• Dr. Glenn Sloman

Waiting on a feeling...

Found yourself too tired to do something? Maybe in the morning, you say to yourself, “When I get home, I’m going to cook a healthy meal.” When the time comes, somehow you find yourself exhausted and ordering pizza. Or you say, I’m going to spend 30 minutes organizing my closet, and you find yourself unmotivated and on the couch. The feeling of being energized is great, temporary, and perhaps rare. Once in a while it comes about and we get the job done. More times than not, the feeling simply isn’t there. Lacking the feeling to get things done is a common experience and frustrating as well.

The issue is not the feeling but rather the small likelihood of the feeling that we are seeking to motivate us. Procrastination is in part waiting on a feeling (it is also doing other, potentially more pleasurable activities instead of a less preferred task that requires mental and/or physical effort). I remember when I was working a summer job at my step-dad’s business and he had a sign you may have seen in some variation ,“Don’t wait until tomorrow what you can do today.” It was a reminder to himself (and a little encouragement from his dad) to do what he didn’t enjoy doing in the short-term because it was important to set an example for his family in the long run.

This saying has an underlying rule to follow and an idea: move in directions that are meaningful to us. Sometimes, we have to walk through mud to get to our destination. It’s easier if you recognize that you have a choice in the matter and you can make a choice based upon what is most important to you. Rather than relying on a fleeting feeling, you can look to core values to keep you moving. For example, take organizing and preparing tax information. I don’t look forward to this and don’t enjoy it at all. However, by recalling that I go through the mud of organizing tax information because it allows me to continue to act with responsibly toward my family, I find that I am willing to engage in the action of tax preparation. In essence I have chosen to be someone my family can count on which helps me take action by giving me a purpose toward a task that is usually burdensome and tedious.

The next time you find yourself waiting on a feeling to get something done, ask yourself, if I could do one thing to possibly make a difference in my day/week/month rather than wait on a feeling to inspire me, what would that one thing be? What steps do I need to take? If you were helping someone else make a plan, what would you recommend that they do? Then see what happens if you can connect whatever it is to a quality or characteristic that is important to you and notice what happens next. Unfortunately, feelings aren’t easily changeable and tend to be short lived, but who and what are important to us are always there to be called upon to support our actions.

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