How often does that inner voice pop into your head?
You know the one. It’s always there to provide you with an excuse, self-doubt, or anxiety. It shows up when you need it least.
Well, I’d like you to meet Barry, my inner voice.
He comes alive when I’m in bed and the alarm goes off. Telling me, I NEED 5 more minutes – like its life and death.
He is there when I push my comfort zone. Reminding me of the worst possible outcome, assuring me that it will occur.
Nagging me to choose mindless distractions over what I need to do.
Barry can also be encouraging – but only when it comes to working on what’s easy over what’s hard.
That inner voice serves a great purpose, to protect and make us aware of immediate dangers.
Although this worked well while living in the wild, the only hazards I’m facing now is when I forget to pick up oat milk for my wife’s morning coffee!
In the world we live in today, that inner voice may be holding you back from reaching your full potential.
Taking the first step
Taking the first step can be difficult, or it can be easy.
It’s easy to procrastinate, but hard to get started.
It’s easy to press snooze, but hard to get up and go to the gym.
The first step determines which direction you’ll go in – productive or distracted. Fulfilling your goals or procrastinating on them.
But there is a way to take back control — a way to override the inner voice that is holding you back from achieving something great.
5 seconds to succeed
You see, Barry is quick to jump to conclusions, but he’s slow to react. There is a small window of opportunity where I don’t have to negotiate with him.
Author Mel Robbins calls this, The 5 Second Rule.
In those first 5 seconds, Barry is still hibernating and doesn’t realize what we’re about to do.
Counting down 5… 4 … 3 … 2 … 1
Springing out of bed at the sound of your alarm.
Starting that report you know is due tomorrow.
Making that sales call you’ve been dreading all week.
Taking action before the inner voice realizes what’s going on. Beating it to the punch before it can make a list of excuses, causing inaction.
Two-minutes to greatness
Another technique written about by James Clear is called the two-minute rule.
If you’re looking for a boost of motivation for taking on a looming task or project, this is the technique for you.
The idea is to focus on the first 2 minutes of any project.
Your only goal is to achieve those first two minutes.
Anything that happens after is inconsequential.
Get a coffee or tea and begin to write an outline.
Pack your gym bag and get in the car.
Sit down and begin meditating.
The sole purpose is to focus on completing the first two-minutes of any task.
Who can’t get motivated to complete two-minutes of an activity? I can even convince Barry quite easily to commit to this one.
Once the two-minutes is up, you can stop what you’re doing guilt-free. But by focusing on getting started, you’re more likely to continue.
Use the two-minute rule as a source of motivation to overcome your inner voice and take on dreaded tasks or challenges you can’t seem to get started on.
It might sound odd, naming your inner voice. But when you own it, you become more aware of it. And through greater awareness, you can begin to slowly change its narrative.
Who’s that inner voice that is holding you back? What if you didn’t have to listen to it anymore? What could you accomplish?
We’ve seen that the first step is the most difficult, yet the most important. How you decide to act in the face of resistance will influence the steps that follow.
Put into practice the 5-second rule and try it out for yourself.
Tomorrow morning as the sound of the alarm count down
5… 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 and jump out of bed without a second thought.
Or focus on the first two-minutes of any task and hold yourself accountable to only completing those first 120 seconds.
You might fail at first, but that’s ok. The key is to focus on progress over perfection and keep practicing until it becomes a habit.
Becoming the master of your inner voice.