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When you want to give up, become an inchworm instead

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Nivi Jayasekar

Apr 03 2021

2 min read

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In the tortoise and hare fable, the slow yet steady tortoise unexpectedly beats the fast yet flaky hare in a race. The race was a zero-sum game with the tortoise as the winner and the hare as the loser. But life is not a zero-sum game. The only way you lose is if you give up.

Even an inchworm can win at life as long as it doesn’t give up on its goal. So, when it feels pointless and you want to give up, use this method to inch past your inner resistance.

Choose a reward. Pick something that you can’t live without doing at least once a day, like email or checking social media.

Set a timer for 5 min. Pick a small micro task that helps you move forward to your goal. If your goal is to write a book, then maybe your 5 minute task is to write a single paragraph or create a chapter outline. 

Put away everything except the tools you need to create. Use the 5 minutes to work on your micro task. It’s ok if you’re not able to complete the task within the time window, but resist all temptation to do anything except your micro task. After all, 5 minutes in a day is just 0.34% of your day, 0.0009% of a year in your life. 

Enjoy your reward and then repeat.

Ironically, the best way to resolve procrastination is by taking action. By making the task smaller and easier to accomplish, you can trick your brain to get started. And once you get started, it’s easier to keep going.

If 5 minutes is too hard, you can even start with 2 minutes or 30 seconds. Just commit to taking action, no matter how small.

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