Achieving goals, self-improvement—these things are really hard all by themselves. If you forget to bring the fun, they may be impossible.
It happened gradually (these things always do). From a healthy mixed diet of oldies, 80’s pop, choral, classical, top 40…and the occasional hair band just to make the kids roll their eyes, I found myself listening almost exclusively to BBC Radio 3.
Now, I really enjoy classical music (I once worked for a symphony orchestra), but I began to question my radio choice during Wagner week when, heading into hour two of what I was assured was the best possible performance of Das Rheingold, I had this exchange with myself:
Me: “Man, this is a drag.”
Myself: “Shut up and keep listening, it’s good for you; some dude with an English accent said so.”
Shortly after this ridiculous conversation, I read Robert D. Smith’s, 20,000 Days and Counting, which contains the following advice:
Life is waiting for you. Celebrate for simply waking up in the morning. Turn on some fun music. Dance! Jump up-and-down when you get out of bed. Spreading celebration and joy is the only way to withstand the intensity of your mission.
This struck me hard, because I had been executing on difficult goals for five straight months and was tired and cranky. Getting up in the morning was not only not a celebration, it was a drag…and by now it was Bruckner week on BBC 3. His music is powerful, challenging, deeply moving, but you can’t dance to it. I had totally forgotten to make my life fun.
Here are three suggestions for making your efforts to improve more enjoyable.
Make sure you are getting better at something you actually enjoy
Getting a lot better at something you basically hate is a huge waste of time and attention. After three attempts at getting good at listening to Wagner, I am done with Wagner’s “Ring cycle” … well, almost.
Take time to celebrate your accomplishments
Your path toward improvement will be marked with many opportunities to celebrate. Did you lose five pounds? Take a friend to a movie. Did you finish a webpage? Order a pizza and put on a CD you loved when you were in high school. Did you complete a rewrite of your novel? Get tickets to a concert. Don’t miss an opportunity to make the journey fun.
Regularly visualize what will be fun about reaching your goal
Your goal should have a “why” attached to it as in, “Why do I want to get six-pack abs?” or “Why do I want to improve my game my five strokes?” I’ll bet when you conceived the goal, you thought something about it would be fun, like showing off at the pool or golfing with your Dad (who regularly beats you by four strokes). Take time to see yourself achieving the goal and enjoying the results.
The next time you feel yourself losing momentum, ask if you need more fun—then create some. You’ll find that you are more energized, more enthusiastic, and more productive.
Now here’s a question for you: What do you to make the journey fun? Share your answer in the comments below.
If seeing Elmer Fudd sing “kill, da wabbit” made you want to see the entire cartoon, click here and let me know, I’ll share the video with you.