I am an absolute sucker for TV series. I love them.
Sopranos, Peaky Blinders, Game of Thrones…you name it I’m seen them.
The most recent programme of choice is Black Mirror.
(If you haven’t seen it, I’d highly recommend you give it a go…it’ll get you thinking believe me.)
Anyway…after staying up an hour later than I should have I woke up yesterday feeling knackered.
Why did I stay up for that extra episode?!!
I’m sure you’ve asked yourself that before …
Because sometimes we do things to satisfy our present selves knowing that it’ll have negative consequences in the future.
Staying up an extra hour to watch another episode on Netflix even though you’ll be knackered the next day.
Having that extra glass of wine knowing it’ll give you a fuzzy head the next day
Nailing a full family sized bag of Grain Waves knowing full well it’ll cause some stomach distress and double your calorie count for the day.
If this sounds like you…you’re not alone.
This is part of human nature and it’s called ‘Akrasia’.
People have been aware of Akrasia for a long, long time…Greek philosophers named it.
It’s quite simply defined as ‘a state where someone acts against their better judgment’.
Aka procrastinating and not following through on what you set out to do.
Why is akrasia so common?!
Basically the human brain values immediate reward more highly than rewards you mayreap in the future.
If you set a target for yourself, losing weight for example, you’re making plans for yourfuture self.
This is all well and good until it’s decision time….
Unfortunately your brain is prone to forgetting your future self when it’s time to make a decision…your brain is thinking about your present self and it cares a LOT more about instant gratification than long term progress.
When you’re making plans and feeling motivated your brain is valuing and buying into those potential long term benefits…but when it comes to the here and now….crunch time….satisfying your present self is priority.
The good news is that it’s all under your control…being aware of how this works is the first step to beating it.
Here are a few tips on overcoming your akrasia…
1) Make it ridiculously easy to start
The first step is often the hardest. The idea of starting something new is almost always harder than actually doing it.
Let’s take weight loss as an example…if you’ve got 10kg to lose it may seem like a mammoth task.
Changing your diet, getting back in the gym, cutting back on the booze….it’s all too much to comprehend…so you just don’t do anything…you procrastinate….
“I’ll wait till next month when work will be quieter, the family will be less time consuming and I’ll be able to get to the gym six times per week, do a Juice + diet and go tee-total”.
Stop making it so hard. Think of one small habit you could change tomorrow without really trying…one habit that will take you even a tiny bit closer towards your end goal.
Could you go for a 10 minute walk before breakfast twice next week?
Could you cut your boozing back from five nights per week to four?
Could you prep your lunch for tomorrow rather than grabbing a slice of pizza in the canteen?
Once your new habit is firmly in place, add another. Before you know it, a few weeks down the line, you’re moving more and eating less…and hey presto you’re making progress towards your final goal.
Get started and the rest will fall into place.
2) Reduce the chances of bad decisions
It’s important to embrace this concept of akrasia rather than ignore it. Stop kidding yourself that you’ll have the self control to resist making the wrong decisions.
What you can do, is take simple steps to ensure you don’t even get chance to make the wrong decisions.
Design your future actions rather than leaving them to chance.
Prone to some late night snacking? THROW THE SNACKS IN THE BIN! Don’t even give yourself the opportunity to raid the cupboard.
Want to cut down on the booze? Driving to the pub or restaurant FORCES you to stay sober.
Tell someone else about your goals. Write it down on a piece of paper and let them know exactly what you’re working towards.
Knowing someone else is invested in your goals makes you FAR more likely to follow through.
So remember…akrasia doesn’t have to negatively effect your life…take control!