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Hate That Chore? Change Your Mind

By Lynn Cutts

March (and April) bring income tax season. For most people, the entire process is a nasty chore, from gathering the information to filling out the forms, to paying the taxes. And while chocolate helps, it's not enough. Which brings me to the topic of this essay: handling the tasks we hate. We all have them, whether it's taking out the trash, paying the bills, getting up in the morning (for some, that's a real chore), exercising, or whatever. So how can we make those nasty chores less distasteful?

Our mindset and attitude make a lot of difference in how we perceive life. If we have decided that something is going to be awful, then we subconsciously look for proof that it is. And we usually find it. Conversely, if we are convinced something is going to be fun, we look for that instead. That's why two people sitting side by side each other at the same event can have two totally different experiences.

Let me tell on myself. I hate cooked carrots with a passion, almost as much as I love chocolate. (For me, eating cooked carrots is more than just a chore I hate"it's cruel and unusual punishment.) This is not something new; my father tells me that the first time he fed me strained carrots I spit the orange goop right back out in his face. Anyway, a couple of years ago, I was eating at a restaurant in Vermont, run by students from the Culinary Institute of America. My plate came out with some orange puree on it, and I cautiously tasted it, quite prepared, if necessary, to re-enact the scene with my father. It was delicious. It didn't taste like squash, or rutabaga, or sweet potato, all of which are orange vegetables that I like. I finally asked our server. "Carrots, he said. Since I didn't know they were carrots, I hadn't decided that I didn't like them. Since I ate the orange stuff without a preconceived idea, I actually enjoyed them. All it took was changing my mindset.

(By the way, I still don't like cooked carrots. I don't know if it's because I know what they are and have made up my mind already, or if the carrots at that restaurant were just exceptional. I suspect it's a bit of both.)

So when it comes to taxes, and other chores we hate, the way we approach them can change our experience of them. Here are a few different things to try.

  • Find a way to be grateful for the chore. Yes, it sounds Pollyanna-ish, but in some ways, she's gotten a bum rap. Thank goodness you have a job so you have taxes to pay. Be happy you have a refrigerator to store your food in, even though you have to clean it out once in a while. Heating bills? Hey, you were warm last month when the thermometer took that plunge.

  • Focus on the outcome of what you are doing. Think how good it will feel to have those taxes done and off your mind. Think about that sparkly clean fridge"and not being afraid to open up an unmarked container. You might even arrange for someone (a spouse, friend, kid, family member) to cheer and applaud your accomplishment when you are finished. Or plan a reward for yourself.

  • Find something positive about what you are doing. As much as we hate paying taxes, and as much as we might disapprove of the way many of our tax dollars are spent, there are some things we are in favor of. So think about the roads, or the fire department, parks"whatever it is that you feel positive about.

  • Look for the sensuality in the situation. "What!?! I can hear you say. Notice how things feel. Experience the glide of the pen over the paper as you write those checks. Get into the lemon-y fragrance of the dish soap you're using on the refrigerator shelves. My husband loves to take the trash out early on winter mornings because he stops and looks at the stars for a few minutes. (OK, so maybe that's not a good example. We know my husband is crazy; he married me.)

  • Look for the humor in the situation. Even the IRS and their ridiculous, incomprehensible instructions can be funny. I mean, who in their right mind would write like that? Can you imagine having that job? How about that green furry stuff in the back of the refrigerator? What if it's a new kind of antibiotic? Play with crazy ideas and ridiculous concepts.

  • Use positive, powerful language around the chore. Instead of saying "Yuck. I have to take out the garbage, try "Hey. I get to take out the garbage." Substitute "I can for "I must, and "I choose for "I have to."

  • Finally, stop worrying about it. Often, we spend more time dreading and fretting about doing something we dislike than we spend actually doing it. Plus, all that worrying and fussing only reinforces our dislike of the job. It's almost like doing it over and over again in our heads, instead of just doing it once, for real.

So there are a few suggestions on how to change your attitude about those nasty chores. Play around with them until you find one that works for you. Because if we can't get rid of the chores, at least we can change how we feel about them. And there's no good reason for making ourselves feel miserable.

About The Author

Chocolate-loving Life Coach Lynn Cutts mission is to change the world for the better, one person at a time. At www.ManageYourMuse.com, she shares free tips, articles, games and newsletters to help you realize your dreams. Lynn offers one-on-one coaching, group coaching and self-guided programs to help you create your own boundless life. Lynn is certified by the Coaches Training Institute, and is a member of the International Coaches Federation.

NOTE: You are welcome to use this article online in electronic newsletters and e-zines as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the "about the author" info). If use of this article is desired in print, you must first contact Lynn Cutts at Lynn@ManageYourMuse.com.

Copyright 2005 Lynn Cutts


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