How to Get Yourself to Do Things You Don’t Want to Do

The Pitfalls

I think most people first attempt to tackle this through the grin-and-bear-it method. And while that might work every now and again for some people (it never works for me!) it’s not going to work well for recurring tasks.

Strategies for Success

Today I’m going to propose three strategies that will help you tackle things you don’t want to do. This approach comes from a place of self-respect, which builds confidence within yourself while completing the challenging task. It requires that you: (1) identify and lock onto the result of the task, (2) put the task within reach, and (3) perform experiments to make the task un-terrible.

1) Identify the result of the task, and lock on to that

You probably don’t want to do this task because the experience of doing it is not very enjoyable. If you enjoyed doing this task, then you’d just do it and it wouldn’t be an issue! This is not the case, so we need a different motivator than the task itself: the outcome. In this instance the ends have to justify the means, so find some significantly good ends.

2) Put the Task Within Reach: revise the parameters and frequency

A lot of times we think of ideals or what we should be doing and set those as goals. If I thought of the ideal scenario for my dish situation, I’d think I should do dishes after every time I cook. Or at least once a day. But both of those are perfection-level success rates at doing the dishes. It means I’d have to bust out the soap for a single plate and a fork, and that just seems wildly inefficient, and like A LOT of doing the dishes. ug! So I don’t set a daily goal for cleaning the dishes; I set a goal that makes sense for me. Rather than setting a goal at some arbitrary “should” be reasonable level, I reality check the parameters and frequency of the task. From this I realized that once or twice a week is a reasonable and attainable frequency for me to do the dishes.

Parameters that are within Reach

Frequency that is within Reach

Similarly to the parameters, how often are you intending a recurring task to take place? Some business gurus recommend that you do your bookkeeping weekly, if not daily. Personally, not enough happens financially in my business on a daily basis for it to make sense to do bookkeeping that often! I find monthly bookkeeping to be plenty! If you’re using the “shove all the receipts in a shoe box until tax time and then do a years worth of bookkeeping at once” strategy, then even monthly bookkeeping would be a HUGE change. Maybe try a semi-annual or quarterly bookkeeping goal first? Choose a frequency that’s a small and attainable improvement over your exiting habit.

3) Perform experiments to make the task un-terrible

The task you’re facing feels kinda daunting, right? Possibly even terrible? (I mean, you wouldn’t be struggling so hard with it if this wasn’t true!) Put on your scientist’s lab coat and start experimenting with things that might make it less terrible! What if you change the location? At a desk vs. on your sofa vs. in bed? Or inside vs. outside? Add music? Take away background noise? Do the task in the morning or in the evening? On the weekend or on a weekday? Come up with other variables that you could test, and jot them down.

Do the Things You Don’t Want to Do

In life and in business we’re often faced with tasks that we’re not particularly excited about. Often times these tasks are necessary for our success, so it’s important to find a way to accomplish them. And since they often occur more than once, it’s a good idea to be able to repeat this accomplishment. I hope my strategies to lock on to the end result, put it within reach, and make it un-terrible help you to achieve your goals.



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Maggie Karshner

Maggie Karshner

Maggie is a business coach who helps launch and grow self-employed businesses. Learn how she could help you at