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How To Exercise When You Would Rather Do Anything Else

How To Exercise When You Would Rather Do Anything Else

A lot of the time exercising seems like the last thing most would want to be doing. Alas, we can’t sit about eating pizza all day and stay healthy because the world is unfair. Stephen Guise of Dumb Little Man shares some secrets on how to get motivated and do that work out you’ve been putting off:

All I wanted to do was exercise for 30 minutes, but I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I sat down, feeling defeated and overwhelmed. What was in my way? In the previous six weeks, I was inactive and my desire to be in great shape was not being fulfilled, but destroyed. Because of this, I realized that I wanted to cram all of the workouts I had missed into this one. The pressure of everything I hadn’t done weighed on me.

What I discovered next changed my life.

The Surprise Breakthrough Came From Considering The Opposite Of A Huge Workout

Months earlier, I had read a book called Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko, which is a book about creative thinking. In the book, Michalko lists several creative thinking “toys” to use to generate creative ideas. The one that changed my life was called “false faces.”

In “false faces,” you take your current ideas and flip them around to consider the opposite. For building a skyscraper, you might instead consider building something that went far down into the earth.

The opposite of doing an overwhelming workout gave me the idea of doing a single push-up. Immediately, I questioned my sanity. But as I continued to sit there, frozen, this idea would resurface, and eventually I gave in.

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To my surprise, it worked.

How One Push-Up Became A Full Workout

I got down into push-up position and did my one push-up, but since I was already there, I figured I’d do a few extra. I did about 15 push-ups in the first set, and my muscles were warmed up.

Then I set a new goal – do a single pull-up. I didn’t hesitate for this easy goal and did one, and then chose to do several more.

It felt like I had stumbled upon a gold mine. I couldn’t seem to fail with this strategy. Since I was out of shape, my body wanted to quit early, but I continued to lead it along slowly, like a dog with a trail of ham shavings.

“Ok, just two more push-ups. Now one more. Ok, two more.”

Abs were next, but I hate ab workouts more than anything, so I decided to just press play on a youtube ab workout video, and then to set up my mat, and then to get down on the mat, and then to do the first exercise. I finished the 10 minute program and my midsection was on fire.

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When it was over, that single push-up became a solid 30 minute workout.

Three Tips To Overcome Exercise Resistance 

1. Start stupid small (SSS)

This little trick really works.

Maybe you’ve heard elsewhere that it’s good to start small, but that isn’t specific enough. I have a clarifying rule I use that works EVERY time for me – make the first step “stupid small.” That just means that the first step should be so small that you sound ridiculous saying it. The effectiveness comes from an almost guaranteed start, which is, as they say, the hardest part. The momentum you build from starting stupid small is the perfect opportunity to ramp up into a bigger accomplishment.

From my late teens until late twenties (about ten years), I tried to exercise consistently. Consistency was off and on for those ten years, until I started The One Push-up Challenge.

I did one push-up per day minimum. On days I needed to work out, it was a great boost. On days I didn’t, it was no problem. Some nights in bed I would remember, “Oh no! I didn’t do my push-up today,” and flip over to do my push-up in bed just to meet the requirement.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but exercise was becoming a habit for me, just from this small requirement. And I’m happy to say that for the last three months, I have gone to the gym 3-6 times a week. It is easy and enjoyable because it’s a habit.

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I’m not the only one either. A couple told me that they used this strategy to just get through the warmup for the insanity workout program, and told me, “we are now onto our 4th week and getting stronger and stronger day by day.”

Here are some stupid small step examples you can try:
•    Do one push-up.
•    Put gym shorts on.
•    Drive to the gym (this is my objective for gym days).

2. Don’t simply desire to change – place an expectation there

A key part of my success has come from placing an expectation to exercise, as opposed to thinking that I’ll “do my best.”

This works because expectations are pre-determined decisions, not something you have to get pumped up for. Don’t make it a decision. People are more consistent going to work than going to the gym because there is an expectation for them to be at work, but the gym is seen as optional. Why not make a trip to the gym an expected part of your schedule?

This trick scales nicely with starting stupid small, because in the early days, you will merely expect to do one push-up, which is very easy to meet. Later on, your self-discipline will strengthen and you can up the ante by expecting to drive to the gym several days a week (like I do now).

3. Don’t cheat!

It can be tempting to think, “I’ll need to do a lot more than one to make it worthwhile.” This is an honorable thought, but it undermines the whole operation. If you say you have to do one push-up, but you feel like you have to do 20, then you might as well change your goal to 20 push-ups. By aiming for one push-up minimum, you’re tricking your brain to start exercising. After you begin, you’ll feel less resistance and will likely do more.

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While on some days I did a single push-up, most days were at least ten. And I have to say, even at small amounts like that, you can feel the difference from daily exercise.

This is especially important in the beginning; you need to be satisfied even if you only do the tiny step that you promised to do. Everything beyond that is pure bonus. I encourage you to set micro-goals after that point too. Completing seven small goals to get to 20 push-ups is the same as completing one goal to do 20 push-ups. But with the first one, you’ll get the satisfaction of completing seven goals. These micro-successes feel surprisingly great.

Of course, these goals are so small that they may be better defined as steps, but you can treat each step as a “micro-goal” with its own micro-reward.

BONUS: By doing this “the small way,” you’re training yourself to expect to accomplish your goals. The high success rate of these tiny goals builds confidence. If you’ve been intimidated by the size of your fitness goals, you can start today to build a foundation with small, stupid goals.

Remember, it is better to succeed with 100 tiny goals than to fail one giant goal. It’s great to have bigger aspirations and dreams, but these should be broken down into steps that you can and will take. If you feel resistance, it means you’re using up willpower, which is a limited, and therefore, an undependable resource. As you feel resistance, go smaller and smaller until it seems easy.

Make your steps like sand – individually tiny, but significant when combined – and you can climb any of your personal mountains.

Besides writing for his own blogs Stephen Guise is a featured writer here at Dumb Little Man. Be sure to stop by Stephen’s ‘featured writer page‘ right here on Dumb Little Man to find links to more of his articles.

Lack Of Motivation? Here’s How To Exercise When You Don’t Feel Like It | Dumb Little Man

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Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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