Don't worry: It's only a temporary rut.
It's common to look at unproductive people and just call them lazy. After all, we all know what laziness "looks" like. We've been lazy ourselves, but it's been a temporary, short-lived condition, and we move on to pursue our goals and dreams with plenty of determination.
But what happens when we lose that determination, and why do we lose it? Have we become one of the "lazy" people we've been so quick to condemn in the past? Or has fear taken over and stopped us dead in our tracks?
Fear and laziness are actually often related — one is an emotion and one is a behavior, and our emotions control our behaviors. These are the kinds of reflections and questions, among others, that must be analyzed and answered.
One truth that will never change is this: We will always find time to do the things we really want to do. If you aren't finding the time to do the things that will achieve the goals and dreams you have set, here are some things that will help you.
1. Write on paper how you're spending your time.
Obviously, if you work that's a big chunk of at least five days of your week. But what are you doing with all of your non-work time? If you can't get it down on paper now, then monitor yourself for a week and figure out where those chunks of time are going.
Are you watching TV during a lot of that time? Are you on Facebook a large amount of time? If your dream is to be an author, how much of that down time you spend on other things could be converted to writing?
2. List the steps that will lead to fulfilling your dreams.
You may have never done this or you may have not done it in a long time. Goals and dreams are reached progressively, not all at once. Set benchmarks and a timeline for reaching them. If you have to eliminate some other activities to do this, it will be worth it in the long-term. Sometimes laziness is conquered by just having a plan.
3. Do a goal check.
This may be a bit scary, mostly because you've probably had your goal/dream for a while. You've expressed it to others, and it's become a part of you. But if that dream is falling apart because you aren't moving toward it, it may be because it's no longer meaningful to you.
Here is the real test: If actions toward that goal are seen as drudgery or boring, or if you're deliberately procrastinating, then you have the wrong goal. Maybe you've outgrown it; maybe your priorities have changed, but you aren't lazy.
It's time for some real reflection on where you want to be five years from now. It's time to change course with no guilt or shame. People change course all the time — that's the wonderful thing about freedom of choice!
Fear paralyzes us, even when we don't recognize it as such. We often mistake it for laziness or procrastination, behaviors that do result from fear. So, what common fears might be related to your dreams and how can you conquer them?
4. Overcome the fear of failure with small risks.
Somehow in this society, we've developed the notion that failure is a reflection of a person's lack of ability, talent, or motivation. And because of this rather pervasive notion, the fear of failure keeps us from moving in the direction of our dreams.
Your dream isn't an overnight thing. It's achieved in sequential steps. So take a risk with just step one. Instead of quitting your job and sinking all of your savings into that dream venture, start freelancing on the side. Small successes will dissolve those fears over time.
5. Overcome the fear of criticism with silence.
This fear usually is the result of lack of self-confidence and the notion that our self-worth is from people outside of ourselves. Certainly we want to make our parents proud, but if that means that we fail to pursue a dream for fear of their criticism of it, then we're way too dependent on others for our validation.
Here's how you eliminate this fear: Stop talking about your dream to people who are critical of it. Pursue that dream and only speak of it to people who encourage you.
6. Overcome the fear of success by achieving small successes.
Yes, there are people who fear success, and you may be one of them. The problem here is this: Once you reach your dream, what next? Many people subconsciously don't reach their goals because they fear the need to set new ones to keep moving forward.
This is a certain amount of security in continuing to talk about your goal and in showing people that you're steadily working toward it. They'll admire your persistence even if it's never achieved. But if you achieve a goal, then you must set a new one, and what if you don't achieve that one?
Fear of success turns into fear of failure again! And the solution is the same. Take small risks, meet with success, and move forward one step at a time. If one goal is reached, set that new one, rinse and repeat.
7. Divide up your goals.
If you feel overwhelmed by your goal or dream, break it down into small chunks (also known as "Swiss cheesing" it). Bite and chew at one little piece at a time. Take just step one today.
8. Hang out with the right people.
Surround yourself with busy, active achievers instead of those without much direction or who discourage you.
9. Visualize yourself with your goal met.
What will your life look like? Where will you be? What will you be doing?
10. Make a separate "to-do" list for your dream.
This is separate from the lists you make for personal and work tasks. List each step in the appropriate sequence. Put it in a visible place, so that you see it every day.
For example, if you want your own business, step one will be to get your vision down on paper. Step two will be to develop your business plan. Step three may be to get a great name and register it in your state (that's always a good feeling). Step four may be to find the startup money. And so on.
11. Stop using distractions as an excuse.
"My present job keeps me too busy." "I don't have any support." "It's just too hard." Remember, we always find the time and the wherewithal to do what we want to do. If you aren't finding the time, then go back and do a "goal check."
12. Identify those fears and walk right over them.
Ask yourself, "What's the worst that could happen?" Will you be dead? No. Will your life be in ruins with nowhere to turn? No. If your parents or other family members disapprove, will they still love you? Yes.
Get the right dreams, lose your fear, and write your own story.
This article was originally published at motivationgrid.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.