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10 Practical Tips for Taking Action When You Don’t Feel Like It

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how to take action when you don't feel like it

We’ve all been there at some point. There is a task ahead of us, we need to get to it and complete it, but we just don’t feel like it. We need to get off the bed, pick up the phone, and ring our doctor for an appointment. There’s a social event coming up and there are a million other things we’d rather be doing, such as shoveling in ice-cream and watching reruns of Friends.

It’s all okay. It’s all understandable. There are too many factors that can contribute to a lack of motivation or willingness to do something for us to avoid all of them. Now and then, it’s established that this is something that happens, more or less, to all of us. One question prevails, though: How can we overcome this general lack of motivation?

Here are 10 practical tips for taking action when you don’t feel like it:

1. Localize the problem

A good starting point is to uncover what it is exactly that’s making you avoid doing a certain something. In most cases, it’s because the task at hand is unpleasant or because we dread going to it. In other instances, it could be because the initial excitement has washed away and you’re stuck in the most difficult part – the middle.

“Life is in different stages. Every stage of life is the foundation for the next stage of life. Every stage of life must be fully-lived” – Lailah Gifty Akita

2. Set up the stage

Now that you found the catalyst, work towards combating it by making your task impossible to avoid. Clean out your entire schedule, do everything else you could possibly do first, and then you’ll end up stuck with this one thing and nothing else.

 

3. Keep the end result in mind

If we’re talking about something like making an unwanted call or going to an unpleasant meeting, thinking about the long game greatly helps. Just think about how short a phone call is and how it won’t matter at all a few minutes later. If you can’t get yourself motivated or to genuinely want to do this thing, just look forward to it ending instead.

 

4. Find motivation

Not in the literal sense. If we were able to get motivated on cue then we wouldn’t have a problem that needs to be solved by the tips in this article, right? Real motivation is finding this little spark that might trigger your desire to take the action. Set your eyes on someone that inspires you and use this admiration as a starting point. Pick out the positives from a task and focus on them to build excitement.

 

5. Show commitment

The keyword here is show commitment. If you’re a person that values the opinions and views of others, your biggest advantage might be putting your goal out there for the world to see. If you want to lose weight, for example, publish a post announcing your intention on social media. Saying it to someone’s face works too, but having it posted online is a lot more effective. After all, what’s on the Internet stays on the Internet forever.

 

6. Make Notes

Aside from commitment with the help of others, you can also do it all by yourself. Make some notes constantly reminding you of your goal and leave them in a place you know you’ll read them. Don’t lose sight of the goal and think about it on a daily basis. This technique will gradually lessen the weight of your task and it will make it seem more achievable.

 

7. Start small

Failures are a part of life just like successes. Don’t expect a huge result right off the bat. Start off small and gradually increase difficulty. If you want to work out, start with a short 10-minute routine. If you have to write a paper, tell yourself that you’ll write 200 words today, 300 words tomorrow, and keep increasing the number.

 

8. Find Joy

Find joy in these small successes. Go into the task with minimal expectations. When you manage to get those 10 minutes of exercise done, see it as a positive thing. In turn, it will boost motivation and it will make you realize that your goal is within reach.

 

9. Accept the fickleness

Another important thing is to realize the fact that, no matter how many tips and motivational exercises you will undergo, this is still a task that doesn’t exactly fill you with joy. If, after a few days of good work, you find yourself lack in motivation again, this is not the end. Motivation is like a rollercoaster. Take a break, repeat the previous steps, press the reboot button, and start over again.

“Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.”   – Lou Holtz

10. Reach for help

Don’t steer away from the support of others. You might actually need it, especially if you have difficulties picking yourself up again. The people who know about your goal will very likely be there to help you rather than to judge you.

The best advice I can give is to constantly keep your eyes on the benefits, to swap negative thoughts for positive ones. Find some sort of reward at the end of the task’s completion. If you can’t, follow these tips and accept the fact that you can’t be 100% committed to this particular goal, but that it can be done regardless.

What are some things you do to help yourself take action even when you don’t feel like it? Please share in the comment section below!
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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Amanda Wilks

    Jul 29, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Tim,
    Great point you’ve made there! The motivation factor is crucial. If something is very important to you, you will move mountains to get there! Taking action in these cases comes instinctively because you’ve determined how much it matters to you. Driving pleasure from what you’re doing is equally efficient as the personal value factor. Thank you for your kind comment! Amanda

  2. Tim Denning

    Jul 9, 2016 at 3:53 am

    Amanda I often experience times when I know I have to take action but don’t feel like it. I try to keep the end result in mind and refocus on my why. When I change my thought patterns and focus on what’s important, I suddenly feel like taking action again.

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Welcome to our new normal. A time in our lives that a year ago we certainly didn’t see coming that most of us probably wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves; but here we are. As the days away from each other carry on and more and more bad news comes our way, it’s easy to lose your motivation and waste energy doing things that aren’t helpful like worrying and fighting with people on the internet instead.

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When we’re unmotivated, it’s easy to get out of the habit of doing what we love. Sometimes just getting out of bed or away from the tv feels like a chore. Think back to a time in your life when you felt great – what were you doing? What do you absolutely love to do that if you had the time, you would do all day and not realize any time had passed at all? 

Figure out a way to do whatever that is, or a modified version of it if it is something that you aren’t able to do at the present time. Spending time doing what you love will get your mind off of anything that is wrong and allow you to find inspiration.

“If something is important enough, even if the odds are stacked against you, you should still do it.” – Elon Musk

3. Don’t overcomplicate it

Keep it simple. When we’re stuck in a rut, we’ll give ourselves every excuse to not do something. Say you’ve gained some weight; you might tell yourself you need to find the perfect trainer and wait until you have time to cook your meals from scratch each night before you do anything else. Stop trying to overcomplicate it and keep it simple by finding one thing you can do right now, however small that may be. You don’t have to wait until the timing is perfect and the stars align for you to start moving in the direction you want to go.  

4. Get up and get moving

This is probably the last thing you want to do right now, but once you are up and moving, your blood will start flowing. The hardest part is getting started. Day one, get up and do anything to get moving. This is the hardest day if you haven’t in a while because getting up is really the hardest part. Day two, do a little more. Once you start, you’ll build momentum and get back in the habit.

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It’s so easy for worry to set in and for our minds to wander to places of what we can’t control. This is not motivating or helpful and we always have a choice to redirect our attention. There is always something we can do right where we are, so bring your focus to the solution instead of the problem and figure out the next step of what you can do. 

One step at a time. Step one, take your attention away from what you can’t control and what you can’t do. Step two, ask yourself questions like “What can I do?” and see what comes to mind. Follow through with the answers you find.

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Not much can lift our spirits and put us into a positive vibration more than our favorite music. Feel free to sing along. Find a song that pumps you up and make that your theme song. Put it on anytime you feel down or unmotivated.

7. Expand your knowledge

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