“The mature human being goes about doing what needs to be done regardless of whether that person feels great or terrible. Knowing that you are the kind of person with that kind of selfcontrol brings all the satisfaction and confidence you will ever need.” ~ David K. Reynolds
June* sought out coaching because she couldn’t seem to finish any of the things she said she wanted to do. She had a good idea of what she viewed as her life’s purpose and she had some challenging goals to enable her to live out her purpose. But when we met for the first time, she had made little measurable progress on any of her goals. During one of our early meetings, she selected one of her goals and we developed an action plan to move her toward it. June left with a list of things she could do before our next meeting and she was excited to get started.
When we met the next week, I was interested to see how much progress June had made. She had made none. I asked her about the action steps she had developed. “I just didn’t feel like doing any of them,” June confessed. And there I observed the issue. June was waiting until she “felt like” doing an activity before she tackled her goals. And she rarely felt like doing any of the hard stuff – the difficult tasks we had broken out into small steps.
Instead of asking herself, “What needs to be done now?”, June was asking, “What do I feel like doing?” She was living out of her feelings, not her purpose, and she was stuck in place.
“Self-discipline,” said writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard, “is the ability to make yourself do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.”
How are you approaching your life? Are you creating the life you want — doing what needs to be done? Or are you watching life go by as you are buffeted by feelings and reacting based on how you feel? If you are ready to start doing what needs to be done, rather than doing what you feel like doing, here are some tips to help you get started.
Do what needs to be done
1. T-BEAR You may already be familiar with the T-BEAR model of getting things done. T-BEAR is an acronym for Thoughts <-> Beliefs / Behaviors <-> Emotions <-> Actions <-> Results. In this model, we see that Thoughts influence Beliefs and Behaviors which influence Emotions or feelings which influence Actions which lead to results which, if the model is drawn in a circle, influence further Thoughts. But notice that the arrows go both ways. Past results can influence current actions. Actions can affect emotions. Emotions can affect behavior. And Behavior can influence thoughts. If you are unsatisfied or unhappy with the results in any area of your life, check your T-BEAR. Remember the one thing you have the most direct control over . . . your thoughts. Change your thinking and you affect all the other components.
2. The Five Principles Of Constructive Living In the book, Constructive Living, author David K. Reynolds introduces these “Five Principles of Constructive Living”:
- “Feelings are uncontrollable directly by the will.
- Feelings must be recognized and accepted as they are.
- Every feeling, however unpleasant, has its uses.
- Feelings fade in time unless they are restimulated.
- Feelings can be directly influenced by behavior.” [Reynolds]
This is how you gain control over your feelings, rather than have your feelings control you and your actions. Reynolds tells us that feelings cannot be directly controlled by will but that they may be directly influenced by behavior. [See 1. T-BEAR.] Further, feelings must be accepted — as with most things, the more you struggle against something, the stronger it becomes. As we have discussed many times, once you accept the feeling – no matter how unpleasant — then you begin to learn the lesson the feeling brings. Finally, don’t keep going back to an unpleasant feeling or the situation that caused it. Let the feeling fade away.
3. Act your way into feeling It is easier to act your way into feeling than to feel your way into actions. Try it now. Sit in your chair with your head down, your shoulders rolled forward. Close your eyes, frown, and say, “It’s hopeless. There’s nothing I can do.” My guess is that you feel closer to being depressed than to being happy. You’ve just acted yourself into a feeling. (Reynolds calls this “doing depression”.) Now, sit up straight, throw your shoulders back, raise your hands in the air, smile and say, “I can do this!” Doesn’t that feel much better? Remember – Thoughts <-> Beliefs / Behaviors <-> Emotions <-> Actions <-> Results. Feelings follow behavior.
4. Now what needs to be done? All of the other ideas lead up to this question. Ask yourself throughout the day, “Now what needs to be done?” Reynolds comes back to this question again and again throughout his book. “Now what needs to be done?” Are you struggling to form a good habit? “Now what needs to be done?” Are you faced with a challenge? “Now what needs to be done?” Did life just blow up in your face? “Now what needs to be done?” Not “What do I feel like doing?” Whenever you don’t know what to do, ask “Now what needs to be done?”
Now over to you. Take an objective look at the progress you are making on your goals or in developing the good habits you want to have. Are you doing the small tasks each day that move you in the direction you have chosen? Or do you miss a day because you just “don’t feel like it”? It’s interesting how a missed day can turn into missed weeks, then missed months. You have the choice. You can live based on your feelings and be tossed about by the winds of whims. Or you can choose the actions and behaviors that will lead to the feelings you want to have. Doing what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.
That is Excelerating!
[*”June” is a compilation of several coaching clients. “She” does not represent one specific person and June is not her real name.]
Excelerated focus — aligning your actions with your true desires — is one step in creating your Excelerated life, a life of well-being, meaning, and purpose.
Reynolds, David K. A Handbook for Constructive Living. University of Hawaii Press, 2002