When I think of the words “I don’t wanna!”, it conjures up a picture of an adorable 3-year-old with super blonde hair, standing with their arms crossed, their feet hip width apart, with a tear stained face and they are saying (sometimes yelling, sometimes whispering) “I don’t wanna!” over and over again. 

Let’s face it, all of us have things we do NOT want to do.  It may be scheduling a doctor’s appointment, having a difficult conversation with someone or sitting down to plan out the next steps in your business.  These things may make you feel like that adorable 3-year-old who states over and over again, “I don’t wanna!”, hoping that if you say it enough times, this “thing” will magically go away.

Sometimes, you may be perplexed with the “I don’t wanna” attitude toward something that you do regularly.  For example, I usually love to write my newsletters and occasionally, I feel like the 3-year-old saying “I don’t wanna!” when it’s time for me to get writing.  Why does this happen?  Here are three popular reasons you put things off:

  • Quite simply, you didn’t get enough sleep the night before and you’re tired and cranky
  • You perceive the task will be boring, difficult, take a lot of time, or feels like it will be a waste of your time.
  • You fear failure or fear success.


Obviously, this list is not all inclusive and the reason you don’t want to do a particular task may not be included.

If your strategy to ignore, repeat “I don’t wanna!” over and over, or some other form of procrastination doesn’t magically get the task done, how do you actually make this task go away?  You take action!

Here are three ways to help you move something you don’t want to do forward:

1. Use a timer.

One of the things getting between you and this task is starting. To get yourself to start, negotiate with yourself – I know that sounds funny and it really is a negotiation. The outcome of this negotiation is the amount of time where you say, “Yeah, I can do that.”  It may be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or any other amount of time. 

Once you decide on the duration, you set your timer for that time and you ONLY focus on this thing you didn’t want to do until the timer rings. 

When the timer rings, you have a choice to make. Do you continue working on this task? Do you reset the timer for a specific timeframe? Or do you move on to something else?

Often what happens is you will be so excited that you started that you will NOT want to stop working on the task or (and this is the really cool one!) you have finished this task in this short timeframe! 

2.  Set a deadline.

Often when we don’t want to do something, there isn’t any urgency to get it done right now.  Many people work better when they know they HAVE to get something done by a particular date.  For example, you may be dreading a conversation with your significant other or co-worker.  You’d like to get it over with; however, it is very easy to say, “I’ll do that tomorrow.” and tomorrow never comes. 

Setting personal deadlines can be very helpful to get you started on something you don’t want to do. The process to set this up, is simple.  You look at the thing you don’t want to do, you estimate how long it will take to get it done, you decide the specific date you want it done (e.g., Thursday, June 21st) AND you mark this deadline in your calendar (or where ever you keep your appointments).  If this is a task you suspect you may continue to put off, it can also be helpful to tell a friend, colleague or coach about this deadline, so they can help you to be accountable for meeting it.  

3.  Plan a reward.

Have you noticed when you have something to look forward to, you are more likely to get going on something?  It’s kind of like in high school, when your mother told you, that you had to clean up your room (I don’t wanna!) before you could go out with your friends.  It gives you incentive to get this thing you don’t want to do, DONE! 

One quick note about rewards.  When you hear the word reward, you may think it has to be BIG and EXPENSIVE to be valuable.  Those types of rewards are very nice, and all rewards don’t have to be like that.  You can plan a simple reward of taking 15-minutes to have a cup of tea on the back porch while reading a book uninterrupted. Or, maybe you would love to talk with a friend for 10-minutes.  Or, maybe you take your lunch to one of your favorite beaches on a weekday.  Your reward can be anything YOU would look forward to! 

Once you’re done with the task that you didn’t want to do, be sure to actually honor your commitment and give yourself the reward.  Please don’t just say, “Great, that’s done.  What’s next!”.

Getting out of “I don’t wanna!” mode isn’t always easy and can take some experimentation to find out the best method(s) for you to move into action.  Don’t get discouraged if the first thing you try, doesn’t work.  Keep at it, I’m confident you’ll figure out what tools and techniques work best for you when you’re putting off doing something you want to get done.

Helen Kosinski
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