Enjoying the Process

Have you ever struggled to stick to a new habit or new years resolution? It’s often tricky to start beneficial habits because we usually want the results without the pain to get there. Creating a goal of going to the gym twice a week is a good example, you want to get fit and be healthy, but going to the gym is boring, tiring, and you’d rather do something else when the time comes around to go there. How about if we reframed our new habit of going to the gym as an enjoyable experience rather than a chore, wouldn’t we be more inclined to do it?

If you genuinely believed that going to the gym is an enjoyable experience where you can relieve stress and disconnect, then you might end up going too often. If you thought that healthy foods were delicious and make you feel good when eating them, you’d eat healthy foods way more often. If you made tidying up a positive experience, you’d end up with a tidier room or house.

It’s not easy nor obvious how you could reframe such a tedious task to be enjoyable. You might think that going to the gym might always be a laborious task. If you don’t think that you can rewire your brain to associate more positive emotion with tasks you’d rather not spend time on, then you have a limiting belief which is holding you back.

Take time to rethink the things you want to do but struggle to end up trying. Trying to create positive associations with these tasks will encourage you to actually get around to doing them. Enjoying the process will make it incredibly easy to achieve the goals you want; you might end up not even needing to have goals in those areas anymore. The difficult becomes effortless and enjoyable.

Your conscious mind has a strong influence on the thoughts you have and the emotions you experience. If you don’t think that you can change the way you think, then you need to either try to, or find something else to do. Just battle through all the negative thoughts around having to do that one thing until you finally begrudgingly get around to doing whatever task is haunting you. You’re making the process unnecessarily difficult — perhaps it’s time for a new plan.

When I started writing posts for this blog, I didn’t go into it with the mindset that writing thousands of words would be boring. I thought that each article would be a fun challenge that would help the people reading it. Currently, I think that writing blog posts is enjoyable. As long as I still keep thinking like that, then I may never stop creating articles. It will be inevitable that I’ll end up thinking differently about writing in the future. I may end up finding it tiresome, or I might feel like it’s not giving much value to people. In that case, if I still feel like I should carry on, then I’ll try my best to find ways to make it an enjoyable experience. I know I have the capacity to, and I believe that I always will be able to appreciate the process, even if I don’t find much of a readership for a long time.

I also go to the gym regularly because I enjoy doing it. Yes, it still takes a fair amount of self-discipline, but I always try to see the positive side of going rather than the negative side. If I thought that I’d rather spend time scrolling through social media, or if I feel as if I’m too tired to go, then it would be unlikely that I’ll go. Though when I think of the positive experience of challenging myself to try harder than the last time I went, the great feeling of finishing a long run, and the time that I can spend with a clear mind, it’s easy to get myself down there.

Goals are also important as well. Goals give you direction to using the habit you’re now enjoying to bolster your progress in that area. Combining ‘enjoying the process’ with goals and self-discipline will almost make the goal a complete breeze. You’ll have to commit much less effort to that goal while you’re still making significant progress. Then you can start another positive habit, and you can learn to enjoy that.

Consider other areas you can apply the principle of ‘enjoying the process’ in:
  • Cleaning
  • Commuting
  • Working
  • Grocery shopping
  • Reading books
  • Organising social events
  • Meditating
  • Waiting in queues

Of course, waiting in lines is something that would be difficult to find genuine enjoyment in. Though you can still try and discover positive associations that you can make with that task. For example: think about how it gives you time to get your thoughts in order, how you can spend the time listening to music, or any other of a hundred different positive things you could associate with it. You don’t need to dread it, it may be dull by default, but you’re the one thinking that it’s dull, you’re the only one who can change that association in your mind.

Believing that an activity is truly enjoyable can be difficult. But if you take the time to try and find something extra that helps you enjoy the task a tiny bit more, it will help give you better results. You can call it a hack, a myth, or a genius insight; it doesn’t matter. If you can convince yourself that you can change for thoughts for the better, it’s the first step to making your responsibilities easier and chores less pedestrian.