5 Ways to Overcome Procrastination: Staying on Track

group of runners on bridge

Make a Start

Before we start anything, there is always that moment of trepidation. If you’re anything like me, there is the seduction of procrastination and there is always that stall or pause when you have to urge yourself on before the magic of momentum comes to keep you moving toward your goals, plans, intentions, and dreams.

In that pause, we try to figure out if the thing we are about to embark on – a 5k run, a marathon, an artistic endeavour, a new project, or career – is actually worth it to us. Sometimes we give in to the little voice that says, “Do you know what? Let’s start this running regime / industry prep / networking strategy tomorrow. There is always tomorrow…” So, we find ourselves back in the same position a day later but with a little less belief and resolve than we did yesterday.

We begin to doubt that when we say we will do something, we will actually commit and do it. Little by little our belief gets chipped away by our lack of commitment to do what we said we would do. As this happens over a period of time we begin to feel stuck, unhappy, and unable to move. In other words, we stagnate.

Technique and Practice

In my experience, technique and practice are the only difference between succumbing to that little voice and overcoming it entirely. When it comes to our thoughts and how we perceive our reality – pattern and repetition matter. Neural pathways (positive and negative) become ingrained in our psychology. But the good news is that we have control over the ability to create the pathways to procrastinate and motivate.

We just need to repeatedly reinforce the behaviour and thoughts we want until they become second nature. We have power over our lives and how we live them, which is liberating but also comes with a dose of responsibility. We are ultimately in control of our own lives.

Once we make the neural connections and create the pathways, we find our groove and begin to ride the wave of momentum. Over time, momentum can carry us forward with less effort than we originally had to exert in the first place.

How to Begin

Ok, so what to do when you get in a funk? When you need to reset, recentre, and most importantly, make a start!

1.     Write Down Why This Goal is Important

Firstly, ask: is this goal truly important to me? For example, if you are running a 5k event for the first time, why do you want to do it? Maybe you want to be more active to have more energy for playing with your kids, maybe being outdoors and breathing fresh air makes you feel alive, maybe you want to feel more at home and comfortable in your body. Write down your answers and analyse them. Seeing your valid and inspiring reasons written down in black and white will give you a mental boost and clarity in what you are doing and why.

2.     Do Something Really Challenging and out of the Ordinary

Sometimes when we really push ourselves to do something that we would never usually do, it gives us a wake-up call, a little jump start, and a burst of energy. For example, I particularly don’t like cold water. In fact, I loathe it. So when working towards a challenging goal or having trouble getting started, I give myself an even bigger challenge of jumping in the Irish Sea. Cold, shocking, unforgiving, but so life-affirming that I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to. Again, the neural pathways are linking in my mind. I said I’d do something, I did it, and now I have another little victory in my bucket, and I feel alive and full of vitality.

3.     Grab a Friend

You know that friend who is motivating, fun, and usually in good form – hang out with them. It rubs off! It’s true. We all know energy radiators and drainers. When you’re with the radiators, you feel energised, buzzy, positive, and more alert. It’s the opposite with the drainers. So, choose your company wisely and invest your time with them. If you are having trouble finding that within the pool of people you know personally, then go join a community. Run clubs, swim meetups, and hill walking groups are popping up everywhere around the country. Put yourself out there and get a new network or community.

One of the reasons I’m so committed to my training is due to my community. Training alongside people with the same goal: encourages me to push harder; there are set training times, so I can’t procrastinate about going; and I also love a good chat, so it kills many birds with one stone. If you’re interested in training with a community, check out this blog [insert hyperlink to running communities blog] when you’re done here.

4.     Inspirational Talks

Ok, I know our positive friend or community is not always around, so another quick, easy, and accessible way to get a boost of inspiration and out of the procrastination rabbit hole is to listen to a TED Talk or podcast. There are many inspirational people around the globe, and we now have access to them in our pockets, in our kitchens, any time we need a dose of get up and go. If you haven’t see it already, recommend Mark Pollock and Simone George’s TED talk , the founders of the annual worldwide Run in the Dark event – it is truly inspiring.

5.     Trick Yourself

If all else fails and none of the above are convenient, then you have to get tricky with yourself! Instead of the 2k jog you planned, tell yourself you’ll just go out for a brisk walk for 15 minutes. Instead of the 1-hour yoga session you had planned just roll out your mat for a 10-minute stretch. Instead of that challenging email you have to send, get started on a simple email first. Tell yourself it’s a brief time period with an easy enough task, and most of the time, before you know it, you’ll get in the flow and find yourself jogging for longer than you expected, on your mat longer than you said, or your brain in gear to begin penning that difficult email. The trick is to start on something small and manageable; once you start that you’ll be on a roll!

About Lee

Lee Tracey is a yoga, meditation, and mindfulness teacher based in Dublin. She is interested in sharing practices that serve in helping people to live more fulfilling, mindful, and vibrant lives. She works with studios and corporates in Ireland as well as shares her passion at festivals and events throughout Europe, and is a Lululemon ambassador. She has trained worldwide, from Dublin to Costa Rica to New York City, and she has been lucky enough to learn from some of the very best in their field. Her goal is to share what she has learned in an accessible and engaging way through movement, community initiatives, connection, and awareness. A keen runner, Lee will be blogging for Run in the Dark about yoga, wellness, and motivation.

Run in the Dark

As darkness sweeps around the globe every November, 25,000 people worldwide get up from their armchairs, slip on their red flashing armbands and pull on their running shoes to complete a 5k or 10k. From Sydney to San Francisco, together, we run for those who dream to walk.

Sign up to Run in the Dark from June each year, or join the waitlist and we’ll let you know when registration opens.