When I started my new job at one of the big food multinationals, I was a real freshman. I knew little about the actual things to be done, and I was surprised that the company policy was “learning by doing”, so to say zero training, just it was expected that over time, I will learn the skills. And I did. Of course, it was much slower, and I had my bumps on the journey, but over time, I got better and better, and in the end I had built up all the skills needed for my daily job.
There are things in life that I like from the very first moment. I just like it. Sometimes I don’t even remember when I did it the first time. However, there are things that I know that would be good for me, or just there is a possibility for doing it, but I don’t feel compelled to do it at all.
I like to use this strategy for doing new things in my healthy lifestyle journey. I call it “Loving by doing.”
It means for me that there is something that “I should” or “I can” start doing, but I don’t like it at the start. Either I dislike, or just it’s neutral. However, despite my low attraction level, I start doing it and keep on doing it for some time, and see if I start to like it.
For example, running. I didn’t run ever before, I’ve never seen myself myself as a runner. However, it was cheap, easily accessible, so I thought to give it a try. I really didn’t like it at the beginning; I remember the sweating, the heavy breathing, the cold, the improper clothing, the muscle pain, and all the awkwardness of running. Then I made a contract to keep on doing it for three months. In the end, it turned out that after overcoming the starting obstacles, I really enjoy running, and it is one of my core exercises.
Another example from nutrition is Smoked Salmon. If you don’t know it, it is a uncooked fish dish, which was totally unusual for me. In Hungary, we never eat raw meat; it’s always properly smoked, correctly cooked, well grilled, and we eat a very small amount of fish. So raw fish is kind of a strange thing for a Hungarian stomach. Then when I was living in France, I tried it, and I didn’t like it. I tried it another time; I still didn’t like it. Subsequently a couple of times that was the only meal on offer, and I ate it. Over time I got used to it, and started to enjoy it, and now it’s one of my favourites.
Meditation was also an activity at the beginning that I never felt attracted to. I enjoy people, communicating with each other, getting energy from meeting others. However, I have read about the benefits of meditation countless times, and one time I thought to experiment with it. I started in a group on a course, where we had a lot of guidance. Then I also tried it myself. Now, I can do meditation, and I sort of enjoy it when I do it. It didn’t become my favourite activity, but from something with a high resistance, it turned to a low-resistance activity.
One of my key learning is that loving by doing takes some time. Usually, there is an introductory resistance that needs to be passed by. It often involves organizing the right environment, getting real hands-on experience instead of my projections, and practice to get by the first clumsiness.
My four step guide for “Loving by doing”:
- Choose one activity that is for some reason “good for you”. Rate your attraction level: like-neutral-dislike; probably it is neutral or dislike.
- Scale the activity down, until it feels more as neutral vs very dislike.
- Define a four week period to experiment with it, and contract yourself to do it during this time regardless of your like-dislike feelings.
- At the end of the period, close your experience, and reflect on how was it. What did you learn? Do you like it now or still dislike?
The reasoning behind these suggestions is that it is better to focus on one thing that I have resistance to versus “fighting” several “I dislike” things. Scaling down helps to lower the resistance level. If I do many things that I dislike, and I dislike a lot, my resistance can build up so high that I abandon all of them, before giving any chance to like it. Then a defined, sufficiently long, but not too long period helps to frame the experience. When I picture myself doing something that I don’t like for my whole life, for sure I would never try it. For 4 weeks only? I can give it a go.
- What is that exercise, or diet that you would need to experiment with, but even thinking about it makes you tired?
- Why would it be good for you?
- Did you already experiment with it? If yes, how was it? I’d be interested to hear about your experience.
You can write me an e-mail through the contact page, leave a comment here on or write to me on Facebook/Linkedin in or Twitter, I will be happy to read how it is going on for you. If you struggle to get started, or keep on going, just drop me a note, I’d be happy to give some constructive feedback (no cost). I reply all e-mails.