How do you learn to love something that you hate doing? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
If you dislike doing something, trying to overcome that dislike creates friction, which means it requires willpower. They've done psychological studies that show we only have so much willpower throughout the day, so if we deplete it, our results decrease. The simple example they used was giving students an exam. One set of students had a cookie that they could eat at any time, while the others had to finish before eating the cookie. Those who had to wait did statistically worse.
What this means is that if you continue to look at this situation as challenging, or frustrating, or something to overcome, sure, you can make progress, but you will be depleting your willpower reserve in the name of something that you don't really even want to do.
What I have seen work is re-framing your perspective. By changing your perspective slightly, you can get to a place where you'll no longer be frustrated by it. I'll give you three examples.
1. Losing weight
- I wanted to lose weight and I knew that mayo was unhealthy. So instead of deciding to deny myself mayo (willpower), I decided to try mustard instead. It turned out I greatly enjoyed mustard and so I didn't have to feel that I was denying myself something. Instead, I just enjoy a great sandwich.
2. Making the bed
- Okay, not something that I enjoy doing, but there have been numerous studies written that very successful people often make their bed. Now when I do it, I just remind myself that I'm starting my day off right. I'm getting a small to-do item done and want to carry that momentum into the day. Plus, coming home after a long day of work and having the bed made actually is quite nice. So something that was a bit of a chore became a ritual to remind myself to get into a positive mental attitude before heading for the office.
3. Commuting to work
- I commuted to high school, college, and work for a total of about 15 years. First by subway (an hour each way), and then by car (an hour each way) the last 5 years. What I discovered is that on the subway I got a chance to read. Which I love. There's no faster way to get things done in life then to read voraciously, because any challenge you face someone has already dealt with, so why not learn from the best about how they faced those challenges? When I started driving I could no longer read and I began to miss it. It got to the point that while the drive was a bit more convenient I would often enough choose the subway to give myself the time to do that. Without the many books I've read there's no way that my company DigitalOcean would have found the success that it has today. So it was a perspective shift of taking a boring commute and using it as something that really helps me be a better person in all capacities, business strategy, product management, leadership, management, Buddhism, whatever the topic of interest is for me that week.
Now finding these perspective shifts for particular situations can be challenging, but if you do, you will be significantly less stressed and more confident that you will be able to carry out the results you intended because you aren't fighting an uphill battle.
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