The best time to start doing something good for you is… probably tomorrow, right? That’s when you’ll have the motivation to start waking up earlier, going to the gym, eating healthier, learning a language, and practicing piano. Or maybe Monday is better.
“Nine times out of 10, what gets in the way of all the starting is our emotional response,” Tim Pychyl, Ph.D., author of Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change, tells Men’s Journal. “Though most of the time, we’re not even aware of what it is.”
Which is why the first step to starting something is to identify your emotions—the ones that go deeper than feeling flat-out lazy. What’s really stopping you? Frustration? Fear? Anxiety? Defeat over all you’ve started before but never finished?
“Okay, yeah, you’re feeling all those things,” says Pychyl. “But you’re not going to fix any of that right now. And do you want this hanging over your head tomorrow? No. Then what’s the next action?”
Whether you’re building a new habit or want motivation to dive into one more day, these hacks from what we know about the human brain and psychology will help you take action. Layer as many together as you can.
“One strategy on its own is likely not going to save you,” says Pychyl. “You need different tools for different parts of the same job. The more you nest them together, the more powerful they become.”
How to Start Anything: 20 Expert-Approved Motivation Strategies
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