We know what we should do, so why don’t we do it?

This was originally sent out in my weekly newsletter, but is being republished here to make it easier for readers to relocate it.


I know I should eat lots of green vegetables, I know I need to get eight hours of sleep a night and I know what my key priorities for work are. If I know these things then why is it I don’t always act like I do? Why do I think I will have some greens with my next meal or think I will catch up on my sleep tomorrow night or leave the most important work task until last?

It I had to sum up my answer to this question in one word, I think it would be hard. Because doing the right thing is sometimes hard and hard isn’t easy!

But easy is:

  • searching on the internet for tips or answers to problems that deep down I already know the answers to
  • choosing to eat what I like, not what I know my body really needs
  • working on the fun projects instead of the ones that make my head hurt but are better for my business long term

But it is never that simple though, so my longer answer to the question has five reasons:

1. Pleasure

As humans we love pleasure and if doing something or not doing something gives us pleasure it can be really hard to resist the temptation from seeking it out. I receive a lot more pleasure from eating half a plate of sweet potato than half a plate of broccoli. While we need pleasure in our life, we don’t need to have it 24/7. I need to eat my plate of greens!

2. Fear

Fear holds us back from undertaking activities we should do because we are scared of potential outcomes. What if I fail? What if people laugh of me? What if I am terrible at it? A project I should have finished well before now is still in the initial stages because if I am honest with myself, I am afraid it might fail. But I will never know unless I finish it and ship it. Would you rather not try for fear of failing or know you gave it your best shot?

3. Comfortable

Change can make us feel uncomfortable. Doing something new can make us feel uncomfortable. And it certainly is a lot more comfortable to be curled up in bed at 5.30am in the morning than running in the dark and cold. The question is though, does being comfortable help us achieve our goals?

4. Lazy

This may sound harsh, but sometimes we simply don’t do what we know we should out of laziness. I know certainly there are times when I am lazy, like the times when I will stick clothes in the dryer because I can’t be bothered hanging it on the line. Is there something you are not doing because you are being lazy?

5. Short term

While this year I have focused considerably on being present and know it is critical to do so, you do also need to have an eye on the longer term picture. A few nights of less sleep can be okay, but long term sleep debt has significant health impacts and emotional impacts that flow onto everything. Is the instant gratification worth it the long run?

So the question I have for you now is are you not doing something you know you should be doing? I am not going to reel of tips on how to do it, because as we have established you most likely know exactly how to go about it, you just need to start doing.

So I am going to be doing a lot of doing over the next few days, including the weekend, to move my project to the next stage. I would love to hear from you if you start doing! Let me know what it is that you have been putting off but have started doing.