Does procrastination stop you from moving forward with your goals? Sometimes the cure is as simple as finding your hidden stopper.

Sam stumbled into the kitchen, still half asleep, and grabbed the new bottle of creamer to lighten his morning coffee. Flipping open the lid, he tilted the bottle to pour out the cream-and nothing happened. He quickly identified the problem, of course, and peeled back the foil seal, hidden beneath the lid, that was keeping the cream from flowing.

Whether your goal is to prepare a tasty cup of coffee or something much more complex, you wont succeed unless you learn to peel back the stoppers that get in your way. Often its as simple as recognizing what your hidden stopper is.

For most people, stoppers are habitual phrases they say to themselves right after they think “I should . . .” or when they notice a task that needs to be tackled in service of their goals. Common stoppers are “Im too tired,” or “I dont feel like it” or “Okay, as soon as I . . .” or “Maybe later.”

To find which phrase or phrases you personally tend to use to thwart your goal achievement, all you have to do is ask your subconscious to notice them. As easy way to do that is simply to ask yourself, “What stoppers do I usually use?” and wait for your mind to point them out to you. If you want to speed up the recognition, program yourself before you go to sleep at night by reminding yourself that you want to find your stoppers.

They arent all that hidden. You just havent paid any attention to them before. Now that you are aware that they are probably lurking in your behavioral repertoire, youll spot them quickly.

The next time you notice yourself saying a stopper phrase to yourself, immediately label it and reward your subconscious with a word of praise so it will continue pointing out to you when you use one. Just say, “Stopper phrase! Good job!”

Then pay attention to how automatically you use the phrase as a signal to stop carrying through on the action you intended to make toward your goal. Observe how completely it brought your momentum to a halt.

After a short bit of practice, you will even find yourself becoming aware of stop signals that you havent verbalized to yourself. You might see a paper that needs to be filed, for instance, and catch yourself dismissing the impulse to take care of it. You didnt repeat a stopper phrase to yourself; you just acted on a silent one. But another step toward your goal got postponed nonetheless.

Whether its verbalized or not, what recognizing your stopper phrase does is allow you to make a real choice instead of unconsciously reacting to a habitual pattern. When you are aware of your stop-signals, you can decide whether you really want to stop or if you are only responding to the stopper out of habit.

The more you choose to override the stopper and continue with your original intention, the weaker the stopper will become. When you take action despite the appearance of a stopper, over time you will train yourself not to bother issuing stoppers at all because they no longer work. Instead, you will begin to experience the joy of momentum and increased productivity that comes from following through with your decisions to act.
Youll get the cream into your coffee-and accomplished goals.