When “Just Do It” Doesn’t Work

That big project is weighing heavy on your shoulders. That little task is nagging at the back of your mind.

“I’ve just got to make myself do it,” you tell yourself.

Days later, weeks later, a lifetime later, you continue to tell yourself, “Just do it,” and it remains undone.

The majority of experience proves that people can’t push through obstacles, blocks, limitations, fears and beliefs with willpower alone. 

Maybe you have before or maybe you’ve seen someone else accomplish something against all odds based on what you assume is their desire alone; those are the exceptions to the rule.  If you have pushed through an obstacle before to achieve what you truly wanted, have you been able to consistently do this throughout your life?  It’s hard especially when you find yourself trying to recreate how you mustered up the extraordinary willpower before.

One way to overcome obstacles, blocks, limitations, fears and beliefs is to first acknowledge that “just do it” isn’t cutting it.  Acknowledge there is something in your way and choose to understand it at a deeper level.  Dr. Donald Moine, author and financial advisor, teaches, “Recognition is 80% of the solution.”

Why can’t you “just do it” and be done with it?  Because:

  1. An experience has taught you a behavior or habit.
  2. You’re using an issue as a protective mechanism.
  3. The issue has a payoff or benefit that you value.

When “just do it” doesn’t work, acknowledge what is in your way, understand it and have compassion for it.  Mastering this process may create a breakthrough for you, take that weight off your shoulders, and silence that nagging in your mind.

Speak Your Mind and Comment

Share the one thing that you’ve been telling yourself to “just do” in the comments (by clicking here). Is it starting your novel, finishing that painting, reading that book, visiting a family member, organizing your office, scheduling your vacation, sending your portfolio to your dream company, revamping your resume, requesting that favor, recording that song you wrote, asking for that raise…?  I’ll start with the first comment. 


  1. Pitching an article to a national magazine

  2. Sharon says:

    Organize the computer room. Move the books and files to where they are more accessable, put all CD’s in their original covers, and put everything in it’s place. Then scan all photo’s and begin my summer project.

    • Thank you for your comment!

      It sounds like you have a plan. What is the first step you can take toward this plan? It may be something easy or maybe even fun to get your momentum going toward your summer project.

  3. Need to be more organized !

    • Don’t we all? :)
      Thank you for your comment! I know that many of us agree with you on needing to be more organized.

      What is one step you can take in the next week to be more organized? Think of something small that will make the biggest impact in your daily life.

  4. Laura Whittle says:

    Re-insulate the air pipe that goes under thru the basement to the outside of the house.

    • Laura, that sounds like quite the project! Thank you for sharing!

      What will the payoff be when you have that air pipe re-insulated? What else will that payoff affect? Is that motivation enough? Or do you need a different positive or negative motivator to push you into action?

  5. Kevin c says:

    Hmmm, definitely had to go through the list of things That I’ve been telling myself to “just do”…I think the biggest one is to widen my horizons. Looking at life in such a narrow way isnt good for people. It causes them to be close-minded and cynical. I need to just travel. See things that I only see on the discovery channel, for instance. Experience other cultures, meet people of every range of personality and background and learn to accept everyone for who they are no matter the circumstance. I would go on but it would take wayyyy to long to list the things I have told myself to “just do it”. But that’s probably #1 on my list….traveling and widening the way I think.

    • Kevin, I really appreciate you sharing here.

      Traveling and widening the way you think seems like it may be a longer-term goal for you. In the short-term (this month or maybe in the next 90 days), create a specific goal about one or both of these things. Once you’ve clarified what your short-term goal is, decide to take one step in the next week to move closer to your goal. Decide to take one step and then move into action. Those who take action get results.

      If you’d like help with goal-setting (and specifically turning vague goals into clear, measurable goals), you can download my Success Solution Audios by simply providing your name and e-mail address in the box with the reddish-orange heading to the top left of this website. These audios are currently being offered as a gift to the DEFINING SUCCESS COACHING Community.

  6. 1. Start a band.

    • Thank you for sharing that thing that you’ve been telling yourself to “just do.”

      I’d imagine that starting a band may seem overwhelming. What is one thing that you can do in the next week to get yourself closer to this goal?
      If you find that you can’t take the first step, I encourage you to ask yourself what the payoff is by not starting a band? Then, ask yourself which would you value more – the payoff you are currently getting or the payoff you’d get by starting a band?

  7. Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written much better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I most certainly will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a great read. Thank you for sharing!


  1. […] For example, we tend to think that we can just do things if we really put our mind to it. As this this very Aristotelian blog post points out, “Just do it” often doesn’t cut it because our action is the result of our habit […]

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