Procrastination isn’t a lack of willpower. It isn’t about laziness or not wanting to get something done. The science behind procrastination will absolutely surprise you – and you’ll be relieved when you realize the true cause of the mental roadblocks. How do you get through the tough moments when you find yourself putting off the inevitable?
The 5 Second Rule.
The real truth you need to be aware of and start practicing is the five-second rule: you have five-seconds to take physical action to marry intention with the inspiration that has just surfaced in your mind. You won’t need 20 seconds of insane courage if you don’t make a decision to act first. You notice attractive women at a party and your brain registers a desire to get to know her. You will only get about five-seconds to start walking over to her or smile at her, before your brain kicks in with the negative self-talk and doubt about why you can’t or shouldn’t approach her. If you succeed at taking instant action, one step or a smile, then you will need that 20 seconds of insane courage to keep walking towards her and start an endearing conversation.
How Your Habits Are Killing You Slowly.
Mel borrows a term from chemistry and calls that initial action “activation energy.” You are only granted about five-seconds before your brain is going to dumb down that impulse and kill your spur to action by pulling your “emergency brake”. In Mel’s words, your brain is generally operating under one of two systems, auto-pilot, which it prefers to stay in, or emergency brake, which gets yanked quickly whenever you attempt to break from auto-pilot, otherwise known as routine. Activation Energy is the force required to launch yourself out of routine before your brain realizes what you are doing.
Routine is slowly killing yourself with boredom. The routine allows you to drive home zoned out; we’ve all done it. Routine is the comfort of eating your favorite foods regularly without new spices being occasionally added to wake-up your taste buds. Routine is doing the same thing at the gym five days a week and not shocking a different muscle group. Routine also kills creativity and ideas, because the routine is your brain on autopilot and that inspiration you just had demands you step out of your comfort zone. The magic exists outside that zone, whether that is talking to a woman you desire, starting a business, or submitting a piece of writing to someone you respect and adore.
People who lack the ability to ever pull the emergency break are known to be deficient in impulse regulation, but I think the majority of us are either too numb or too overwhelmed most of the time to react to any of the brilliant ideas that flash momentarily through our minds. I routinely have ideas, and I routinely ignore them. It isn’t practical to be at the beck and call of your inspired mind and stop what you are doing, all day long, to take notes. Nonetheless, we could probably all stand to pay more attention to our light-bulb moments.
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tiers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”
Here are some last tidbits of advice from Mel on how to stop screwing yourself over:
1) You have ideas that could change your life, or change the world. Believe you do.
2) Get specific about your motivation to take action: “losing the man boobs so you can hook up with someone” is more concrete than “being healthy”.
3) Don’t give up on yourself and don’t settle for being “fine.”
4) If you accept how you feel when you think about what you want, you will never take action. Get out of your head. “If you are in your head, you are behind enemy lines; that is not God talking.”
5) You will have to force yourself to create activation energy. It won’t just happen.
6) When you are dissatisfied in life, your need for change and growth isn’t being met; that is a signal that your soul’s need for exploration isn’t being met.