The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on April 14, 2011.

A Dream Coaching client of mine made a great comment recently – the kind that makes me think I should be paying her for advice instead of the other way around.

She said she’s started adding the practice of doing at least three things each day that she doesn’t feel like doing. That excuse, she said, tends to keep her from accomplishing tasks that she could easily finish and remove from her to-do list.

It reminds me of the advice written on the cover of a journal a friend of mine has, which is to do one thing every day that scares you. That’s good advice, too, but I think the “three things a day that I don’t feel like doing” idea is a lot more practical and promising.

I’m the kind of person who gets motivated by charts and challenges. Whenever my “healthy habits” start to slip, I make a chart so I can check off how many servings of fruits and veggies I have every day, and keep track of how many glasses of water I drink and whether or not I exercise that day.

Years ago, when I was clipping interesting recipes from newspapers and magazines and stuffing them into a big envelope instead of actually trying them, I got a small pocket calendar so I could log in whenever I tried a new recipe. My goal was one new recipe a week, but I usually exceeded that. The practice also helped me get more organized, because it forced me to separate my collection into categories so I could find a side dish or appetizer more easily. And it helped me weed out recipes that turned out to be not so great in the making, or when I took a closer look at what was involved in preparing them.

So a chart on which I can cross off three things a day that I don’t feel like doing – provided I actually do them – is going to help me get a lot more accomplished. It’s helping me turn tasks and chores into games and races. If I’m bound and determined – and I am – to fill my quota and check off my three things every day, I’m sure I’ll soon find myself actively looking for things to do that I don’t feel like doing. Of course, the irony in that is that if my goal is to do things that I don’t feel like doing, it changes the things I don’t want to do into things that I do want to do. Which, technically, disqualifies them from the list.

I’m not going to worry about that now, though. It’s probably going to be a while before my mindset shifts to that degree. Besides, that shift is exactly what I’m going for.

The purpose of this activity is, obviously, to help me get things done. But even more so, it’s to help me increase and improve my self-discipline. It’s not meant to address major projects or complicated problems, the kind for which I’d be better off getting advice or assistance from others rather than struggling and muddling through by myself. Instead it’s meant to help me with those tedious, time-consuming or nagging tasks that I hate or dread doing, even if they’re chores that contribute to success in the work that I do love to do.

There’s a saying that goes, “Find something you love to do, find someone who will pay you to do it, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s nice to dream about finding a job that is nothing but fun and games for us. However, even if we’re doing work we really love, there are parts of it that we won’t enjoy. If we can create ways to motivate ourselves to do them even when we don’t feel like it, if we can find something that will make them seem like fun and games, we’re much more likely to complete them. In the process, we’ll finish our projects, achieve our goals, and get to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

And that would truly be a dream come true.

© Betty Liedtke, 2011