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Thoughts on doing difficult things

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Connor_Motivasis

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My main focus for the past two months has been building and breaking habits. As a result, I've tested a lot of different strategies and tools to help form the best possible routines for success.

Recently I've started doing tasks I dislike in the mornings for the sole purpose of overcoming obstacles on a regular basis. Nothing crazy, small things like taking a cold shower or drinking black coffee (which I hate).

It's made those small tasks less difficult as time has passed and it's also seemingly made other things I used to find painfully difficult to start much much easier (Specifically getting my work day started takes far less initial willpower)

I wanted to get other peoples thoughts on the concept. Do any of you practice something similar? Am I a lunatic for doing it? Give me your thoughts.
 

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404profound

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Good on you for becoming more disciplined. How will these new habits serve you?

Doing something just for the sake of doing it is not optimal. Sometimes it's helpful, but, for instance, drinking black coffee just to do it is a little aimless. What are these changes ultimately helping you achieve?
 

RazorCut

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I wouldn't consider a cold shower or drinking black coffee a task, more of a punishment (personally I hate cold showers unless I've just come out of a sauna, but I have learned to love black unsweetened coffee). So that does make you a lunatic in my book.
;)

Starting your day with your most unpleasant task (what Brian Tracy would call eating the frog) is certainly a good method as, once it is out of the way, you know it's all down hill from there.

I've found that we generally procrastinate over a task because we think of it like an iceberg. Over 90% of an iceberg is under the waterline. We see the tip of the iceberg and consider that the easy part, getting started. We assume that all the graft, the hard slog, the sweat and the toil, is hidden away and only shows itself once we have committed to action.

We envision it to be so hard that we will make a poor job of it which creates all sorts of fear of failure, of humiliation, of letting others down etc. so our Amygdala (lizard brain) has a hissy fit and does its utmost to put us off. However the truth of the matter is that often the hardest part is just in getting started.

How often have you put off doing something only to find, once you have finally forced yourself into motion, that, not only was it no where near as bad as you thought it would be, but that you actually somewhat enjoyed the experience?

I came up with a method that helps overcome the inertia of starting. I visualise a task as an inverted iceberg.

90% of that huge block of ice is now above the waterline with just 10% below. The ice above still represents the effort required to start the task. The small amount below is the effort required to complete it.

Looking at it this way it it is far easier to get started as you know that there is much less effort required in actually completing the task which helps calm the lizard brain down.
:eyes:
 

Andy Black

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@MTF has a thread somewhere about taking cold showers.


Personally, I like my warm shower to wake up to in the morning. I have some of my best ideas then too.

I don’t attack the things I’m avoiding first. I work through my todo list based on the priority, and also on what I feel like doing next.

I observe what I tend to avoid and what I tend to do first, and I try to lean into those tendencies instead of fight them.

I realised that doing my books and accounts always filled me with dread, so I outsourced that as soon as I embraced outsourcing.

I observed that I can’t stop myself responding in forums and Facebook groups... so I’ve harnessed that tendency and use it to create content I now polish and drop into a paid email newsletter.

Not sure if that helped. Just wanted to add a different perspective. Sometimes we should do what’s easy, and avoid what’s difficult.
 

astr0

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I don’t attack the things I’m avoiding first. I work through my todo list based on the priority, and also on what I feel like doing next.

I observe what I tend to avoid and what I tend to do first, and I try to lean into those tendencies instead of fight them.
I'm doing pretty much the same.

Difficult tasks and important tasks are usually two completely different things.

I start with Urgent/Important tasks, which are very rare and just small ones to warm myself up.
Important and difficult tasks are always closer to the afternoon. More difficult in the evening cause I'm more somehow more productive then and start my day from zombie-mode.

And for really difficult I usually allocate a few whole days with small tasks in between to relax...

This whole thing works only when you have a REAL DEADLINE that you can't afford to miss or postpone and you're good at estimating what it takes at least pretty close.

This system is based on marking tasks Urgent+Important/Urgent+Not Important/Not urgent+Important/Not urgent+Not important. Don't remember where I learned it, but seems to work the best for me both from the time management and productivity perspective.
 

Bertram

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I wouldn't consider a cold shower or drinking black coffee a task, more of a punishment (personally I hate cold showers unless I've just come out of a sauna, but I have learned to love black unsweetened coffee). So that does make you a lunatic in my book.
;)

Starting your day with your most unpleasant task (what Brian Tracy would call eating the frog) is certainly a good method as, once it is out of the way, you know it's all down hill from there.

I've found that we generally procrastinate over a task because we think of it like an iceberg. Over 90% of an iceberg is under the waterline. We see the tip of the iceberg and consider that the easy part, getting started. We assume that all the graft, the hard slog, the sweat and the toil, is hidden away and only shows itself once we have committed to action.

We envision it to be so hard that we will make a poor job of it which creates all sorts of fear of failure, of humiliation, of letting others down etc. so our Amygdala (lizard brain) has a hissy fit and does its utmost to put us off. However the truth of the matter is that often the hardest part is just in getting started.

How often have you put off doing something only to find, once you have finally forced yourself into motion, that, not only was it no where near as bad as you thought it would be, but that you actually somewhat enjoyed the experience?

I came up with a method that helps overcome the inertia of starting. I visualise a task as an inverted iceberg.

90% of that huge block of ice is now above the waterline with just 10% below. The ice above still represents the effort required to start the task. The small amount below is the effort required to complete it.

Looking at it this way it it is far easier to get started as you know that there is much less effort required in actually completing the task which helps calm the lizard brain down.
:eyes:
Brilliant visualization idea!
 

Dylan Hobrecht

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I've been reading Atomic Habits!
By James Clear

I really underestimated this book. It was really good. Don't overlook what these guys are saying though. Are habits optimizing your day, or putting money in your pocket.

The need/want dynamic really helped me out. Some of it could just be action faking.

And that's something to take into consideration!

But if it's deemed fit. Go grab this book. He has tips and tricks. And just an all around great approach.

Goodluck!
 

Bryan James

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I like the idea of pushing yourself and disciplining yourself, but if it were focused at a business idea I think what you're doing would be even better. Things such as learning to code, meeting up with people, software engineering, marketing, learning about payroll, adapting to things going wrong (which always happens), the legal aspects of business, etc. In my opinion, almost nothing about the process of learning to build businesses is initially very fun, but essential for the ideal end result.
 

D.Navi

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Cold showers and other beneficial, self-masochistic things in the morning work great for building up your discipline and mental toughness.

But what I've found is they deplete my willpower tank too much, and decision-making seems to be harder for me later on in the day.

Sometimes I cannot muster enough willpower to jump in the shower, so I skip a day and beat myself up and I get frustrated and it's all downhill from there.

My suggestion is to start simple.

Design a short morning routine (shouldn't take more than an hour) to build up momentum.

Put 3-5 items on your to-do list ranked by priority and have at them.

Key: Leave your thoughts and emotions at the door -- execute like a robot. Use timers, pomodoros, whatever it takes to trick your lizard brain into action.

As a chronically lazy person, I tried all the productivity tactics, morning routines, visualizations out there... and while they made me feel all great and fuzzy inside... nothing worked better than jumping head-first into my work and doing the thing.

My $0.02.
 

SamRussell

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What are the skills you need to develop that will serve you?

For example, I used to have a morning routine of "self development". I would do some reading, work on my speed reading, work on listening to business calls from my previous 'mentor' (guru). I was disciplined, but 'action faking'.

Now I have a handful of music theory books that will take me a year or two to work through. The exercises are tedious, mind numbing, and sometimes just downright boring. But I also know that my compositional skills are increasing. I work on writing, practising and improvising new music every day.

---

So:
  1. What are the skills you need?
    1. By this I mean technical knowledge.
    2. Do you need to know about importing / exporting?
    3. Tax law?
    4. How to use primary colours in painting?
  2. What do you need to accomplish each week to achieve your goals?
    1. Do you have to publish a blog post every week?
    2. Write more of your book?
    3. find a supplier for your product?
    4. Research the market?
Build your habits around those two things.

Andy Frisella's 'Power List' is a great tool for this
 

Patrick Mahony

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Jun 21, 2019
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Self discipline matters a lot in life. When you start doing difficult things, it looks very annoying in the beginning but later you become used to it and enjoy the situation. What keeps us back is not the difficulties, its the way we look upon them. Its great that we become used to doing the things that we keep on skipping. Thats a way to remove yourself from getting stale and reduce mental fattiness.
 

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