I’ve written about Swallowing the Frog, and this is a bit about that, but more about how you feel about swallowing frogs. Wait! Don’t go; this is good stuff, I promise.
You may or may not know that the swallow the frog quote comes from Mark Twain, but you probably know that he said this one.
“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
And that’s great, but a job’s a job, and you can’t always get paid for doing what you love. If you can, that’s great. I speak from experience because I’ve been doing that for the last 15 years. But I remember all the time that came before. So, instead of changing jobs, I want to talk to you about changing your attitude. And for that, we’re going to hear from a more modern philosopher.
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Love the one you’re with
Yeah, I know, easy for you to say, right? And as difficult as it sounds, sometimes, it’s even more difficult in practice. But if you can master it, I promise it will change your life.
How much of your workday to you spend hating what you do? Swallowing the frog is a great solution, but you can’t always control when things happen. If you know that your day will end with a two-hour meeting from HR on, “How To Hold a Meeting,” swallowing the frog doesn’t help.
Instead, you spend all day dreading how it will end. Well, here’s an idea.
Stop doing that.
Change your attitude. I know it’s tough, but like everything else, it will come with practice. Instead of spending the day dreading it, look forward to it. Go from, “I can’t believe I have to waste two hours in a meeting,” to “Hey, I get to waste two hours in a meeting!”
I talked in another article about leaving work at home about training your brain. When your mind drifts back to work, physically tell yourself to stop and think about something else. With practice, it will become automatic.
Same thing here. It’s hard not to dread doing what you don’t want to do but train your mind. Every time that sinking feeling hits when a task you don’t want to do pops in your mind, change it to a positive thought about how much you are looking forward to it. It will make your day better, and the task goes by faster.
Here’s a real-world example. In my last job, I managed IT for a small company. And by manage, I mean I did everything. And like most companies of any size these days, we had a ‘computer room.’ This room housed our servers and routers, but also became a dumping ground of anything tech. Dozens of old keyboards, cables tangled and knotted, monitors and software and mice, oh my.
Knowing I had to deal with it, I put it off for weeks, dreading the monotony that would involve sorting, untangling, labeling, and disposing. Then, one day, thinking of this technique, I changed my attitude. I put the task on my calendar for the coming Friday in big red letters and a (can’t believe I’m saying this) smiley face. In case any of you kids are unfamiliar, that was the original emoji, and it’s been around for about 50 years.
Anyway, as Friday morning came, I drove into work looking forward to this excellent task I had to get done. I put out a few fires early on, then plugged in my iPod (yes, we’re still talking ancient history, here. At least I didn’t say Walkman), put on some tunes and rocked the computer room.
Instead of spending the week dreading it, I spent the week looking forward to it — a simple change in attitude.
As you’re reading this, you’re thinking of that thing coming up in your schedule, or that task you have to do weekly that just sucks. You don’t believe you could ever come not to dread it, much less look forward to it. But I promise you that it is possible. It just takes practice.
Another trick that can help is to evaluate why you hate it so much. What’s the big deal? A lot of the things we don’t want to do stems from our misguided sense of self-importance. That job is beneath me. I’m better than that. But here’s a thought.
Big freaking deal.
You are paid to do a job. You think it’s this and not that, but you’re paid just the same. You get the same money for the hard stuff and the easy stuff. You think this task is a waste of time? So what! You’re getting paid to waste time. How cool is that? Think about it the next time you are wasting time outside your job. You’re stuck someplace in a line or waiting on someone to do something. Imagine you’re sitting at a red light, or a long train crossing. What if you could get paid for that? You would jump at the chance. So quit worrying about ‘wasting your time’ when you are getting paid.
If all else fails, remember it’s not your time, it’s your employer’s time. They bought it. So just enjoy the ride.
We all have things we like to do and hate to do at our jobs. For the last decade and a half, I have been getting paid to take photographs and write articles — my dream jobs. But there are still components I have to do that I don’t like. Or I’ve taken on an assignment that isn’t fun.
For several weeks, I wrote a daily blog about HVAC systems. Daily. At first, I dreaded that piece of the day, but I quickly turned that around. It was good money, and I knew I was going to be doing it for a while, so I decided to look forward to it. I still swallowed the frog and did it first thing, but I turned it into something I wanted to do. I researched and wrote about aspects that could help or profit me. In the end, I discovered some huge rebates and tax breaks I used in my own home. That’s what they call a win-win.
The next time you are faced with that task you just hate doing or dread the time leading up to it, turn it around. Figure out something positive about it and look forward to it instead. It will not only make your life better, but it will keep your coworkers guessing.
Why does this guy look so happy about a meeting to discuss meetings?