Wednesday, April 18, 2012

See How to Love What You Hate

In my last post you and I agreed that there are some tasks we have to do - we need to do - that we don't like doing. Therefore, we avoid them. We agreed that it would be nice if we liked doing these things rather than hated them. 

OK, maybe you weren't here for the last post and we didn't agree on that, but I'm pretty sure we'd have agreed if you had read it.  So go read it now and come back. It will give you the first step to take in learning to love the things you currently avoid.

Step two in learning to love what you hate to do is to identify a reason to do the task, a reason that is bigger and more potent than your reason for avoiding it.  Hopefully the questions from step number one started you thinking along these lines.

You may already know a reason or two why you need to do the dreaded task. But it may be that those reasons are not compelling enough to you (yet).  They may be true and real but they fail to motivate you.

To continue my own example, I've always wanted a tidy house that's full of nutrition. I just haven't always wanted to do what it takes daily to have that. My vision of a clean home - just to walk through and think, "It's clean and neat" - wasn't compelling enough to move me to stop doing other things long enough to make this a regular reality.

That was eye-opening for me to realize: I needed more than that to motivate me.

Then Caleb got hurt. Life, in the form of my son's accident and healing period, afforded me a new, more compelling vision for why I wanted the house neat, clean and full of nutrition consistently.

Yes, yes, I've always wanted that - and I wasn't totally lacking it -  I just haven't always wanted it enough. Or in the necessary way to motivate me. Now, however, I wanted that more than I wanted to avoid decluttering. I wanted to ensure Caleb's comfort and healing more than I wanted to read something interesting, chat with friends on FaceBook or write a new blog post. I wanted serenity in my immediate surroundings more than I wanted to watch TV, and more than I didn't want to fold laundry. 

Life (cruelly) afforded me this motivation but the truth is we can create our own compelling vision for why we really want to do what we feel we don't want to do.

Linking the unpleasant task to a life purpose that carries a strong emotional value for you (like my son's well-being did for me) is key.

Think through your possible motivators:

  • Can your desire to entertain friends "force" you to clean? If so, go schedule a dinner party at your place every week for the next 4 weeks and use that to train yourself to keep on top of the cleaning. View the cleaning as party-prep. Or as part of your hostessing. 

  • Will posting photos of your messy office on your blog motivate you to want to quickly show some great "after" photos?  Then go get your camera. And make this a monthly feature on your blog.

  • Are you crazy, mad in love with your husband?  Create a compelling vision for how your housekeeping is a service to him - how it shows him your appreciation and love. How it will make him happy daily that he asked you to be his bride. Clean up the entry way and lay out his slippers. Tidy the bathroom and leave him a love note on the mirror.

The point is figure out how to frame the task in such a way that it motivates you. The purpose has to be both personal and powerful. Write it out. Fully develop it. Make it a clear and compelling vision. Review it often until it's "in" you. English essayist James Allen wrote, “You will become as great as your dominant aspiration … If you cherish a vision, a lofty ideal in your heart, you will realize it.” 

This can be applied to anything.  Eliminating debt. Running a 5K. Sunday dinners at Grandma's. Losing 20 lbs. Once you fully embrace your clear, compelling vision with passion, procrastination will no longer hold you back. Your vision will drive you forward. It will give you the will to tackle what you normally avoid. And the act of completng that dreaded thing with gusto will likely afford you even more motivation.

So figure out why if you embraced this task, and it became your habit to do it without procrastination, it would lead to more happiness and success for you. Then go CREATE that vision in your life. Decide in advance to keep at it, even if you don't fall madly in love with it at first.

"In Zen they say: If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, try it for eight, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on. Eventually one discovers that it's not boring at all but very interesting."
— John Cage

I'm not a Zen follower but I think Mr. Cage is onto something there.

Change is possible, but focus is required. We'll talk more about this next week. I'm about to leave town for a speaking engagement this weekend.  Meanwhile, go create a compelling vision. What precisely is it that has the power to motivate you to do what needs doing? I'll bet there is something ...

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