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Start Your Day by Doing Something You Hate

yuck2I know it sounds crazy. But I do it every day. In fact, most mornings involve me doing a few things I hate, or at least I used to hate, but that’s no longer the case. Let me explain what I’m talking about when I say ‘hate.’

A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with a lovely young woman who was the epitome of health and fitness. She was a self-proclaimed jock, ate all the right foods, and had tremendous energy. She perked up her colleagues when they needed it, she was helpful no matter what the circumstances, and she exuded positivity. Her fitness regime was reasonably intense – gym, running, spinning, hot yoga – and she played several sports.

One day when we were in a meeting together, I commented on a slick looking Nike water bottle she had placed on the table. It was bright pink and had silhouettes of women running on it, all in varying shades of lighter pink and white. It wasn’t exactly her style, which is why it got my attention, but it was definitely a fitness-nut accessory – or so I thought.

“Cool bottle,” I remarked casually when she saw me staring at it.

“Thanks!” she replied perkily, ” See what is says?” She rotated the bottle to show some text I couldn’t see from where I’d been sitting. Emblazoned on the front of the bottle, in big bold white text it said, “I HATE running.”

“Ha!” I said, “What are YOU doing with a bottle that says that?” knowing she was a somewhat avid 5-10K runner. “Oh, it’s true,” she retorted, “I can’t stand running. Torture! Running fu¢<!Ng SUCKS!” I loved this, and pushed harder. “But you run a lot, and you hate it? Why?” She looked at me quizzically and said, “Just because I do it, and I know it’s good for me, doesn’t mean I have to like it.” I paused and thought about her response, and very quickly realized that she made a ton of sense.

I’m not sure why, but it made me feel instantly relieved. I could completely relate. I’d been a running ‘hobbyist’ for most of my adult life, but rarely stuck with it for more than months at a time. Precisely because I never liked it. Well, what if not liking something that you know is good for you was no longer an acceptable excuse?

When we have too many bad habits, and not enough good ones, we try to find new and easier ways to adopt new behaviours that are good for us, right? And when they don’t stick, it’s usually because we didn’t like doing them… and then we continue the search, getting more frustrated every time. Like my colleague explained so simply… Hating doing something doesn’t automatically mean you shouldn’t do it.

For the past 3-5 years I’ve remained focused on fitness and nutrition. Nothing extreme by any means, but something I am proud of. I’ve tried several programs, trainers, blogs, and even an app or two, and with every one of them, I’ve started and kept at least one good habit, or at least upgraded an existing one. Especially when it comes to my morning routine.

For example, I LOOOOVE coffee and everything about it. The taste, aroma and warmth of it is one of the things I love most in life – not kidding. However, everything in moderation, especially when the effects of caffeine on my body (and mind) get worse as I age. I’d gotten to a point a few years ago where, by the time I arrived at the office at 9am, I’d have had an average five cups already! And I felt it. it even showed in my creativity and overall work performance. I tried quitting cold-turkey – how do think that went? I tried drinking decaf instead, not bad, but I always found my way back. So I changed my rules a little, making coffee a reward after doing something I don’t particularly enjoy, but I know is good for me.

These days, I have ONE coffee almost every morning (something I love), but only after my workout (something I no longer hate quite so much). And I really splurge – Grande Blond at Starbucks – because it has become a personal reward for taking care of myself with an hour at the gym.

Here’s another hateful task I’ve been doing for almost a year: when I first wake up, the first thing I make myself is one of these:

Disgusting. I hate it. It has indeed gotten a little bit easier, but I still hate it. Interestingly though, on the occasion I don’t kick off my day with a ‘cayenne cocktail’ I do feel it later in the day in several ways – I won’t share, but yes, I miss it.

I wish I could tell you I’m a total fitness nut, or love pushing my body to its limits, or nourish it with the purest and healthiest foods… but I don’t, and I know I couldn’t be that guy. I can tell you, though, that I’ve started a number of good habits, one at a time, and have made them an ‘easy’ part of my morning routine over some years. Do I love them all? No way, and I know I never will. And that’s OK!

What I do love is how these things I may hate doing make me feel and perform better. Most important, they remind me every day of the choices I have to make in order to be my best self. If I don’t who will?



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