When you want the outcomes but hate the work.
LEARN TO NOT HATE IT FIRST.
When you want to change something, you don’t have to learn to love it; focus on not hating it first.
Maybe you’re trying to adopt a new habit that you know would benefit you, but in the ideal world, you would only get the outcome, not the action. However, you kind of understand that the only way leading to said results is through.
For example, many of us would love to enjoy the benefits of exercise: better health, more energy, more stamina, better physique, and even improved mood.
There’s only one problem with it, though, you don’t really feel like doing all the strenuous work. You only like the idea of exercising, but not the practice.
Or maybe you love the idea of feeling calm and collected, you’ve read about meditation or journaling and would like to stick to practicing it daily, but it just isn’t happening for one reason or another.
How to overcome resistance towards the practice?
You might have noticed that I am not writing about motivating or disciplining yourself but about lessening the resistance first.
What we can start with is TO NOT HATE SOMETHING first.
Remember that often what we hate is simply something we are afraid of.
Try to shine some light on the hard part of doing it when you are in a safe environment.
What exactly is so hard about performing the task?
* it’s overwhelming – you don’t know where to start and looks like too much work.
* it’s hard – what exactly is hard about it?
* it’s unpleasant – what about it is unpleasant, and is there a way to diminish it?
Explore why and how this practice could be beneficial for you.
* Would you be better off by doing it?
* How does that align with your values?
DEFINING YOUR ‘WHY’
Do you feel like you SHOULD be doing it because everybody else is doing it, but you’re not entirely sure why?
It’s time to investigate.
I would recommend defining your motivation for every particular habit and looking for how to connect it to your life values.
What are you hoping to get from practicing it?
How would your life improve by practicing it?
Are you hoping to get more health, more money, better relationships, more clarity, and overall wellbeing?
What is your current level of resistance towards the practice?
This is one of the most critical parts of the whole process: understanding where you are standing right now.
- I love the idea!
- I don’t really mind doing it, but
- The idea of doing it makes me cringe inside, but I know it would be good for me
If you’d like to form a habit for something you resist a lot, you’ll have to adjust your actions.
Firstly, understand what the hardest part is.
Maybe you KNOW you should exercise more, but really don’t like the struggle, the sweat, the commute; you may feel judged and incompetent.
Think about it for a moment, and when you come up with your answers, you’ll look for ways to remove all of the friction you can.
I can’t promise things will suddenly get EASY, but in most cases, they don’t have to be as hard either.
Resisting the practice.
What’s hard about practicing it? Where is the friction?
Here are a couple of common examples:
- More often than not, there is more than one way to get to your goal. If one way fails, look for another one.
- FLEXIBILITY. If you want to exercise more, you can join a local gym, but you can also practice at home or in the park, you can do HIIT or weight lifting or yoga. There is always a way! And it’s essential to have a backup plan to whatever primary plan you come up with.
- HAVE A BACKUP PLAN. So if you decide to, say, to run more, think of what happens when for one reason or another, you cannot go for a run (it rains, you travel, it’s too hot, or your knee hurts). What will you do INSTEAD? Because there is almost always SOMETHING, you can do.
- Especially when you’re just starting, make things as easy as you possibly can.
- ANTICIPATE. When you design a plan of action, don’t plan for the excited and motivated self, right after some serious pep talk, but the YOU that would rather sit under the blanket on a sofa, on a rainy day, and eat ice cream.
Plan for the cold, dark mornings where all you want to do is stay in your warm bed.
Make things as easy as they possibly can be.
How small would depend on the level of your resistance towards something.
If you’re generally ok with the practice, you can start pretty bold but realistic. If you know you can do 30 minutes every day – go for it. But sustainability is KEY here, so it’s best to set some minimums and maximum levels, for example:
- minimum 15 minutes, maximum 30.
Why set a maximum? To avoid burning out. It’s better to stay a little hungry, then overdo it, and suffer the next day and result in your resistance spiking again.
It is also important to avoid the ALL OR NOTHING approach when you think that there’s no point in doing it AT ALL if you don’t feel like doing the promised 30 minutes.
However, if your resistance levels are really high, you need to start super small. How small? Only you can tell.
That takes some flexibility and tinkering.
It’s not really about the amount of time, but simply starting.
Reconnect with your WHY.
One last thing (for now!) is to try and remember to reconnect yourself with your WHY before your practice.
Ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?”
If you’ve done that before, you will know (and you can always have it written down somewhere), so you won’t spend a ton of time sitting and pondering. Simply asking yourself that question should reconnect you with your motivation at the moment.
- Define your WHY for your new practice
- Think about the potential benefits of your new practice
- Think about the obstacles – all the possible things that could get in the way (internal and external)
- Think about the ways to deal with the obstacles: remove them or at least minimize them whenever possible
- Start where you are as you want your practice to be sustainable:
- if you’re feeling pumped, you can be a bit more ambitious yet realistic but have a backup plan for when you’re feeling less motivated to avoid the ALL OR NOTHING approach.
- if you’re feeling a lot of resistance, start easy and super small; when the resistance towards doing it lessens, you can increase the time and/or difficulty.
- Before the practice, try to reconnect yourself with your WHY.
Ask yourself: Why am I doing this?
- Focus on just starting!
What’s next? Block some time to think about what is it you want to achieve, how it is aligned with what you value in life, think about the potential gains, and map out the road to get there. Most importantly, don’t overthink it. You don’t need to make it perfect, you just need to start.