Learn to Love Tasks You Dislike: A Step-by-Step Guide

As human beings, we are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. This fundamental drive is a natural part of our survival instincts, as it helps us to navigate our environment in the most efficient way possible. It is this same drive that gives us lots of energy to do the things we like and avoid doing things we don’t like.

When we engage in activities that we enjoy, such as playing sports, spending time with loved ones, or pursuing our hobbies, we feel a sense of pleasure and satisfaction. Our brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the reward system. Dopamine is associated with pleasure, motivation, and reward, which makes us feel good and gives us energy.

On the other hand, when we are faced with tasks or activities that we don’t enjoy, our brain responds differently. The thought of doing something we don’t like can trigger the release of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. Cortisol can leave us feeling fatigued, unmotivated, and drained of energy. Our natural inclination is to avoid these activities as much as possible to minimize our exposure to stress and discomfort.

Interestingly, the same neural pathways that are activated when we experience physical pain are also activated when we experience social pain (source), such as rejection or humiliation. This is why social rejection can be just as painful as physical injury, and why we are so strongly motivated to avoid situations that could lead to social pain.

Our drive and energy to do the things we like and avoid doing things we don’t like can also be influenced by our beliefs and expectations. If we believe that a particular activity will be enjoyable or rewarding, we are more likely to approach it with enthusiasm and energy. Conversely, if we believe that a task will be difficult or unpleasant, we are more likely to approach it with dread and lethargy.

The paradox of activities that bring us discomfort and stress at the moment is that many of them would bring long-term rewards if we stick to them. Quite often the opposite also applies – activities that bring us instant rewards can contribute to long-term negative consequences. However, by default, the human mind is oriented toward feeling good at the moment, and thinking about the long-term consequences of a decision made at this moment requires additional effort.

Become the stronger version of yourself

There are several benefits to training yourself to still do the things you don’t like. Here are a few:

  1. Increased productivity: When you learn to do the things you don’t like, you become more productive overall. You’re able to complete tasks more efficiently, and you’re less likely to procrastinate or avoid tasks.
  2. Improved mental health: Avoiding tasks you don’t like can lead to feelings of guilt, anxiety, and stress. When you learn to face these tasks, you can reduce these negative emotions and improve your overall mental health.
  3. Increased self-confidence: Accomplishing tasks that you previously thought were difficult or unpleasant can boost your self-confidence and help you feel more capable.
  4. Greater sense of accomplishment: When you complete a task you don’t like, you may feel a greater sense of accomplishment than when you complete a task you enjoy. This can be especially true if the task is particularly challenging.
  5. Greater sense of control: Avoiding tasks you don’t like can make you feel like you’re not in control of your life. When you learn to do these tasks, you regain a sense of control and autonomy.
  6. Increased resilience: Every time you practice discipline in discomfort, you will train yourself to be more resilient to any future challenges and not fear the sense of discomfort

Techniques for overcoming the resistance

To put it short, our drive and energy to do the things we like and avoid doing things we don’t like is a natural part of our survival instincts. It is fueled by the release of dopamine when we engage in pleasurable activities and the release of cortisol when we face stress or discomfort. Our beliefs and expectations can also play a role in how motivated and energized we feel when faced with different tasks and activities.

Understanding the underlying mechanisms of these drives can help you overcome the instant rewards mindset and train yourself to love doing the things you naturally don’t like. Here are some techniques that can help you teach yourself how to do that:

Reframe the activity

Change the way you think about the task at hand. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects, try to find something positive about it. For example, if you dislike cleaning, you can focus on how satisfying it feels to have a clean home.

Break it down

If the task feels overwhelming, break it down into smaller, more manageable parts. This can make it feel less daunting and more achievable. Ask yourself what is the smallest step you could take that doesn’t feel overwhelming and too much effort. Make it a habit of showing up for that small step. Quite often it gives you the momentum to tackle a bigger chunk of work.

Find a purpose by setting goals

Give yourself something to work towards. Set achievable goals for yourself, and reward yourself when you reach them. Connect the task to a larger purpose. For example, if you dislike exercising, focus on how it can benefit your health and well-being.

Make it fun

Try to make the task more enjoyable. Put on some music, invite a friend to join you, or create a game out of it. Look for creative ways to approach the task. For example, if you dislike cooking, try a new recipe or create your own.

Practice mindfulness

When doing something you don’t like, try to focus on the present moment and get curious about the resistance you have in yourself. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. See the reasons behind those feelings and if there’s anything you can do to shift them.

Integrate it into your routine

Make the task a regular part of your routine. When it becomes a habit, it can feel less burdensome. With new habits, it’s easier to chain them to an existing one that matches the energy of the new habit. Put yourself a reminder to continue with the new habit as soon as you complete something that is already a solid part of your routine.

You’re not alone in this

Reach out to others for support and encouragement. Share your struggles and successes, and seek advice and guidance from those who have overcome similar challenges. A good idea is also to invite someone else to do the thing you have a hard time doing alone. For example, if you want to go jogging or go to a gym three times a week, it’s much easier you skip a day if you know nobody will hold you accountable for it and you won’t be letting down anyone but yourself.

Find motivation in the progress

Remember that it may take time and effort to teach yourself to love doing things you don’t like. Be patient with yourself, and celebrate your successes along the way. With practice and persistence, you can learn to approach even the most challenging tasks with enthusiasm and energy. Building a system to track your progress can help you remind yourself of the long-term rewards you will be getting if you stick to those not-so-pleasant activities

Reward pairing

As mentioned earlier, it’s in the nature of human beings to be oriented toward feeling good at the moment and being rewarded instantly. Think of healthy ways to reward yourself after completing something that you don’t find as attractive as other activities you are tempted to engage in. Ideally, you want them to overpower the negative feelings you have toward an activity. Meaning the reward must be seen as a high-value one you wouldn’t allow yourself otherwise.


Overall, training yourself to do things you don’t like can contribute to many areas of your life. Overcoming resistance and obstacles today and becoming more comfortable with discomfort prepares you for whatever challenges you may have in the future. Make it a daily habit to do at least one small thing you would rather not do, despite knowing its benefits. Sometimes you indeed find yourself suffering through it but when possible, find the positives in it, to build an appeal toward them.