Doing Things When You Don’t Want to Do Them

I’m sitting at my desk in my RV. It’s nice out, but the RV is in direct sunlight, so it’s hot inside. The fan is on maximum speed, which cools me down a little bit at the cost of it being really loud. Two seconds ago I checked my email. I also checked my email ten seconds ago. Thirty seconds ago I thought about how I should make lunch, even though I’ve already eaten lunch. In other words, my mind is doing everything it can to avoid writing.

I’m not really in the mood to work, but I’m even less inclined to write. When my mind is in programming mode, I find it very difficult to switch from talking-to-computers mode to talking-to-humans mode. Last week, as you may have noticed, I didn’t post anything. I slapped together a post, read it over, decided it was really crappy, and just skipped the week.

Now I’m writing, though, and I’ll tell you why. 

The most important time to do something is when you don’t want to do it. That’s the mark of a champion– someone who knows what he has to do, doesn’t want to do it, but does it anyway. Anyone can write when they want to write. That’s easy. The hard part is when you’re not motivated, uninspired, and distracted. 

The point of writing this post wasn’t to get another post on the blog. The point was to reinforce the habit of taking that “I don’t want to do this” stimulus and using it as a trigger for immediate action. I’m always trying to rewire that connection in my brian. Should do this, but don’t want to -> DO IT WITHOUT THINKING. I’m still not completely consistent with this (or this would have been written last week), but I work hard on it.

Other examples: 

I’ve been trying to floss every night before going to bed. The other night I had forgotten to floss and was reading and about to go to sleep. It occurred to me that I had forgotten, and I immediately thought, “Eh, I’ll just skip a day”. As soon as I thought that I jumped out of bed and grabbed the floss. 

A couple weeks ago I spent fifteen hours on an RV project in the Home Depot parking lot. The next day I began another project, and ten hours in I realized that I had put something in backwards. It would still work that way, but wouldn’t be ideal. As soon as I thought, “It’s good enough… I’ll just leave it”, my body had sprung into action and I was undoing my work to start over.

This is a tough reaction to train, and doesn’t come overnight. I’ve been working on it for a long time and I still fail to execute sometimes. But it’s worth the effort. Stuff you don’t want to do but should do yields a whole bundle of rewards that most people aren’t getting. Retrain this one impulse, and they can be yours.


A few outlandish ideas I’m thinking about right now: funding SETT through Kickstarter to hire an engineer or two, having a contest with a big prize for whoever introduces me to a girl I’d actually like to date, cutting off internet access at home.

RV post coming soon… check out my recent post in the community section for a sneak preview of one upgrade and to help me figure out how to complete it.

SETT news: right now we’re converting it to Bootstrap for a more consistent and responsive UI. After that our first test blogger goes online!






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