Trick Yourself Into Doing Anything (How-To Guide)

Sometimes we all need a little help to get things done.

There’s all kinds of reasons we can think of to not do something.

Maybe you’ve felt that way yourself.

But by using a few new ideas that can trick you into looking at your tasks a little differently, you just might find a way to make it easier.

So, how do you trick yourself into doing something?

Rewards

Of all the ways you can trick yourself into doing anything, the classic reward system is usually the first thing that comes to mind. Giving yourself a reward is a pretty common way to get yourself going. Maybe you are in the habit of grabbing a Starbucks coffee to accompany you when you run errands. Or maybe you have some ice cream after you finish your daily chores.

Dangling the proverbial carrot in front of you can be a motivator. But it doesn’t have to be a food reward. Maybe a special treat for you, is a nice walk outside after working in your home office for several hours. Watching a movie, going out with friends, or some quiet relaxation are also good ideas for rewarding yourself.

Giving yourself a reward is a legitimate way to encourage yourself to do something. Most people would not go to work every day, if they didn’t receive a reward for doing so, like getting a paycheck. So rewards are used in many of life’s routine activities. Don’t disregard them as over pampering yourself. Use them to your advantage.

Making your reward a healthy option is a double win.

Schedules

Another good trick to have up your sleeve is to schedule tasks you don’t want to do, in between two things you enjoy. By doing this, you get motivated to begin, by doing the first thing. Then while you have your momentum going, do the thing you don’t want to do, knowing that as soon as you’re done, you get to do the other task you DO want to do. Sandwiching the less attractive activity between two things you enjoy, makes it easier to get through the more difficult task.

Another way to use a schedule is to plan ahead for your procrastination, since it won’t go away completely anyway. Sometimes it’s better to get it out of the way, so you can focus on what you really need to do. Tell yourself that you’re going to do a different activity for a certain amount of time, and then do the thing you don’t want to do afterwards.

For example, if you have to finish an assignment, but just can’t convince yourself to do it, you could go ahead and plan another activity first, and then commit to doing the assignment directly afterwards. Playing basketball with friends for 30 minutes, and then going directly inside to finish your assignment might be one choice. Your mind will be refreshed from being outside, you will have exhausted some physical energy, and can be ready to sit down and do your work.

Use a schedule to allow for both work time and play time. Combining the schedule technique with a reward can give you extra incentive. For example, scheduling your play time AFTER your work time, might increase your productivity and give you something to look forward to.

Prepare, as if…

Another way to trick yourself into doing something, is to “prepare as if…” you’re getting ready to do it. Gathering tools or preparing a work area can be the first step in actually doing it. Oftentimes, the preparation can be easier than the task itself. And if it’s easy, you might be more likely to start.

For example, if you always set up your work area a certain way-with papers, laptop, snacks and special lighting, then by getting it ready, you are telling your brain that you are preparing to work. Once it’s all set up, there’s little effort needed to just sit down and get started.

Another example might be, if you’ve been missing out on your workouts lately, you may have to trick yourself into thinking it’s time to go to the gym. When you start to gather your things, like your gym bag and any equipment you normally take with you and set them by the front door, you’ll be one step closer to actually going. Then, go put on the clothes you typically wear to the gym. At this point, all you need to do is grab your bag and walk out the door. By taking things one step at a time toward your goal, you may be able to complete the process, and actually go.

When you associate a certain outfit, equipment or scenario with a particular activity, you may start to respond to the familiar routine and get yourself into the right state of mind to do it.

Availability

Tricking yourself to do certain things can sometimes come down to a matter of convenience. If you’re trying to do something like eating healthier foods, one answer might be to only have those foods in your house. By making healthy options your only choice, you might be able to trick yourself into eating a better diet by making it more difficult to go find something else.

When thinking about how you want to live, and what activities you want to do, you can trick yourself into doing what you really want, by making those options the easiest and most convenient choices. Our brains like things to be easy, so by offering the path of least resistance, you could create routines that become effortless. Make the things you want to do, the most available option.

Be Somebody Else

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always have what you’ve always had.

That’s a common statement, but it can be very true. If you make the same choices over and over again, you may not reach the goal you are striving for.

One way to trick yourself into doing something, could be to think about the person you want to be, and ask yourself, “What would they do in this situation?

For example, if saving money is something you want to do, but you always seem to buy things on impulse, try thinking of the type of person who spends money wisely. You might think of someone you know, or formulate that personality in your head. The next time you are in a store, and considering buying something you probably don’t really need, you could see yourself as the person you want to be. Then ask yourself what would you do if you were that person right now. Would the person you want to be, buy that item? Or would they appreciate it for what it is, and then decide they would rather hold onto their money for now, and give it more thought.

Another example might be at the office. If you have a mentor, or look up to someone that you admire, could you create a new persona for yourself that emulates the type of person that you want to be? When you don’t want to work on something, ask yourself what your mentor would do in this situation, and step into their shoes to trick yourself into making a better decision.

Consider:

  • What would a wealthy person do?
  • What would a healthy person do?
  • What would a responsible person do?

And then act accordingly as that type of person.

Everyone has times when they don’t want to do something they know they need to do. But by using a few tricks, you could get yourself thinking and acting in ways that may surprise you. Giving yourself rewards, scheduling work and play times, setting yourself up for success, and visualizing what you would do if you were the person you want to be, are some tips and techniques that may help you to do things you don’t want to do.

One last thought on tricking yourself into doing anything, is to remember that life doesn’t have to be tedious and hard. Use your imagination and make it fun. Discover what motivates you to get going.

In his fun filled inspiring book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, Dr. Seuss writes,

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

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