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10 Tips on How to Do Something You Don’t Want to Do

Written by Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.
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We all have to do things in life we don’t want to do. For me, it’s laundry, cooking, and exercising, and for others, it’s something else. Some of these things we need to do on a daily basis, while others are more long-term goals. However, it’s important for all of us that we learn how to do something you don’t want to do.

In a world where every person seems to be a procrastinator, how do you find the willpower to do those dreaded activities in your life? Do you often find yourself saying “I can’t get myself to do anything”? If so, it is likely an issue with your motivation or willpower.

Here are 10 tips to help you do what you don’t want to:

1. Face Your Fear

Doing things you don’t want to do isn’t always based in fear (think cooking or laundry), but many of them are. What if you have to give a big presentation[1], but you feel like you’d rather put a bullet in your brain than speak in front of a group?

Many of the things you need to do can lead to personal growth. Facing your fears head-on will make you a better person. And remember, the more you do something, the easier it gets, but you have to stop putting it off and just complete the task.

2. Think of the Long-Term Effects

Let’s say you know you need to eat healthier and exercise. In this case, procrastinating is only hurting you. The longer you wait, the more your body will deteriorate, but you just don’t know what to do when you don’t want to do anything.

It’s easy to get stuck in your comfort zone, but your comfort zone often has negative consequences for your future. Therefore, the trick is to think long-term.


When you want to learn how to do something you don’t want to do, think about how your actions (or inaction) today will be affecting your tomorrow or 10-20 years from now.

3. Consider Others

Maybe your spouse has been asking you to clean up your huge pile of junk in the kitchen for a long time, and the reason the junk pile is there is because you hate dealing with the details of paper, mail, and all the other random stuff that has collected in that spot.

Putting off cleaning is probably creating resentment in your relationship in this case. Not only is your inaction affecting him/her, but also the overall quality of your relationship. It’s best to suck it up and do the unpleasant task for someone you love, especially when it isn’t causing you any emotional or bodily harm.

4. Break It Into Smaller Steps

Sometimes the tasks you need to accomplish seem so daunting and overwhelming you don’t know where to begin. When this happens, you end up doing nothing and accomplishing nothing.

Before I started my Ph.D. program, the thought of writing a dissertation that was several hundred pages long seemed like an impossibility. However, once I reframed it and thought of it as several shorter “papers” put together, then it didn’t seem so bad. Breaking it down into smaller tasks helps immensely when you’re trying to figure out how to do something you don’t want to do.

5. Don’t Do It All at Once

If you need to clean that junk pile, don’t feel like it all has to be done in one sitting. Any effort toward your end goal is progress. Even if you’re pursuing a degree or doing your taxes, any small effort counts.


Give yourself permission to take the time to get the job done right. At the same time, this doesn’t mean you have unlimited time; you have to stick with it and refuse to give up. Also, don’t allow yourself to leave it until the last minute as this will force you into doing it all at once.

6. Prioritize Steps

Once you have the small steps mapped out, rank them on what is most important. What is the most immediate need and the least? Maybe you’ve been putting off paying your bills, and if that’s the case, make sure you first pay the ones due soon.

As obvious as it sounds, many people don’t prioritize like that. Even if it’s cleaning your house you are procrastinating about, start with the room you think is the dirtiest.

7. Put the Steps on a Calendar

Whether it’s a physical or digital calendar, take the time to put your tasks down on particular days so that when you get up that morning and look at what you have to do that day, you will see your tasks. When this happens, you will be more likely to accomplish them because it’s on your daily to-do list.

You’ll find that you feel more motivated when you’re able to check something off of your calendar, which may help to keep you on track as you’re learning how to do something you don’t want to do.

8. Remember the End Result

Some goals don’t show results quickly, and those are the most difficult ones to start. If you need to lose 50 pounds, you’re probably not going to see the scale move a whole lot for the first week or two.


It’s easy to become discouraged when you are not seeing the results of your efforts, but stick with it. Remember how great it will feel once you accomplish your goal.

Visualization can help with this process. Bring to mind what you end goal will really look and feel like.

9. Appreciate What You Have to Do

If you’re grumbling about cleaning your house, doing your laundry, paying your bills, or cooking, remember how lucky you are to have a house, clothes, food, and money to pay for it all. Not every activity you do is fun, but you can always find some appreciation in whatever you need to do.

10. Reward Yourself

Grab a hot fudge sundae or treat yourself to a long, hot bath and some wine when you’re done with your task. It’s great to spoil yourself, and when you decide to reward yourself after you have accomplished what you don’t want to do, it will serve as more of an incentive to get it done!

The Bottom Line

Our days will not always be filled with our favorite activities. Occasionally, you have to learn how to do something you don’t want to do. This really comes down to motivation and using the correct perspective for a given task.

Take some time to remember why you need to do a given activity and how you will feel once it’s done. You’ll be surprised how your mind begins to automatically shift when faced with a challenge.


More on Finding Motivation

Featured photo credit: Magnet.me via unsplash.com


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