Children tend to do what adults tell them (eventually).
Mum - "Will you please tidy your room?"
Young Alison - "I don't want to!"
Mum - "I don't care if you want to or not. You will go and tidy your room!"
Young Alison huffs and puffs but then tidies her room.
As an adult, you don't always have that mother figure to get you to do what you don't want to do. If you don't want to tidy your room, then that room does not get tidied. If you don't want to mow the lawn, then that lawn does not get mowed (it is easier to just dodge your neighbours' accusatory stares). If you want to eat five Yorkshire puddings and popcorn for dinner in your onesie like a slovenly student, you can five eat Yorkshire puddings and popcorn for dinner in your onesie like a slovenly student. This is the joy of growing up and being independent and it is awesome.
The thing is there is literally no one making you do stuff. Not even your boss. Think about it, if you don't want to turn up for work, you don't have to! You only tow the line because you don't want to suffer the consequences of being unemployed and having no money, (or of course you actually enjoy your work…) either way you make yourself tow the line.
Worse of all, you often get a lot of short-term pleasure when you avoid your responsibilities. The consequence of not going to the gym might be watching another episode of your favourite show. The consequence of not going to bed early on a weeknight might be having an awesome night out drinking with friends.
No wonder it is so hard to do stuff we don't want to do but should do!
The problem is, in order to improve and get better at life, you have to do things you don't want to do when you don't want to do them!
The power of the playlist
So how can you overcome this? One method that works for me is the power of my playlist.
Music can transform, elevate and amplify my mood. For example, If I don't want to write a blog post because it is 7 pm and I'm tired, and in my mind, I should really be writing early in the morning over a steaming cup of coffee (hopeless romantic), then I stick on some Miles Davis and get the decaff going. Before I know it, I am typing away.
If I am feeling bleurgh and want to watch movies all afternoon, but I should really go to the gym because I want to look good in my new outfit for my friend's wedding, then I listen to Daft Punk and can't help but start dancing and feeling more energetic.
If it is Wednesday but it already feels like the longest week ever and I am dreading going to work, then I pop on some sing-a-long classics and belt them out at the top of my lungs during my commute. By the time I get to the office, I am ready to face the day with a smile.
When I'm at home all day and I feel tired and boring and not at all in the mood for loving, then I listen to Maroon 5 and The Weeknd and I feel a lot more sensual and playful.
Music will never make you do stuff you don’t want to do, but you can choose to passively listen to it or make it work for you. Through music, you can coach yourself into a more creative/energetic/fearless/sexy/[insert adjective here] state.
When you listen to music, you can change the storyline in your head and you become the hero in that storyline. Don't believe me? Listen to Kanye West the next time you go jogging, it is a physical impossibility to not feel like an absolute boss!
Your self-improvement homework, therefore, is to create some playlists that will work for you in specific situations. Be more intentional about what you listen to, when you listen to it and notice how it makes you feel. Start writing down songs for different moods so that you have the names to hand when you need them.
If you wait until you are already feeling in a funk, it can be difficult to think there and then what songs are going to pull you up. You might even gravitate to songs that keep you down. Similarly, there might be lots of songs that you like, but they just don't do it for you. Your playlist has to really push your buttons, take you out of your head, and give you the opportunity to be a different part of yourself.
And with a different background soundtrack, you might just find that those tasks are easier to do.