve hopefully taken the word willpower out of your vocabulary, you can move on to more effective ways to get what you want out of yourself and your life.