Motion before motivation


I am one of the worlds worst procrastinators. Or so I feel. I was going to research exactly how bad I am when compared to others but I’ve just not gotten round to it. Yet.

And here is the thing. If you wait for the perfect time or day to start something, say your Tax Return, or book your flights for your trip in two weeks time, it will only arrive when you have no other choice. When the pain of the Late Return penalty or risk having to cancel your holiday because there are no seats available on your flight. Or they’ll cost more than your two weeks at the hotel and eat out every day.

When the perceived pain exceeds the perceived effort, that is when I myself used to sit down and force myself to do the dreaded task. And yes, sometimes it was as painful and annoying as I had imagined. But here is the magical thing that I am learning. If I make a start, even if I can’t complete the task right away I’ve magically transformed the uncertainty into something positive.

If I can just do even one thing to bring me closer to completion, it works. There is a kind of momentum that works to take you forward after overcoming the initial inertia. Suddenly the mountain has become a molehill or a series of molehills really. I like to walk, often along the coast or hills near me, and it always amazes me at some point on the journey if I look back and see how far I’ve come from where I started.

I believe there is a reason for this. Once you start, the big scary task-thing becomes a series of smaller steps that are almost too small & simple to start with. But they accumulate, like a snowball rolling down a slope gaining speed and weight as you fill in boxes and make a list of things you need to find out. That is how you eat an elephant, one mouthful at a time.

I’m also finding this is true for my work, my personal goals and every other aspect of my life. Start, even if you know you can’t finish yet, and suddenly the huge fuzzy scary shadow thing that your mind has created starts to shrink into a recognizable if unpleasant looking rodent. Occasionally it might even be a cute kitten. (Definition of a kitten: Cute, inquisitive and helpless little fuzzballs with razors attached to their feet.)



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