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JEFFREY TOBIN: Who cares what you want?

by on January 05, 2014 1:50 AM

Who cares about what you want? I mean, really.

Who cares? When most of us look forward, we want positive change. But when we eventually look back, we often find not much has changed. That’s not what we want. What we want is substantive, transformational, positive change.

That’s why I say I don’t care what you want. Because for most of us, dear reader, what we want doesn’t always come about. This is as true in business as it is in the rest of our lives.

Look back over the past 12 months. Have you gotten what you wanted? Has your world changed significantly, and for the better?

What I’m about to say sounds trite. It is. But that doesn’t make it any less true: What you want isn’t important; it’s what you do that counts. This is why I say I don’t care about what you want. I care about what you do.

And therein lies the rub.

One of the greatest impediments to progress is waiting to be motivated to do something.

Nevertheless, I’m here to tell you it’s not motivation that you need. Since when do you need motivation to act on something? You don’t have to “want” to do something to get it done. You simply have to “do.”

When our kids were small, I’d often ask them to clean their rooms. “I don’t want to” was a common retort. It was, at least, until I discovered the key to what was stopping progress.

“I mow the lawn every week,” I would say, “and I don’t like mowing. In fact, I hate pushing that mower around in 90-degree heat.

But I do it. I don’t want to, but I do. So it’s OK that you don’t want to clean your room. Believe me, I’d hate to clean it, too. It’s OK that you don’t find any joy in cleaning; it just needs to be done.” Then I’d ask them to say, “I don’t want to, but OK.”

And guess what? It worked. It worked because in that moment they’d learned to separate their emotions from their actions. You can do this, too. It’s OK to embrace displeasure, even fear, and yet continue to act.

Getting something done doesn’t have to be something you want to do, or even something you’re motivated to do. You may never want to. But who cares what you want? Sometimes you just need to do. The key is to separate the “want to” from the “do.”

If you want to make significant, transformational progress this year, don’t get so emotionally involved. Just do what must be done.

As you move forward this year, make it exceptional. Don’t wait for motivation; it may never come. Discover great progress by saying, “I don’t want to, but OK.”

Jeffrey Tobin, an international speaker and business coach. He is also the owner of Henry Hall Office Products in Indiana and hosts the website His professional advocacy columns appear Sundays in the Business section of The Indiana Gazette and the Community News page on The Indiana Gazette Online.
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