12. How to Counter Procrastination by Procrastinating : “Motivational Judo”

The highlights and notes are derived from Section III: Chapter 12 of the Book, The Heart to Start, by David Kadavy.

Let‘s grant ourselves the permission to begin and finish:


Recap of III. “Winning by Beginning”

“Throughout Section III of the Book, you’ve noticed that the ego cheats yourself out of your art all of the time:”

“All these create valid reasons to not get started. All of these let us feel good about ourselves in the meantime.


The 10 Minutes of Me Time every Morning

Art is a lie that helps us understand the truth

Pablo Picasso

“Each morning, I got out of bed, put on my slippers, and shuffled past my hissing radiator, across the hardwood floor to my desk. I set the timer on my phone for ten minutes, and I wrote.

No matter what, write anything. Even you (the ego) may think it’s horrible, just do it. This is your commitment to ambitions, not your confort.

“I made a deal with myself: After those ten minutes were up, I could feel like I had accomplished something. If I was thirsty, I could drink. If I was hungry, I could eat. If I wanted to check email, I could check email. In the first ten minutes of my day, I had already gotten something done, so, I would tell myself, I deserve a reward. The only condition was this: I had to write for that entire ten minutes.”

This is a Great alternative from Social Media.


Use your Ego’s Momentum when it Strikes

“Here’s why it was a lie: “

“I almost never stopped at the ten-minute mark.”

“Yes, those first moments were hard. I was fighting to quiet my internal critic to write a few words. Soon after starting, I would suddenly be thirsty, or I’d suddenly be hungry, or I’d suddenly wonder about an email I was expecting. Having made this simple deal with myself,”

I would deflect each of those urges and keep my fingers moving.”

“When the ten minutes was up, I was no longer thirsty, I was no longer hungry, and I no longer wondered about email. “

“I had gotten past resistance and gained momentum.

“The ten minutes I had promised myself turned into thirty minutes, an hour, or two hours of solid writing – all before breakfast.”

“I was using Motivational Judo to get myself started and to gain the momentum to keep going….”

Motivational Judo Reasoning:

With Motivational Judo, you use the force of your own ego to kickstart your project and keep yourself moving.”


The Best Judo Stance against your Ego: Set a Goal on your Calendar

[Dan and David] “found that people were more likely to do something if they had it on their calendars. When they worked on a project together regarding productivity.

“For people who use their calendars, it’s quite a good tool. If you put things in their calendars, they’ll do it, and if they’re not in their calendars, they’ll probably not do it.”

Dan Ariely

“It was a lot harder to skip out on working on your novel once it was already on your calendar.”

“….Cheating can tell us a lot about how we cheat ourselves out of starting and why scheduling goals on a calendar would help people reach those goals.”


Subconscious Cheating is your Ego’s Best Attack

This section is based on the studies by Dan Ariely discussed further in detail within the chapter:

“When given the chance to cheat by checking their own answers, many participants took advantage of the opportunity. In fact, just about everyone cheated when given a chance – though not by much. “

Rather than finding that a few bad apples weighted the averages, we discovered that the majority of people cheated, and that they cheated just a little bit.

Dan Ariely, from a study

“Dan and his colleagues found that…

… participants truly believed that the scores they achieved through cheating were an accurate reflection of their skill.”

“They had no conscious knowledge that they were cheating at all.”

“They truly believed in their original scores, even though they had cheated.”

“We tend to cheat subconsciously.”

“No matter how easy they make it to cheat, no matter how clear they make it to participants that they won’t get caught, and no matter how much participants can gain by cheating,…

…people still rarely cheat big. Instead,…

…they cheat only a little bit.”

We cheat up to the level that allows us to retain our self-image as reasonably honest individuals.”

Dan Ariely

“It seems we cheat only up to the point that we can convince ourselves we’re still good people.”

How to Flip your Ego when it Cheats

“If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that you cheat yourself out of making your art all the time.”

“This self-deception is driven by the conflict between the ego and the self. Remember that …

the ego is trying to protect us….

It will convince us that we aren’t procrastinating, while at the same time allowing us to reap the benefits of that procrastination…

…In the short run, we have to do less real work, but in the long run, we end up never starting.”

“This is why putting goals on someone’s calendar helps that person achieve those goals. If you have to tell your app that, once again, you aren’t going to work on your novel, as planned, there’s no hiding the fact that you are cheating yourself.”

“If having Goals on your calendar is so powerful, and if I had milestones on my calendar for planning my book project, why did I still have to lie to myself each morning to get myself to write? This brings us to a subtle but important detail of the martial art of Motivational Judo:…

…You have to apply just the right amount of force in your commitments…

If you make…

…too small a commitment, you won’t gain enough momentum

…to keep moving. If you make…

…too big a commitment, you’ll just end up cheating yourself.”

“When I originally put milestones on my calendar, I tried to plan long daily writing sessions. I’d put a four-hour block of time on my calendar that said “writing.”

“To my ego, I had made an unreasonable demand. It was enough to cause my ego to trick me into thinking I was thirsty, or that there was an important email that I couldn’t miss.”

“Even if I felt thirsty or hungry, or if I felt an urge to check email, those urges weren’t strong enough to take me off task. There was a stronger force fighting back:

….my own need to see myself positively….

By “lying” to myself by committing to ten minutes, I was able to gain enough momentum to make resistance melt away and to keep writing for much longer.”

“To find the right Motivational Judo move for you, look out for how your ego protects you from starting your art. How can you use the need for a positive self-perception in a way that will give you momentum?”

“Some methods will be too weak to get you going. Others will be so extreme that you can’t get yourself to follow through. You have to find the sweet spot.”

“Even if you find a Motivational Judo move that works for you,

what works may change over time.”


I hope these notes have helped you as much as much as they have saved my life.

With Love and Sincerity,

Jose Michael Rubio

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.