Doing The Things You Hate

I have always found that the power of goal setting really comes into its own when I have to do something I do not like. Persuading myself to get busy doing something I really enjoy, like writing, requires no persuasion at all; I love it. However, present me with one of my less favorite tasks, such as cleaning or gardening and you will find me coming up with all kinds of excuses why there is just no way I can fit that into my day right now.

It is at just those times that goal setting skill become my strongest ally. This was brought home to me very strongly this week when I had to do something I loathe. I am in the process of launching a business service which is highly specialized and the fastest way to test the market and get the word out to a tightly targeted audience is to pick up the phone and cold call. Now, I hate cold calling.

I spent half my working life as a salesman and, believe me, I know how miserable a chore it can be, so I was not looking forward to that phase of my launch. So using goal setting, here is the four-step approach I have decided to take. Do; Review; Rest; Reward. Let me explain.

  1. Step 1 is Do - I have about 300 contacts to call, so I have broken them down into thirty sets of ten. I set aside half day slots for each ten because, once I actually get through to someone, the conversations can take about twenty to thirty minutes. I take a deep breath, pick up the phone and dial the first one. Then the next and the next and the next, until I have made ten phone calls. On average, I find that I get through to two people and have meaningful conversations. The rest is leaving messages, gathering names to call back later or having shorter conversations with the wrong person. So the time gets used up.
  2. Step 2 is Review - This is where I record all the notes I have jotted down by hand, into a database, set up my callback dates and review the information I have gained. This is very much an information gathering exercise as well as a sales approach, so I make sure that I assimilate what I have learned and feed that back into the business profile and use it to inform the next conversation that I have.
  3. Step 3 is Rest - By this time, I am feeling virtuous because I have actually done something I hate, gained some benefit and crossed at least a couple more off my list. I can see some progress and this is my chance to take a step back, chill out and forget about the chore for a little while. Often I do not actually rest, because there are so many other things to do. But I am taking a rest from the cold calling and that is what counts.
  4. Step 4 is Reward - In fact, I am usually feeling so virtuous by this time that I like to give myself a reward. Sometimes a bar of chocolate, sometimes a walk round the block or sometimes just the chance to do something I love. As a perfect example, writing this article is a reward for the cold calling I made myself do this morning. Yes, I know writing is the last thing you might want to do, but to me it is one of the great pleasures of my life.

So next time, you are faced with the worst job in the world and you have to push yourself to get it done, try following these four steps. Chunk it down, do a chunk, look back over what you did, take a break and give yourself a little present, before jumping back in and doing the next chunk. You will be pleasantly surprised at how fast the work goes, but more importantly, how good you will feel about yourself.

  • About

    headshot: David Beroff in St. ThomasDavid Beroff started writing software at the age of 11, and was teaching Computer Science at Rutgers University by the time he was 18. After designing software for two decades, he started his own Internet marketing firm in '95; one of his company's earliest successes was, a free feedback-form service that was later sold to Wondermill.

    Beroff had bought and sold four million voluntary, opt-in email leads generated with properties like LeadFactory and SuperTAF before the business failed in '07. He is the author of the book, Turn Funny Email into CASH!, and is currently developing a new social media site,

    He has two grown children, and now lives outside of Scranton with his girlfriend and five cats.

  • Contact

    If you have any questions or concerns about our website and/or our advertising, please feel free to email me directly: David (at) Beroff (dot) com.