How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over & Get Anything You Want

how to get anything

How many times have you said the phrase “I don’t feel like it”?

How many times have you talked yourself out of doing things—things that you know you should do—just because you didn’t “feel like it”?

More than you can count? You’re not alone.

Last year I sent out a survey to my email subscribers asking them what their biggest challenges were. The number one biggest challenge was time management, which I talked about here. The second biggest challenge that people seemed to struggle with was motivation, which I’m going to talk about today.

Here are a few responses I received related to problems with motivation:

  • “I tend to have this huge surge of motivation and will have an incredibly productive day. However, in the following days, I tend to slip and then be super lazy.”
  • “The biggest challenge I face is emotional slumps and setbacks.”
  • “…complete lack of motivation.”
  • And multiple variations of finding motivation to study, exercise, wake up early, etc.

In that first post that I wrote about time management I made the following statement:

“After spending a lot of time thinking about this problem, I’ve realized that the problem for me (and many of you, it seems) is not a lack of motivation or drive, but perhaps it’s too much motivation and drive.”

But now that I’m re-visiting the topic, I think I was wrong. At least partially.

You see, I don’t think the main problem is that we have too much motivation or too little motivation. In fact, I don’t think the problem is related to motivation at all.

We all have days when we’re feeling motivated and days when we’re not.

No one is 100% motivated ALL the time.

Tim Ferriss, one of my biggest role models, has done some awesome things with his life, but despite everything that he’s managed to accomplish, one of my favorite things about him is the fact that he’s not afraid to admit that even he struggles with the same problems as the rest of us (including motivation).

In one of his posts, he once said:

“Most ‘superheroes’ are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk.

You see, the only difference between people who get what they want in life and those who don’t is that those who get what they manage to do so despite the “emotional slumps and setbacks” that they face.

They know that it doesn’t matter how they feel on any given day. Whether they’re feeling on top of the world or down in the dumps, they continue to take action and get their shit done, one way or another.

We all have days like this...
We all have days like this…

Now, I do believe that it’s possible (and necessary) to create a long-lasting motivation that underlies all of your actions by defining your “why’s.” Having a deep understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing will give you a reason to wake up in the morning every day and keep chugging along, no matter how bumpy the road might get.

But the point is that the road will get bumpy, no matter what.

Even with a strong underlying motivation, there will still be days when you “just don’t feel like it.” There will still be days when you don’t feel motivated. And while remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing will help you push through those days, the fact remains that those days are bound to come.

There’s simply no way around it. It’s the inevitable nature of being human. It’s one of those (many) things that are out of our control.

What you have to remember is that these things come and go. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, motivation, inspiration… They all come and go.

There’s no point in trying to control them. Instead, what you should do is focus on the one thing that you can control. The one thing that you will always be in complete control of: your actions.

We’ll talk about how to do that in just a second, but first let’s talk about something that’s not helping your cause…

The “F” Bomb

A few weeks ago I watched a TED talk called “How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over” by Mel Robbins. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it and I’ve watched it at least 3 times since then.

Mel begins by explaining how insane it is that one third of Americans, or 100 million people, are dissatisfied with their lives right now… despite having all the information that they could possibly need (thanks to the Internet) to get whatever it is that they want in their lives.

As Derek Sivers once said, “If information were the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”

So we know that information is clearly not the problem.

The main problem, and what it all comes down, according to Mel, is one word: F*©#.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 3.44.53 PM

You hear it all the time, but there’s nothing good about it.

It doesn’t make you sound smart, and it doesn’t express how you really feel. “It’s sort of a cheap shot to take,” Mel says.

I have to admit that even I’m guilty of using it sometimes…

Of course, she’s talking about the word “FINE.”

Not only do we use this word to lie to others about how we’re actually feeling when they ask us how we’re doing, but we also say it to ourselves. And this is the bigger issue.

When we lie to ourselves, when we tell ourselves that we’re fine with the way things are, we convince ourselves that we’re fine with not going after what we really want. Which is why we’re not pushing ourselves. Because we’ve already given up.

This is completely unacceptable.

You’re Not Fine, You’re FANTASTIC

In her TED talk, Mel says that scientists have calculated the odds of you being born—at the moment in time you were born, to the parents you were born to, with the DNA structure that you have—to be the following:

1:400,000,000,000,000 (that’s 1 in 400 trillion).

Let me repeat that. The odds of YOU being born are 1 in 400 trillion.

You’re not fine, you’re FANTASTIC.

Somehow we got lucky enough to be a part of this bizarre universe. Don't take it for granted.
Somehow we got lucky enough to be a part of this bizarre universe. Don’t take it for granted.

Now, if you’re a skeptic like me, you might be wondering how accurate those numbers really are. Well, I did a quick Google search and came across an article by Dr. Binazir on his Harvard blog in which he performed his own calculation.

He begins by calculating the odds of your dad meeting your mom (1 in 20,000), multiplied by the chances of them staying together long enough to have kids (1 in 2,000), and so on.

Ultimately, he concludes that the probability of you existing to be 1 in 102,685,000 (that’s a 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeroes).

In other words…

The odds of you being alive are basically ZERO.

Of course, even Dr. Binazir acknowledges that “the probability of sentient life is not something that can be measured accurately, and hundreds of steps have been deleted for simplicity.”

But that’s not the point.

“…no matter how you slice it, it’s pretty remarkable that you and I, self-absorbed scallywags that we are, stand at the end of an unbroken chain of life going all the way back to the primordial slime.  That’s the point,” says Dr. Binazir.

I’ve said before that not going after what you really want is selfish, because as long as you’re not being true to yourself, you can never be your BEST self, and this hurts everyone.

You’re meant to do great things in life. We all are. We’re all in that 1 in 400 trillion category.

So yeah, stop being so damn selfish, stop being “fine,” and start doing SOMETHING.

Getting What You Want Is Simple (But Not Easy)

The simple truth is that you’re never going to feel like doing the things you need to do in order get the things you want to get.

In order to get what you want to get, you have to FORCE yourself.

It’s that simple (but not easy).

In her talk, Mel says, “Anything that is a break from your routine will require force… Scientists call it activation energy — the force required to change from what you’re doing on autopilot to doing something new.”

And this is exactly why I spend so much time on this site talking about the importance of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Because in order to get what you want to get, you have to learn to want to do the things that you don’t feel like doing – the things that most people don’t want to do.

You can’t sit around waiting till you feel like it. It’s never going to happen.

There’s a quote from one of my favorite books, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, that has forever changed the way I think about inspiration (or motivation):

“Someone once asked Somerset Maughham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. “I write only when inspiration strikes,” he replied. “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”” 

Sitting around waiting for inspiration/motivation/some other mystical force to strike is a great way to never get what you want. 

To summarize Mel’s argument, to get what you want requires the following:

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.55.30 PM

  • FORCE Yourself OUT Of your Head: “If you’re in your head, you’re behind enemy lines. That is not God talking…”
  • FORCE Yourself PAST Your Feelings: “If you listen to how you feel when it comes to what you want, you will not get it, because you will never feel like it…”
  • FORCE Yourself OUTSIDE Your Comfort Zone: “You need to get outside your comfort zone… that’s where the magic happens. That’s where the 1 in 400 trillion exists.”

– Mel Robbins

Or don’t… and join the other 100 million Americans who are dissatisfied with their lives.

The choice is yours.

Choose Wisely

Tony Robbins once said: “The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.”

The reason most people fail to take action is because they associate more pain with taking action than not taking action.

But if you reverse this, and start associating more pain with not taking action, then it will become nearly impossible to not go after what you really want in life.

Because then it’s simply a matter of choosing between voluntary short-term pain (doing what’s hard) and enjoying long-term life satisfaction vs. short-term comfort (doing what’s easy) and suffering from long-term involuntary pain. The worst pain of all — the eternal pain of regret. 

Choose: voluntary short-term pain for long-term life satisfaction OR short-term comfort for long-term involuntary pain. – Tweet This

I don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty easy choice for me.

What Can I Do For You?

At the very end of her TED talk, Mel says, “If I can do anything to make you do the things you don’t want to do, so you can have what you want, I will do it. But you need to walk over, you need to open your mouth, and you need to make the request.”

Today, I want to make the same offer.

If there’s anything I can do to help you go after whatever it is that you want in your life, let me know. You don’t even need to get out of the chair you’re sitting in right now or open your mouth. All you need to do is leave a comment below.

Go.

P.S. Be sure to watch Mel’s entire TED Talk here. I promise it will be well worth your time.

Image credit: header imageunmotivated pupNASA photo

About Stefano

Stefano Ganddini

Hey there! I'm the creator of Collegetopia and the guy who writes all these articles. I'm here to help you live BIG, do EPIC shit, & be HAPPY. Click here to read more.

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  • I think that it’s really important to realize that no one is 100% motivated all the time.

    At least from what I’ve seen, it seems like people use being motivated as an excuse to not act until they are motivated, because the kinds of people who have achieved the kinds of success they want are motivating.

    Lol, let me try to break that down. Say I admire Gary Halbert or Dan Kennedy for their work in copywriting. I admire the fact that their copy has produced millions and millions of dollars in revenue. They’re known for their marketing and business success.

    Their success motivates me to write.

    But what isn’t glamorized and publicized are all the times they put pen to paper, even when they didn’t feel like it.

    It’s as if what’s said about them (and of countless successful people in general) imply that all these people are motivated 100% of the time, even though that isn’t the case, and them being motivated all the time is their secret to success.

    And a comment on being comfortable with being uncomfortable : The person who completes the vision that you currently have isn’t you – it’s a better, smarter, more accomplished version of you. So if the person you aspire to become isn’t who you are right now, then you can’t expect to be yourself to stay the same and magically become that person who achieves your vision. You have to do something that the ‘you right now’ isn’t doing – and this is where we have to break our comfort zones.

    • Exactly — successful people are portrayed as superheroes, but that’s only because from an outsider’s perspective, all we see are the final results. We only see the “tip of the ice berg,” but we don’t see all the hard work and struggle hidden beneath the surface.

      I like the analogy of ‘you right now’ vs ‘future you.’ Makes it clear that you won’t ever become your ‘future self’ by continuing to do the same thing you’re doing right now.

  • Steve Place

    Great article! It reminds me of one part of Thomas Frank’s book on getting better grades where he talks about how “I don’t feel like it” is not a good enough reason to not do work. I really like this idea.

    I don’t have anything right now that I need you to help me with, but I like that you’re doing this. Keep kicking ass, Stefano.

    • Thanks, Steve!

      Yeah, he also has a video on the topic. And actually, just the other day he said something that has stuck with me since. We were talking about the word “passion,” and he said something along the lines of, “Dude, the work sucks. Writing the script sucks, filming sucks, editing sucks. The only good part is when you finally finish. I’m passionate about finishing.”

      Now that’s some solid inspiration right there.

  • Tom

    Thanks , I needed to read something like that.

    Pretty good web, too.

  • Lobsang Tenzin

    Thank you. It was really helpful. We know what we have to do but we don’t do it. Thank you again for reminding why we don’t achieve things we could achieve.

  • Winfred

    What are your tips for adopting a systems mindset as a student both in general and when you’re in high school and don’t always know what the homework is until after it’s assigned making it hard to plan ahead? Additionally, how does one take control of their weekend and not end up putting everything off until Sunday night?

    • Adopting a systems mindset: you can block off chunks of time for distraction-free work in advance. For example, every day between 3 pm – 6 pm you do nothing but concentrate on your homework. You don’t need to know what the homework will be in advance, but you can still block off the time in advance.

      In regards to taking control of your weekend, try this: Plan activities for Sunday, so that you won’t have a choice but to finish your work before then. If you don’t, you’ll either be screwed or you’ll have to bail on the plans you already made. Both bad options, so you’ll force yourself to get your work done.

  • Gwen

    Great Article!

    “Voluntary short-term pain for long-term life satisfaction OR short-term comfort for long-term involuntary pain.” I feel like I use this every time I don’t feel like doing the work I should be doing!

    My problem is this; I am very good at motivating myself to work for my primary goal (i.e. my medical degree). However once I’ve completed these work-related goals I find myself content to waste time. I’ve been productive so I deserve a break, yes?

    However, what about the novel I want to write, the marathon I want to run? I am less uneasy when I don’t work on these goals. I don’t think it’s because I believe they are less important – on the contrary, one of my main goals in life is to publish a book.

    I think it has more to do with uncertainty – both these goals I’m avoiding require me to do something I’ve never done. But I have written 100,000 words several times over in my life. I have also run 26.2 miles be it in a month, or six months or longer.

    So I’m not sure if it’s finding motivation for these things – it’s more assigning them the same importance in finding/remaining satisfied in life. Finding a balance between getting stuff done now which will make me satisfied and achieving things in the future which will offer longer-term satisfaction. Also preparing in advance for things I might look back on later in life and wish I had done.

    • Hi Gwen,

      Sounds like you’re struggling with something that ambitious types like myself often struggle with — wanting to do it all. You can do it all, but not all at once. It’s great that you know what your primary goal is and are focused on that. In regards to your other goals, I’d say maybe focus on one of those two goals for now, and slowly work it into your schedule while maintaining focus on your primary goal.

      At the same time, I’d suggest taking a serious look at these goals, and any other goals that might be making distracting you (because you’re constantly thinking about them in the back of your mind… whether you realize it or not) and re-evaluating why they are so important to you. If they really are, then by all means go for them. But sometimes I think we just like the idea of certain things, but there’s no real reason why we want it other than the fact that is sounds nice.

      I’ve written a few articles about the topic that might be worth checking out:
      http://collegetopia.co/focus/ (see section ‘don’t be a donkey’)
      http://collegetopia.co/warren-buffett-time-management-strategy/
      http://collegetopia.co/lasting-motivation/

      Hope this helps!

  • …anything you can do? How about some info about pushing those barriers and doing stuff when you don’t feel like it, but not because you’re lazy, but because you’re in chronic pain and suffer from depression, and trying to stick to college. I’m serious. I find no information on it, as if mentally ill people or people in a lot of pain didn’t study of work or something.

    • Hi Isho,

      I would focus on addressing these issues first, before trying to do anything else. Your health (physical and mental) should always come first. If you think you can address the issue yourself, great, but if this is something you’ve been struggling with for a long time now, and your efforts have been futile, you should probably seek professional help (if you haven’t already). I’ve actually been suffering from chronic back pain for over a year now and I’ve been to over 5 professionals at this point (in addition to doing a ton of research on my own). It’s still a work in progress, but I’m constantly making an effort to address the issue because I know how important it is. It may be difficult to seek outside help, but there’s a reason why these professionals exist, and it’s to help people who need it.

      All that being said, here are a few articles that you might find helpful:
      http://collegetopia.co/change-negative-thinking/
      http://collegetopia.co/feeling-stuck/ (writing has actually been proven to be one of the best forms of therapy)
      http://collegetopia.co/how-to-increase-your-happiness-level/

  • Great article.

    Have you looked into anything by Gray Cook in terms of back pain relief? I was taught by a mentor of mine back when I was studying to be a strength coach that the source of a significant amount of back pain tends to come after the initial injury.

    Our brains “shut off” the firing of certain muscles when an injury occurs.

    Let’s say I sprain my ankle (I was really good at doing this when I was younger). Our brain strikes this balance where I’m still able to walk (with a limp) while protecting the injured area. It has evolutionary advantages such as getting away from predators (or at least giving us a better chance) but that’s a story for its own post.

    Many of us get into trouble once the area has recovered sufficiently to handle heavier loads. Our brain doesn’t automatically reactivate the muscles it previously shut off.

    I’m currently having issues with my right wrist (I hurt it carrying a cast member off stage after a performance). I previously injured it about 7 months ago. Typically one injury tends to linger in the form of improper “muscle activation” aka: how our muscles and nervous system respond.

    In my case, I’m going to need to do some work on the injured area but also other areas that affect the injured area. For my case, this means the soft tissue in my forearms and possibly the muscles responsible for motion at my elbow and shoulder.

    For someone who has injured their back, posture is important but doesn’t tell the entire story, we shouldn’t have to force ourselves to stand properly. Ideally, we should be on some program that does that for us (this could take as little as thirty minutes once every other day). Issues with any joint from your big toe all the way through your back (toes, ankles, knees, and hips) could exacerbate the problem.

    It could also be a problem with how your “core” fires.

    In summary, listen to what the professionals you saw said. Assuming there aren’t any structural issues, fractured bones, bulging disks, or horribly torn tissues. You should be able to begin work on getting yourself to a severely pain reduced/ pain-free state.

    Mike Boyle has some phenomenal material on how he gets his clients to brace properly.

    Again, I don’t know your story. I don’t know how the initial injury occurred.

    If there was one thing you could do for me that would be invaluable to my success. It would be to drop me a line every now and then and make sure (as Tim Ferris puts it):

    DON’T BE THE FAT MAN IN THE RED BMW CONVERTABLE.

    Two books that I would recommend to anyone are:

    Functional Training for Sports – http://amzn.to/2323m3d

    Advances in Functional Training – http://amzn.to/1WQEifX

    • Hey Nick,

      I haven’t heard of Gray Cook, but I’ll look into him. I think everything you said is pretty spot on with what I’ve been learning from my own research. Apparently taking it easy and avoiding activities is the worst thing people with chronic back pain can do, which is exactly what I had been doing (and what most people with back pain do).

      So I definitely think that was a big part of the problem for me, and I’m now starting to incorporate more movement and postural exercises into my routine. But I also have a few mild-moderate bulging disks and other minor things that may be contributing to the problem… but no one’s really been able to pinpoint the root of the problem, which has been the major dilemma. I’m basically just trying to do everything I can at this point (even trying out a 30 day gluten free diet, primarily for this reason).

      I’d be happy to check in with you periodically, but let’s get more specific. What exactly am I checking in with you on, and how often is every now and then? Also, let’s set a time frame just so that this isn’t an indefinite thing. Number one, because I can’t do something indefinitely, and number two, because it won’t help you out much if you don’t have a time constraint on whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve.

  • Bg

    Thanks for this, you have this way in your writing that actually gets a point. Everytime I open my inbox I hope there’s a new post of yours because I love reading you, you are inspiring.

    • You’re most welcome! So glad to hear that, thanks for the comment! :)

  • Trevor

    It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d most
    certainly donate to this outstanding blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this site with my Facebook group.
    Talk soon!

  • I think the update to the blog broke the header image, which now appears as a link (http://prnt.sc/bp56p8).

    • Stefano Ganddini

      Thanks for pointing out the broken header image! It’s fixed now :)

      Hmm, I don’t believe I have written about that before, but I LOVE Wait But Why and this idea of a ‘life calendar.’ Did you buy the calendar?

      • Is it possible for you to change the formatting of these Disqus comments? I mean, the link appears in the same color as the rest of the text. My parenthesis screwed up the screenshot link.

        And I will email you regarding the calendar.

        • Stefano Ganddini

          Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m able to change the formatting of the comments.

          • I’m pretty sure I’ve seen blue links in Disqus comments on other sites. I think it just uses the link color that you have set for everything, only without underlining it.

  • Hajar

    The only thing that I need in order to get what I really want is hope. I am a college student who failed her first year, and right now I feel that I will never succeed in college. At the same time I don’t want to give up because it’s not in my nature but I am really scared that I am giving myself false hope. Am I really crazy enough to try this again ?

    • Stefano Ganddini

      “…right now I feel I will never succeed at college.”

      This sentence right here is the problem. As long as you hold on to this belief, you’re right – you won’t succeed.

      But as soon as you let go of this limiting belief, and change it to “I was BORN to succeed,” you’ll realize that your last year (and any future failures) are just minor speed bumps. Everyone fails. But you’re only a failure if you give up.

      “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

      I think you were born to succeed, Hajar. And I think you’d be crazy NOT to try again.