There will always be things in my life that I don’t want to do. I’m a pretty habitual person, and sometimes I tend to shy away from new experiences. So, whether it’s something I don’t have any experience with or something I’m just not looking forward to, there are plenty of things I don’t want to do.
I can effectively separate these things into two categories. The first are things that I don’t want to do because I know that they’re inconsistent with my goals or would be needlessly unpleasant. And that’s fine. I don’t do those things.
But the second category is filled with things that I don’t want to do, but I know that doing them would be beneficial. They’d make my life better. Or they’d make someone else’s life better. But I avoid them because they’d take a lot of energy and I’m lazy. Here are five reasons why I should be doing them, and why you might benefit from doing the things you’ve been putting off.
Putting it off doesn’t solve anything
Once you know that something needs to be done, there is no purpose to be served by waiting to do it. Either your problem will stay the same, or it’s going to get worse. One example of this that I’m guilty of is taking out the trash. For some reason, my trash can will fill up and then I’ll just look at it and think “eh, it can wait a little longer.”
I have a few different tactics that allow me to avoid taking it out, but they’re all just ways to delay the inevitable and make the task harder when I eventually do it. I’ll smash everything down and force more trash in there until it’s as smashed as it’s going to be. Then, the next time I buy something and it comes in a bag, I’ll put that empty bag next to the trash can and it’ll slowly start to fill up with more trash.
So, by the time I finally take out my trash, it’s not only an overflowing trash can but also the several smaller bags of trash surrounding it. Why do I do this? I don’t know. But what I do know, with complete certainty, is that it’s not helpful.
It’s never as bad as you think it’ll be
One of my biggest reasons for not doing something is because I know (or at least suspect) that it’s going to be unpleasant. This is especially true if it’s something unpredictable. Like conversations with people.
I work retail, and that provides me with plenty of opportunities to have conversations I don’t want to have. For example, I have to break bad news to customers sometimes. We don’t have what they want in stock, or it’s more expensive than they thought it was going to be, or they have a problem I can’t fix.
I’m really bad when it comes to avoiding these conversations. When I’m in the back room and I realize that we don’t have a solution to a customer issue, or we don’t have what they want in stock, I tend to stall. If there’s anyone else in the back room, I’ll take a few seconds or a minute to complain about how I don’t want to go back out and tell the customer something they don’t want to hear.
But I don’t wait too long, because it’s my job to go talk to them. And, while there is the rare situation where people get irrationally angry, the conversation is never that bad.
The situation often isn’t what you expect
My own expectations get in my way a lot. One of the many ways, is that I often extrapolate information and blow it out of proportion in the worst possible ways. This one is big in my personal relationships.
Just as an example, if I don’t hear from someone for a while, I’ll start to wonder if it’s because they don’t like me. If someone isn’t very talkative, I feel like they don’t want to talk to me. And these things bother me. They build up. For whatever reason, I’ll spend my time dwelling on these things rather than actually talk to the other person and figure things out.
Things are never as bad as I think they are.
Almost every single time, I find out that they were just busy or they had something else going on that I didn’t know about. Once I know what was going on, all the stress I’d been feeling is instantly gone.
You’ll feel better afterwards
Whether it’s that trash that I finally took out, or that tough conversation that I finally had, there’s always a big sense of relief when it’s done. I’m happy that it’s finished, and I wonder why I ever wasted even a single second worrying about it. Worrying is always a waste of time. The more time you spend putting something off, the more time it has to sit in your subconscious and take up valuable brain space. Even if it’s something small in the back of my mind, a worry is a worry. Each time I finish something I’ve known I need to do, I check it off my list and it’s one less thing I’m worried about.
It makes you stronger
Every thing I do that I’ve been putting off makes me feel a little better about myself. It makes me a little more likely to so something else I’ve been avoiding. These little victories over myself stack up, and build on each other.
Bravery isn’t being fearless, it’s being afraid and doing the thing you’re afraid of. Every time you face a fear, even if it’s a small fear, you grow as a person. Whenever you push yourself a little bit outside of your comfort zone, to do something that you know you don’t really want to do, it strengthens you. You get a little bit better at getting things done. Your willpower gets just a little bit stronger.
It’s the little daily victories that build up the skills we need for big victories. If you can force yourself to do the chores and the unpleasant things, you’ll be prepared when you’re faced with big fears. Like asking someone out, or going to that big job interview, or running that marathon.
I’m going to leave you with some Rage Against the Machine lyrics that never fail to help me when I need to take action on something:
“It has to start somewhere.
It has to start sometime.
What better place than here?
What better time than now?”
If you liked this post, share it with all your friends using the buttons below! Also, like Page Number Zero on Facebook, follow @PageNumberZero on twitter, sign up for my email list (bottom of the page), and let me know in the comments below. If you didn’t like it, or if you have any other feedback, I welcome all of it! Comment, email me, tweet me, message me, send me a carrier pigeon, or send up a smoke signal. I’ll be keeping an eye on the skies.