Effectiveness Habit #2: Feel good. Then act.
Effectiveness Habit #2: Feel good. Then act.

Effectiveness Habit #2: Feel good. Then act.

You can get more done with more ease by building seven effectiveness habits. Build them one at a time over the next several weeks and months. You need not, for the most part, build them in the order I present them.

Here’s today’s habit…

Effectiveness Habit #2: Feel good. Then act.

When we feel bad–stressed, worried, anxious, angry, etc.—about a situation, we usually respond in one of two ways: we push into action or try to avoid. These are such a natural responses that we might not recognize that we do them. Example: you decided a while back that you need to build a new marketing piece for your company. And you just remembered it again today, just before a big event where you could really use the new piece. You feel stressed. If you tend to push in situations like this, you may get angry and say, “I have to get this done today!” If you tend to avoid, you may say, “Oh, well. I’m too busy anyway.”

Pushing into action or avoiding limit our effectiveness for three reasons. First, the personal energy and resources we spend on pushing or avoiding take away from our abilities; we drain our batteries. Second, others pick up on our push or avoid attitude and react. Though they may not be aware of it, they really don’t like the feeling we put out and will pull back. Thus it’s harder to get stuff done without their full support. Third, it feels bad! Who wants to feel bad, really?

Solution: Stop and feel better. Then act.

The solution is to feel better. (NB: look for specific physical sensations to tell you how well or poorly you feel.) You don’t have to feel great, just a bit better. There are many ways to do this. Here are a few.

  • Catch yourself pushing or avoiding. If you can say to yourself, “Oh, this is me trying to push (or avoiding) to get something done,” you can often get enough awareness to relax just a bit an feel better.
  • Flip to an ever so slightly better feeling thought. Say to yourself, “This doesn’t feel good. What one thought can I think that will feel even the slightest bit better?”

When you can feel better–even getting just a bit of relief–you’ll have more personal resources available to act well and you’ll feel better! Once you feel better, act. In fact, you might notice that, by feeling better, your actions and the results you want come with much more ease. And that always feels great.


  1. Control over “feeling good” not always easy, and may not mesh with when something “must” be done (eg, income tax, my current struggle). However, the principle is greart … definitely something to keep in mind, even though one doesn’t always have the luxury of just rolling over and staying in bed in the morning when it’s raining inside.

    1. Mike

      Right you are, Jay. It is often not at all easy. And I think there are two related reasons why it’s not easy.

      1. Feeling bad is a habit. Much of our thinking is habitual. And that’s normally a good thing. We’d be hopelessly stuck if we had to consciously think every thought that normally we think habitually. For example, consider all the thoughts that go into something as mundane making breakfast. We build habits because they help us. Any habit of feeling bad–of thinking a thought that has an associated bad feeling–started out of a desire to make something work better. With some attention, we can notice these habits and decide if they still work or have stopped being as useful.
      2. Feeling bad is culturally reinforced. Why would we ever choose to build a habit of thinking a thought that feels bad? Why not find a thought that feels good and that works? Because our culture tilts to the negative. We globally tend to see issues as problems and want to attack vs. understand. I see no real reason for this tilt; perhaps there was an evolutionary reason.

      If we see feeling bad as habitual, we have an opportunity to get control over it. That, to me, is very promising. And this perspective makes it simple if not easy: find a way to catch and rethink your thoughts.

      1. Coleen

        I agree – I feel when faced with a situation and I’m not so anxious, I can tackle it with less stress. I do have to say that most times for me it is habit I start with a feeling of “Doom” but then I talk myself into a better place & the situation at hand really is not as bad as thought and I’m able to move forward.

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