Stop Waiting Until You Feel Like It

tired or bored little girl sitting on a bench in a park, black and white image

This little girl is definitely not feeling it today. What about you?

Last night, my wife and I had an epic standoff with our oldest daughter (she’s 6, if you were wondering.)

To make a long story very short, my daughter wasn’t feeling well and we needed her to take some medicine that she really needed to take before she went to bed. Predictably, she thought that the medicine would taste “yucky,” so she defiantly folded her arms made it very clear that she wasn’t having any of it.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a blog post detailing the painfully boring details of the standoff (and besides, if you’re a parent reading this, then you already know how these stories end, right?)

The good news is that after nearly an hour (yes, an hour!) she finally gave in, but that’s actually not the point. It’s what my daughter kept saying over and over again that inspired me to write this blog post.

Repeatedly, she said, “I don’t waaaaaant to!” or “I don’t feeeeeeeel like it!”

That’s not terribly surprising, though. She’s six years old. Kids rarely choose to do things that they don’t feel like doing, do they?

And that leads me to our problem.

There aren’t any kids reading this blog.

If we’re going to be honest–you, me and most everyone else has, at one time or another, decided not to do something that we knew that we should do, solely because we didn’t feel like doing it.

Sure, if that happens once in a while, that’s cool. But, if it is our default setting to wait until we “feel like it” before taking necessary action, then we are guaranteed to experience sad, pitiful and mediocre lives until we mercifully have the casket closed on us when we die.

I’m not down with that, and I hope that you’re not either.

The New Expectation

There is one thing that 99 percent of failures and successful folks all have in common–they all hate doing the same things. The difference is successful people do them anyway.” -Darren Hardy

If you’ve followed The Positivity Solution for a while, then you know that I am absolutely fascinated by human behavior.

Specifically, why are some people able to overcome enormous odds in order to reach their goals, while others crumble like a Jenga puzzle at the first sign of a challenge?

As I’ve said before, I think that a large part of the difference comes down to two things:

  1. How badly we want to make our goals a reality.
  2. Our ability to tolerate the inevitable pain that we’re going to face along the way.

While that is absolutely true, I think that there’s something else that could trip us up:

The misguided idea that we need to “feel like” taking action, before we actually take action.

If you want to make a major change in your life (losing weight, saving money, leaving an unhealthy relationship, etc.) I can pretty much guarantee that you’re not going to feel like it at first.

  • You’re not going to feel like going home and putting in the effort to cook a nutritious meal, especially when the McDonald’s drive thru is just a block away from your house.
  • You’re not going to feel like putting money aside into your savings account, especially when you could go buck wild on a Black Friday shopping spree in a little over a week (if you’re into that.)
  • You’re not going to feel like sending your ex’s phone calls directly to voicemail, especially when you’re home alone and you miss the feeling of being in a relationship (even if it’s a dysfunctional one.)

I think that we’ve had it wrong all along.

We shouldn’t expect to magically “feel like it” before taking necessary action.

Instead, we should expect that we won’t feel like it in the beginning, and then we must be prepared to fight through that feeling on our way to our goals.

Our goals, dreams and best lives deserve at least that, don’t they?

As Darren Hardy’s quote above said perfectly, that is what successful people do.

I’ll take it one step further–that’s what adults do.

The Secret to Feeling Like it

I’ve never admitted this publicly before, but I can safely say that the overwhelming majority of the blog posts that I’ve written on The Positivity Solution, I didn’t feel like writing. At least, not initially.

All of my blog posts are written late on Sunday night (or really early Monday morning, in this case), and I’m usually exhausted and craving a good night’s sleep in the worst way.

Before sitting down in front of my laptop each Sunday night, if someone asked me if I felt like writing another blog post or if I felt like going to sleep, my answer would always be sleep.

But I still sit down in front of my laptop anyway.

What makes me do it? It’s not because I have superhuman willpower, believe me. It’s because I understand this very important secret:

The sensation of “feeling like it” rarely comes before taking action.

Pretty much every time, I sit down in front of the computer, and even though I don’t feel like it initially, the momentum eventually builds after I start writing, and before I know it, I’m writing with energy and joy.

You’ve been there too, I’m sure. For example, almost everyone alive has experienced “not feeling like” going to the gym, but still choosing to go anyway.

If you’re anything like me, it usually starts with begrudgingly putting on your gym clothes, sulking to the car, dragging yourself inside of the gym, getting onto your machine of choice…and then, something clicks.

Once you get started with your workout, momentum is created and you actually feel like working out (which didn’t even seem remotely possible just minutes earlier.) Most importantly, every time afterward you are SO glad that you followed through instead of giving in to your feelings.

Action is the key to changing our mental states, and ultimately, our lives.

Waiting for the ideal feeling before we take action, is not.

Doing It, Now

I remember the advice that was given to me from one of my mentors when I started The Positivity Solution, and I was ready to start taking my writing seriously:

“Real writers don’t wait until inspiration hits them to write, they don’t wait until they get three hours of uninterrupted writing time to write, they don’t wait until things finally slow down at work to write, and they certainly don’t wait until they feel like writing. Writers write, period.”

I believe that this applies to every meaningful goal that we’re chasing in our lives.

My vision is to leave this world a little more positive than I found it, through my writing or through my speaking. I know that it means that I’ll have to do some stuff that I don’t feel like doing, initially–and that’s okay. I refuse to let my feelings guide the direction of my life. That’s what kids do.

Responsible adults let their vision guide them instead.

Just for today, forget about how you’re feeling about the action that you know that you must take, and just take the action toward your vision. Even if it’s just a baby step.

I can promise you that the feeling of doing whatever is necessary to improve your life, is the only feeling that really matters.

Your Turn

Have you ever been guilty of waiting until you felt like it before taking action? Have you ever experienced the feeling of taking action before you felt like it, and then gaining momentum afterward? Either way, jump into the comments and make your voice heard!

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.
Shola
Shola
Shola

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Comments

  1. I LOVE the pic that accompanies this article. Thank you for this reality check!

  2. This is probably the cause of a great deal of my own procrastination. Seriously, who ever ‘feels like’ doing all the adulting-related stuff??? I am blessed that I work really well under pressure, so I have not had any bad results from procrastinating, but still…sometimes I wish I did. Then maybe I’d stop doing it! (yeah, nope…)

    This also reminded me of the meme I saw on Facebook… it said something like, “Doing all the stuff I don’t want to do is called being an adult and it’s why I’m allowed to buy alcohol.” lol So, if that’s what it takes to motivate me? I’m okay with that!

    Seriously, though, I agree. Too many times I hear from people who stay stuck…whether it’s in a bad job, bad relationship, or their own bad mood….who just don’t feel like changing. To them I say, then stop complaining! I can only listen to that kind of nonsense for so long, and then it’s time to do something or be quiet about it all.

    Happy Monday, Shola! Thank you for your commitment to keep sharing words of encouragement and change with all of us. I am cracking up at the thought of you trying to get your daughter to take medicine. I was blessed with pill-swallowers. So that battle was rare in our house!!!

    Kathy

    • Kathy, that meme is hilarious and so true! I also hear you about people complaining about being stuck and not taking action to improve their lives. I honestly can’t think of a time when doing what was necessary was “fun” or something that I felt like doing. Even worse, every time when my feelings stop me from taking necessary action, it always caused me pain. Always.

      On a funnier note, the medicine standoff with my daughter was really pretty hilarious. If we could have videoed that insanity, we would have been entertained for years and years and years!

  3. Shola, Happy Monday! I feel so blessed, and so grateful to you, that you connect with us every Monday, despite exhaustion feeling like sleep. Your efforts are absolutely noticed by all.

    Now, this “not feeling like it” thing. That bad habit has held me back in career, relationships, and health. I confront every day. It never goes away, so I have learned to work through it. In addition to your excellent tips, I’ll add two:

    1. Refocus. What do you “feel like” having in the long term? Example: Boss Lady says she needs me to organize data for her to present at a meeting in one hour. I do not “feel like” stopping my own work to spend an hour making an Excel spreadsheet. Ok, but do I “feel like” continuing to have a friendly, relaxed relationship with my boss? Or do I feel like making her think I’m not doing anything I don’t want to do unless she is harsh and threatening? Which boss do I “feel like” working for? Try to focus on consequences, and which consequence you “feel like” living with.

    2. Perfectionism: I fall into the trap of “no feeling” like something when maybe I’ve built it up too much. Did Boss Lady actually ask for one of my famous spreadsheets, the envy of all? No, she asked me to organize data. I ask few questions, the data is simple, I offer to type few lists. She says I can not it down on a steno pad, she nust needs to be organized, and we can prepare something later if people want copies (doesn’t always turn out so easy, but probably 25-30% of the time it does!). So, before you decide you don’t “feel like” doing something, make sure you understand what you need to do, not the epic masterpiece you’re visualizing.

    Sorry to go on Shola, but this has truly been one of my most crippling hangups, and I feel like I’ve kinda gotten on top of it. Thank you as always for putting the tough stuff out there.

    • Donna, I definitely hear you on this. As always, I write about topics that I have struggled with mightily (or am still struggling with in some way.) The “not feeling like it thing” can literally mess with every aspect of our lives–personally, professionally, you name it. After reading about the situation with your boss, it made me think of something: Have you ever read the book “Crucial Conversations”? I think that you would find it enormously helpful in deciding which conversations are worth having and how to overcome the potential consequences that are on our minds, even when we don’t feel like dealing with them.

      As always, thanks so much for keeping it real!

  4. Kristina Hamlett says:

    Thanks for this post! It is definitely the reason for most of my procrastination-waiting until I “feel like it”. It has stopped me from completing a lot of tasks from working out and housework on a defined schedule to finishing my book. It has enabled my laziness. I am making a commitment to look at those feelings as an excuse and the difference between succeeding and failing. Thanks for providing the eye-opening moment. God works in mysterious ways. Have a great Monday!

    • I’m glad that I could help, Kristina! There was a quote that I heard recently that helped me enormously: “Inspiration is for amateurs.” It’s SO true–only amateurs sit around and wait for inspiration to strike before taking action. Professionals just take action. That quote helped to change my life, and I hope that it (and my blog post) was helpful for you too!

  5. Erna Westermayer says:

    This last blog really “speaks” to me. So many times have I waited for that feeling of w a n t i n g to do something. And it is not always just the boring things. In my case, e.g. it was a day of skiing. My husband, a passionate snow skier himself, decided to go locally for a day of snowskiing. And, of course, on the next day!
    I never wanted to join him at first.All the preparations the evening before and then on the morning itself seemed just too much. Well, guess what? After that first run on the newly groomed run, I always felt absolutely INSPIRED and joyful.
    Same with housework. Who really feels inspired to make the beds, wash the dishes, shop for groceries? But after getting it done, the feeling is one of accomplishment, no matter how small.

    • That’s exactly right, Erna! No one is inspired to do dishes, balance our budget, or go to the gym (I’m speaking for myself on the last one), but inspiration usually happens after action, not before. Congrats to you for getting stuff done!

  6. Hiteshkumar says:

    Hello all
    I am an Indian living in Oman and working as an expat doctor;before I was working in India .
    Then I feel that I need to do something new and challenging so I moved to Oman ; but this gave me new energy, ideas and experience…, so whenever you feel to do then just do it , don’t think too much , every difficulty makes us more strong…,action requires…

  7. Oh, great thanks for this post, Shola! Now I realise my “kid” problem. This problem. Waiting instead of doing. And as I see it, I can face it:) Yeeeeeap 🙂

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