How to Do Hard Things and (Actually) Like It

Problem: Some important things are difficult in the moment.

  • Washing the dishes
  • Eating veggies
  • Exercising
  • Donating blood
  • Initiating a difficult conversation
  • Working on oneself

Workaround: Make them less difficult

  • Listen to podcasts while washing dishes
  • Have a cheat day, where you can eat whatever you want
  • Buy something nice for every pound you lose
  • Go out to dinner after resolving the conflict
  • Get a nice coffee after every therapy session

Solution: Make them enjoyable in the moment

  • Washing dishes — enjoy the sensations of getting hands full of soap and old food
  • Eating veggies — appreciate the crunchiness of raw foods, the way they make you feel better now and in the next 3 hours
  • Exercising — enjoy how each time you push yourself, you reinforce the belief that you’re mentally & physically strong and capable

Transitioning from a workaround to a solution isn’t always straightforward because what makes something difficult in the first place is a deeply-rooted, unconscious belief.

  • “Washing dishes is beneath me”
  • “If I reassess my diet, then I’ll have to admit that my choices affect my lifespan”
  • “If I initiate a convo, they might abandon me, which will make me worthless”
  • “Working on myself isn’t as important as regular work”

So the real solution to making something initially difficult enjoyable is to suspend the old belief & try on a new one.

The “working on myself isn’t as important as regular work” is a belief I’ve clung to for a long time. It made reflection and change difficult because I’d only allow myself to do those after having worked a fully productive day. And even when I’d try to spend some time reflecting, my brain and spirit were too scattered from the unnecessarily intense day of work.

The new belief I’ve been trying is that “The work you do to be happy is more important than the work you do to make money.” Put another way: “Your real work isn’t building software. Your real work is learning how to be.”

As a textbook workaholic, framing self-development as Work actually makes it easier to prioritize. Observing my reactions and connecting the dots feels like a fun game, rather than a chore. Does that mean I’ve got it all figured out? Definitely not. But the process of figuring things out has become a whole lot easier.

Ever turn something difficult into a source of enjoyment? Reply and LMK what you did!


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