The Trick to Tackling Work You Dread

work you dreadYou might dread certain types of work sometimes.

Maybe it’s an assignment you were hoping to avoid. Or an issue you don’t feel like tackling.

Certainly there is work that you know you must do, but you just aren’t looking forward to it.

In all these cases, you are probably making it a whole lot worse for yourself. Because you are playing defense rather than offense.

The secret to doing work we don’t enjoy is to attack the problem.

By attacking the problem–taking it head on, we get power over it. We deny the problem the advantage of looming over us while we loath it.

We come out of hiding. We gain strength. We position for the win.

Here’s how to do that.

Attitude adjustment

How do you take something you dread and flip it into something enjoyable?

It’s all about perspective.

But I’m not talking about shifting mental attitude and then getting to work.

I’m talking about getting to work and allowing that to start to shift your attitude.

Like you, I get frustrated by work I don’t want to do. I dread it.

More accurately, I dread the idea of it. Because once I get rolling, the work is less dreadful.

Because it’s happening. I’m making progress. I can see it more clearly because my hands are dirty with it.

Too often we forget that the task is really quite simple.

“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.”

– Lewis Carroll

Beat the dread

Maybe it’s a lack of self-confidence. Or annoyance at the drudgery we expect. It could be any number of reasons why we dread the work.

It doesn’t matter.

Action is the antidote.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

– Arthur Ashe

Everything is an excuse. Or a worry that is not helpful.

That’s all mind games.

Rather than psych yourself out, start.

Because the start is what gets you going. And it is what removes the dread.

Rather than dread what might happen or what it might be like, find recourse in the doing.

  • By doing, you learn that it isn’t so bad.
  • By doing, you start to actually make progress.
  • By doing, you get experience (which is almost never as bad as you thought it was going to be).

The magic of getting started in adverse conditions

I enjoy bike rides. But this has been a long, cold winter.

On a few recent rides, I’ve dreaded the idea of going out into the cold weather, riding on roads narrowed by piles of snow, and dodging countless potholes.

But then, I go out and ride.

And even if the beginning of the ride is a little rough, pretty soon I get a little momentum. I warm up, hit my stride, and come to enjoy the whole experience.

Rather than skimping out on my exercise routine and feeling bad about it. I feel good, not only about following through, but also because there were adverse elements.

Getting started

The thing is, it’s easier to lean in and get working than you think.

  • Sit in a quiet place and read the document.
  • Spend some time Google researching the issue.
  • Call up a colleague who has experience in this area.

Those are all simple things you can do right now to get started.

Big momentum comes from simple, humble steps. So don’t focus on the giant high-level maneuvers.

Take one small step. And then another. Soon you’ll be going ‘round the bend.

“Start me up, and I’ll never stop.”

– Mick Jagger

Finding opportunity

Now that you’ve begun, the magic can start to happen.

You can start to turn your little lemon into some lemonade.

Because here is where the real attitude change can happen.

“The things which hurt, instruct.”

– Benjamin Franklin

The dread, the mundane, the not-as-bad-as-I-thought-it-would-be all have one remarkable thing to offer–the chance to learn.

You can observe, immerse, and contemplate. You can gain knowledge, insight, and experience in some new way even if the task is dreary.

Of course, this is the trick to making it not so dreary.

And to finding opportunity.

“Adversity can harden you. Or it can loosen you up and make you better–if you let it”

– Ryan Holiday

The un-dread

When there is some work that you don’t want to do, don’t worry.

Literally, don’t worry. Because putting energy into the dread just messes with your head.

Here’s what you should do instead.

Attack it.

Not by mounting some massive effort to get it out of the way, but by simply starting.

Start small and go from there.

Stop thinking and start doing.

Once you get rolling, you can gain new perspective, gain some momentum, and gain some experience.

You’ll feel better when you start. And you’ll feel even better when you finish.