This week’s challenge is to find pleasure in the process. Discipline is the ability to force ourselves to do what we should do when we should do it. It is something we all struggle with and must develop, but motivation can be a more powerful driver of action. What if you could find pleasure in the tasks you must do. If you can equate pleasure with the task, you’ll be a lot more successful. “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” – Aristotle
If you don’t enjoy what you do, you aren’t really successful. Finding pleasure in the job is our responsibility. Our attitude toward what we do is a choice we make each day. We are responsible for our own happiness. We are responsible for our attitude toward our work, toward our relationships, and toward our life. If we cannot find happiness in our daily routine, we aren’t really successful.
“If you love your work, if you enjoy it, you’re already a success.” – Jack Canfiel
Lasting happiness doesn’t come from our achievements. Happiness comes from finding pleasure in our daily routine. Happiness requires frequent refreshing. It is a tree that requires daily watering to grow and flourish. It is our responsibility to find these pleasures in our daily routines to be happy. So how do we find pleasure in performing work that on the surface isn’t enjoyable?
Our attitude is a choice.This choice begins with a decision. The decision is to decide what things mean. What meaning do you attach to the task? Everything we do has a purpose, a meaning. We must find out what that is. Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked why he smiled during his long, 5-hour workouts.
Arnold’s attitude toward his training separated him from the other bodybuilders. While they seem to dread the long grueling workouts that were required to achieve a massive physique, he enjoyed them. He said he enjoyed the heavy lifting. He looked forward to every heavy set because he knew that each set was bringing him one step closer to his goal of becoming the greatest bodybuilder of all time.
Arnold was able to connect what he was doing with his desired outcome. That is why his attitude was so much better than the other bodybuilders. His attitude towards his training made him one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time.
Pain is weakness leaving the body. I heard this mantra numerous times at West Point and during my career in the military. I knew it was a tool to get us to push harder during physical training, but it wasn’t until years later that I truly understood the psychology behind the mantra. The mantra changed our neuro-association of pain with the pleasure of toughening the body and polishing the spirit. Pain becomes a pleasure.
CT Fletcher, former powerlifting champion, and fitness motivational speaker can often be heard in the gym saying, “I look for you pain.” He invites pain. He says it is his friend because he equates pain with growth. Muhammad Ali said, “I do not count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. That is when I start counting because then it really counts.”
To achieve extraordinary results, you must have an extraordinary attitude toward your work. Discipline can only get you so far. Motivation is a greater catalyst for action. If you can find meaning and pleasure in what you do on a daily basis, you’ll achieve excellence. When you find pleasure in the daily disciplines that are required to be successful, success is all but assured.
“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn
If you cannot find pleasure in what you do, I suggest you find something that you can. Our attitude affects our performance. Poor attitude, poor performance. Great attitude, great performance. Most people neglect to cultivate a great attitude. Don’t let that be you. Your attitude affects everything you do. It effects your effort. It affects your smile. It affects your handshake.
Success requires hard work, but it doesn’t have to be drudgery. When you love what you do, work isn’t agony, it’s a pleasure. We achieve more success when we enjoy what we do, but more importantly, you’ll live a more fulfilling life.
If you cannot find happiness in the process of achieving your goals, you aren’t really successful. Achievements that don’t produce sustained happiness produce an unsatisfying life. Most people don’t enjoy what they do. Most people say, “Thank God it’s Friday.” This poor attitude is normal, but you don’t have to be average. “Success is doing what the failures won’t” – Jim Rohn. We should all enjoy our weekends, but we should also enjoy our weekdays. We should enjoy our lives.
The average worker will tell you it is called work for a reason. The prevailing attitude is that work shouldn’t be pleasurable. I suggest that we take another approach to our work. If we want to achieve above average results, we have to cultivate an above average attitude towards our work. If we can make work more enjoyable, why shouldn’t we?
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs
One thing that universally makes all of us happy is progress. When we are getting better, in any area of our lives, we feel great. We feel like a winner. “
Progress equals happiness. Progress is the game.” – Tony Robbins
Every small win, every item checked off our to-do list makes us feel great. It releases dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical most closely related to long-term happiness.When our dopamine system is activated,we are more positive, excited and eager to go after goals.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work explains how progress improves the inner work life of employees and teams. Improvements in inner work life drive higher levels of performance and engagement; which in turn leads to better progress and enhanced inner work life. The author calls these reinforcing benefits, the “progress loop.” As you make progress, you rack-up small wins. These small wins make us feel great about ourselves, which stimulates the release of dopamine. When we are making progress in any area of our life, it gives us a sense of accomplishment. It gives us a sense of worth.
Hopefully, we can all agree that we have the power to change how we feel about our work by changing our attitude toward it. Here are some simple strategies to take more pleasure in what you do:
1) Create a list, in your journal, of the reasons you LOVE doing something that the average person would find unpleasant. For example, I have formed the habit of starting each day with 30-minutes of technical reading, by creating a list of reasons. I love starting each day with technical reading because:
- It will make me an expert in my field
- It will make me more valuable to my company and to myself
- It will help me get promoted
- It will help me earn more money
- It will prepare me for future opportunities
2) Create a system for tracking small wins. Small wins help us to sustain motivation. Creating a daily to-do list and crossing off items as they are accomplished makes us feel great about ourselves. If you really want to do well at work, make sure you start each day with your most important task. The more impactful the task, the more it will contribute to your success. Don’t mistake being busy with being productive.
3) Track your consistency. We are naturally more consistent when we track our consistency. If your goal is to make 10 cold calls a day. You could use a habit-forming app like Strides, Streaks, Fabulous, and Toodledo to track your consistency. Each time you record another successful day with the app, congratulate yourself. Celebrate this small victory. Say, “I am proud of myself today, good job!” Every small win activates our dopamine system and motivates us to go after our goals with greater vigor.
4) When you feel your enthusiasm starting to wane, listen to something inspiring. Cynical people deride motivation because it doesn’t last. Tell me what lasts? Bathing doesn’t last, so should we stop doing it? Brushing our teeth doesn’t last, so maybe we should quit doing it? Coaches give their teams motivational speeches on a regular basis. Why do you think that is? Because it is effective. Motivation is the desire to do. When our desire to do is waining, we need to take action. You can find a ton of great motivational videos on YouTube. These videos are FREE. It doesn’t get much easier than FREE. Download your favorite to your smartphone and reach for it every time your motivation begins to wane.
5) Force yourself to smile while you’re performing the task. Forcing yourself to smile, will improve your mood. Physiology has been shown to influence our psychology. Some have suggested that the paradigm we have been taught all our lives, that we smile when we are happy is backward. I don’t believe it is backward. I believe that it works both ways. I believe that our psychology and physiology are linked together in a push-pull relationship, with each affecting the other.
In the military, I was taught that false motivation was better than no motivation. I thought it was just a means of getting us to push ourselves harder during tough training, which it did, but I also discovered that it changed my attitude. Pretend motivation, leads to genuine motivation. Our mind seeks alignment between our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. The psychological term that describes a disharmony between attitude and behavior is called cognitive dissonance. When there is a lack of harmony between our attitudes and behaviors we seek to reduce that cognitive dissonance. When you force a smile, it signals to the mind that you are happy. Your body reduces levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol and increases levels of endorphins and dopamine.[i]
We should enjoy our work. As Steve Jobs said, it is going to fill a large part of our lives. We shouldn’t wait to enjoy our lives. We should enjoy each day, our workdays as well as our weekends. If we can’t find daily pleasure in our life, what is the point? If we achieve great results but don’t find any fulfillment in their accomplishment, are we truly successful?
I hope that you will take what you have learned this week and apply it. We are all responsible for our own happiness. Happiness is a choice we all make, and it begins with what we focus on each day. I hope you will choose to focus on what brings you pleasure.
Until next week, good luck, best wishes and best health!
Attitude is a habitual way of thinking. Change your habits, change your life!
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[i] JULIETTE SIEGFRIED, Want to Be Happier? Smile More!,