Whenever you say to yourself, “I don’t feel like it,” you’re doing herself a disservice.
You’re simultaneously acknowledging and dismissing your ambition. This article is bitter. It’s a bit harsh. I write it harsh to help. If you don’t like it then you can always click away now (or better yet, skip to the end and peek at the list that can help you pretend you got the whole point.) If you actually want to solve your problem then you can continue reading. It will be amusing (but ever so bitter.)
When you say “I don’t feel like it…”
You’re taking that feeling inside your gut that keeps you from being a lazy slob, looking it in the eyes and saying, “maybe later. I’d rather watch reruns of the Pokemon cartoon and debate whether Misty gets cold…” You’re floating in the ocean and you’re getting thrown a rescue donut but you nudge it away yelling, “give me fifteen more minutes!”
In the school context, you might think that you should study but you instead dismiss this with the catch-all excuse that you don’t feel like it.
Well… Congratulations. You now have the perfect excuse to get away from absolutely everything productive that you could possibly do for the rest of your life. While you’re laying in your deathbed complaining to the nurses about your life you can always tell them you ALMOST made it but heck, you never felt like it. I guess that’s the way life goes. Better suck it up and go to bed.
You don’t feel like it? Well… guess what…
No One Feels Like It
People don’t feel like doing what they need to do.
Stephen King doesn’t write a novel because he sits down whenever he gets the urge to start writing. Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t go on set when he feels like it to record a scene. Lady Gaga doesn’t magically feel like going to her concerts that happened to be scheduled months earlier.
No one does.
If you did just what you felt like then you’d probably end up eating chocolate, using the restroom, and surfing Facebook or Reddit or porn until you’re getting dragged out of your home by the men in white primed to lock your arms into a permanent self-hug.
Feeling like doing what you do is completely unnatural for humans.
The ability to project yourself into the future makes you balance your future pleasure with this moment’s pleasure.
When you say you should do something you’re acknowledging that projecting yourself into the future leads you to one preference. So… you should study for your exam because it will help you in the future. When you say that you “don’t feel like it,” you’re giving a pointless rationalization to avoid using your skills of planning.
What do you feel like doing?
If your answer is “I don’t know” then you have a serious problem. How did I know 90% of the people reading this would be thinking “I don’t know?” Because people love to fool themselves into the least productive possible state. Oh yea… and experience.
If your answer is play videogames or fool around with your lover or sit in the sun and think about peaches then you’re at least in the realm of reality. Cool. Now you just have to project into the future and decide which scenario would put you in a better position long term.
Don’t care if you get a C on your exam? Sweet. Enjoy the clouds. Good choice.
But, I understand this doesn’t feel much like a solid answer but I promise you it’s all you really need. It’s the basic formula to figuring out all your practical day to day solutions. If you understand that point then you can solve this with the right motivation.
Here are some more practical steps to dealing with your immediate problem of not feeling like it:
- If you really didn’t feel like it, you wouldn’t have thought of “it.”
Why are you thinking about “it?” Because you’ve already practically decided it’s the thing that you want to do (at least somewhere in your brain.) Find that part of your brain and let it take the lead. Perhaps it isn’t the fun part of your brain but let it come out to play.
- Every time you “don’t feel like it,” force yourself to know what you feel like doing.
It’s one thing to skip studying to do something fun. That’s acceptable. It’s not ideal but it’s understandable.
It’s a completely different thing to skip studying to mull around on your computer and do pointless little things for hours on end. This is what really kills productivity.
People feel guilty for having fun while they should be studying. This helps them study next time. People don’t feels as guilty killing time. That lets them do it forever without ever feeling that guilt. There emotions don’t register killing time as making the decision to put short term pleasure ahead of long term pleasure because it’s not. It’s just giving up short and long term pleasure for stagnancy.
- Do before you think about it.
If you have time to ask whether or not you “feel like it” then you’ve waited too long.
Unpleasant but necessary things are best made automatic.
You don’t need to be disciplined if you just do things that are good for you without thinking. You just set up the awesome habits and you’ll systematically be putting yourself in a better position day after day.
If you stop to think about it then you have the chance to make the wrong decision.
- Binge Pleasure
Sometimes you’re going to feel like doing something completely unproductive for your future when you should be doing something productive.
When you can’t kick that urge, give yourself permission to have that fun in the future. In dieting it’s called a cheat day. You skip the tasty food today with the promise that one single day in the future you’ll eat enough unhealthy food to keep a heart doctor employed full time in your service.
When that day comes you binge. Soon after that time you realize, “whoaa… this is disgusting” and then take the day reasonably.
The promise of blatantly gross self-indulgent pleasure in the future got you to your binge day while staying healthy. Then when you realize how disgusting you feel you stay practical on the binge.
Do you want to play a new video game instead of studying? If you put it off until Saturday then you’ll have all day to do it. If you do it Tuesday night instead of studying then you’ll fail your test and feel the guilty urge to study on Saturday without the benefits of not sucking on your test.
When you tell yourself, “I don’t feel like it” you’re giving up any hope of making anything better because you’re implying that what you feel like is what you should be doing.
What do you not feel like doing (and why is that stupid to worry about?) Tell your story in the comments below.
Aaron Richardson took his grades from fighting F’s to Easy A’s. In the process, he read over 300 books on personal development. Today he’s founded 2 blogs on studying including Smart Student Secrets. He’s written 3 books on the subject. His work has been featured on some of the biggest news, psychology, and student sites on the internet.
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