How to Show Up Even When You are Not Feeling it

There are days when you are just not feeling it. It’s not that you are exhausted or tired. (Although being productive when you are tired is definitely a challenge.) It’s just that you are not in the mood to do the important task that’s not in front of you.

You try to procrastinate and distract yourself with other things. You try to do anything but whatever this thing is that you are resisting.

I’m with you. I totally have these moments too. Sometimes the answer is to just rest. Don’t worry about accomplishing the task you’re avoiding. Let it wait.

On the other hand, it’s useful to find a way to do the work anyway regardless of how we’re feeling about it. The thing is if you only do your important work when you feel like it, you might not ever get it done. So, how do you learn to do something even if, or especially if you don’t feel like it?

The Mistaken Expectation

Many people have an expectation that you should be in the mood to do something. You should be excited, rested, and focused. And when you get down to working on whatever it is, it should be easy, fun, and comfortable every time.

The problem with these expectations is that you are more likely to run away from the things that feel hard, overwhelming, or uncomfortable. So when you are not in the mood or just not feeling it, you’ll avoid it like the plaque and find other things to occupy your time. There is nothing wrong with this. It can lead to creating a life you’re not happy or completely satisfied by.

Most of the time when you do the thing you don’t want to do it is uncomfortable or difficult. Mainly this stems from not being in the mood in the first place. You shouldn’t shy away from hard things. Embrace them. Usually doing something that you find hard will ultimately be more meaningful for you.

Many of our most meaningful experiences are difficult. Such as running a marathon, giving birth to a child, just creating something important. These are not easy experiences, and yet they are more meaningful because they are not easy. Would you rob yourself of meaningful experiences by shying away from the difficulty?

How to Do Hard Things When You’re Not Feeling It

For me, I try to notice when I have an expectation to be in the mood or that the thing I don’t want to do is to be easy, fun, and/or comfortable. By noticing the expectation I now have a choice. A choice to run away or avoid the task or I can decide to not only be “fine” with doing something that could be uncomfortable when I’m not in the mood, but to embrace it.

I can choose to do a task that could be challenging, uncomfortable, or uncertain. Basically, it boils down to two things:

  1. Notice the expectation or acknowledge that you aren’t feeling it.
  2. Open yourself up to the meaningful experience of that work, despite it’s difficulty, your lack of focus or despite not feeling it.

You’ll be amazed by what happens when you do something even when you’re not feeling it.

10 thoughts on “How to Show Up Even When You are Not Feeling it”

  1. Hi Amanda,

    This article came in handy.

    As of late, I’ve been so overwhelmed with the different businesses I took on. I believe I’m burned out and feeling a bit out of sort. After reading this, I feel that it’s because the things I’m dealing with are rather challenging. Yet, at the same time I’m rather a workaholic? It’s a grey space honestly. Hahaha.

    You are right, at the end of the day we have to keep ourselves in check and acknowledge. Then get up and try again. Oh and rest. How I wish we can all travel once more! Will be needing a good rest without touching any work stuff.

    Thanks for sharing this!


    • Hi Sam. I’m glad this article was useful to you. We are living in a rather crazy time right now, which can definitely make things feel more challenging as well. I am with you about traveling. A vacation sounds wonderful. 🙂

  2. Amanda,

    As someone with several major health issues, this is a great reality check. Yes, you can sometimes skip out on something altogether, but often there are other consequences. Your friends may start to pull away, or the tasks start to pile up causing even more issues.

    Have you heard the term “Spoonies?” It’s one of the best explanations of how those of us with chronic illnesses have to manage our energy.

    • Hi Sean. Thank you for your comment. No, I hadn’t heard of that term until you brought it to my attention. I read the Wikipedia article that you left for me. That sounds like it must be difficult to balance at times. If you use up all of your “spoons” then you aren’t left with any energy the next day. Wow, I can’t even imagine how hard that must be.

  3. I always push myself to do hard things, even when I’m not feeling it. I try to maintain a positive mindset, and the only way that I can do that is by doing things that I’m not comfortable with.

    This may sound silly to you, but I sometimes take cold showers in the morning, drink bitter coffee, wake up super early, etc. just to push and teach my mind and body to adapt to certain situations that don’t feel comfortable.

    You should definitely try it. I promise you’ll hate it, but you’ll also rip the benefits from it!

    • Hi Gorjan. Thank you for your insightful comment. No, I don’t find those ideas silly at all. I think they are a wonderful way to get your body and mind used to uncomfortable and difficult situations. Definitely worth a try.

  4. “Then you just pretend you like it and do it anyway,” my mother always said if I said I didn’t feel like doing something. Letting me grow up to someone who is very dutifully doing whatever is necessary.

    Which can make us unhappy, if we do that all the time. So in my opinion I am more sensible with that nowadyas. For instance, yesterday I didn’t feel like doing what was on my to do list. Well, today is another day, so I forwarded the list to today and did only things I liked yesterday. It makes life way more pleasant. 🙂

  5. Hi, Amanda,

    I can totally relate. Lately, I haven’t felt like doing anything. I don’t know if I’m depressed or just unmotivated. I love writing, but I’ve struggled these past few weeks to set some time aside and do it. I don’t know what’s happening.

    You mentioned something very important: We shouldn’t avoid those things. Many things in life are unpleasant and we would prefer to avoid them, but that is life. Life is beautiful, but that doesn’t mean we won’t face a few ugly things along the way.

    Thanks for sharing.


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