Make It Happen.

by Jocelyn Brewer, Psychologist

Happiness arises out of actions, so what gets in the way of crossing dreary things off the list? Wouldn’t you feel better knowing that they were done and no longer hanging over your head or lurking in the shadows of your spare time?

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What’s holding you back? Make it happen!

Australians have nearly 400 million uncompleted tasks on their to-do list – it’s no wonder we often feel like we’re treading water just to stay afloat.

These can range from choosing a colour and painting the bedroom, to getting in touch with relatives to plan that reunion or investigating flights for your dream holiday. On average, we each have 21 tasks hanging over our heads waiting for us to find the time and money to tick them off.

Home tasks such as renovations, repairs and redecorating feature most regularly on our lists, as we strive to improve our home and create enjoyable spaces. People may also find a range of other tasks on their list like training for that marathon, taking a wine appreciation class, or something less thrilling like consolidating super.

While some tasks arouse a sense of tedious obligation that have us picking up our phones to scroll through Facebook memes instead – even tasks that are more inspiring, like planning a honeymoon or enrolling in a short course, still fall prey to delays of our procrastinating.

What's really stopping you?

Happiness arises out of actions, so what gets in the way of crossing dreary things off the list? Wouldn’t you feel better knowing that they were done and no longer hanging over your head or lurking in the shadows of your spare time?

The two most common barriers to getting stuff done are, unsurprisingly, scarcity of time and money.

On average, it would cost about $36,000 to wipe the list clean, with tasks around the home costing slightly more ($9,663 on average) than fulfilling our leisure and lifestyle interests ($8,220).

Fear also plays a big factor in why we stay within our comfort zones and don’t get some of our more aspirational tasks done. We fear failing, and subconsciously, success – as it represents a new way of being which is for many, unknown and potentially quite scary – so we stay still, feel stuck or play a small game. 13 per cent of people say they don’t have the courage to complete a task, making them a prisoner of their fears. By building skills to wisely try new ways of thinking and acting we break free from these limitations.

How can you make it happen?

Change your language and clarify your values

Stop writing to-do lists and start writing ‘will do’ lists. By changing the way we frame tasks (from obligation to opportunity) we can help trick ourselves into action with inspiration. 

Divide up the tasks using the Eisenhower Matrix, based on urgency and importance. Work on the task which are most important to you first – what is important to you is what you value and living aligned to your values is a key aspect to wellbeing.

Seek help!

More than one in three (34%) Australians report the reason they’re stalling on a task is that they need help to complete it, and nearly a quarter of people indicated they don’t have the expertise to accomplish it. Rather than get stuck, get help!  Try the following:

  • Ask your network on social media for advice or recommendations
  • Out-source the tasks using a crowd-sourced platform (like AirTasker)
  • Set up a trading system – offer to exchange your skills with someone who has the knowledge you need

Make it a game

Use the principles of game design to activate behaviours and get tasks done. You can set up your household and activities on sites like and allocate tasks for points. Try using the SuperBetter app to achieve goals or other task management apps to wipe your list clean.

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SocietyOne says...

And with 62% of people saying that money is holding them back, a low-rate personal loan may be a good option.

A SocietyOne personal loan tailors the interest rate to your credit history. The better your credit history the lower the rate. You can borrow up to $50,000 with interest rates starting at 7.88% (9.90% p.a. comparison rate) for borrowers with an excellent credit rating.

Remember, there’s only one thing holding you!

SocietyOne Make It Happen Research 

Research commissioned by SocietyOne and conducted by Lonergan Research in May 2017 in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard. n = 1,034 Australians aged 18+ years. Data weighted to ABS population estimates.

The comparison rate is based on a Tier 1 rate $10,000 unsecured personal loan over a 3 year term. WARNING: The comparison rate is true only for the example provided and may not include all fees and charges. Different loan grades, terms, fees or loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.

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