Seneca is purported to have said “…where nature is reluctant, labor is in vain.” In other words, energy expended in endeavors that don’t fit your natural style are wasted.
My dear friend, Cathy Sexton, founder of The Productivity Experts, uses that concept as the foundational element of her work. She discovers her clients’ natural styles and preferences, then, and only then, does she recommend ways for them to improve their productivity.
What she knows that people do not follow through on things they don’t enjoy doing. Or if they do, they do the work so poorly that it has little value in comparison to the time and energy expended.
Implicit in Cathy’s work and Seneca’s message is that efforts that don’t produce great results, whether it’s because we don’t enjoy the work or ill-equipped to do it, often causes us to take a hit to our confidence. We feel that our abilities are inadequate or feel stupid for having wasted our time and energy.
Fight nature often enough and you’ll find that your confidence wanes to the point at which you begin to develop a “Why bother?” mindset. That’s not a life we want for ourselves and certainly not for our kids.
The keys to avoiding wasting your energy and taking hits to your confidence are:
- Before embarking on an activity ask “Is this something that I enjoy or want to learn?”
- If not, can I make it more fun and exciting?
As Cathy Sexton has found, there are more ways to accomplish what we want while enjoying the activity than most people realize.
If after considering these questions you find that you really don’t want to do the task, contract with someone to do it for you. Don’t let money be an excuse, you can always barter your services for someone else’s help.
Here’s an example of what happens when you fight your nature.
Some 40 or so years ago the exterior of my house needed painting. I hate to paint, but I didn’t want to pay someone to do it for me. I thought I could do it in 2 or 3 days so I took a week’s vacation fully anticipating that I’d have a few days at the end of the week to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
It took me all week to complete the painting. I figure that I worked for roughly $1.50 an hour. Not only that, it looked like the painting had been done by a 3 year old. I wasted my vacation time doing something I didn’t enjoy and didn’t get anywhere near the result I’d had hoped.
The fact that this happened roughly 40 years ago indicates how vivid our memory is of the energy we wasted. Not to mention the money. I had the house repainted a year or two later when I couldn’t stand to look at the poor paint job any longer.
Life’s too short to spend it doing things that we don’t enjoy, then lamenting the loss of time and energy…and money…associated with fighting nature. Use Cathy Sexton’s approach. Either find a way to make it fun or find someone else to do it for you.
For our kids
While you may not want your kids to find someone else to do their homework or their chores for them, it’s helpful for them to learn how to make the things they need to do more fun.
With homework, ask them to look for things that they’ll learn that they can apply to other aspects of their lives. You can do the same with chores. As kids begin to see connections between what they don’t enjoy and things they do, their explorer instincts kick in and the task becomes more interesting.