Have you ever had something on your to-do list that you just really didn’t want to do? If your answer is “yes,” it’s OK. Because I’ve definitely had those moments. In fact, for the past three months, I’ve been actively avoiding two items on my list (like, um, balancing the budget for the grant I manage).
Thinking about doing them sounds just as fun as listening to someone scrape their fingernails down a chalkboard for five whole minutes. But, at the end of each day, when I realize I can’t cross them out yet again, I sigh and think, Geez, I’m the most unproductive and worthless employee there’s ever been.
I don’t have to tell you that’s not exactly the healthiest mindset to have.
But here’s the thing. I have to do them. I can’t just keep pretending they don’t exist. And I’m betting that you can’t do that, either. So, I’m here to save your day. Whenever I have to do something that I really, really, don’t want to, I repeat these two mantras.
This Will Eventually Be Over. This Will Eventually Be Over.
In high school, I played on the soccer team. Each year, we had to do this drill called “120s.” This consisted of sprinting the entire 120-yard field in under 17 seconds and jogging back under 30. 10 times in a row.
I absolutely, hands down dreaded them. They were hard. They hurt. They took everything I had.
But I knew that, if I wanted to make varsity and play well, I needed to do them. So, I changed my mindset. (Pretty advanced for a 14-year-old, eh?). I realized that, though each second of that drill would suck, it actually only lasted about 15 minutes. And you know what? That’s not a very long time at all. (Unless someone is dragging their nails down a chalkboard.)
In the minutes leading up to the start time, I’d think, “These next 15 minutes are going to suck. But time keeps moving forward and, before I know it, it’ll be 16 minutes from now. And I’ll be d-o-n-e.” I’d separate myself from how hard it was as much as I could, and I’d focus on that 16th minute.
So, when there’s something you don’t want to do, remind yourself that, eventually, it’ll be over. But you have to get started, first.
I’ll Feel So Much Better When I Get This Done. I’ll Feel So Much Better When I Get This Done.
When I finished my 120s, I felt like I was on top of the world. If you’ve ever heard of runner’s high, it’s like that, times 10. I felt fast, strong, and, most of all, relieved.
While I haven’t done this drill for 10 years (though maybe I should), I still apply this mentality to certain areas of my life. Like when I want to work out before leaving for the office, but hitting snooze for 30 more minutes is so much more appealing. But I know for a fact that, unless I need the extra rest because I’m sick or didn’t sleep well, I will fell so much better if I just get my butt out of bed and lace up my sneakers.
But this way of thinking isn’t only useful for fitness purposes. Think about it—what feels better at the end of the day? Feeling productive and accomplished or having the same old task hang above your head, taunting you? I’m going to take a risk and say the first option’s preferable. You may not get a runner’s high, but you’ll probably get a “dragging a line through that item once and for all!” high.
So, go on, you. Go tackle that project you’ve been avoiding forever. Put it to rest for good—it’ll make you, your boss, and your team a whole lot happier.
And just remember: “This will eventually be over,” and, “I’ll feel so much better about myself when I finish this.” You got this. I’ll catch you next time—I’m going to balance that budget now.
Photo of person thinking courtesy of Teresa Recena/EyeEm/Getty Images.
Abby is a writer, career coach, and health educator living in Portland, Maine. When she’s not trying to make the world a happier and healthier place, you can find her cuddling with her cats, hunting down the city's best coffee and grilled cheese, or dipping her toes in the Atlantic. Say hi on Twitter .More from this Author