Marilyn Paul, PhD

Do Something Difficult Now


Do something difficult right this minute.  Take five minutes, or ten minutes.  Take that hard thing which is weighing on you a little bit.  Focus on it.  This will bring up some fear, worry, or a feeling of incompetence.  That is why you have been avoiding this thing.

If not right now, do it before the end of the day.

I often avoid things that I am afraid to fail at.  Or, I am afraid of being rejected by someone.  Or of coming across as silly or worse, like I don’t have a grasp of the situation.

So, at times I take a productivity nosedive because I busy myself with unimportant email rather than doing the hard thing.

The hard thing comes in all kinds of packages:

  • Upgrading to a new technology
  • Writing one paragraph of a report
  • Planning a project
  • Saying sorry
  • Do the background reading for a meeting
  • Inviting someone new for coffee
  • Meeting a new client
  • Preparing a new marketing plan
  • Letting go of unused items
  • Returning an unwanted purchase – with or without the receipt
  • Paying bills – on time

We all have difficult hard things.  Choose something hard that you can do in five or ten minutes.  You’ll be surprised at what you can do in five or ten minutes.  And, if nothing else, you can get started.

If this helps, call or text someone you trust right now and tell them which hard thing you are going to do.  Let them know your planned time of completion.

Set your timer.  Take a deep breath.  Plunge in.  You can do this hard thing for five minutes.  If you get traction, do it for another five minutes.

Clean up the mess on the desk for five minutes.  Delete old emails.  Post your blog.Write a description of a workshop.  Call someone you have been meaning to connect with.

Even if you feel nervous, get started.  Creating this habit will reduce your stress in the long run.

Do a difficult thing once a day.  It builds courage and decrease procrastination.

Here’s what Michael Jordan says about making mistakes.  Do let fear of failure keep you from taking action.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

One Response to "Do Something Difficult Now"
  1. I just want to say thank you. I’d been putting off dealing with the clothes of my late father, but there was no more time to put it off as my husband and I are moving into my father’s house. In my mind, this chore had become this mountain that I was terrified to climb. I started looking for help, and found support but not truly anything that helped, until I read your article. It was exactly what I needed. I’m halfways done with my father’s closet now, and despite some tears when I first began, it actually feels good to be getting it done. I’ve been dreading it for so long that dealing with it is actually bringing me relief. What a surprise. So, again, thank you!

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