Make It So Easy You Can’t Say No
by Rebecca Joy
Have you ever heard of the Zeigarnik effect?
Just understanding this concept could possibly change and improve the course of your writing and your life. When fully understood and implemented, it will steer you and your everyday behaviors in a healthier more productive direction and reduce procrastination in getting your work finished.
We’re psychologically wired to finish what we start, due to a phenomena known as the Zeigarnik effect (named after Bluma Zeigarnik, Russian psychologist, 1926). When people manage to start something, they’re more inclined to finish it.
In their book Social Psychology and Human Nature, Roy Baumeister and Brad J. Bushman describe the Zeigarnik effect as follows:
The Zeigarnik Effect is the tendency to experience
intrusive thoughts about an objective
that was once pursued and left incomplete.
My business coach, Pamela Slim, reminded me of this concept recently. She shared that when we feel challenged or unmotivated to get something done, we should tell ourselves that we’re going to work on a project or task for just 10 minutes.
What’s so intriguing about “taking that first step” is that as a result, the mind wants to continue and will seek resolution. When people manage to start something, they’re more inclined to finish it. Stopping after 10 minutes usually doesn’t happen. Ten minutes may turned into 20 minutes … 30 minutes … an hour … until you’ve made substantial progress.
The Zeigarnik effect teaches that the secret to overcoming resistance and beating procrastination to new habits is to start somewhere … anywhere. If we value the habit and think it’s possible, just taking a first step can be the difference between failure and success.
Some simple writing tips to create a habit:
- Sit down and write a sentence, regardless of the quality and length, even though you may not be motivated to write.
- Write everything down that needs to be done and take on each task one by one. Then break down the big tasks into smaller ones, making them more likely to be completed.
- Set a daily writing quota, whether it’s weighted in words or minutes; when you reach that goal, you’ll more than likely want to continue.
As Leo Babauta, creator of the Zen Habits blog, says: “Make it so easy you can’t say no.”
If that ornery procrastination bug starts showing up, attempting to take you off course, try incorporating any one of these basic tips into your early-morning writing routine. Trick your brain to stop procrastinating. The next thing you know, your writing project will be finished and you’ll be reveling in the enjoyment and feeling of having it complete.
An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest.
— Sir Isaac Newton
A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.
— Chinese proverb
As a Phoenix firefighter for more than 26 years, now retired, Rebecca Joy had the unique opportunity to collect firefighters stories and compile them into a dynamic anthology book, called Classic Tales from the Firehouse: Firefighters’ Stories of Calamity, Courage, and Caring. Also a speaker, social entrepreneur, and creator of the Simple Awareness Method (S.A.M.), Rebecca continues to save lives and effect positive change in a different capacity by sharing a powerful, practical and life changing message on mindfulness and conscious living. To order your copy of Classic Tales, please visit TalesFromTheFirehouse.com for more information.