3 Reasons Why Relying on 'Just Do It' Keeps You From Getting It Done

The famous slogan only works after we've gotten clear why we need to make change and recognize how we will.

learn more about Dixie Gillaspie

By Dixie Gillaspie • Jan 9, 2015

Palto | Shutterstock

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It seems a lot of people have given up the idea of making resolutions this year. Maybe on the advice of all the gurus telling them why making resolutions doesn't work.

This year, I hear (which these days translates to "I read on social media") a lot of people saying that instead of making the same resolutions they've made before but never kept, they're going to "just do it."

The marketing team that came up with "Just Do It" as a campaign slogan did Nike a huge service. But for the rest of us, "Just Do It" has turned into a mantra for self-flagellation. We use it to try to beat ourselves into "just doing it," and we use it to beat ourselves up for not having already just done it.

I don't know about you, but neither I, nor my clients, are lazy. We don't lack motivation. If the scourge of "just do it" was enough we'd have already just done it by now.

So if all we need to do is "just do it," why do we go through one year after the other without "just doing" the things that we've resolved to do?

1. Because a successful resolution isn't about doing, it's about changing.

Related: When 'Just Do It' Just Doesn't Do It: Maximizing Interruptions As They Happen

If you participated in a debate club, you remember the formula. It starts with "Resolved that," and goes on to state a proposed change to status quo. The next step is to substantiate the need for change, then present a plan for change, with supporting evidence of the viability of the plan.

Most New Year's resolutions are more along the lines of, "This year I'm going to write that book, double my income, and lose 50 pounds." You don't "just do" that. You first resolve that your life as it is, without having written the book, with only half the income you desire, and weighing 50 pounds more than your ideal weight, has to change. You get clear in your own mind why your life has to change. You create a plan for change, and you validate the viability of your plan.

If you skip any of those steps, whatever you "just do," it just won't be sustained long enough, repeated often enough, or executed well enough to create the change you resolved to make.

2. Because a successful resolution has to defend itself against the other team.

Even the teams with the best plans often fall to the competition. You don't win the debate simply by presenting a convincing case for change, followed by a brilliant solution. Your case is going to be challenged. The "negative" team's job is to convince the judge that your attack on the status quo is totally bogus, or at least grossly exaggerated, and your plan has as many fatal flaws as the moon has dimples.

Related: 15 Ways to Overcome Procrastination and Get Stuff Done (Infographic)

When you prepare for a debate you rack your brain and comb through documentation for every possible challenge the other team could offer up. You test your case for holes and surround yourself with resources to counter any point that could be brought up in rebuttal. No matter how many attacks are made on your resolution, you're determined to remain unswayed.

Most of us say we need to "just do it no matter what." But we don't prepare for the "what." We don't even let ourselves think about the "what." Yet, "whats" are inevitable. We won't always be able to "just do it" in spite of them, we'll need to be prepared with a contingency plan, with a compromise, with a counter offer or just a willingness to lose the round and come back to "just do it" another day.

3. Because a successful resolution is never focused on blame.

You don't win the debate by pointing fingers at past culprits. You win by identifying the power and resources needed to implement your plan. You come into the round knowing what laws will have to be enacted, what governmental roles will have to change and what costs will have to be defrayed. You don't ask who can be blamed for the way things are, you decide who is going to be held responsible for making things the way they should be.

Most New Year's resolutions are riddled with regret and blame. Using the "just do it" mantra, when we haven't done the work to identify the exact action required or to leverage adequate resources for getting it done, robs us of the ability to respond, which is what responsibility really is.

This year, go ahead and make your resolution. Clearly identify the need for change, carefully evaluate your plan for creating that change, thoroughly prepare for the challenges that will present themselves along the way.

Then, when you know what actions you need to take each day; when you sit down to write 1000 words, or call the big prospect, or head for the gym, you'll find that "just do it" is the effective admonition it was intended to be.

Related: 3 Ways to Set Goals You'll Actually Achieve

Dixie Gillaspie

Writer, Coach, Lover of Entrepreneurship

Ever since she was a little girl, Dixie’s least favorite word was "can’t." It still is. She's on a mission to prove that anything is possible, for anyone, but she's especially fond of entrepreneurs. She's good at seeing opportunities where other people see walls, navigating crossroads where other people see dead ends, and unwrapping the gifts of adversity and struggle. Dixie also contributes to Huffington Post and is a senior managing editor for The Good Man Project.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change
Business News

Frontier Airlines Just Announced Its All-You-Can-Fly Summer Pass for $399. What's the Catch?

As travel begins to pick up, the airline hopes unlimited travel will jumpstart its business.

Starting a Business

How To Raise Capital For A New Business Idea

These practical methods and tools are available to entrepreneurs who want to raise money to create their own new businesses.

Business News

The Scam Artist Who Robbed Backstreet Boys and NSYNC Blind. 'Some of the Guys Couldn't Pay Their Car Payment.'

In the 1990s, Lou Pearlman made millions creating the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. It was all a giant Ponzi scheme.

Thought Leaders

5 Small Daily Habits Self-Made Millionaires Use to Grow Their Wealth

We've all seen what self-made millionaires look like on TV, but it's a lot more subtle than that. Brian Tracy researched what small daily habits these successful entrepreneurs adopted on their journey from rags to riches.