Dr. Kim: How to End Procrastination and Get Motivated

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Written by: Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Kim Feinstein, RedMountain Weight Loss’s Behavioral Weight Loss Specialist


“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Tao Te Ching


How do you transition from procrastination to motivation?

You need to take the first step.


Here are some strategies to help you begin:


Strategy #1:  Acknowledge that you are procrastinating. 

The first step in changing any deeply ingrained behavior pattern is awareness. STOP in the moment and just admit that you are stalling on taking care of more important tasks.


Strategy #2: Get in the habit of grabbing a pad of paper (rather than food) to get clear on why you are procrastinating.  

Use your urge to go get something to eat, surf the net, or turn the television on as your cue that you are procrastinating. This doesn’t mean you’re necessarily ready to embark on the task, but it is a step in moving towards action.


Strategy #3: Address the underlying issue and take action:

If you feel overwhelmed by the task,this may be because:


  • You are disorganized: You’ll need to break down the task into manageable “baby steps.”  Organized people manage their time wisely and prioritize their tasks with to-do lists and schedules. However, you may be uncertain of your priorities, goals, and objectives. Therefore, your first step will be to identify your own priorities, goals and objectives. Next, take your primary goal and break it down into monthly, weekly and daily goals.
  • You aren’t sure if you have the skills or resources to complete the task: In which case, you’ll still need to break the task into baby steps and you may have to educate yourself by doing some research and then perhaps delegate if need be.
  • You have a fear of failure (or success) that is stalling action: Perhaps you’re afraid that you won’t be able to stick to your meal or exercise plan. Keep in mind that we learn from our mistakes just as much as our successes. It’s important in this step to catch and replace any self-defeating thoughts regarding your abilities that may be inhibiting forward movement.


If you feel the task is unpleasant: Try using “the five-minute rule.”  Often, we overestimate the unpleasantness of a task. Remind yourself that you can do anything for just five minutes. This rule is a great way to get you to exercise. Tell yourself you only have to do it for five minutes. If you hate it, you can always be done.


If you’re setting unrealistic expectations and perfectionistic goals: You may believe that you MUST reach your target weight by a vacation or a special event. You also may believe you have to diet perfectlyRemind yourself that the journey of weight loss is not perfect. Strive for “good enough,’” a happy medium between average and great. Learning to accept “good enough” in many areas will allow you to accept your own imperfections as well as those of others.


If you’re physically and/or emotionally drained: You’ll need to take some time to explore the causes of your fatigue. Perhaps you’ve been pushing too hard and need some quality rest time. Maybe you’ve been going through a difficult emotional patch and this isn’t the time to get a lot done.


If your decision-making skills are lacking: You may want to make an investment in yourself and either take a course in decision-making or work with a therapist or coach on developing these skills. Good decision-making involves a number of sub-skills: patience, research, assertion, organization, delegation and asking for support, to name a few. There’s no need to feel ashamed if you didn’t fully develop these skills in childhood or later years. You can develop them now– it’s not too late.




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