One Stupidly Simple Trick to Help You Get Difficult Stuff Done
The difficult stuff, getting your taxes in on time, waking up early, spreadsheets, strategy and yes, exercise. We all know they’re worth doing, so why do we put them off?
Here’s my theory: All of these things have no short-term gain. It’s as simple as that.
Every item on that list only really has long-term gain. As in, you’ll only see the benefits of doing it in 2 weeks, 5 months, 10 years from now. So with that in mind, why on earth would you even bother?
Here’s the thing, in 2 weeks, if you haven’t done that thing, you’ve left the future version of yourself in a sorry state. They haven’t achieved, haven’t progressed, and they certainly don’t know the feeling of achieving the thing you actually wanted to get done.
That doesn’t stop it from being hard though. Developing an exercise routine, writing one blog post a week, or keeping on top of your accounts takes time, energy and motivation.
Here’s my trick to help you get difficult stuff done
Make your long-term goals easy(and enjoyable) and your short-term bad actions difficult(and painful).
Here’s an example:
Getting up early is hard work, you can see the long-term benefits. Right now though, you know it will be too difficult and painful, so you hit the snooze button.
So, following the above formula, all you need to do is make the long-term commitment easy, and hitting the snooze button difficult. You can apply the following strategy to any goal you want to hit:
To make getting up easy(and enjoyable):
- Set your heating to come on 30 minutes before your alarm
- Buy your favourite tea or coffee and set it out the night before
- Get a smart light bulb and set it to come on a few seconds after your alarm
- Set out your clothes or slippers the night before so you can easily get up and dressed
To make hitting the snooze button difficult(and painful):
- Put your phone in another room and your alarm volume turned up so you have to get out of bed to turn it off
If you can, turn off the snooze function altogether
How to break bad habits
This also applies to habit breaking. In the above case, there’s a long-term goal which is reinforced by a bad habit. But what if you simply have a bad habit that you want to break?
Apply a similar principle: Make your short-term bad habit difficult(and painful) and when you do start to break the habit, give yourself a reward.
Here’s an example:
When somebody calls you, or you call somebody else, you never say goodbye. You simply hang up.
To make hanging up hard(and painful):
Make a pact with yourself that if you do it, you have to call that person back, apologise and say goodbye properly
Keep a log of how many people you do it to, at the end of the year, you have to call them all to say Happy New Year.
Then, as you start to implement good behaviour, reward yourself however you see fit.
It couldn’t be simpler. When you make something that was once easy, difficult, it becomes incredibly easy to give it up. Similarly, if you make the thing that was once difficult easy, but more importantly, enjoyable, then you’ll already get more done.
When you have long-term goals that seem incredibly far away, making sure you enjoy the journey could be the difference between success and failure. By using this technique you’re already on your way. Just pick your goal and make it easy to complete.