I remember all too well the college days of being assigned a term paper and the torture that would ensue.
I need to start working on my paper.
I don’t feel like working on it today. I’ll start tomorrow. (Doesn’t start tomorrow – or the next day.)
I’m such a loser that I didn’t start it already. Why can’t I just get motivated? (Goes to have a drink with a friend.)
The worst part about this scenario isn’t having to cram the whole thing in the weekend before it’s due.
It’s having to endure the mental drama that’s unnecessarily injected into it . . . drama that weighs you down emotionally, saps your energy, and erodes your confidence.
Endlessly debating with yourself about whether you’re going to do it or not or when you will or won’t – and feeling like a lazy loser when you don’t – keeps you from doing the easiest (and only) thing required: taking action.
The Problem: Too Much Drama
How many days have you wasted engaging in a draining mental back-and-forth about any of the following:
- Whether you’ll feel like working out in the morning
- Whether you’ll have enough willpower to not eat carbs all day
- Whether you’ll be motivated enough to make that healthy dinner you envisioned
You say “I need to [X, Y, or Z], which is then followed by “I don’t feel like it,” which is then followed by some sort of personal insult.
The emotional drain of this drama is precisely what keeps you from following through with your intentions and plans.
You have enough – more than enough, actually – personal power to easily accomplish everything you set out to do.
The problem is that you’re creating an unnecessary burden by debating with yourself about whether you feel like taking action. And the debate is actually preventing you from taking it.
There’s only one way to blast yourself out of this mental torment: do something.
The Solution: Take Action
You don’t get motivated and then take action . . . you get motivated by taking action.
Sitting on your couch thinking about how you need to work out but you don’t really feel like it then turning on the TV while you call yourself worthless is just setting yourself up for massive failure.
That’s because every time you do this, you chip away at your confidence, making it far less likely that you’ll work out the next day – and the day after that.
What if at the first sign of drama, you simply got up, laced up your shoes, and went for a walk? Or dropped to the ground and did 20 pushups?
What happens is that your inertia evaporates and you shift into gear – and you likely surprise yourself at what you end up getting done.
Drama is keeping you from achieving your health goals. Here are three ways to put a stop to it:
Use the 5-Second Rule. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Mel Robbins, but you should absolutely check her out. She’s created something called The 5-Second Rule, and it’s the cure for mental drama – and the fastest way to achieve your goals.
Here’s how it works. When you’re faced with a decision to do something or take the path of least resistance, count down backward from 5. Say out loud “5-4-3-2-1” and then “Go!” Then do what needs to be done.
It’s in those critical 5 seconds that goals are abandoned or achieved. If you don’t take action immediately, you’ll talk yourself out of it and never make progress.
Take small actions. Each small action you take is a link in a chain that connects you with your goal and makes it a reality.
You don’t have to do the most kick-ass workout of all time or prepare a gourmet organic vegan meal for yourself. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Scale it back because it’s less overwhelming and easier to achieve. This is how you get the small wins that keep you motivated.
You also build your confidence with each small action – and that confidence will compound with each successful action.
Change it to the present tense. Instead of saying, “I need to work out,” say “I’m working out” and then do something right then. As I said a minute ago, do some pushups. Walk up a flight of stairs. Get in motion.
Even if you’re not at a place where you can actually do anything, say it as if you are. If you “need to” make a salad for dinner but think of it while you’re in the carpool line, say “I love eating salad.” Even better, “Eating salad makes me feel vibrant and full of energy.”
Even if you can’t act in the moment, just making a statement in the present tense with conviction changes how you feel about yourself.
There’s not just too much mental drama, by the way. There’s a whole lot of drama around food that doesn’t need to be happening.
Honestly, it’s just food. And the more we all get stuck obsessing about individual nutrients and “miracle” foods, the harder we make it and the more confusion we create.
Anyway, we all know what to eat, don’t we? It’s not some big mystery. Let’s stop making it so complicated and just make the right choices, most of the time.
Creating mental drama keeps you stuck because it limits your power to take action – and taking action, no matter how small, is the key to seeing results and achieving goals.
Incremental progress in several areas adds up to exponential progress when combined.
Remember, the mental drama doesn’t come because you’re not doing what it takes to reach your goals. You’re not doing what it takes to reach your goals because you’re engaging in it.
Whenever you hear that drama queen in your head start talking, shut her down. Refuse to engage.
Besides, you don’t have time for that nonsense because you’ve got some pushups to do and some veggies to chop.
And after that you’ve got some big goals to achieve and some cherished dreams to realize.
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I think this is my favorite post to date! Applicable to every facet of life!! So helpful!
Thank you, Jenny! I’m so glad it was helpful! 🙂
Yes!!! Yes!!! I love the 5-second trick. I use it all the time.
Isn’t it the best??? It seems so obvious, but when you use it, it’s magic 🙂
I agree with Jenny….this is one of your best, most helpful posts….