In October, 2019, I embarked on one of the hardest things I have ever done.
I started a workout routine.
To be very clear, what was hard wasn’t the routine itself.
It was just overcoming that sense of lethargy and the feeling of ‘Do I really need to get out of bed and sweat first thing in the morning?’
But I persevered and what happened was within 3 months, I’d fallen in love with the idea of working out for its own sake.
So, how do you do the hard thing?
- Find an easier version of the hard thing and do that first
If I’d plunged head first into working out with weights, I’d never have stuck with it. So I started with a sport that I enjoy and don’t view as a workout: Badminton.
I started playing an hour of badminton everyday for 30 days. The sheer adrenalin high of doing that kick started the feel-good factor that emerges from working out.
Moving on to weights and strength training in the second month then became a natural transition.
2. Show up everyday at the same time and work on it
I set a time on the calendar when I’d work out every day. No compromises.
Setting a visual or auditory reminder (such as a large calendar that you can see or an alarm clock) helps you stick to a routine and the hard tasks much better.
Remember, motivation doesn’t last; routine works.
3. Keep a habit tracker
A habit tracker, where you tick off successfully every day that you manage to do the hard thing, is the easiest visual cue that works.
4. Remind yourself how you feel once you’ve started the task
We always think of all the work that goes into getting ready for a hard job.
But remind yourself how you feel each time you put on those workout clothes and lift weights for 10 minutes.
5. You enjoy the process for itself
Learn to enjoy the hard task. If we focus on the outcomes and the results (which are not in our control), we lose sight of the joy that the work itself provides.
Classic example: Writing everyday.
If you commit to writing 300 words every single day, at the end of 30 days, you’d have written 9000 words.
Writing is a muscle; just like one in your body.
Doing the hard work gives you a sense of joy that is independent of validation and external applause.
Do it because it makes you happy and you’d observe that the hard tasks quickly turn into very easy ones over time.