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truecomedian's avatar

Why don't I do what I know I should?

Asked by truecomedian (3932points) July 13th, 2010

I know, I’ve known for a long time what it is I should be doing, to better my life, better me. And I continue to make the same mistake. It used to be easier to know the right action to take, but today, not as much, tomorrow even less. I’m asking why I don’t live brilliantly, why I’m letting life pass me by.

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16 Answers

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

That’s a good question! When do you think things changed? Often such a change has to do with fear of something. What do you think?

ETpro's avatar

Great question. All of the Powers brothers are elusive sorts, but Will is certainly the hardest of the Powers brothers to find and hold onto.

There is a verse in Isiah that has always stuck with me. Isa 50:7, “Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”

I am an agnostic, but being my own lord over at least me, I do not set my face like flint lightly. I think long and hard before reaching that level of commitment. But if I do decide it is worth that level of commitment, I will do it or die trying. I’m still alive at 66.

SmashTheState's avatar

“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”Romans 7:19

zophu's avatar

Logic isn’t the only part of our intelligence. We can know exactly what must be done, yet but unable to do it. (Unwilling is unable.)

Find a purpose greater than yourself.

That is the drive.

Find others to share that purpose with.

That is the will.

And then you’ll be able to apply what you know is best for your life. Because your life will mean something. Most people act so selfishly in ways, yet ultimately don’t care about themselves. When you truly care for yourself, you do so through other people. That must be what your missing. The world needs you, human. Come to know that as innately as you breath—more innately than that, even.


My best guess is because you really don’t want to. There is nothing we can’t do if we really want to, so you just don’t want to, yet.

Disc2021's avatar

Everyone has a struggle and everyone has a weakness. That’s your challenge that you’ll have to overcome.

ninjacolin's avatar

This is a big question that I think about often. Myself, I don’t believe the term “lazy” defines anything substantial or informative. I’m glad you left it out for me to compliment you on. :) My conclusion so far (skipping a lot of background) is something like this:

For many many many reasons I’ve come to believe that the human brain is incapable of diverging from a path of thought and behavior that it has rationally concluded is the most sensible.

Because of that one conclusion (which some share and others do not) it seems obvious to me that the only reason a person fails to do something they “want” to do.. is because during the periods where doing the action is possible, they simply don’t happen to “want” to do it. They actually want to do something else instead. This is a very time sensitive concept, by the way; I’ll try to make an example:

Bob may have wanted to do action X (most likely dishes!) while he was at work, but he needed to get home to do it. Bob may have wanted to do action X while he was at home but he needed to wait for his room mate to get home to get started. Bob may have wanted to do action X while he was home with his roommate, but he needed his roommate to remind him. Bob may have wanted to do action X after he was reminded by his roommate at his home, but he needed encouragement rather than a demand.

My point is, that Bob is actually never existing in a period of time where his focus is on the task itself. His focus is always on satisfying external conditions. In a very real sense, bob is ignorant of the task at hand. While ignorant of the actual task, he is incapable of “wanting” to either start or finish it.

Wanting something is simply a matter of believing something “should” be done. Should according to your own definition, no one else’s.

To his roommate, he looks lazy. And maybe lazy would make more sense if it specifically defined someone who fails to apply the necessary focus. Dishes get done when you focus first on turning on a tap. Bob never manages to focus on or believe that is necessary and as a consequence the dishes never get done!

So, I believe the real reason why people don’t do things they mean to do, is because they technically don’t know how to do it. They are incapable of focusing on the basics, the start of the project. Perhaps they only see the end result and imagine loosely the amount of energy that would have to be expensed to do it. Whatever the case is, the mind is simply not focused on the task. The mind does not believe it to be crucially necessary and beginning the task is never fully achieved.

Another example: Ask a business man downtown at lunchtime to climb a tree. He will be hesitant even if he is physically able… that is, until you unleash a bear on him. As soon as he believes climbing a tree is worthwhile, he will find it easy to decide to do.

Sorry for the wall of text/thoughts. I’ve wanted to examine this for some time. (and there’s still more too.. something about habits and the roll habits play in preventing or making easier the virtue of starting a task. without habits it’s really hard to do things that others have spent time creating a habit of. the solution in such cases is to spend time developing the habit. this takes effort.)

ipso's avatar

I think you should put it into context for us.

Is it debilitating? (e.g. – you don’t have a job and you don’t want to even go look for one until your family has left you.)

Is it vanity? (e.g. – I have my masters but what I really-really need is my doctorate.)

Is it substance dependence? (e.g. I know I should stop drinking vodka at lunch, but I just don’t want to quit today.)

Is it trivial? (e.g. I know I should tell my boyfriend that I want to go to the beach on Sunday, but I just don’t know if I should talk to him about it until he is in a better mood than tonight.)

YARNLADY's avatar

When I answered this question for myself, I came to the conclusion that I have very little motivation to get ahead. It seems good enough works for me.

ninjacolin's avatar

@truecomedian said: “I know, I’ve known for a long time what it is I should be doing, to better my life, better me.”

Just to clarify/personalize my stance: I think you’re wrong. Theoretically, I think the truth may be that you simply don’t know what it is you should be doing and that is the only reason why you aren’t doing it. Specifically you are failing to focus on the beginning steps. Instead, you’re spending your time reading about how you are failing to focus on the beginning steps. :) Other things, like this, are what your brain is spending it’s time on. It isn’t spending sufficient time on getting started.

NaturallyMe's avatar

I think that’s the big un-answered question of life.

gemiwing's avatar

Who is telling you what you “should” be doing and are they right?

If they are right, have your true best interest at heart and are coming from a caring place- then figure out where the idea that you can’t do these things came from. Who gave you the impression that you can’t do this? What was their motive?

I like lists. Lists often show a hidden truth. So I would write out a list of reasons I’m not doing what I “should” be doing. Be bone-shakingly honest and write down every single reason you can think of- even if it sounds stupid to you. Perhaps the answer will reveal itself.

Cruiser's avatar

I would take inventory of your life. Look at all the days you have lived, what you have done and then look closely at who you are and what you still want out of your life and really really consider how that tomorrow may never come. You really can’t say how many more days you have…you just don’t know. That kicked in for me last year and I had to come to terms with a lot of things in my life and now I can sleep at night not fretting over the small stuff in life. Life is too short if you really think about it!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Because you don’t want what you should do badly enough.

meatheadbox's avatar

You can only inaugurate to live ingeniously when you capiche who you’re, but based on your contradicting inquisition, you don’t seem to be fathoming thyself. If you assert that you cognize how to ameliorate yourself, well then how do you engender ingeminate snafu’s? The only other viewpoint to this query would be theories in your consciousness but with the lack of trinitarian attributes: dread, impetus, and inculcation to pragmatize these theories. Solution for viewpoint #1 would be copiousness captivation of phrenic calisthenics in desiderate motif’s, supervened by utilitarian application of what was learned, which will eventually be conglomeration to life inwardness. Solution for viewpoint #2 would be one of the trinitarian attributes I wrote. For example with dread & impetus, bestowing a vendible of sentimental value to someone you trust on condition that if you do X, you get the merchandise back in one piece, however, if you fail to do X, the commodity gets bartered, bequeathed, or eradicated. An example of inculcation would be boot camp/military simulation. “Do X or suffer the consequences.” A good old round house kick to the head from a drill instructor, although extreme, it can be very effective in harnessing discipline.

daytonamisticrip's avatar

By definition you are crazy. I don’t really believe in that word. A lot of people that realize that their “crazy” cease being “crazy”.

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