Updated: Jan 14
It’s that time of year: you explored the possibilities that 2019 could bring and you chose your resolutions and goals accordingly. You were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in January but now that it’s April, you’ll fall into either one of two categories:
1) You’re on top of your goals and things are going exactly as you planned; or
2) Your New Year’s motivational glow has faded and you’ve fallen off the wagon
Letting things slide happens to the best of us. Sometimes it’s the one thing that you just can’t get yourself to do. Here are some everyday tasks that we all tend to avoid like the plague every now and then:
Completing your workout
Getting the groceries
Tackling Mount Cotton (aka: the pile of laundry on your bedroom floor)
My clients struggle with this all the time, too. I hear it a lot: “I don’t know why, but I just can’t find the motivation to do this one simple thing!” Some people laugh at themselves, some are genuinely upset, and others are just plain confused about their lack of initiative.
Finding motivation is like leaving it up to chance.
It’s like we’re waiting for the circumstances to fall so perfectly together that motivation just appears out of nowhere to rescue us from our laziness, then making us the productive humans we wish we were all the time.
Introducing: The Big Three. These are three questions that I have clients ask themselves as a check-in. These questions help to take stock of the situation and create that extra push you’ve been looking for to get that menial task off your to-do list forever…(or until next week).
The key to use this technique to the fullest is to be honest with yourself! You’re only doing yourself a disservice if you sugarcoat your answers.
Question #1: What happens if I don’t do this thing?
There are consequences to every action, but there are also consequences to every inaction. Sure, Netflix is going to be more fun than your household chores. Let’s take a look at answering these questions in our quest to climb Mount Cotton:
Example: If I don’t do my laundry I won’t have clean clothes for the week. I will probably feel rushed to find clothes in the morning and it’ll throw off my whole day. The laundry is also going to pile up, becoming a bigger issue than it already is.
You’re pushing off your laundry because you don’t want to take the time, sort out the clothes, or just continuously change the loads out between the washer and the dryer. I get it – laundry is so time-intensive!
But let’s be real: thinking this way causes you to focus only on the negative aspects of doing your laundry. Question #1 helps you to pay attention to the negative aspects of not doing the laundry – feeling stressed in the morning, having the clothes pile grow even bigger, and potentially creating a bigger issue for yourself later in the week. What’s the lesser evil here? This question helps you to decide that.
Question #2: Will I regret not doing this thing?
Ah, our good friend, regret. Regret is easy to deny because we want to feel like we make the right decisions all the time. Question #2 puts a spotlight on your feelings. Will you regret your inaction? Does your regret often turn into guilt or feeling lazy? Maybe you beat yourself up when you have an unfinished to-do list. Think about what you know about yourself and use that to inform your decision-making.
Example: If I don’t do my laundry now then I’ll wait last minute to pick my clothes out. I feel stressed when I’m rushed in the mornings, so I’m probably going to wish I had done the laundry earlier.
Know that there is no right or wrong answer for this question. You know yourself better than anyone, so be aware of how you mentally react to inaction and how it inevitably makes you feel.
Question #3: If I don’t do this thing now, when will I?
Having expectations for yourself sometimes requires wiggle room. It’s unrealistic to think we’ll adhere to our goals or daily agenda without ever wavering. Most things have to get done at some point, so Question #3 helps you to restructure your plan or timing of your tasks.
This is one I really try to stick to, especially when it comes to scaling the Mountain:
Example: I don’t feel like doing laundry right now, but I have my whole afternoon free on Wednesday. I could do it then – it’ll be less busy and I have enough clean clothes so that I won’t feel stressed out or pressed for time in the mornings until then.
And if I didn’t have a free afternoon on Wednesday? My answer would be: There’s not another good time for this. Better now than later.
Here’s the key to this question: you have to find an exact time to complete the task, plan it, and actually do it. If you don’t answer this question for yourself honestly AND follow through, you’re just pushing things off aimlessly without the end goal in mind.
And there you have it. You finally did that thing – whether it’s the grocery trip, the workout, or even that difficult conversation with a friend you’ve been putting off. If you’re like me, you’re wearing freshly washed clothes AND you’ve officially tackled Mount Cotton with pride and grit. What a feeling of accomplishment! 😊
But really, these three questions are ultimately designed for you to take control of what’s on your plate TODAY. It’s easy to procrastinate or put things off. Learn to forgive yourself and make a plan to move on. The more you do this, the less likely you’ll feel stuck in that constant rut of “I’ll do it later” – and the more likely you’ll thank yourself later for taking care of You.
Want a document that sums up this exercise easily and even comes with a worksheet?! Visit my free tools page here!
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Licensed Professional Counselor
Greta manages her own private practice in Blue Springs, MO providing therapy to women who struggle with anxiety and perfectionism. When she's not working, you can find Greta watching Big Brother with her husband or cuddling with their golden retriever.