Counter Intuitive Advice of the Day: Ignore Your Feelings

Every now and then I come across a particularly clarifying thought. Here is today’s, from social psychologist Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, who specializes in motivation: If you are putting something off because you don’t feel like doing it, make like Spock and ignore your feelings. They’re getting in your way.

Halvorson offers a really important distinction: “Somewhere along the way, we’ve all bought into the idea—without consciously realizing it—that to be motivated and effective we need to feel like we want to take action.  We need to be eager to do so.  I really don’t know why we believe this, because it is 100% nonsense… You need to be committed to what you are doing—you need to want to see the project finished, or get healthier, or get an earlier start to your day.  But you don’t need to feel like doing it.”

I’ve seen this again and again with my clients—and, of course, in myself. The scenario will likely be familiar to you, too. We know what to do (to feel better, be happier, be healthier) and then… we don’t do it. Because, whether overtly or subtly, we just don’t feel like it.

Often in coaching, we work to clarify and then transform whatever it is that’s constellating as not feeling like it. (Moods are a likely place to start looking; more on that another time.) But I like Halvorson’s advice, too. A lot. Sometimes we just need to step up and do that thing that will really make a difference, whether we feel like it today or not.

As Halvorson says, “ignoring your feelings may not sound as fun as advice like Follow your passion! or Stay positive!  But it has the decided advantage of actually being effective—which, as it happens, is exactly what you’ll be if you use this strategy.”

Case in point? I didn’t feel like writing this morning. (I suspect a mood of resignation was involved, along the lines of “OMG, the internet is drowning in words, the last thing the world needs is more of them, whatever I have to say won’t make the weeniest bit of difference.”) But I pushed through and here we are. Doing so was not only productive, it left me feeling better. Funny how that works.

I invite you to try this for yourself: What will you commit to taking on today that you don’t really feel like doing? (Respond below to let share how it goes!)

About Us

The WYSIWYG Co. is the coaching partnership of Caroline Sugarman and Aaron Sugarman. We are members of the International Coach Federation (ICF), with more than 40 years of combined coaching and consulting experience.

We work with individuals and organizations, through a mix of one-on-one coaching, workshops and group work that builds leadership and communication skills and improves team performance.

We support our work with assessments that generate insight, highlight strengths and areas for development, and help organizations make better hiring decisions.

Learn More


An occasional digest featuring the best of our blog and curated reading list.

Connect With Us