Do you tend feel like giving up before you even start, simply because you think the goal being set is impossible to achieve?

And yet upon completing it, you found out that the task was much easier to accomplish than you had expected? That’s really how our brains work, everything is controlled by our own perceptions. The more mental effort we believe is needed to accomplish a goal, the more we are likely to give up. That’s why the more difficult a task seems to be, the more we fear starting the work. We feel overwhelmed before even doing the work, which I love to refer as fear of initiation. A key contributor to our love-and-hate relationship with procrastination.

So how do we avoid being overwhelmed at the first place? First we must be objective about the task at hand, meaning we should think about that task in terms of objective units, rather than the effort involved. Think in minutes, kilometres, number of words, or any other objective measurements. For instance, if you’ve always wanted to try 24-hour fasting but find it too ‘challenging’, instead of imagining the effort you must exert to fight off hunger or the desire to eat, think in objective units: a 24-hour fasting is essentially skipping two meals. Just two meals. It’s not so daunting anymore, is it? If you kept postponing going somewhere because it’s too ‘far’, Googlemap to find out exactly how many minutes is needed to reach that place. When your brain operates in objective units, you can avoid being emotionally drained by your own perception of how much effort was needed from you.

Second, look back and recount the times you’ve been put in similar situations or faced with similar changes and ended up with a banging success. Let those experiences be the ‘gold medals’ to remind you that if you have succeeded in the past, then you can be successful too now. When you see that success is posible (because past successes proved so), your brain will be able to better channel all your energy and resources towards completing that goals.

Third, keep your eyes on the prize, not the hurdles. Don’t focus on the outcomes we fear—losing the client, losing our job, not getting promotion, and so on and so forth. The more our brain process all this pessimistic thoughts, the more likely all that fears become our reality. What we focus on becomes our reality. That’s why it is important to focus on positive goals. Practice visualising the small steps you need to take to get closer and closer to your goals. Have a clear visual images of what success would realistically look for you, and your brain will guide you towards the the right things to focus to get you there.

Now that you’re equipped with three key tactics to avoid being overwhelmed, you’re ready to conquer that daunting task. Bring it on, baby!


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