- To Be More Effective Embrace Your Quirks
- Be More Effective by Adapting Tools To Fit Your Needs
- Be More Effective By Treating Yourself Like A Child
- Be More Effective By Noticing Your Own Sneakiness
Broadly speaking, to understand psychology is to understand the weaknesses inherent in the human mind. Ask me any time about cognitive biases. Or why you shouldn’t incentivize testimonials. I’ll talk all day about how the psychology of your customers impacts your business.
But today we want to talk about your own psychology. And how it impacts your business.
The Perfectionism Bug
For instance, a lot of my clients have protested weekly reviews because they ‘don’t have time to do them right.’ Doing them right would certainly be ideal. But even doing them in a fragmented, haphazard fashion would be better than not doing them at all. Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good is a very common way that people get in their own way.
It’s not enough to know that you are getting in your way, though. You have to have a plan to overcome the problem. For instance, I read on James Clear’s blog that he can skip any habit one day– but he never allows himself to skip two in a row. He knows that once he skips twice, it becomes a lot harder to get back in the habit.
The Impulse Beyond Thought
It’s tricky sometimes to identify the issues. They kind of seem to happen to you without you noticing, and then two weeks later you realize you got diverted somehow. The impulse is so strong, it’s beyond thought.
Sometimes you might notice negative self-talk. For instance, you get out and do some marketing, and at first it seems like it’s working and then something you do kind of falls flat. Does ‘no response’ mean they hate it? That they’re too busy? That I’m boring? What?! And suddenly, three weeks have gone by and you realized that after that one particular sting, you never released another personal tweet. What might have been a promising avenue of effort fell by the wayside, and now feels like a failure.
But did it actually even have time to fail? Or was it not given time to bear fruit?
Sometimes you notice a curious aversion. Writers often report that they have an urge to read, to clean, to organize whenever they’re faced with the blank screen– but this is far from being unique to writers! Sometimes we call it procrastination. And maybe it is– if you’re conscious about it. But what about when you’re doing this thing, but your mind is really on this other thing? This can be a tricky situation to navigate. Sometimes the new thing is telling you that your time is best spent where your passion lies. Sometimes the new thing is a distraction from the hard, old thing. Sometimes they’re both equally important and vital to your business, but one is in the boring stage of execution whereas the other is in the exciting planning stage (This happens to me all the time. It is literally happening right now. I want to be planning some other new content rather than actually writing THIS content and doing the fiddly tasks associated with actually publishing it.)
Both of the above examples are at least semi-conscious. You can see them happening, or at least you can see what happened in hindsight. But other stuff? Like, I used to take really detailed notes of the books I was reading. What happened there? Why did I stop? Am I not reading books worth taking notes on? It was a really good habit– fodder for any number of conversation, blog posts, and products. All I know is that it’s been over a year since I cracked open my ‘Notes’ notebook.
Catching Yourself in the Act
It isn’t that EVERY habit you had or tried to have is really worth having in your life at the moment. Sometimes they just won’t fit. I used to write morning pages religiously. Now I eat breakfast. As useful as morning pages are, realizing that I was starving half-way through the morning had more productivity impacts than the morning pages had benefits. Perhaps one day my routine will do one of its subtle shifts and I’ll somehow see BOTH things start to happen. But I’ve tried off and on, and I just can’t make it happen.
But sometimes you’ll realize that you are developing a daisy-chain of bad decisions. For instance, if I don’t decide and then write down what to have for supper well before the end of the day, I’ll default to spaghetti and tomato sauce because it’s really fast and takes only two ingredients. And I realize this after several episodes of actually planning supper, but at the end of the day being too brain dead to remember what I decided, and not caring to take the time to figure it out because I was starving.
So you probably won’t catch yourself in the act the first time, but because we’re such creatures of habit, you’ll make the same misstep several times until you recognize what’s tripping you up.
This Goes For Your Business Too
For some reason, when I talk about lifestyle issues, everyone knows what I’m talking about and can give plenty of examples. But when I ask “And what’s an example from your business?” they can’t give me one. Because we don’t tend to think about things in our business as habits to develop or systems to create and streamline. We either think of them as projects to create and discharge, or skills to develop. Plus, everything changes so fast, it can feel like you’re always learning and never quite getting to the “streamline the habit stage.”
So I’ll give you an example from my business. Launching. Launching is one of those things that seems mysterious and hard to learn for newbies, and as you go along, becomes merely challenging and frustrating-to-the-point-of-tears. Five years I’ve been launching, and still every time I write a salespage, I am beset by terrors. What if no one wants it? Needs it? What if I look lame? I’m not ready. I should just cancel this launch and try again at a better time of year.
For a while, this was completely unconscious on my part. My mind was so tricksy, it made it seem totally reasonable that it was never a good time to launch. Then I started to notice the jitters, the aversion. Then I developed strategies to combat them. Then my brain started getting sneakier, and would make me fall in love with any idea except the one I was currently launching.
The various ways and means that my brain and I play cat-and-mouse, would fill a book. But **I’m** winning. And do you know WHY I’m winning? Because I launch.
Today’s worksheet (which you can download here) will help you tease out some of the jerkish ways your brain is screwing up your plans.