The big P - Procrastination. We've all done it at some point. Avoiding the thing that we really should be doing by finding excuses to be doing something else.
Whether you are avoiding doing your tax, starting a particular young horse, cleaning out the tack room or making an important decision, it is pretty obvious that unless something changes, nothing is going to change.
So why wait for something outside of your control to change for you to take action. There is no point looking externally for the green light . What is external to you is not the problem, it’s your internal state we need to modify.
We need to change our thinking.
The first step is to know why you are wanting to do that which you are procrastinating on “X”. What will it give you in the long run. What else will occur because you have done “X”. Look past the actual action, and see it as part of a bigger picture. How does this fit into your overall plan for your life, and how will it affect those that you love.
When you can see the action as a small part of something much bigger it is easier to find ways of overcoming the perceived difficulties. Simply the action of thinking about “X” having being already achieved allows your subconscious to accept the fact that it is possible and attainable. It will throw less resistance at you, and allow ideas and solutions to come into your awareness instead.
The next thing is to stack massive pain to not taking action.
If we are comfortable in not doing “X” there is no real drive to move out of that state. We might say we want to, or we would like to, or it would be good if we did, but it doesn’t get you to I MUST!.
I must….is where you need to be in order to move from procrastination to action.
Think of it this way, do you remember a time in high school when you had to do a major assignment, and you kept procrastinating on it. Then you realised that it is due tomorrow and if you don’t get it in your overall mark will drop by 25% which could possibly prevent you getting into university. You have created so much pain that NOT taking action on doing the assignment, that you are driven towards doing it. Which when you did, you realised it really wasn’t that hard after all.
It’s like loading the dishwasher. When we are sitting on the couch, knowing that we should unload the dishwasher, but quite comfortable where we are, we are not really driven towards doing it. After all, it really isn’t that bad. But as the night gets on and we get up from the couch, ready for bed and look at the bench, we realise that if we don’t do it, the kitchen will stink in the morning, and all the food will be stuck on the plates and harder to get off. We decided it is easier to quickly do it now, then the pain of waking up to it in the morning. In no time at all the kitchen is cleaned up and ready to go. We simply stacked the pain to not doing it.
You see, we will do more to avoid pain then we will to gain pleasure. So one of the best ways to move out of procrastination is to link massive pain to NOT taking action towards “X”
If you can look at not taking action from a point of view of where will I be if don’t do this? How is not doing “X” causing me so much frustration. How is not doing this, causing me to not do other things. What else am I missing out on if I continue to avoid this. This process should feel uncomfortable, if it doesn’t, it wont drive you
Make sure that you only think of the pain around not taking action.
Steer clear of phrases that say I am bad/stupid/useless, I am such a ….. That won’t help. This exercise is designed to link pain specifically to actions, not to us. There is a very clear difference between us and our behaviors.
Think of a small child who does something wrong. Let's say for example sake, he stole something. It is important that the child understands he is not bad. He is a loved, wonderful and courageous child who made a bad choice. Choices can be changes instantly, and there are many choices at any given time. Next time, he has an opportunity to make a better one. That is all.
The same goes for you. You are great, you are awesome, you are compassionate, loving, driven and strong, There are actions that you are avoiding that are causing you huge amounts of pain right now (really stack that pain), but you know that you need to do this as it fits into your bigger plan (stack the gains of achieving this goal)
Because of this you will be motivated towards doing what it is that needs to be done. Visualise having achieved “X”. Feel the emotion that will come up for you when you are feeling grateful that it is done.
Each time you do this process, you will find it easier and easier.
It is like any muscle that we use when riding, we need to use it consistently and to a point of threshold in order for it to grow in strength.
Create enough pain
Have a big enough why,
Then you will find the how
As some of you may know, I am currently in China running coach training and assessments as well as helping clubs find a great business model that works for them.
One of the biggest blocks both coaches and clubs have to greatly improving, is their excuses. The biggest one - This is how we do things in China.
Well I'm sorry, but that just doesn't cut it with me. That is limited thinking as while ever that is believed, change is impossible.
Let me tell you about a recent experience I had, and the power of changing simply our thinking.
When I am working with a new club, the first few days are spent observing, asking questions, being curious and getting to know all the personel involved in the running of classes, as well as coaching to get a true feel of what it is like in the arena. It gives me an idea of the culture of the club, as well as begins to develop rapport with those who I am ultimately serving. It also give me time to develop a picture of where there a problems, and what are their strengths.
One particular club, I noticed the coaches were unwilling to move more than a few metres away from the clients, so did very few activities, exercises or games. Most was done on the lunge or with coaches running along side, even when the older more experienced riders were riding independently in the arena, the children and coaches both seemed bored and uninspired. However, I could tell the coaches genuinely liked working with the kids but I could sense some frustration.
As I got talking with the coaches, I became aware of some limited thinking. The coaches were unwilling to encourage the riders to go out alone, or participate in games, as the parents, who were always watching wanted the coaches to stay alongside and keep the children safe. I don't disagree with that in the beginning, children need to be safe, secure and effective before being asked to ride independently, however this was simply downright boring and many kids were totally disinterested and unengaged.
I asked the coaches, "Who educates the parents in the process of how children learn, and what skills are required to ride a horse?". "No one", they replied. "So how do they know what you should be doing in the lesson" I asked. "They don't know, they just want to see their children trotting and making progress" they replied. "So what happens, if you do an exercise that involves picking up objects, or going around bending poles?" I asked. "They get angry" They replied "Ok, so just so I am clear. The parents believe learning to ride involves trotting in circles on one rein continuously. I am correct"? "Yes" They replied. "And even with all you coach training, you listen to the advice of those who know absolutely nothing about horses or riding"?. With their heads lowered, "Yes" they replied, "But that is how we do things in China. If the parent are unhappy, they don't pay"
You can see there in lies a problem. I decided to write a pamphlet that was given to parents when they booked their children in for lessons, with a brief note on what will be involved in their children learning to ride, including exercises, games and group activities. I outlined the benefits, and described in detail the purpose and outcome for each exercise. It stated the progressive steps in skill development necessary to become an effective rider, and gave the parent more clarity around why games and enjoyment and engagement were necessary for young children.
I also designed 4 levels of skill development cards, each with 20 skills that would be marked of with a star as they were achieved, and gave each child one to bring to lessons so they can see their progress.
I also educated the coaches in the skill development progression, gave them exercises and games for each level and helped them to fully understand how to slowly move from high dependence on the coach, to independence, and how to know when a rider is to move onto the next step.
The coaches were genuinely interested and inspired to do something different in the arena, and with the parents now wanting the coaches to do more interesting things in order for their precious little people to gain each levels skills development card, the coaches now had more opportunity for creativity and imagination in the arena. I also made sure they were able to describe to the parents what they were doing and why at the end of each lesson, as to further educate the parents, and develop trust in the coaches abilities.
Within two days, everything changed. The parents began laughing as the children were trying new things and enjoying themselves, the coaches energy changed to a more positive and progressive response, the children made HUGE advances in the riding, and the arena had a feeling of fun and growth.
The owners of course were very happy as in two days, parents began booking lessons in blocks of 10, and taking out yearly memberships. Their profits dramatically increased.
The only thing ultimately that changed, is we threw out the excuse of "That is how we do it in China" and created a new motto, in "This is how we do it here"
So what's your excuse?