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A Deeper Look Into Why We Don’t Do The Things We Want To Do

Have you ever found yourself saying something along these lines:

“I'll start that podcast tomorrow. I'll begin my workout journey next week after I go on a business trip. I'll start to journal next month after finals. I'll try to approach them next weekend. I'll give my long-distance brother a text next time.

I'll write that book someday

I'll move to that country someday.

I'll call them one day

One day.


Our brains default to comfort.

It's easy to tear ourselves down when thinking about all the things we wanted to do but chose not to. But before beating ourselves up, we need to understand that many of our goals can be out of our comfort zone, and they can be uncomfortable to pursue. Unfortunately, our brains are hardwired to run in survival mode, our core brain’s functions are to stay alive, and survive. In doing this we seek safety and if something makes us uneasy, like starting something new, our brain can get tricked into thinking it’s bad for us. . Another added aspect that makes our brains fear discomfort is that society appeals to this idea that life is best when it is pain-free and secure, this is the “good life”. All these ideas and thoughts are constantly reaffirming our brains into thinking that whatever goes beyond our normal threshold of comfort, even our dreams, and goals, is not worth pursuing, not worth the risk, save it for someday. The slightest discomfort makes us want to stay in our safe space of what we know is familiar.

A lot of the time we know what's good for us already, we understand we should eat healthier, work out more, say what's really on our mind, ask for a promotion, tell them how we feel, etc!! Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton describe this as the “Knowing-Doing Gap''. So if we know what's good for us, Why don't we try that new thing or make the time for this or that? Fear of failure/ rejection? Lack of time? Scared to begin? Fear of the unknown? Whatever the reason may be, we know if we don't go for it, we are safe and secure, we did not lose anything because we technically did not start anything.

Or did we lose something?



The pursuit of what you actually want?

The Alternative. Change your perception of comfort.

This may seem very dramatic for smaller decisions but it’s our mindsets and beliefs that affect everything we do and that's why it's important to be aware of how we are thinking. What your perception is for smaller decisions will be the same outlook you have for the heavier decisions you will face in life.For example, waiting to reach out to your father after 20 years of disconnection or starting that business that is soul-satisfying to you one day. To push past that default idea of safety and make that call to your father, start the business, you need to change your perception of comfort and safety. Brianna Weist, who wrote “101 Ways to Change the Way You Think”, says to think about the discomfort you will face when not doing it rather than the discomfort when doing it. She states,” If left unchecked, the knowing-doing gap will

leave you a shell of the person you intended to be.” We have to think about the alternative! What will our lives look like without doing this? What will we have done with the small time given to us? Is the alternative of not pursuing that goal making me satisfied? Instead of looking at the cost of doing it, change your perspective to analyzing the cost of not doing it.

Practicing being uncomfortable makes it easier, it is slow and it is beautiful. The dread and anxiousness you felt before making that call, and starting that podcast diminishes with that first small step. We make tasks seem a lot harder than they have to be because we think of them as this huge terrifying wall that needs to be mounted in one try. We don't realize that the real beauty is throwing the rope and making a little effort every day and seeing how far you have come. As Weist mentions, It’s uncomfortable to work, to stretch the capacity of your tolerance, to be vulnerable with someone you care deeply about, but it is never more uncomfortable than going your whole life without the things you want.

Questions to ask.

I understand that it is harder than it sounds to be able to go beyond your comfort zone, I struggle with this just as much as anyone, I have my fair share of “somedays”. I get scared that I will fail, get rejected, not be what people expect me to be, and not be good enough, so I save it for someday. To help me with this (and share what helps me), I found that understanding your thoughts and being self-aware makes you see what is at stake, the Alternative.

1. Why am I not going for it?

When I stop to analyze why I haven't been doing the things I've wanted to lately, I ask myself, am I too comfortable right now, am I taking the easy way out and choosing compliance? Is that why this fear is present because this thing I want is past my tolerance of comfort? Is my brain overriding this because it's not a secure, safe action, it's a cold hard effort?

2. What does life look like without it? How do I feel?

Once I get a better sense of why I'm so hesitant, I then try to change perspective as mentioned earlier; I imagine the amount of discomfort I will have later when I never got to do that thing I longed for. I imagine explaining to my future self why I didn't make the time to get into shape, to read a page a day, to make that uncomfortable call sooner before it's too late. I think about the Alternative.

3. What is your threshold for staying as is?

A final thing I always ask myself is how uncomfortable you will have to be until you make that change. Ironically, I have been saying being uncomfortable is a good thing, but this applies to trying the things you love, and working towards some type of growth! When we decide to wait for someday, it is usually because the pain of changing weighs more than the pain of staying. That's why a final question I ask myself is:

At what point will stay “stuck”, or not doing what you love be so painful/uncomfortable that you decide to go for it? And are you willing to let it get to that point in order to react?


I will look back and love all that I tried.

I want to be able to look back in a couple of years and see all the efforts made, successful or not, I want to be able to laugh at the humbling rejections and smile at the growth I have made as an individual. Someday isn't guaranteed so don't stay comfortable when you know you want more!! Life is hard and

painful at times and that's never going to change. It’s easy to want to find comfort and shelter, but we must remember it'll also be painful thinking about the person we never got to be because we put it off for Someday. So please, try everything, go for it all, make those first steps, make the time for it, call that person, and live every day now, because someday you'll look back and admire everything you tried.

”Everything is hard in some way. It’s hard to be in the wrong relationship. It’s hard to be in the right one. It’s hard to be broke and miserable, it’s hard to achieve your dreams. It’s hard to be stuck in the middle, not feeling anything at all. Everything is hard, but you choose your hard. You choose what’s worth it. You don’t choose whether or not you’ll suffer, but you do choose what you want to suffer for.” -Brianna Weist


About The Author:

Karla Stambaugh '25

Management Information Systems

Entrepreneurial LeadHERship Student

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