Do Things You Don't Like

by Robert Maxwell

Unless you’re one of those rare, lucky people who enjoy a constant supply of motivation, you will at some point need to do something you don’t want to. If you’re an average person, chances are your day is already full of tasks you’re not crazy about performing: getting up early for work, a 45 minute commute to the office, and perhaps even working out. When it comes to physical training, I have to admit that I’ve got an advantage over many. I love it. When you have a deep-seeded passion for something, it’s far easier to be consistent in your execution of it. All the well presented, logical arguments in the world won’t convince most people to do something they don’t want to, even if they know intellectually it’s a good thing. That’s because human beings are naturally lazy. Your individual level of success in life is largely determined by your ability to resist this fact. The best way I’ve found to do so involves purposely seeking out tasks you’d rather not perform, and force yourself to do them anyway. This will gradually condition your mind to be better at doing things it doesn’t want to. In other words, you’ll develop mental discipline. Here are three such activities that I’ve found go a long way in this endeavor.


Take Cold Showers

Most of my clients laugh when I make this suggestion to them, then get indignant when they realize I’m serious. They figure it’s too simple an act to improve them mentally, and too unpleasant to even consider. After all, how could simply making yourself very uncomfortable every time you bathe possibly strengthen you mentally? I assure you from ample personal experience, it can. Us human beings are so accustomed to making everything as comfortable as possible, that the moment a small amount of that comfort is removed, it’s a shock to our delicate little systems. Trouble is, life is full of unpleasant realities, and avoiding them only works for so long. Often, unpleasant experiences are thrown at us with no warning, and we must deal with them the best we can. You’ll be able to deal with them better if you’re used to such trials. Taking cold showers provides a great way to accustomize your mind and body to a somewhat unpleasant reality. In ancient times, Spartan warriors understood the value of cold showers, making them a lifelong habit, and giving us the term “Spartan shower” today. It might sound silly or even pointless, but I guarantee you’ll be surprised just how easy various unpleasant tasks seem after you face the daily shock of icy water on your nude body for a couple of weeks.



Travel on Foot Whenever Possible

For active people, this suggestion might seem both obvious, and not deserving of the label unpleasant. Unfortunately, these folks are fast becoming more the exception than the rule. A growing number of people consider any sort of walking a detriment to their day. This is why golf carts were invented. You should never drive someplace that would take you 10 minutes or less to walk or run to. It’s a testament to human laziness that we’ve come to believe our feet exist mainly to work the gas pedal, and less often, the brake. If the idea of walking puts you off, examine why. Perhaps you have a sore knee. Or maybe you’re just lazy. Whatever the cause of your reluctance, identify and remove it as soon as possible. Don’t like walking? Try a bicycle instead. Although I would never recommend walking or running as your sole form of exercise, using your legs to get around certainly does offer an opportunity to enhance your fitness. Each time you get in a car to travel a short distance, you’ve wasted an opportunity for mental discipline, and denied your heart, lungs, and muscles a chance to do what they were designed to.


Complete Tasks as Soon as They Occur to You

Keeping a to-do list is all well and good, but if everyone did the necessary chores in their life right away, no one would need one. We’d also be far more productive as individuals and a society. The reason very few people fit this description comes down to inherent human laziness. For most of us, our nature bends us towards procrastination rather than production. If the pull to procrastinate is particularly strong in you, gritting your teeth and forcing yourself to do those small but important jobs that demand to be done qualifies as a mind training exercise. If such tasks truly must be done, you’ll do them sooner or later, anyway. Why not improve your mental fortitude by making it sooner every time? This is certainly easier said than done, and I make no claim to have perfected it myself. That said, it’s a goal we should all strive for in our quest to become the best men we can. Try an experiment. Force yourself to do just one small chore sooner than you normally would. You will most likely be surprised how this simple but significant act changes your thinking patterns for the better. Attacking one job head on will make you far more likely to attack another. Keep this up for a while, and before you know it you’ll be a more productive, disciplined man.


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