Ideally, we can choose to always do what we love without ever needing to think about the things we don’t like. That, unfortunately, is not the case in real world. There are times when we need to do something we don’t like.
Just think of the time when you were in school or college. While there were some modules you liked, there were usually also some modules you didn’t like. But you needed to work your way through all of them, not just the ones you liked.
Here is what Joel Spolsky wrote in Advice for Computer Science College Students regarding what he – as recruiter – looks for in resumes:
I’m going to look for consistently high grades, not just high grades in computer science. Why should I, as an employer looking for software developers, care about what grade you got in European History? After all, history is boring. Oh, so, you’re saying I should hire you because you don’t work very hard when the work is boring? Well, there’s boring stuff in programming, too. Every job has its boring moments. And I don’t want to hire people that only want to do the fun stuff.
As you can see, the ability to do well on things you don’t like is essential for success. It makes you perform consistently well no matter what. Such consistent performance will make you stand out among your peers.
Of course, we still need to motivate ourselves. We are more likely to perform well if we enjoy the process. While this might not be easy, here are some tips to help you enjoy what you are doing no matter what:
1. Look at the long-term benefit
Often, we need to do something we don’t like as a part of something larger which will give us big benefit in the future. For example, we take the modules we don’t like in college because it will eventually earn us a degree that gives us the opportunity to get a good job. It is unlikely that we need to do something we don’t like if there is no long-term benefit involved. By looking at the long-term benefit you will eventually acquire, the activity won’t look as bad as it is.
2. Find what you can learn from it
I believe there is always something we can learn from every experience. If we can’t find one, that’s maybe just because we are too focused on the negative side rather than the positive. For example, European History which Joel talked about may help us learn from thousands of years of experiences so that we do not need to repeat the same mistakes people did. Besides, it can give us more potential common ground to connect with new people (especially with those who like history). If you really can’t find any, at least the experience teaches you to be persistent in any situation. That’s a valuable lesson in itself.
3. Think of doing it for someone you love
Love is a strong source of motivation. If you do something for someone you love, it’s very likely that you can stand even the most boring activity and even enjoy the process. So keep in mind that you do not do this for yourself, but for someone you love.
4. Enjoy the interaction with the people
Your source of fun and enjoyment is not just the activity, but also the interaction with the people there. While the activity itself might not be very exciting, there might be a lot of rich experiences you can get from the interaction with the people. That’s also one reason to enjoy what you are doing.
5. Think and say something positive
If you keep thinking or saying that you don’t like an activity, there is no way you can enjoy it. Always think and say something positive. The points above helps you find positive things you can think and say about. You may think of the long-term benefit you will get, or the nice interaction you have with the people. Focus on these positive things; don’t ever think or say something negative..
6. Gather with passionate people
While you may not always have the luxury to choose who you work with, whenever possible you should choose to gather with positive people. Choose the people who you know are passionate about the activity. Their passion would be contagious. They will give you the energy to stay positive and even enjoy what you are doing.
Donald Latumahina is an avid learner who blogs regularly about personal growth and effectiveness. Read his articles on 15 Tips to Stay Positive in Negative Situations, and 10 Ways to Increase Your Arbitrage Power.