Tag Archives: comfort zones

How To Manage Change Using Loss Aversion

Marketing psychology studies consumer behavior to find out the reasons and influences behind people buying stuff. And just as with any body of knowledge, it can be used well, or to take advantage of others.

A hard-wired human trait that marketers take advantage of is loss aversion.
One of the hardest instincts to overcome, loss aversion can be explained like this: It’s scarier to think of losing something that you already have, than it is to consider a possibly risky action to get something you want but don’t have yet. What you have is yours. A threat to it, or a hint of losing it, will hit you harder than losing a chance to gain something else.

Fear is a very strong motivator to hold onto things. When you have something, you have it: you can touch it, look it up, console yourself that it’s in storage. You know it’s there, you know you have it, and that knowledge keeps your stable world view secure. It also gives you some peace of mind that you have control.

Witness hoarders from the minimalist to the extremists, and how the storage industry helps people hide more stuff than they can fit into their homes. Think of the data storage industry and how it uses assurance to assuage people’s worries about data protection. In your own home there’s the catch-all drawer, and, well, how many old, busted umbrellas do you have hanging around somewhere?

No one likes losing stuff. Marketers from every niche and industry know it, that’s why there’s insurance for damn near everything. People also buy stuff motivated by the need to protect the things they already have.

All of that being said, how can use you use the power of loss aversion for yourself?

Knowledge is power, and now that you’re aware of how the threat of loss can affect your decisions, even subconsciously, how can you use that power to work in your favor?
Continue reading How To Manage Change Using Loss Aversion

Entrepreneurs: How Many People Are You?

Entrepreneurs have often been called jacks-of-all trades, and, seeing the many roles they can enact in the pursuit of their goals, it’s a given that the ones who succeed are the ones who, pushed beyond their normal comfort zones, have grow adept at being able to move in and out of various roles easily.

Nobody plays only one role in their life. It’s just not possible not to be a multi-faceted individual–our relationships won’t really let that happen. We’re being of many hats– someone’s child, a student, maybe a burger-flipper, maybe a spouse, or a dungeon master,  a coder, a parent, a friend, as well as a business owner — and  our amazing minds are such that we can recall all the ‘hats’ we’ve ever worn.

As a plus,  being wired for imagination means we can play around with different hats at the same time. This is actually a large part of how we learn, and this is also how we gain strength and belief in our own capabilities. And the more we intentionally practice this ability, the more we can use it to our advantage, in business as well as our personal lives.

Playing around with being different characters isn’t just for kids and day-dreams. This kind of ‘play’ is actually an important component of developing deeper perspective and flexibility, things which are of incredible help for anyone.

  • Knowledge acquired from different fields of study can be used for ‘cross-pollinating’ skills. You carry them over into different areas.
  • Knowledge acquired from examining different viewpoints helps in negotiations by giving you a starting point in discussions, and create goals toward compromise. This is important in all relationships.
  • Knowledge earned from wearing different hats in an organization — say, working your way up from being a waitress to being the VP of a restaurant chain (see links below)– forms an incredible matrix of intimate, first-hand experience that can be carried over into other fields,  and just plain carried as a built-in repository of valuable skill-sets.

SUCCESS STORY:  Katrina Cole

As a business owner, you will always have the inevitable issues and problems to solve. When you practice developing flexibility and entertaining multiple perspectives, you in fact train your brain to be more adept at re-framing, and approaching challenges, and then being able to break them down into actionable bits and phases.

Entrepreneurs must execute to keep moving forward, and it is in the execution that they learn and refine their approach. When you have problems breaking down a problem or resolving a hairy issue, taking yourself out of the fix-it-NOW mindset and going into a different one can help you take the stress off, for one.  You see things in a different light, and that may help you find a better approach. And this also applies to service businesses– not for nothing is it common advice to put yourself in the customer’s shoes.

When you learn to use different perspectives, this affects the mind-set you use in order to frame an idea.

Related article: Is It A Problem Or A Challenge?

Execution is part of learning as much as play, and both are important factors in succeeding at your goals. Here are the basic steps:

  • You identify the issue from a head-on approach.
  • You examine the issue from different angles to develop perspective.
  • Different angles of approach can mean different solutions, and there may even be overlap.
  • You mull things around in your head and come up with a set of solutions, judgements, or observations, which you use to take the next step.

To jump-start the process into action, you need a defined statement to describe the issue, and be able to identify the key players and processes involved. As a business owner, what do you want? As a customer, what would you want? As someone who partners with other people towards a common goal, what do you guys want? Take out the ‘hats’ involved and try to see things ‘as-if’ to help you see the system as a whole. When you understand the system, you can start modifying it and see how it improves and evolves.

“It never hurts to get a different perspective.” Another way of seeing it is that “It never hurts to get a second opinion.” Think again of the word ‘perspective ‘itself, and how that word association can play out. Perspective can cover short-sightedness and long-sightedness; you can take actions that answers issues and resolve them in the short run, and yet fail to look ahead far enough to see the ramifications  and far-reaching consequences of your actions. You can also plan so far into the future that day-to-day and short-term activities can be restricted unnecessarily because you planned too rigidly and didn’t make allowances for change to happen to meet the unexpected.

What are the benefits of ‘going over to the other side’, so to speak?
One, you get jolted out of thinking you know best — a fatal flaw in a world that changes so rapidly and where knowledge can rapidly go outdated. Two, it gives you dimensionality, a more developed vision of the situation — it looks different from the vantage points at 10, 500, 100, 5000 feet — and the higher (deeper) you go, the more links and connections you can parse and the more opportunities present themselves. Three, you learn to see the world in a deeper light.

Sometimes, we find it easier to see what we don’t like, and use that information to make things better.  Customer complaints are a rich resource for examining your business. You can use those as starting points and branch out.

It isn’t easy, of course, because we’re also hard-wired towards taking the most energy-efficient way to approaching life,  and that’s an area where procrastination, short-sighted or short-term thinking, and having problems with execution can start.  But then again, nothing worthwhile really comes easy.  Practice using multiple perspectives and you’ll find that you’re also expanding the way you view the world, and learning how to get along better with the people who live, work in, and share it with you.

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Sustainable Progress: Keep Going By Making Small Bets

25 February 013, by A. Cedilla

In the LifeHacker post, “How To Design A Lucky Life” member stainless_rat left an awesome comment in response to the article, reproduced in full below:

“I’ve lived lucky by simply trimming the odds, which conflicts with recommendations here. Small changes that give things a chance to happen. Such as having met an attractive woman on a group hike…and arranging to attend the next hike with that group instead of another: if she was there, great, if not, I still end up with a fun hike. End result? Happily married for 7 years now.

Unlike the recommendation here, I say DO go for low cost gambles, just don’t go overboard. One small investment nets an infinite increase in your odds of winning while an additional investment might increase them negligibly. So going for the ‘infinite’ bump, I’ve had enough wins for others to consider me ‘lucky’.

Small changes in just paying attention, trimming your odds a hair here and there…it all adds up over time.” (Emphasis added)

Low-cost gambles can make for small wins. And more importantly, small wins keep you going. Continue reading Sustainable Progress: Keep Going By Making Small Bets

Do You Really Know What You Want?

21 November 2011, by A. Cedilla

If you want success on your own terms, you have to define your terms.

“Defaulting” is what we call what happens when you don’t make a move in your favor…the situation either stays the same, or it shifts to the most likely outcome to happen without your influence.

You don’t get to have a say anymore even if you are affected, because you didn’t speak up when you had the opportunity. This goes for action too, not just words.

This is another facet to knowing exactly what you want. If you are clueless about what you truly desire in your life, if you don’t know what you want, you’ll take what you can get…again, you land in the default zone.

You didn’t know any better, or maybe couldn’t have cared less at the time. You drifted, went with the flow or followed the status quo. You followed the rules. So, take a look at where you are now. Assess your life.

Are you satisfied with what you’re doing with your time? Are you content in the life you have? Are you enjoying the security that you envisioned for yourself? Are those visions actually yours?

Success on someone else’s terms are their kind of success, not yours. As a kid you may believe they are yours because those standards are what you grew up with, and measured yourself against. Since you grew up with these standards, they’re normal to you. They become your default standards — but sooner or later, living by default standards can get wearing. Teenage rebellion is only the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a very honest example.

As an adult, you can take the initiative to test things for yourself and find out what you can do, find out which standards you can truly claim as your own….and you can say it’s because you’re trying to find out who you are and what you stand for.

For example, which of the following means “success” to you? Continue reading Do You Really Know What You Want?

Learn New Things By Teaching What You Know

27 May 2011, by A. Cedilla

Are you at a point in your life where you’ve met many of your big goals and most of the shine has worn off the accomplishment?

If you’re bored with what you’ve been doing and you’re looking for a way to make it new again, why not teach about what you know?

Teaching can revitalize your life in the field of your specialization, your subject of interest and of expertise. It’s not a joke when people say, “the best way to learn is to teach.”

See, it’s not watch and learn, it’s teach and learn.

“Watch and learn” can have some pretty flimsy premises attached to it, akin to a “I know how to do this, I watched it on the internet” kind of mastery. Actual learning is experiential. You do it, you learn how it’s done.

Deeper learning, on the other hand, happens when you task yourself into passing on what you know.

For instance, take a moment and recall how you learned how to drive. If you ever taught anyone else to drive, there’s a world of difference between learning how, and teaching how it’s done, right?

As the student, all you had to do was do what show up, follow the instructions and copy what you were shown. As the teacher, you have to know why things are done a certain way, or in a certain sequence, for example, and have the student trust you enough to follow along for the time being, and wait for more detail later.
Continue reading Learn New Things By Teaching What You Know

Make It Easy On Yourself

30 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

“Sure, go ahead. Take the easy way out.” At one point or another in your life, I’m positive either you’ve said this to someone, or had someone say this to you.

Taking the easy way out paints you as a slacker, a shirker, a lazy-assed Captain Slacktastic unwilling and unable to step up and do the job. It’s simply unacceptable — Un-American, even. But what do you think happens when you turn this idea on its head?

Hard work is not the only way to go – of course, hard work is unavoidable and, but smart work is what’s needed too. Know yourself.

  • If you’re the type who works best in short bursts of energy, accept it and work with it. There’s no point to forcing yourself to slog through hours of half-hearted effort.
  • If you feel exhausted and burnt-out, then by all means ease up, it’s counterproductive to work harder. Many people have high levels of energy, it goes to follow that there are also many people with low levels of energy. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way you’re wired. Accept it and work with it.
  • If you’re excitable and get distracted easily, then you can try and arrange a quiet, distraction-free place to work, whatever lets you do what you need.
  • If you perform better at certain times of the day (or night), work with it. Night-owls and early birds have their spots in the schedule, know when you’re at your best in the day and use that time for the high-value tasks.

Continue reading Make It Easy On Yourself

Finishing Early

09 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

In this short follow-up, a companion piece to Start Early, we’ll be supplying some additional advice, meant to apply to the very end of your day.

When the work day draws to a close, it’s usually standard procedure to do a little clean up and arrange your work area for tomorrow. Here are a few things you can do to ease the transition:

When planning for the next day – carry over loose ends from but don’t deal with them first-thing…yet. Some issues will invariably resolve themselves, wait and see. In the meantime:

  • Try out what Cal Newport of Study Hacks does: end your workday with a shutdown ritual.
  • Once you’ve left work, leave it. Let go – drop the pressing issues. Stop carrying them around in your mental backpack. When you get too involved (read:tangled into a corner) you lose perspective, and that can affect your decisions. Let go, and sleep on it. There’s time enough in the next day to deal with things, and by then, who knows, a solution may come from an unexpected source (your subconscious may be working on it even as you dream), or the situation have resolve itself because of an event entirely out of your control.
  • Enjoy the free time you worked for.

That bears repeating, it’s so important. It’s the core reason why you started early. Enjoy the free time you worked for.
Continue reading Finishing Early

On Writing

24 December 2009, by A. Cedilla

  • Holly Lisle, acclaimed science-fiction and fantasy writer, has a free, 209-page e-book full of very memorable advice on writing, available for download here.
  • No Train No Gain, an online resource for newsroom trainers (in journalism writing), has a resource page to help improve writing.
  • The Purdue Online Writing Lab has writing resources and instructional material meant for writers and teachers/trainers.
  • Forward Motion, an online community aimed at helping writers get published professionally, has back issues available, with some as free PDF downloads

And these are just a few of the thousands of writing resources, communities, organizations and downloads available on-line. Are you getting an idea of where we’re heading with this now?

Writing is a skill. As with any skill, there are levels to writing that can’t be reached by any process other than study and deliberate application — practice, practice, practice.

Some of the resources above are meant to break writing down to its very nut and bolts, others attend more to the process of writing, and still others to a particular goal — getting published, or mastering journalism. All of these resources can help you write better, if you apply yourself.

Continue reading On Writing

Welcome To The Discomfort Zone 2

26 August 2009, by A. Cedilla

From part one:

You do it proactively, not re-actively. This is calculation.

Outside of a gun battle, ducking and hiding is no way to face life. And lessons doesn’t stop even when you leave school. We forget that. (Go back to the first paragraph in part one). We remember the pain, and never looked past it for what we could learn from it.

Here’s the thing: Blaming yourself and/or others for making mistakes is human.

It’s also a waste of time, energy and focus, especially if you keep dwelling on it. Blame keeps you stuck. Learning helps you deal and move on.

If there’s ever a problematic situation in your life that keeps popping up and repeating itself, don’t say, “Why is this happening to me, again?” Continue reading Welcome To The Discomfort Zone 2

Welcome To The Discomfort Zone 1

24 August 2009, by A. Cedilla

It’s where you grow. Really.

It’s an inevitable step of the maturing process that some lessons stick the hardest because they hurt the most.

When we were young, we weren’t able to control ourselves when it came to dealing with discomfort. We howled at the vaccinations, shrieked at being told what to do, and lied like rugs to avoid being sent to the corner.

Later on, we balked at having to do our homework first before we can watch cartoons. Maybe sighed and rolled our martyr’s eyes at having to finish the chores, at having a curfew, at having to follow rules that were set to teach us discipline and how to take care of ourselves when we’re on our own.

It’s also normal to forget the discomfort we went through growing up to be where and who we are now. The nerves from driving a car for the very first time? Eh. The queasy feeling when you made a speech in front of a sea of classmates (or co-workers)? Hah. (Or maybe not.)

It’s also a natural part of the human psyche to avoid anything that disturbs the accepted status quo, what we’ve accustomed ourselves to as being ‘normal’.

That’s why so many people fear making public speeches. The fear (lets call it ‘negative anticipation’) of making utter fools of themselves keeps them from doing anything to overcome it. But as to driving and being able to go out when you want to? Heck, yeah! Everyone’s nervous the first time!

See? You may not like public speaking, but driving was the key to freedom, so you pushed past your nerves and kept trying until you mastered the necessary skills. You wanted one thing more than you did the other.

It’s the memory of pain — and the anticipation of it– that keeps us from pushing ourselves to our upper limits, or even our lower ones.

The anticipation of pain, whether in the form of rejection, failure, or even of accomplishment (and the additional responsibility that comes with it) is the major cause of why we often don’t change until and unless we’re forced to. We’ve gotten comfortable with where we are. It’s nice and we know it.

We know it, we know how to deal with it. It’s a familiar situation, and the comfy inertia in your inner view of the world is what keeps us there, stuck in a rut like a fly in amber.

How do you get out? Continue reading Welcome To The Discomfort Zone 1