How to get yourself to do what you don’t want to do

How to get yourself to do what you don't want to doPay-off: plenty of ideas to get those challenging things done

Investment: 5 minutes

Sign up to monthly posts here

Here’s one of the big four skills I write about less often. But it will be the weakest link in the behavioural chain for many people:

How do you actually get yourself to do the things you know you should do, but don’t really want to?

Having spent most of my career helping people to identify, learn and apply the things that make the biggest impact on their work (and ideally their lives) there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the most effective way to drive your own new behaviours.

Ready for the advice?

Here it is:

“Use the force.”

I’m not joking.

Sorry if I’ve come over all Star Warsy but here I go again, because I’m about to quote Yoda:

“Do or do not – there is no try”

Both of these soundbites are all you need to solve this frequent problem.

Because your very problem is that you’re TRYING (to do something you really don’t want to do). And you’re trying to do something that you’ve probably decided doesn’t really have to be done. You’re probably comforting your resistant feelings with, “I mean…what’s the worst that could happen if I don’t do it?”

Trying to do something worthwhile that you don’t want to do and that doesn’t really have to be done (you could get away with it) is tough. You don’t half like a challenge.

You’re trying to go against your nature. Which is a strategy about as useful as a plasticine ladder.

The solution then is to not try to go against your nature but to force your nature to respond – or force yourself to do.

Forcing yourself to do simply requires creating the circumstances or putting yourself in a position where you are forced to do the important but undesirable thing. There is no ‘try’. You must. Because you’ve forced the decision by rigging up intolerable consequences.

This eliminates feelings of resistance. Since there is no other option but to do it. “I have to”, shortcuts the emotional turmoil we tend to frequently battle through before achieving worthwhile results.


Here are some examples…but as a disclaimer, use them wisely, oh wise one, and with care. Start with lower risk challenges whilst you learn to respond to your own forced behaviours.

Forced efficiency

You could try to plan for that presentation in one day.

Or you could force yourself to plan for that presentation in one hour…by starting to plan just one hour before it starts.

This concept needs some understanding to use it effectively. You don’t start this one on an important client with high stakes. I’ve written before about forcing your efficiency as a great way to boost productivity. So that might be worth a read. (I’ll link to it again at the bottom of this article).

Force a new language

You could try to learn a new language. Many people try. Often by mixing with other non-speakers who are also trying to learn it.

Or you could force yourself to learn one by air dropping yourself into a group of native speakers for a few weeks. Where no one is trying but everyone is doing. Book the flight, book the hotel. Lay the money down. Use the force.

Force people to change speed

You could try to slow people down by putting up a sign.

Or you could force them to slow down with speed bumps.

Want people to speed up?

Don’t ask them to try to go faster. Remove the speed bumps then force their efficiency by lighting a metaphorical fire under their feet.

Force yourself to network better

You could try networking with a friend or colleague to hold your hand.

Or you could go alone and force yourself to network with new people.

Force yourself to spend less

You could try not to spend much when you go out.

Or you could take limited cash and leave your cards and wallet behind.

Force yourself to do more exercise

You could try to get fit.

Or you could sell one car and let your partner or spouse drive off in the remaining car.

Or get in the car when they go into town with the sole purpose of having to walk back home.

Or get off the train one stop early every day, and walk.

Or walk up to a bunch of football hooligans and call them all [insert favourite insult here].

Force yourself to learn faster

You could try to learn it faster.

Or you could wait until the point of need, when failing to learn to do something becomes significantly consequential. Then you’d force your interest, motivation and drive to learn it. Do that, and everything miraculously changes.

Force yourself to sleep

You could try countless remedies for insomnia. You could even try to count sheep.

Or you could force yourself to stay awake even longer, depriving your sleep to the point of forced drowsiness. Then set an alarm to force deeper sleep into a smaller time frame. Repeat. (This pays off after a few challenging days and you’d want to read up on it – you could start here.)

Force eating less

You could try to eat less.

Or you could guzzle down a pint of water before each meal.

Force frequent movement on long-haul flights (or at your desk)

You could try to get up and stretch frequently to avoid DVT.

Or you could take a large bottle of water on board with you and say yes to every single (soft!) drink they offer (to the point that you have to keep getting up).

Force an early start

You could try to get out of bed early with an alarm next to the bed.

Or you could put a loud annoying alarm on the other side of the room.

Force yourself to fight to the full

You could plan an important life-changing project and create a fallback plan B. And then try to make plan A work whilst knowing plan B is lurking in your mind.

Or you could refuse to make a plan B, burn your bridges, corner yourself, remove all escape routes, learn, train, prepare, and practice hard, and force yourself to do everything within your power to make plan A to work. You’ll fight ten times harder and ten times smarter. You’ll also learn how resourceful you can become.

Force your non-sales people to ‘sell’

(Don’t do this one!) But picture this: insist to them that they have to now start selling, and just watch them instantly develop an ability to ‘sell’ and attempt to persuade you that this is not a good idea! Compliment them on their new accelerated skill, and invite them to use it to acquire new customers that they’d really like to work with… If you do want your non-sales people to sell, see my site here, and contact me here.

Creating a commitment contract

And if you’re struggling to create the circumstances to force yourself into action, you could consider using a commitment contract site such as Or creating a promise with a friend or colleague, by handing them a sum of money to keep if you don’t produce your agreed deliverables!

How to get yourself to do what you don’t want to do

Got something you know you should be doing but don’t really want to? How could you put yourself in a position where you are forced into either doing it, or at least achieving the result?

Give it some thought. It will be worth it

And I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, or contact me if you want my ideas on how you could force yourself to get certain things done. And if you need help ‘forcing’ your team to engage in new behaviours, I’m happy to have that conversation with you here.


I promised I’d link to this: How to force your efficiency to get more done in less time


Do you think someone in your network might like to read this?

If you found this post useful then perhaps some people in your network might like it too? Please consider helping it reach them with a like and a share – many thanks!

Sign up to monthly posts here

Scroll to Top