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:
- How badly we want to make our goals a reality.
- 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.
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!