How to Do Something Even When You Don’t Feel Like Doing It

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“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don't like to do. They don't like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.“
E.M Gray

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.”
Jim Rohn

“With self-discipline most anything is possible.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Often you have to do something you don’t feel that much like doing. Such is life. Maybe it’s telephone call where you risk rejection in some way. Maybe it is finishing a report or essay for work/school. Maybe it’s just about getting those dishes done or going to the gym.

So what do you do? Do you get up off the chair and get going? Or do you procrastinate and decide to do it “another day”?

I do a bit of both. But I have found a few ways to improve my consistency – one of the most important things for any kind of success – pretty dramatically and make things easier.

Step 1: Accept it.

When you feel resistance within towards doing something the natural instinct may be to try to push that feeling away. To brush it off. I have found that doing the opposite and just accepting that it is there can do wonders.

Tell yourself: “This is how I feel right now and I accept it”.

This sounds counterintuitive and perhaps like you’re giving up. However by accepting how you feel instead of resisting it you reduce the emotional energy that you are feeding into this problem. It then tends to just kinda lose speed like a car that runs out of fuel. And oftentimes it becomes so weak after while that it just moves out of your inner focus and disappears.

This step may be all you need to reduce the negative feelings enough to be able to start taking action. If not, move on to the next step.

Step 2: List the positives.

After you have accepted how you feel list the positives of getting this thing done. Do it on paper, on your computer or just in your head.

When you don’t feel like doing something it’s very easy to get stuck and just focus on the negative aspects such as it being hard work or the risk of pain or failure.

So you need to change what you are focusing on to motivate yourself to take action. Making a list of positives like benefits and possible opportunities can be very effective for turning your focus around.

If you have problems getting started ask yourself questions that will empower you. Questions like:

  • What is awesome about this situation?
  • What is the hidden opportunity in this situation?

You can pretty much always find positives about anything. There are lessons to be learned about yourself and your world and opportunities to be found if you look at things the right way.

Step 3: Just do it.

You should now have reduced much of the resistance within and feel more motivated to start taking action and getting your thing done.

It is at this point tempting to start thinking again. To reconsider and ponder. But I have found that if you do that then it easy to fall back into the same place where you began. You start to question doing this. Your focus starts to turn back to the negative aspects again.

So when I am at this point I usually just stop thinking and get my butt out of the chair. I get moving and I just do it.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • List the postives is a GREAT one. It’s not always easy to do this, but it really can help you out!

  • Hi Henrik,

    My favorite line here is “What is awesome about this situation?” Love it! So often when I’m coaching my clients to move out of places where they’re feeling ‘stuck,’ our discussion centers around how they currently “see” the situation…and more importantly, how they could choose to see it differently.

    It’s amazing how liberating it can be to look at something from an entirely different and positive perspective. And the majority of the time, I will hear my clients say, “I never even THOUGHT of looking at it that way!” Good stuff.

    Life is what we make of it, right?

    • Absolutely, people often get stuck in one perspective and start to think that it is “reality”. I think that is one reason why questions like these can be so liberating for people. It’s a bit like they see a new world.

  • Heinrik,

    I think listing the positives is one of the most powerful aspects of this method. Usually asking yourself the question, what’s great about this is a really powerful thing. For example, I’ve been a somewhat messy job situation not being able to find one after finishing business school, but when I ask myself “what’s great about it” I find that there is actually quite a bit.

    • Thanks for the comment, I am happy to hear that positive questions are helping you out.

  • Henrik,

    Something I always find helpful for making progress in the absence of motivation is taking more of a 50,000 foot view of things. This thing I don’t feel like doing… how does it fit into my goals in the bigger picture? How much closer will it bring me if I do it? How much am I penalizing myself by not taking action? Thinking of the task in the context of how it can move you towards your ultimate goal is a big motivator for me. Thanks for the sharing.

    • That’s a great way of looking at things. It’s easy to get stuck in thinking how difficult or hard something will be today but when you put it into a larger perspective things tend to become easier and more meaningful to do. Thank you for sharing that!

  • Hey Henrick,

    I like step 2 the most, because I think this is a way to start associating positive emotions with doing something and in a way, to persuade yourself into doing something. I know it certainly works for me :)


  • These are all very true, especially number two. I too have had many experiences like that when I feel sick about it and really don’t want to do it. I wonder if our body automatically does that to give us an excuse? I’ve found though, that if you just get started, you’ll never want to stop. Also, if put down all the negative things that will happen, I think that’s a really good motivator as well. People seem to hate bad things much more than they like good things.

    • Yeah, I think the body sometimes can do that to “protect” a person from for example rejection, embarrassment etc. It may be a fear of failure and previous negative experiences that wells up inside and triggers such a thing.

  • This makes perfect sense to me! Thank you for sharing!

  • Hi!

    I love your “Just do it” suggestion.
    This approach really helps me when I *know* it’s time to just get up and get going…
    I think of it as “Don’t Think, Just Do!”

    Thank you for your awesome blog!
    I’ll be back!

    :) Susan

    • Thank you! I think about it in a similar way to, often I tell myself “Don’t think”. It is very helpful, especially if you have been a bit of a chronic overthinker like I have been. :)

      • yes… it appears we share a common dilemma.
        lets think about that…. giggle.

  • Henrik,
    Very good points to force yourself to do what you don’t feel like doing it!
    However, should we force ourselves to do what we don’t feel like doing it?
    For me, one of the secrets of life is that you make decisions every single day! When we are aware of this, we will be able to make decisions accordingly to our highest interests. When we do that, we will be loving what we do and doing what we love. There will not be room for something that we don’t feel like doing it!
    All the best,

    • Hi, that’s a good point you bring up. However, I think for many people – myself included – there will be days when you feel inner resistance, when you feel fear, when you just feel plain tired etc. On such days the tips above can be very useful to help you change your emotions and the headspace you are in so you are able to take action once again.

  • MIsa

    This is a damn of a good site :) thank you for creating it Henrik ;)

  • Oh my gosh!
    I can overthink ANYTHING to death!

    These days I know that when I’m over thinking that I’ve definitely been triggered and its a message to “go there” to process why… WHILE I go into “Don’t think, Just do” mode…

  • That is the mentality that i have quite often. Look at the positives and just do it. Because i believe there is a reason for the things we do each day. That they are getting us one step closer to our goals.
    Great post.

  • Wow. Nice quote from the late and great Jim Rohn.

  • I just love your blog. Technically, I think about some of the things you mentioned, each time I found my self in the situation of doing something that I wasn’t in the mood for, or, as you said when i didn’t felt like doing. Now, I have my list complete. Thank you!