My life changed when I started asking myself one simple question: “Am I ever going to feel like doing this more than I do right now?” Spoiler alert: the answer is usually, “No.”
I read an interview with Mark Wahlberg a few years ago, where he shared he’d become much more disciplined in recent years. His body-builder form always gave the impression that he’d been disciplined. He explained, though, that it’s easy to stick with things you enjoy or that you get some obvious benefit from. Discipline is about doing things because you have to, whether you want to or not. Going over a boring business report. Making a phone call you have no interest in making.
I don’t know why the voice of Mark Wahlberg rang some come-to-Jesus bell for me. I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every time my dad said, “Sometimes you gotta do [pause for emphasis, tilt head, make eye contact, jut the chin out, open eyes wider] what you gotta do.” He said it in response to my complaints about doing many things that…well…I didn’t want to do. Yet reading Wahlberg’s comments, my whole body settled into the realization that there are many things I will just never be inspired to do. And yet, do them I must.
Now when I find myself thinking that I’m not in the mood to do this, or don’t feel like doing that, I challenge myself: Am I ever going to feel like doing this more than I do right now? If I’m waiting to feel inspired to do laundry, well, that’s just not going to happen. It’s going to be a bigger load if I put it off another day. So I take the action, and feel better for having done it.
Sometimes I find that the answer to my question is “Yes”. In those cases, it’s again a win. There’s a legitimate reason to delay. I’m already overextended, or it would be easier if I had more help or resources. Maybe I haven’t done enough research or planning to act with confidence. The answer helps me find a better time or better way to take action, and I don’t have to feel guilty or anxious about the choice.
It’s a little question but it packs a big punch. Try it next time your inner toddler voice whines, “I don’t wanna!”