And this happens again and again and again. Seriously, what’s the problem?
Why are we so good at thinking of what to do but so terrible at actually doing those things?
The problem is you’re skipping an essential step. Here’s what it is…
The Mistake Every Productivity System Makes
Productivity systems rarely take emotions into account. Andfeelings are a fundamental and unavoidable part of why humans do what they do.
We can’t ignore our emotions. Because of the way our brains are structured, when thought and feelings compete, feelings almost always win.
And we can’t fight our feelings. Research shows this just makes them stronger.
Via The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking:
…when experimental subjects are told of an unhappy event, but then instructed to try not to feel sad about it, they end up feeling worse than people who are informed of the event, but given no instructions about how to feel. In another study, when patients who were suffering from panic disorders listened to relaxation tapes, their hearts beat faster than patients who listened to audiobooks with no explicitly ‘relaxing’ content. Bereaved people who make the most effort to avoid feeling grief, research suggests, take the longest to recover from their loss. Our efforts at mental suppression fail in the sexual arena, too: people instructed not to think about sex exhibit greater arousal, as measured by the electrical conductivity of their skin, than those not instructed to suppress such thoughts.
So what does the unavoidable power of feelings mean for motivation?
In their book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath say that emotions are an essential part of executing any plan:
Focus on emotions. Knowing something isn’t enough to cause change. Make people (or yourself) feel something.
We need to think to plan but we need to feel to act.
So if you’ve got the thinking part out of the way – how do you rile up those emotions and get things done? Here are three steps:
1) Get Positive
When do we procrastinate the most? When we’re in a bad mood.
Via Temptation: Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess:
So procrastination is a mood-management technique, albeit (like eating or taking drugs) a shortsighted one. But we’re most prone to it when we think it will actually help… Well, far and away the most procrastination occurred among the bad-mood students who believed their mood could be changed and who had access to fun distractions.
Meanwhile, research shows happiness increases productivity and makes you more successful.
What does the military teach recruits in order to mentally toughen them up? No, it’s not hand-to-hand combat.
It’s optimism. So how do you get optimistic if you’re not feeling it?
Monitor the progress you’re making and celebrate it.Harvard’s Teresa Amabile‘s research found that nothing is more motivating than progress.
Via The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work:
This pattern is what we call the progress principle: of all the positive events that influence inner work life, the single most powerful is progress in meaningful work; of all the negative events, the single most powerful is the opposite of progress—setbacks in the work. We consider this to be a fundamental management principle: facilitating progress is the most effective way for managers to influence inner work life.
(More on how to get happier here.)
Okay, so negativity isn’t making you procrastinate and holding you back. But what’s going to drive you forward?
Read the rest of the list here: