Doing the Things You Don’t Want To Do

This topic came up recently in an executive coaching session. In my notes for the client, I added the following words of caution about avoiding the things you don’t feel like doing…

“You’ve produced some really awesome results so far, but this only the tip of the iceberg. Your mind will tell you that you’re doing fine and you can kick back and relax now, since everything is working so well. It will tell you that it’s OK to let up on the things you don’t want to do, now that you’re cruising.”

“The problem is, what got you this far is that you forced yourself to do the things you didn’t want to do… the things you’ve been lazy about doing in the past. Doing the things you don’t want to do is like running an engine that pushes everything else forward. If you stop doing the things you don’t want to do, because you just don’t want to or don’t feel like it, you also stop paving the way toward fulfilling your goals.”

“There’s something that happens when you force yourself to do the things you really don’t want to do. It’s a way of feeding yourself power. It’s a way of making yourself stronger. It’s a way of leading as an expression of your passion and commitment, and not necessarily your feelings. It’s a statement, or a declaration, that your commitment is bigger than the circumstances, and that your will is stronger than your lazy mind!”

I thought it was worth sharing these notes, since almost everyone I’ve coached has at one time or another, attempted to avoid doing something that really needed to be done, simply because they didn’t feel like it.

This usually happens when, on some level, we start to believe that we’ve earned the right to stop doing what we don’t want to do. The problem with this thinking is that the things we try to avoid continue to affect us. It takes an enormous amount of energy to suppress the conscious awareness of what we avoid, and to justify not doing what we know we need to.

In fact, the simple act of distinguishing what it is you don’t want to do, and then immediately doing it, can be enormously powerful. Whenever I work with people who say they’re “stuck”, or they don’t know what to do, I ask them to make a list of all the things they’re avoiding doing. Then, I have them rank the items on their list according to how strongly they feel about not doing each of them.

When that’s done, we take the top three items on the list and complete them all immediately. It’s amazing how dramatically this can affect someone’s outlook on life! Try it and you’ll see.

There’s another point to make here, about operational momentum. When you’re running a business, leading a team, or managing a project, one of the keys to producing results is establishing a degree of operational momentum. I could probably write several posts on operational momentum alone, but for now, think of it as a state in which everything that should get done is getting done consistently and reliably, and with very little outside force.

This is a highly desirable state for small businesses, because it means there’s a relatively low occurrence of problems that affect productivity and output, which means that less resources are dedicated to managing problems, and more resources are dedicated to looking ahead and planning for the future.

This may sound like a pretty significant tangent, but I promise it’s not! Here’s the connection. This highly desirable state of operational momentum is only attainable by means of consistent (and correct) action. If you start to drop out any of the actions that are important to the normal operation of your business, you start to lose momentum!

No matter how small and insignificant an action it is, and no matter how much you don’t feel like doing it, if it’s important to the normal operation of your business, you can’t blow it off without losing some momentum.

The little things you don’t want to do get much bigger after you’ve been avoiding them for a while, so give yourself a break and keep doing what works, whether you want to or not!

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