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How to virtually guarantee you’ll do what you’ve been procrastinating: the Motivation Chaining Method


When I first started my consulting business, I knew I needed to call prospective clients, but I kept putting it off. Each day, I’d put the same to-do on my list (“call prospective clients”), and each day, I wouldn’t do it. Instead, I’d feel stressed about it, overwhelmed about not knowing how to go about it, and anxiety over what to say when–if–I actually made the calls. At the end of each day, I’d feel guilty for not doing the task, and frustrated with myself and my procrastination.

And yet I knew that I’d have to talk to clients to get my business off the ground. I knew that this task would move me forward. And I still couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Now, we all have these kinds of tasks–things that we KNOW are good for us but we put them off just the same. It could be something like cleaning the garage or scheduling that colonoscopy.

But when you’re procrastinating something for your business, you’re sabotaging yourself. You’re putting off how soon people will be paying you money. You’re derailing your progress.

You’re postponing your dreams.

What are you procrastinating?

OK, maybe you’re the exception–though I doubt it. Maybe you’ve never procrastinated anything. If that describes you, then you’re superhuman–or lying to yourself.

It’s actually good to realize and admit that you’re procrastinating. Knowing your weaknesses is the first step toward change.

So, when did you last notice you were putting something off?

What “should” you have accomplished, but haven’t–even though you know that doing it will move you forward?

What if there was a way to virtually guarantee you’ll do the things that’ll move you forward?

Imagine the changes you could create in your life if you stopped procrastinating.

What if you stopped procrastinating in your consulting business?

What if you got those tough tasks done?

What results would you get?

  • Would you start getting clients–or more clients (if you already have some)?
  • Would you be able to raise your rates?
  • Would clients start coming to you instead of you spending time seeking them out?
  • Would you start earning enough through consulting to replace your day-job salary?

Well, there is a way–several, actually. I’ve found several tactics to virtually guarantee you’ll get those tough tasks done.

In this post, I’ll share one of those tactics.

By the way, this is just one of the tactics I cover in one of the modules in Breakthrough Consulting. I’m sharing it here to help move you forward, and to give you a taste of what’s in Breakthrough Consulting, which I’ll be re-opening in a couple short weeks.

How the Motivation Chaining Method helps you overcome procrastination

To illustrate the Motivation Chaining Method and why it’s so effective in overcoming procrastination, I’ll give an example.

Imagine you want to start an exercise program, say, running every day. Now, if you just try to use raw willpower to motivate yourself to go out and run every day, you might be able to do it for a few days or a week. But what happens over time is that you burn through your willpower, and pretty soon, you’ll end up falling off the wagon, no longer running or having any motivation to stick with your exercise program.

You’ve burned through all your willpower.

But what if you built up your motivational momentum so that you had enough inertia to almost make the big task–running each day–relatively easy? That’s essentially what the Motivation Chaining Method does.

The tactic boils down to this: break down your tough task into tiny, easy-to-do pieces, then focus ONLY on the next piece at any time.

What it looks like in practice

Keeping with our daily running example, you might break down the big task–going for a run–into small, very easy tasks, like:

  • get off the couch
  • put your running shoes on
  • step outside
  • walk a couple houses down the street
  • jog for 10 seconds

Each of those steps by itself is easy. But when you chain them together, you’ve accomplished your hard task.

Stop procrastination with Motivation Chaining: break tough tasks into tiny pieces, & focus ONLY on the next step. [Click to tweet]

Let’s look at another example: calling consulting prospects. On its own, that can be a pretty daunting task. Let’s break it down:

  • pick just 1 prospect from your list
  • take 30 seconds to review your phone calling script
  • take 30 seconds to visualize yourself calling the prospect and having a good conversation with them
  • marvel at how great you feel after the call is done
  • dial the prospect’s phone number

You’ll notice that there’s some pre-planning and preparation you’ll need to do prior to this chain (e.g., creating a list of prospects, drafting a calling script, etc.); if you need to, you can break down each of those pre-planning steps into their own chains.

Depending on your work style, you can create your own chain for calling consulting prospects or any other procrastinated task.

Tricks to boost your success

Besides the basic method I’ve outlined above, the following will increase your chances of success even further:

  • Focus ONLY on the next step–forget about the end goal for the moment. Remind yourself how ridiculously easy that next step is. You can do this. To help you stay even more focused on your next step, you can write each step out on a separate note card; a different note card for each step lets you focus more easily on just a single step at a time.
  • Marvel at what you’ve accomplished; in other words, stop for a few seconds and mentally pat yourself on the back for doing each step. This will highlight your success and will bolster your confidence that you can achieve your goal. Marveling at your accomplishments uses the psychological principles of priming and self-efficacy to further increase the likelihood you’ll succeed.
  • Remind yourself how good you feel about taking action. That positive feeling gives you immediate reinforcement.

Instead of relying on raw willpower to force yourself past procrastinating, break that tough task into pieces, and just start by doing the first easy piece. Essentially, you chain several small efforts into a big win.

Breakthrough Consulting will be re-opening

The Motivation Chaining Method is just one technique I teach in the 10 weeks of Breakthrough Consulting, my premium course. I’ll be sending out more info on Breakthrough Consulting and the new bonus material I’ve added to it: interviews with successful consultants on a range of specific topics.

If you found this useful, sign up now to make sure you don’t miss out.

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MissD - April 15, 2013 Reply

I am literally battling daily what you described in this post. I cannot pick up the phone and begin making the connections necessary to gain clients for my event production company. I know I need to do it, but when it comes to dialing the number – I freeze. I surely thought I was crazy and not cut out to run a business until I read this post. This is sooo frustrating!

    Greg Miliates - April 15, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for your comment!

    Yes, it’s incredibly frustrating, and can be very anxiety-producing, but it’s extremely common. The way you described freezing when you think of dialing the phone number was exactly how I felt early on when I first started my consulting business. Even though you realize that procrastination is self-defeating and self-sabotaging, it can be incredibly hard to overcome. That’s why I wanted to highlight one of the strategies from overcoming it from Breakthrough Consulting.

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