How to Do What You Don’t Want to Do
Feeling stuck or struggling with procrastination? If you’re feeling stuck and tired of procrastinating, this is how to do what you don’t want to do.
I’ll ask the obvious question: Why would you want to do what you don’t want to do? Why even discuss doing what you don’t want to do? The answer is, quite simply, not that simple.
3 kinds of What You Don’t Want to Do
- I don’t want to do it because it’s boring.
- I don’t want to do it because I want to do something else.
- Something boring you have to do, so you can do something awesome.
I Don’t Want to Do It Because It’s Boring
The first kind is the obvious kind. You don’t want to do things that bore you, that hurt, or are otherwise unpleasant to yourself or others.
So you never get to do the big, awesome things you want to do because you don’t want to do the dull, little things you have to do.
You also don’t gain resilience or toughness. As Mark Manson said in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***, “Avoiding suffering is a form of suffering.” Even worse, you’re living with the expectation that life will always be fun and pleasant.*
Striving to avoid suffering will prevent you from doing work that needs to be done. It will keep you from taking care of your health, your relationships, and maybe your home. When you avoid difficult conversations or tedious tasks, the problems don’t go away. They secretly grow.
I say secretly, but everyone except the procrastinator knows it.
“The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame.”
– Mark Manson
I Don’t Want to Do It Because Something Else is More Fun
Then there are the What You Don’t Want to Do because you want to do something else. These may be part of the third type. I’ll work that out later. This is an opportunity cost. You don’t want to go for a walk because you want to knock out a few more episodes of “Breaking Bad.” You don’t want to eat salad because you want French fries. Economists call it Opportunity Costs.
You could just put French fries in your salad. Be sure and give me credit for that.
Think About Work
There’s that one job you can do that will really make some progress for you, but it is sooo boring. Or maybe it is soooo hard. So you do something else. You do something more fun.
You do something that maybe needs to be done, or maybe it makes you look and feel busy, but it’s definitely not hard. It also doesn’t move the proverbial needle.
If you don’t knock out those vital, boring tasks, though, you don’t make the progress towards accomplishments that further your career. Even worse, you never finish projects, and unfinished projects don’t stop piling up on their own.
How many times have you avoided a task because it was boring or unpleasant? After you finally knock it out, did you realize that the task wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be?
Often times, the work of avoiding a task causes more suffering than the task you want to avoid.
Think About Working Out
We know we need a strong core and strong shoulders, especially with continually sitting and sitting and staring at screens.
Shoulder exercises are boring, though. So we work on the biceps because we’ve got big sleeves to fill when we’d really look better and feel better if we’d go ahead and do that shoulder work.
Don’t even get me started on crunches…
Give working out a try. It doesn’t even have to be unpleasant. I enjoy workouts like Insanity, but insanity isn’t necessary.
Walking will do wonders for your physical and mental health.
I Need to Do It So I Can Do Something Awesome!
Lastly, there is the complicated What You Don’t Want to Do. These are the things that you don’t want to do, but that you have to do in order to do something else that you want to do more than you don’t want to do the things you don’t want to do.
If you want to finish a half marathon, you have to put in some miles every day or so for several months.
You want to cross the finish line, but you don’t want to run consistently. As I write this in July, in the middle of a hot Texas summer, I can assure you that there are days when you don’t feel like running.
You have to run a little when you don’t feel like it so that you can run farther and faster when you do feel like it.
You want to be thin and healthy, but you don’t want to buy, wash and eat vegetables and fruit. I know I don’t.
You want to be a best-selling author, but you don’t want to spend thousands of hours writing.
My first half marathon was in August in Texas. I started running in February but didn’t set my sites on 13.1 until around April.
For a couple of months, I hopped out of bed at 5:00 am every day to get in my weekly miles. I had to get up at 4:00 am on weekends so that I could get in my long runs before the temperature reached the high 90s.
Granted, I love running, just not waking up at 4:00 am on weekends to run in 85-degree heat.
Imagine Attaining Your Goals To Help You Do What You Don’t Want To Do
When I didn’t want to run, I imagined myself crossing the finish line and getting the medal.
My daughter and had to complete hundreds of Taekwondo classes, tests and, several hours of service just to qualify for the black belt test. The black belt test was four days of pain, sweat and, tears. Not everybody bled.
I imagined my kid and me getting our black belts at the ceremony so often and so intensely, I often thought I was already a black belt. To paraphrase Lin-Manuel from Hamilton, I imagined getting my black belt so much it felt more like a memory.
I thought I wanted the medals. I thought I wanted a belt. That changes when you get the medal or the belt, though. Sure, you’ve got the hardware or the cloth, but that’s just a thing you wear. Anyone can buy medals and belts online.
Awesome is what we became. I’m a half marathon finisher. My kid and I have black belts, but my kid and I are Black Belts.
It Isn’t a “How to.” It’s a “Why to”
How you do what you don’t want to do is focus on why you do what you have to do to do what you want to do. It is why you do what you have to do to be what you want to be. Awkward sentences, but the truth. I’ll break them down.
How you do what you don’t want to do is
focus on why
you do what you have to do
to do what you want to do.
It is why
you do what you have to do
to be what you want to be.
“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”
What is something that you don’t want to do that you feel you should?
Enjoy the story of our black belt test on Medium.
Learn more about Getting vs. Becoming.
I only recommend products I use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. In other words, the links to Mark Manson’s book are affiliate links. Thank you in advance! And back to the post.
Then go in Peace.