What do you do if you need to do an activity regularly in order to achieve one of your goals? What if you do not like to do that activity? It can be real drag to force yourself to do things that you don’t want to do day after day, over and over again. More often than not, procrastination sets in and you suffer for it. I offer up a technique for battling this situation for your consideration.
I am a strong advocate of Tony Robbins’s 6 human needs. The premise of this is that there are these 6 needs that all human beings have. The first four of those needs are the needs of the body. Everyone will find a way to meet those needs, no matter what. These four needs are: certainty, uncertainty, significance, and love/connection. The last two needs are what Robbins calls the needs of the spirit, though if that is too new age for you just think of them as the needs for fulfillment.
When an activity is able to meet at least a few of these needs at high levels, you will become addicted to it. I see it as less of an addiction and more of how likely you are to do the activity. I have re-described the needs in terms of how they relate to activities below.
Certainty – Being comfortable with the activity, knowing that you can complete it, and knowing that the activity won’t cause you any pain. Pain here could be physical or mental; it could also be boredom.
Uncertainty – The activity isn’t the same, repetitive task over and over again. There is variety in it and it could potentially be seen as ‘fun.’ Or, you are able to find ways to make it seem different every time.
Significance – Will performing or completing the activity make you look good or important to other people? More importantly, will you feel that way?
Love/Connection – This could mean that you feel loved by someone when you are performing the activity. It could be that you know that the activity is helping you take care of your loved ones, which in turn makes you feel loved or they know that you are doing it for them so they show you more love. In my experience, since we are talking about activities and getting things done, connection comes into play more often. Specifically, is there social interaction with the activity? Do you feel like you are bonding with someone during the activity?
Growth – This is the need to get better. It could be specifically about the activity in question (aka you get better at the activity). It could be getting better at something more general (aka you work out, which makes you become more fit and better able to participate in your sport). It could also be about expanding yourself by learning something new (perhaps learning a new language).
Contribution – Does the activity allow you to give back? Contribution certainly does not have to be about money (though charitable giving could be an activity that falls here). It could be teaching others, building something for someone in need, or creating something that others can use to meet their needs.
How does this translate into enjoying an activity (and not procrastinating)? Think about an activity that you like to do, preferably one that you want to do more of. Chances are, it meets a number of needs at high levels. Let’s take a look at one: playing video games.
|Certainty||Alex is certain that he can turn on a video game and enjoy it. It doesn’t take a lot of time to set up, won’t cause him pain to play (at least not in the moment).|
|Uncertainty||Variety. Fun. The games are entertaining, have storylines, and are a means to escape from reality. For Alex, he lives in a world of pretend when playing games.|
|Significance||Alex is good at playing video games because he has had a lot of practice. He is able to see that he is good because of his point score or place on the leaderboards.|
|Love/connection||Most of the games that he plays are online, which means that he is playing with others from all over the world. He finds a community among these people. With headsets, it is very easy to make ‘friends’ online with whom he can play with.|
|Growth||The more he plays, the better he gets. He can get better at one game, or at many games, and can see that growth by gaining levels within each game. He can earn titles, get new weapons, etc.|
|Contribution||Again, he plays with others and can help them out in the game. Also, he can present his knowledge in an online forum to help others. He can also show his ‘real-life’ friends how to get better.|
Do you see why people play a lot of games? It is extremely easy for an activity like this to meet the needs of young people, especially when it is so hard for them to find activities in real life to meet their needs. To become addicted to an activity, you really only need to meet 2 or 3 of these needs at high levels. Think about the activities that you do today that you enjoy. I bet they meet at least a couple of these needs at high levels.
How can you use the 6 human needs (6HNs) on those dreaded activities that you do today? There is a 3 step process that might help.
- Decide that you are going to do the activity
- Match the activity with as many of the 6 human needs as you can
- Visualize the end result and the challenges that you will face to get there
Let’s take a closer look at these steps.
Step 1: Decision
Decision is the first choice in most anything that you do. When you make a decision, you tell yourself that this is now a part of you. As we have learned, when you make something a part of your identity, your mind will do whatever it can to make you ‘act into that person.’ To reinforce this decision to act on an activity, you can tell others about it, you can say it to yourself daily, and/or you can write it down and read it to yourself daily. Make the decision and reinforce it.
Step 2: Match the activity with your needs
As we saw in the table above, people can become addicted to activities because they meet their needs. It’s time to be intentional about where and how you spend your time. Follow the Q/A below to see how an activity might meet these needs.
Step 3: Visualize
Visualization is used partly in the previous step. Here, however, visualization is broken down between two pieces: seeing what you want the future to look like and picturing the hurdles along the way. Both are equally important in creating the drive to continue.
Now we get to use our imagination a little bit. First, create an image of the future around the activity in question, specifically what you will get out of the activity, how you will be viewed. Suggestions for this vision:
- Use the 6HNs as a framework for your vision (i.e. see the activity meeting any/all of the needs based on your answers to the questions)
- Keep the vision positive
- ‘See’ the vision in your head but also use sensory words relating to vision, sound, touch, etc.
- Make the vision emotionally powerful (i.e. do no say “by doing ‘X’ I help people;” rather say “by doing ‘X’ I was able to give someone the greatest experience of their life!)
A common reason that stops someone from continuing an activity after they have started is that they came upon some challenges and became dejected. As part of your visualization, really analyze all of the things that could happen. Make a plan for countering the challenges so that you do not need to waste time, energy, and stress when the conflict occurs by thinking about it then. Especially important here is ‘seeing’ yourself overcome the challenges and allowing yourself to feel the thrill, excitement, or triumph associated with overcoming those conflicts.
Becoming or staying interested in an activity can be difficult, especially when the activity was chosen for you (such as something in school or at work). To get yourself interested and to beat procrastination, try this three step technique. It can be as simple as making a decision, matching the activity to your needs, and visualizing!