on procrastination

Lofty goals

I've wanted to re-start my blog and/or write for a few years now. I've had elaborate discussions with my wife, bugged her to no end about what my theme should be, what (all) posts I should write, and where it will be in 1 year and in 2 years. I've asked a friend of mine who's an amazing (and professional) writer on where all I can write and for them to put me on to contacts so I can write on bigger platforms.

I did diddly squat all those times.

I did not have a clear idea of why I wanted to write. I did not have a clear idea of what I wanted to write.

What are your goals in life?
Photo by Markus Winkler / Unsplash

And most importantly, I did not have a clear idea of myself.

I have identified and called myself out as a procrastinator. From studying the evening prior to an exam, to finishing a task a few hours before the deadline, that has been me for all of my life. Almost.

Over the past few months, sparked by a visioning workshop that Raj and I did to help us figure out where The Quad was going, I have started to shed my tag of being a master procrastinator.

the pressure

In the students I teach, I've seen similar aims and lofty goals, and I think we set ourselves up for failure when we do not understand why we want those goals, and where they fit into our lives.

For example,

  • Things are a bit stressful, especially now. But even without the pandemic, most of us have stressful lives. Taking care of work, whatever that is.
  • Time for family. This is important and cannot be neglected.
  • Time for friends. This is important and cannot be neglected.
  • Time for ourselves.
  • And just coping with the pressures of the day and the week.

Where does pressing half your body weight, or having a six-pack fit in? What itch does it scratch? How is it going to make your life better?

When we cannot answer that with clarity, the goal fails.

I failed to answer my simple question of why I wanted to write. I spent a lot of unnecessary time thinking and over-thinking it, and then just started to write. And that led me to answers.

Just shot a friend while a conversation about business… Heart vs. Brain. Life vs. Stress - it’s all calming down.
Photo by Christian Erfurt / Unsplash

Instead of setting unrealistic pressures via outcome-based goals, I changed them to process-based goals - write daily - and I started down this path. From there, that evolved to enjoying the act of it.

Now, I've argued before that we need to set goals. Especially in the field of strength/fitness, without goals, where are you going? But setting sensible goals that do not overwhelm us is equally paramount. How do we go about this? How do we not negotiate down a goal, citing work stress and then take a break from fitness? Is that wrong?

Those are not easy questions to answer.

What happens though, when life gets in the way of unrealistic/unclear expectations is we fail. Worse, we do not learn from this failure.

Instead, we criticise ourselves. Put ourselves down. And tell ourselves that this writing/fitness/whatever thing is not for us. That we are a procrastinator. That we are useless. That we suck.

The goals we set put us under so much pressure. Instead of helping us thrive, they crush us.

the mindset

Here's my suggestion for those of you who have similarly stumbled. Tweaking our mindset, and setting kinder goals is key.

Instead of "Write a blog as a strength and conditioning expert that 1000s of people will read", I re-defined it as "Write daily. For myself.".

Instead of setting crazy goals like running a marathon in under 4 hours or squatting XYZ kilos, I re-defined it as "find a training plan written by a coach and follow it".

But the most important one I did was the mindset to go with it. The mindset is simple. What would a pro do?

Should I be writing now, or dicking around on the internet?
Maybe I don't need to go to the gym today
Maybe I can sleep in and not show up

What would a professional do? Behave professionally.

but how do we not slack

Having that mindset, that attitude is the start.

But what if we negotiate down all our goals? For example, I want to press half my bodyweight for 5 reps. Should I not have a timeline for this?

There's no right or wrong. There's no black or white. The answer is that it depends. There are times when we need to set strict deadlines. There are times when we need to be kinder to ourselves.

Photo by Zhang Kenny / Unsplash

Dislocating my peroneal tendon, going through a pandemic and ensuring my company stays afloat, and maintaining my sanity throughout all of this. Should I stack up my overhead press goal on top of it? Or do I dismiss it?

I don't know. But what I realised is putting myself down does not work. At the same time, giving myself too much leeway does not work either.

So, find a process (training plan). Stick to it. See how everything is going. Assess fairly, and tweak.

Keep showing up. Keep doing the work.

Not everything I write is great. Maybe there's a good idea in there but my brain is not ready to process it fully and elaborate with clarity. Maybe this post can be a lot better.

But it is a lot better than an unwritten post.

my insights

The pressure we put on ourselves is, most times, unnecessary.

If you want to write, just write. You don't need to publish it. You can show it to just close friends and family, whenever you are ready. You don't need to worry about where it is going, and when you will sign a book deal.

If you want to get fitter and healthier, find a legitimate place that can help you with it. And just show up. Feeling grumpy because you had a bad day - show up, do what you can. Feeling awesome - show up, and do what you can. It is your birthday and you wanna drink 20 beers - show up, lift weights, and then go drink your beers.

Slowly, you change your mental definition of yourself.

Believe in Yourself
Photo by Katrina Wright / Unsplash

I am not a procrastinator. And finally, I truly believe it.

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