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Adulting: Asking Myself How I Feel...

Do I feel like doing IT?

That little question isn’t always the best, but I ask it often. Especially before starting a workout.

Do you also ask yourself this question?

I’m sure you understand that “it” can be anything: calling in the prescription, mailing the package, going to work, making the dreaded phone call.

Note: if you need to be asking yourself how you are feeling (maybe a medical issue is involved), that’s a whole different matter. But this is not my case.

I need some good ol’ emotion regulation.

I have to monitor how long I let myself belly flop into my pool of emotions, especially as someone who fights anxiety. I have the capability to complete my daily to-do list. But honestly, I don’t feel like it most of the time. Let me share with you Dr. Pychyl’s song description in Procrastination 101: It’s Not About Feeling Like It:

I don’t feel like . . . I don’t want to . . . I’ll feel more like it tomorrow . . . are the lyrics to the procrastination song, as I’ve learned it. I think we might all sing it to a slightly different tune, but all the tunes that I have heard are a little whiney. They have that “poor me” quality about them.

I think a lot of us should stop humming that tune and asking ourselves questions about our feelings. Instead, we need to learn to ask questions such as:

  • How good will it feel to have that package off my counter and in the mail?

  • How grateful will I be through the week, after I cut up the fresh vegetables in my fridge for snacks and salad?

  • How refreshing is it to look at a clean floor?

Such questions motivate me to step out and begin. By imagining my goals, it’s like I am shining the trophy. I will want to reach the finish line more than ever, and that desire overrides all other passions.

Dr. Pychyl shares the benefits of not letting our emotions dictate our actions, and to instead dive in and move forward:

Research has certainly documented this. If we stay on task, a little progress fuels our well-being, we get happier. If we avoid the task, we may find some immediate relief in our distraction, but we also typically experience guilt in the short term and self-loathing longer term.

Yuck. I have experienced that “guilt in the short term and self-loathing longer term.” I’ve sat on the couch and stubbornly thought about how much I don’t want to run the errand. So, I won’t.

However, the trade-off is rarely worth it. My life isn’t suddenly copasetic: I know I can be doing something better with my time, and this makes me uncomfortable. Procrastination droops over my head like an unwanted cloud.

Bottom line: motivation usually doesn’t spring from internal debates about how I feel. Instead, I get started with my first task (which might just be rolling out of bed.) Once I start moving and seeing results, my feelings catch up, and like most emotions, negative feelings eventually pass, and the positive feelings are the ones that stay.


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