this family life

this family life episode 79: on doing the thing when you don’t feel like doing the thing

this family life

Welcome back to a new season of the this family life podcast! I am super excited to be back doing the podcast again and this season will have a mix of fabulous guests and solo episodes. As it is has been a while since I released a season of the podcast I would love it if you could leave a review on Apple Podcasts or if you listen via Spotify they also now allow you to leave reviews when listening via your phone. Simply click the rating button on the show page (not the episode page) – thanks so much in advance.

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We all have moments where we really don’t feel like doing the tasks on our to-do list or that others are asking us to do. Sometimes the feeling is mild and other times it feels so strong that we are not sure we can crowd out that loud voice protesting in our head. We always have a choice not to do the thing but there are always consequences for this.

Many people find that they can make themselves do the thing if there are others involved keeping them accountable but struggle if the thing is something that really only impacts them. No one else will know if you didn’t eat your veggies last night, if you didn’t meet your 10 pm bedtime deadline, or if you didn’t get up 30 mins early to meditate and do yoga. But you will know, and not doing the thing often enough can impact the goals you are working towards. 

Here are five simple strategies to help you do the thing when you don’t feel like doing the thing:

1. Lead with the body

This is a maxim used in Japanese Psychology. This means not letting our feelings direct what we do. It is about listening to that chatter but taking the first step into action anyway and letting the body do its thing:

So we can take the opportunity to let the body take the lead. The mind becomes the follower. It doesn’t have to be motivated. Or enthusiastic. Or psyched up. If you put the body in charge, don’t be surprised if the mind begins an internal dialogue in which it laments how frustrated it is, or how bored, or how you would be much happier watching a movie. Your job is to just observe the chatter while your body goes about the business of what needs to be done. {Source}

We often think we need to be in the mood to do certain activities but this simply isn’t the case. Take action and the mood will follow.

2. Set a short time limit

We can do almost anything if we know we only have to do it for a short time period. If your thing to do is clean the bathroom for example, and you really don’t feel like doing it, set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes and commit to cleaning for that time period. So often getting started is the hardest part. Once you are into it and the timer goes off you more than likely will keep going now you have momentum.

3. Make completing the thing a prerequisite

This is another way to negotiate with yourself over a task you don’t feel like doing. On your list of things to do for the day there will be something you want to do. It might be watching the latest episode of the series you are watching. Make a deal with yourself that you can’t watch the episode until you complete the thing you don’t feel like doing first.

4. Give yourself a reward

This is a good strategy when you have to do a very big thing that you don’t want to do. It might be time to reassess your utilities and streaming services etc to make sure you are getting the best deals and using what you are paying for. Set aside a few hours to do the task and make the reward for doing this something meaningful to you, like half of the savings you make can go directly to your holiday fund!

5. Assess do you really need to do the thing

Often we have a negative reaction to doing something because it doesn’t align with our purpose or goals. It can easy for tasks/activities to get on our to do list because we feel like we should be doing it, not because we really want to or need to do it. If you are continually coming up against resistance to doing the thing, like heading out the door for a run, you need to determine if this is the right exercise format for you. Do you really want to run or are you doing it because you liked how it looked on Instagram?

Remember getting started is often the hardest part. Don’t overthink it. Lead with the body to start taking action.