Getting uncomfortable tasks done: just do it!

Natasha Stronach, Solution Designer, U-Collaborate KPMG Innovate
Natasha Stronach, Solution Designer, U-Collaborate KPMG Innovate

My performance manager made a suggestion at the start of FY16. I should try writing a newsroom article. With hesitation, I put it on my list of ‘things to do’. I had conjured up every excuse possible as to why I couldn’t do it which included, I don’t know how to write an article, what am I passionate about, no one wants to hear what I have to say, and I am too busy etc. Thus it simply sat on my list, constantly reminding me of my procrastination and inability to complete. Taunting me you could say!

Twelve months later, I read Marissa Mirarchi’s article from the NewsRoom. And of course, writing my own article came to mind. I paused and thought what’s stopping me? I spent my morning pondering my excuses whilst completing my work for that day. I started to notice a pattern. I happily committed to tasks I felt comfortable and experienced in doing. In fact, I bounced out of my seat to do these. If I couldn’t find a solution to the problem, I would try a different option. If I wasn’t sure of the answer, I would investigate until I found the answer. But a situation I wasn’t comfortable with went straight to my ‘things to do’ list without a second thought. My dreaded list! I then thought about my personal life and my personal list. This list was just as long. Filled with desires to learn how to snowboard, learn another language, exercise more and learn how to cook.

I went home that night disappointed in my long list of goals I couldn’t seem to conquer. To compensate my disappointment I thought about areas I felt I had achieved; something I set my mind to. It was riding my bike to work. I live 3km from my office. I have multiple commuting options, some were expensive and others weren’t quick enough. Thus, I determined riding a bike would be cost effective, quick and most importantly sustainable. But in typical fashion, due to my discomfort in the unknown I thought about every excuse why I couldn’t. The most significant being my fear of the notorious St Kilda Road and peak hour traffic – Melbournians will know the perils of cyclists on St Kilda Road!

After months of indecision, my partner kindly suggested “just do it”. At first I was insulted at his suggestion it was too easy. He then reminded me if I researched, prepared and practiced I would be fine. And I realised, it was that easy. So I got the bike, the helmet and a crash course in cyclist road rules. I watched cyclists from the tram and noted points of my commute that could be difficult. So I found myself on a sunny Monday morning, on my bike turning left onto St Kilda Road. I was nervous. But I reminded myself, you may not be comfortable but you are prepared so just do it. Ten mins later I was locking my bike to a bike hoop, swanning into the office with a grin ear to ear thinking to myself, why didn’t I do this earlier? Of course, at first I wasn’t perfect. In fact, I received multiple insults and horn beeps in the first few weeks. But I have only improved and I realised the only thing standing in my way of achieving my goal was myself.

Why couldn’t I apply this same thought to writing a newsroom article? And again, I realised I could. Just do it Tash. I realised that I have spent a significant part of my career avoiding the joy of trying. I was paralysed when I couldn’t see a clear path to action. I had missed opportunities to expand my knowledge, my experiences and find value in the art of experimenting. Whether I failed or succeeded, there was value in what I learnt on that journey.

Matt Cutts and I have not only bike commuting in common, but Matt’s suggestion to try something new for 30 days explains further the value in trying the unknown or something new. Your confidence grows and you can appreciate the value of time more. Most importantly, Matt explains making small manageable changes is much more sustainable.

So to close FY16, I ride to work most days and I ticked writing a NewsRoom article off my list and I plan to tick off learning to snowboard in Japan in FY17.

You could say my new motto is “just do it”. I suggest you try it.

6 thoughts on “Getting uncomfortable tasks done: just do it!

  1. Thank you for sharing Natasha – This resonated a lot with me! It is always the tasks that we think the hardest that get left to last. My approach: do these ones first. The easy ones will always get done later. But it is the tougher ones we learn the most from.

    1. Completely agree Jessica! Funnily enough, the timing of your advice is impeccable with the New Year. I am jumping straight into the tougher tasks!

  2. Shrikant Shrivastava

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    Very interesting article! If you see what makes someone more successful then it is this very quality of “just doing it”, thanks for writing this up!

    1. Thanks Shrikant! Funnily enough I had to apply this same thought process when attempting to learn how to snowboard and I was only successful in getting up on the board by just doing it! Well, after a few attempts at doing it!

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