The Incredibly Surprisingly Simple Way to Do the Thing You Can’t Get Yourself to Do

So it was time to do the bills again this week.

If you know anything about me – or you’ve read a few of my posts on the subject – you know that I hate doing bills. Really hate doing them. Maybe even more than you do.

Why? Because doing bills isn’t just about paying bills. It’s about analyzing and projecting the business. It’s about coming face-to-face with my gettin’ in and spendin’ out.

Because of the angst in this area, motivating myself to get bills done has proven…difficult. I’ve tried lots of strategies. Incentives at the end (thanks chocolate/banana cookies!). Affirming that I am being the professional I need to be. Lots of rah rah-rah-rah-ing.

The fact of the matter, however, is that none of these really work, and so I find bills being put off for days…maybe weeks…struggling to motivate myself to actually get them done.

But this week, finally, I came up with a new strategy related to motivating myself.

I stopped trying.

Stopped talking to myself at all.

And I just did the friggin’ bills.

Stay with me. This is big.

We all face things we need to do in life but don’t like to do, and so we don’t feel motivated. These are in the don’t wanna do category.

We also face new things we want/need to try or do – things that might really interest or excite us – but which also scare or intimidate us. And getting that final motivational push can be hard to come by. These are in the wanna do but apprehensive category.

Here are a few examples or each:

Don’t wanna do

  • Doing our taxes
  • Quitting smoking
  • Hitting the gym
  • Leaving a group
  • Typing up a report
  • Reaching out to a difficult family member
  • Having a serious conversation with our boss or our staff or friend

Wanna do but apprehensive

  • Trying a new hobby
  • Traveling abroad
  • Giving rock-climbing a go
  • Going out to dinner alone
  • Getting a coach/therapist

We might procrastinate or obsess or make up stories as to why we can’t do them right now. And then we get mad at ourselves for procrastinating or obsessing or making up stories.

Sometimes we never actually do the thing…and then we feel terrible. Sometimes others are impacted and they feel terrible, too.

But you know what? It turns out that you actually don’t have to talk yourself into doing something before doing it. You can just…do it. Pull out the tax forms and get started. Begin typing out the report. Sign up for a class. Pick up the phone and take on something. Email an inquiry.

Being motivated – talking ourselves into it or embracing it – is not required in order to do something. Instead, we can just do something and let our minds catch up. Which they will because they have to.

This is actually a huge thing for me to say. Keep in mind, I make my living motivating people. I speak and I write and I coach about finding motivation to make change or get better or give up the thing that isn’t serving you.

Heck, I just wrote a whole friggin’ book about convincing you to make changes to make your life better.


You can still make your life better…you can make changes and get things done and give things up even if you’re not completely excited about it. Even if you’re not excited one little bit.

Is it better to feel motivated to do the thing? You bet! But will we ever feel 100% motivated about something that we truly think is a drag or something that terrifies us? Probably not. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.

So figure out what you want or need to do but can’t seem to convince to do…and begin to do it. Act. Take a step. Let your mind catch up.

And know you’ll feel better on the other side.


8 thoughts on “The Incredibly Surprisingly Simple Way to Do the Thing You Can’t Get Yourself to Do

  1. TE says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your insights in such a powerful and entertaining way. I always look forward to your articles in my in-box. Suggestion: you might wanna rethink using “no likey” and “thingee” which have roots in degrading Chinese people similar to “no can do.” Of course, this is open to discussion and is debated across various communities. I in no way shape or form believe you to be racist or derogatory to any group of people; frequently phrases work their way into the daily lexicon without folks being aware of their origins. Likewise, I’m sure there are plenty of Asians out there who are completely unfazed by these phrases. Just food for thought. Thanks for your consideration.

    1. Your point is really well taken, and I very much appreciate the thoughtful way you let me know this perspective. I hadn’t thought of this, but now that you’ve brought it to me I have taken it to heart and actually changed the language in the post. Thank you again!

      1. TE says:

        Thank YOU! I heard you speak in person years ago and I have been a fan ever since. If I can ever be of service, please don’t hesitate to reach out. 🙂

        1. Of course! I honestly do appreciate the feedback and know you were authentic in your intention. So glad to stay connected!

  2. Patty Costa says:

    Thank you Deirdre for a very common theme. I guess we “gotta do what we gotta” do. It helps me to get through a tough chore with a small personal reward.

    1. So true Patty! Thanks very much for the thought…sometimes we just need to get it done!

  3. Samantha Goldstein says:

    Love this and so pertinent today when I absolutely must learn my lines! Just gonna do it—pretty or ugly, hard or easy…thanks, lovey.

    1. What a perfect example, Sam! Glad this helped…good luck with the lines. I know you’ll be perfect 🙂

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