You want to do it.
You really should.
After all, it is the only way to get what you aspire. You crave what comes after.
Yet… you don’t do what you know you should.
You’re aware of what you need to do to reach your goal. You’ve read posts about it. You’ve watched YouTube videos. You’re prepped with all the information that will take you to the other side. Yet, when the time comes to act, you fall flat.
You procrastinate. You do some more research. You plan out how you’re going to implement what you know. You sit down and make pretty schedules.
You do this over and over again, and action never follows. Before long, you start wondering what is wrong with you?
How can you know what you need to do, have the plan drawn out in your head, then fail to act on it?
You start to think that maybe you aren’t cut out for whatever it is you’re trying to do.
Fortunately, you’re not alone.
This is a problem that many people have, and the solution is simple…
The Real Reasons You Can’t Bring Yourself to Do What You Know You Should
The issue isn’t that you don’t want to work towards achieving your dreams (you do!). You daydream about it often. You visualize what your life could look like before you sleep.
When it comes to taking action, it’s as if some invisible force keeps you from doing it.
Identifying what that invisible force is and fighting is key to finally doing what needs done.
Usually, it’s one of these 5 obstacles hindering your success.
1. The Routine
I’m a big fan of routines. They are the foundation on which you build success. But routines can also be a double-edged sword.
Here’s an example:
Say you want to read a book a week. You watch an hour of TV after dinner and decide to switch to reading instead. After dinner every day, you look at the book, then at the couch, and think, “I’ll start tomorrow. I’d really rather watch TV today.”
Why do you fall into this trap?
You’ve conditioned yourself to expect an entertaining show after your meal. To fall back into old patterns is easier than to create new ones.
Changing these patterns requires conscious effort. And spending more effort is the last thing you want to do.
How to beat the routine?
Be aware of what’s happening and take control of the situation.
When you reach for that book instead of the TV’s on switch, your mind will start giving you a million reasons why you really should postpone this change: “You’re tired and need the break” and “Maybe after dinner isn’t the best time. Watch TV today and read in the morning tomorrow”.
In this case, you have to parent your mind. You are the boss, and you are going to read the book because you said so. End of story.
2. The Discomfort
Work is not fun.
Nothing new here.
I don’t wake up in the morning, thinking “YEAH! I’m going to sit in front of a desk and research 30 ways to gain more self-control! THIS IS GONNA BE GREAT!”
Don’t get me wrong. Work is rewarding. At the end of the day, I go to sleep with a sense of achievement and satisfaction. It’s harder to start with that mindset, though.
We avoid things that cause of any amount of discomfort—even though we know that discomfort is temporary. We care more about what we feel in the short-term rather than focusing on how we’ll feel later.
This holds true for everything worth doing, especially when you’re starting out.
Waking up in the morning is uncomfortable. Spending the rest of the day tired is miserable. Yet, a week or so later, it’s just something you do.
You overcome the feeling of discomfort.
Sleeping in will still be tempting. Yet, getting up will no longer make you hate the world and everyone in it.
It’s very easy to let yourself off the hook because the task ahead of you is unpleasant. Push through it anyway. Afterward, you’ll feel better about yourself. The sense of accomplishment will do away with the discomfort that preceded it.
(Want to know how to make yourself do the hard stuff? Read this post on making yourself do things you don’t want to do.)
3. The Fear
Fear stops us from doing so many things. Most of the time, you don’t even know that fear is what’s holding you back.
Here are just a few of the many fears that interfere with attaining triumph:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of other people’s opinions
- Fear of not being good enough
- Fear of change
- Fear of taking risks
- Fear of altering your self-image
If you find yourself reluctant to get started but are unsure why, look for an underlying fear.
Identifying which fear is holding you back requires reflection. Next time you dodge that task, take a moment to contemplate what emotions you’re feeling in that moment. The realization won’t hit you right away, be patient. Close your eyes and think, “Why am I not going forth with this task? What is it that I’m trying to avoid?”
If you’re having trouble finding your fears, Borbala from Follow Your Own Rhythm has put together a list of 15 enlightening questions to ask yourself in order to identify the fear that’s holding you back.
4. The First Step (Or Lack Thereof)
Beginning any process is as easy as taking the first step.
What is the first step, though?
Complex projects are overwhelming. Should I do this or that? Will I get better results if I do this first? Maybe that other task is better to start with?
Without a clear plan, you waste precious time contemplating the project instead of tackling it.
So, what’s the solution?
Break down the project into smaller projects. Then break those down into tasks. This is a useful technique that is implemented in the Goal Tracker 2.0. For each goal, you have tasks, and each task is divided into subtasks.
The subtasks are bite-size tasks that are easy to do.
Say your goal was to develop an app. ‘Develop an app’ encapsulates everything from coming up with ideas to designing the program to launching on the app store.
You set aside time on your schedule to ‘develop the app’, but when you sit down, you’re lost! You have no idea what you should be doing. You end up skimming through your notes for a few minutes, then you give up and move on to something else.
But imagine if, instead of scheduling ‘develop app’, you had broken the task into subtasks. On your schedule, you had written:
- Saturday: brainstorm ideas
- Sunday: research market demand
- Monday: brainstorm key features
- Tuesday: Draw out app map and design
And so forth.
It’s obvious that the second method will lead to results while the first leads to nothing but frustration.
5. The Discipline
Let’s face it.
One-time actions don’t carry to you to victory. You’ve got to repeat the actions regularly. One workout won’t give you a supermodel body. Making one YouTube video won’t make you the next PewDiePie.
The trick to staying consistent?
Motivation comes and goes. You won’t feel like doing the hard work all the time. Discipline is what keeps you on track when you really don’t want to put in the effort.
Discipline is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it will get.
(Learn simple strategies to boost your self-control here.)
Just Do It
What’s holding you back?
Take a moment to ponder it. Which obstacle is stopping you?
Is it your routine, lack of discipline, fear, or something else?
Once you become aware of why you don’t do what you know you should, you can overpower the force that holds you back.
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. -Colin Powell.
Identify your obstacle and crush it next time it pops up.
Your success depends on it.