Doing It Anyway

I was reading this wonderful post by Karen Russell this morning and though several parts of the post spoke to me deeply, the part that resonated the most with me was when she wrote this:

So it really doesn’t matter what I feel, it only matters what I do.

Even though her context is different, I work hard to apply this way of thinking to my life regularly. (By the way, I loved her context too but she already talks about that beautifully so I didn’t think it needed repeating.) I am a big proponent of doing things. In one of the Soul Restoration classes, there’s a whole session called “She did it anyway” and I remember it being my very favorite week.

When we don’t feel like doing things, we tend to think that others are doing it because they “feel” better about doing it. When I didn’t exercise at all, I used to look at others and say “Well she loves running.” or “She’s so good at it, I could never do that.” on and on. I didn’t, for a second, imagine that they didn’t want to do the activity either. I can apply this to practically anything in my life. Scrapping, working, exercising, eating a good meal, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the yard, reading to my kids, playing with my kids, spending time with those I love, etc, etc.

There are certain activities I pretty much never feel like doing. Like exercising. Having done it for quite a while now, I can confidently say that exercise will not be something I look forward to or feel like doing. But it will always be something I do anyway. I won’t wait until I feel like doing it. I will just do it. Just like cleaning up the dishes or picking up a mess. It’s something I don’t like to do but I appreciate the outcome so I deal with the process. I do it for the rewards that come from having done it per se.

(I want to mention that there are other areas where the rewards are not worthwhile to me and the doing is also dreadful so I don’t do those. For example, I don’t like cooking and I do believe I can provide nutritious meals for my family without having to cook, so I don’t cook. I just wanted to make sure to highlight that there are cases when neither the work nor the outcome are desirable and it’s important to recognize those too so we can stop doing them and use our time more effectively. These items are clearly personal. A tidy house might be less important to you than a home-made meal so you spend your time cooking and I spend mine putting the dishes away. There’s no right or wrong here, just knowing what your personal preferences are and using them to make yourself happy.)

Anyhow, back to my point. I also have a list of things that I do enjoy most of the time, but only after I begin. As I’ve mentioned here before, I feel a strong sense of inertia. When I am reading, I rarely want to stop reading so I can draw. When I am scrapping, I rarely want to sit with my kids instead. There’s a strong pull to continue whatever it is I am currently doing. It doesn’t matter what the current activity is (as long as it’s something I tend to enjoy), I just don’t want to transition to another one. But I’ve learned over time that, for me, doing a variety of things each day makes me feel more fulfilled at the end of the day. I have several projects and I like to move them all forward frequently. So there are many days where I don’t feel like sketching. Or art journaling. Or sometimes even hanging out with my kids. But I don’t wait for that feeling to pass. I don’t wait to feel like doing art.

I just do it.

I tell myself it’s time to sketch. I stop what I am doing and start sketching. Invariably, about ten minutes in, I am lost in the activity and grateful I’m doing it. So much so that when I am done, I don’t tend to want to move to the next activity but just continue what I am doing. But I move on. And at the end of the day, I am always grateful.

So, I’ve learned to never wait for the feeling to be there. There are times I really feel like creating or reading, and I work hard to honor those times. But more often than not, it’s just about doing it anyway.

This applies to being kind too. And not participating in the gossip. Making healthy food choices. Not yelling. Not being sarcastic or passive aggressive. Calling someone you’ve been meaning to call. Doing something when you said you would do it. It applies to the areas of doing your share in the world like Karen’s story in her post. Being a kinder, helpful member of a family, of a society. Lending a hand when you can. Not because you’re feeling like it but because it’s the right thing to do.

I’ve learned over time that many other people don’t feel like doing it either. Do you think most writers feel like writing every single day? When you look at others without the cloudy glasses on, you can clearly see that the reason others get things done is because they are dedicated to their goal and focused on the outcome. And they certainly don’t feel like doing it all the time either. But they don’t wait until they feel up to it.

They just do.

9 comments to Doing It Anyway

  • Phyllis Fultz

    I read Karen’s post, and now yours. You both express so well the fact that you just have to do things. My one little word this year is do. Because I’ve made some changes in diet and exercise over the last year, and I finally figured out the only way to change is to just do it, whether I feel like it or not. True of so many things in life, some things just have to be done.

  • Sheri

    Great point about inertia – I am the same way.

  • What a timely topic… I’ve been thinking so much about all my “thinking” and how it thwarts my feelings and doesn’t result in action… analysis paralysis. I need to learn to just do. The funny thing is that if I do think about those situations, even when I don’t feel like doing xyz – after it’s all done I’m always glad. There are no regrets. Instead, there are always regrets when I don’t get to something…hmm…

  • Renee

    Great article! I needed to see that others feel like I do, but do it anyways. Inspires me to just do it!

  • Karyn

    Thank you Karen,
    How true! We must push ourselves forward each and every day and realize we are probably more blessed than the majority of other people we see pushing through life. I so enjoy all of your posts! I feel like I know you in some way and we have never even spoke. I also enjoyed your comment on the post about the CHA convention and being a one on one conversationalist. I have always enjoyed just one on one time, hence I have never enjoyed goint or giving parties! I always feel empty after the event!

    Have a Blesed Day! I know you will Savour every moment!

  • Christina Olsen

    I LOVE this post. So inspiring and true. Thank you. I needed this.

  • Angie Menegay

    Hi Karen,
    As always, truly enjoy reading your posts, and just wanted to let you know that. Since you captured things so beautifully, I don’t want to regurgitate, but I totally agree with every point!

  • dawn

    This was a good read, opened my eyes for sure. You are so right in just doing it and not waiting till we want to. I need to follow your advise more some days I think, doing it and moving forward. Some days are all about painting and painting then at the end of the day I feel regret that I didn’t sketch, journal, read or anything else. So the next day I try to squeeze all those in just to make up for the lost day. It’s hard to quit though when I’m on a roll. Thinking I should use a timer and when it goes off I’m done even if I don’t want to be. Just like you said at the end of the day I will be thankful for ALL the things I did. Thank you Karen.

    Going to go read Karen’s post now.

  • I loved this! I’ve had a couple of days of dragging myself around not being very productive but you’ve reminded me here that it still counts as long as I get it done, irrespective of how I’m feeling – it can still be achieved, in other words nothing can stop me – yeah!

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