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Could there be a positive side to procrastination? Generally, the answer is expected to be “no”,  given that procrastination is generally thought of as poor practice. However, if you change your perspective slightly and discover that holding out or holding off can actually teach more about how and why we operate the way we do, you might find procrastination isn’t all bad.

What is Procrastination?

There are avenues of information everywhere on how to get fit, what to eat, proper supplementation, recovery, prioritizing time, etc., and it’s hard not to feel like the internet (to name one) is pressuring the conscience to keep at it and ultimately stick to the program. Drink your water, eat your healthy foods, cut back on sugar, sleep more, stress less… the list is endless and all are purported keys to a transition to a healthy lifestyle.

Your clients have shown promise but have they truly committed themselves to a lifestyle change? Are they still coming to see you for appointments and putting in the work in front of you, but not noticing permanent change outside of your sessions?

This may be a form of procrastination which, by definition, is the action of delaying or postponing something. How do encourage your client to stop stalling and start the “stick-to-it?” What might be stopping them from making changes outside of the short window they see you? 

Getting to the bottom of what is really happening can take time, but in the process, there are valuable lessons that both you and your client can learn to keep procrastination to a minimum.  

Fear

Procrastination is often the result of an underlying fear. Fear often can stop a person from moving forward with a task, committing to follow through, or canceling the action altogether. Becoming your healthiest self is not just a physical endeavor, it is also psychologica and emotionall; overcoming fear can push your client to make the permanent changes you hope for. 

Unfortunately not every client is going to be open to talking about something that has makes them feel vulnerable and this is natural. However, opening up the dialogue by asking a few open-ended questions and figuring out how ready they are for change may save you time and provide meaningful answers. A few questions that can move you and your client in this direction would look something like this:

-How do you feel after you have succeeded at a task you have completed?  

-What has stopped you from wanting permanent change in your health?

-When are you most motivated during the day?

-Where do you see yourself a month from now?

-Why is being healthy important to you?

All of these questions give your client the opportunity to think on many different levels. Give them time to come back to you with the answers, and when they do, reflect them back thoughtfully and artfully. In doing so, you may uncover the root of a particular fear, such as fear of failure.

As the coach, take the same approach and give yourself time to let the answers resonate so that you can reconvene to form a clearer picture of what a lifestyle change looks like and how to make it stick. This detailed but simple piece of homework could be the key to future success. Perhaps they will finally make those changes forming the habits that will keep them progressing instead of falling short when you are not around.

You both may even realize that having this conversation has built trust and any additional fears can be openly discussed and handled.

 

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Trust

How does trust bridge the gap to letting go of fear?

This can be a key component to the exchange of procrastination to permanent lifestyle changes. Not all people are hardwired to trust. Some think in terms of earning it and others think in terms of losing it.

You meet your client for the first time. They are excited or perhaps nervous, but whatever the case, you have to establish a modicum of trust to begin with. Recall how procrastination generally happens; perhaps your client did go all-in on a commitment at one time that failed. They trusted it would work out, but it didn’t. The trust was broken, the fear settled in and a coping mechanism began…procrastination. 

You can help your client overcome their fear and lack of trust, and understand this failure as an outcome will not always be the case. There are ways that trust can be rebuilt (within them) and sustained so they recognize that failure is just a stepping stone in the bigger picture of achieving their goals. 

Examples of encouraging actions and support include:

Setting small goals that are attainable

-Be excited and congratulatory when they are achieved

-Give them space to fail—again failing in this case is not negative

-Be nonjudgemental

-Be supportive in their decisions

-Help come up with new ideas

Notice how fear and trust have an intertwined relationship when it comes to achieving success. Without fear we don’t know what we are capable of and without trust we will never find out. Procrastination just gives us a glimpse into what actually stops us from moving forward when we explore it.  

Coaching does not stop after your session for the day has ended. What makes up a successful partnership between a client and a coach is identifying and breaking patterns that do not serve your client well and replacing them with ones that do. This goes not only for those trying to lose weight, it goes for anything involving change. Allow for your client to “stall” if that is what you see happening, however do not let them stay there. Dig deeper, work together and see how procrastinating can actually be a positive!

 

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