Tag Archives: mind-set

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

When X Marks The Spot

It’s a general rule of thumb to break down big goals into smaller blocks.

  • Psychologically speaking, smaller blocks are easier for us to wrap our minds around, and make for easier mental digestion and responsive planning.
  • With this helpful breakdown, we can see the steps much more easily, and we’re able to adjust and improve our actions in carrying them out. This helps a lot in allocating time and labor accurately.
  • However small we make these blocks, each step we finish helps build momentum for the process, and we get to energize ourselves with the knowledge that we’re closing in on the target.

 

Positive brain hack:
Keeping a visible record of your micro-accomplishments — for example, a trailing word-count, a tally of calls made, a checklist of actions taken — keeps your brain engaged with frequent feel-good endorphin boosts at every small ‘win’ you make.

 

In working towards a goal you make incremental gains until the goal is met.
If the goal is time-bound and the time is scattered across days (or more) a good way to get it done at a sustainable rate is being methodical and, ahem, ‘metronomical.’

You make ready, and then make steady. Block out a time, and in that block pay attention to nothing else but that open action that needs closure. Between the required focused blocks, you can rest, attend to other matters and still get stuff done while paying steady action to this particular ‘string’ of finished blocks you’re building.

If the time-line to accomplish the goal is compacted, then doing the work without interruptions or spillage in the time you’ve got is necessary. When something important comes up our vision has a way of filtering out the less important issues until the main one gets solved.

It’s not the issue of bringing your A-game as it simply bringing yourself fully to the table. You choose to ignore worries and mental static from unrelated issues other than the one you tasked yourself to handle in this particular time block. You plant your tush in the chair, and you work on what’s in front of you. Even if it’s a B-minus game you’re doing, when you get the work done, then it’s A+.

Did you ever thing of ‘bonus’ work, though?
Continue reading When X Marks The Spot

Your Presence Is Required

What’s the difference between doing something and practicing doing it?

When we practice something, the consensus is, the practice is a lead-up. Framed this way, practice gets a different treatment from the ‘real thing.’ For example, doing something like taking a few practice swings to warm up and get into the groove before playing ball. Since practice gives you more space to allow and accept mistakes, it’s not as serious, nor for keeps.

With practice, you have more time to ‘get it right’ and not so much pressure to get it right as to ‘get into the flow.’ That’s how the practice of practice can give off the impression of it not being as important as ‘the real thing.’ Without, say, screaming crowds or an apprehensive, appreciative audience, you can’t be faulted for thinking that. It’s the exciting stuff that gets attention.

So, makes what’s the difference? Take your pick.

Goals.
The end defines the means. The clearer the goal, the more chances you have of finding appropriate ways and means to get there. Different goals for different fields show this. And even acquiring skills are counted as goals.

Goals that require physical mastery, for example, like playing the violin or playing basketball. Each area has different requirements, but in essence on the professional level one must be able to play with the instrument of choice as if it was an extension of one’s body. It does what you want it to. For that to happen, you need to train your whole body to know what to do to produce a desired effect, whether it’s producing a trill or making the perfect overhead shot, without you having to consciously think about it.

Goals that require intellectual discernment are different. Rote memorization can be boosted by memory exercises and practice. Discernment can only be gained through exposure, trial-and-error experience, and critical thinking. It isn’t making something do what you want it to as figuring out the how and whys, before going on to such questions as, what can I do with this, how can I make it do this instead.

 

Resources.
Limits help define what you can and can’t do in a particular situation. Limits can force us to be more creative with how we move within them, just like stretching a budget (limited funds), being fanatically good at time-management (limited time), and focused productivity (limited focus and mental energy.)

Continue reading Your Presence Is Required

Are You A Poor Entrepreneur?

Any business of any size is run by people. People, being people, carry their own mind-sets and world views with them wherever they go, and make decisions, have habits, and see things according to the way their world-view works.  How you see the world decides how you act in it, and vice versa.

And with that setting the context,  you have heard of the scarcity mindset, right?

In essence, the scarcity mindset is concerned with lack.  If we were talking about it like it’s eyesight, it’s hyper-focus and short-sightedness at the same time.

  • With hyper-focus you can get tunnel-vision. While doubling down on an issue can help especially when time is running out and the need is urgent, you can also get blindsided.
  • With short-sightedness you won’t be able to focus on what’s further ahead.

You’re fully caught up in the moment, and not in a good way.  Think of it like treating the symptoms and ignoring the illness. You feel better temporarily, but it doesn’t fix that you’re sick.

When you’re focused on what isn’t there, you can’t focus on what is there. You’re too tied up to respond freely, consciously, and deliberately.

What happens when you have have this mind-set?

  • You spend the majority of your brainpower  and energy on what you see as emergencies, and the important things can slide right out of focus.
  • Your judgment is affected, as will as your willpower.

When these two things are set askew, you won’t be able to make the most appropriate choices in the situations you face,  and you could find it easier to throw your hands up and pick the closest ‘solution’ available, or simply give up, which doesn’t help and can make the situation worse.

 

In many cases, that sort of thinking can be a big a problem hiding in your blind spot. You might not think there’s anything out of the ordinary, you might not see that there’s an issue, but somehow you keep bumping into the same snarls, chokepoints, and roadblocks.  You keep putting out the same fires.

See, the scarcity mindset isn’t just the overall feeling that “there is only this much, and no more,” so you have to get yours while you can. It’s an entire way of moving in the world, and for you, it’s just normal. And it’s holding you back.
Continue reading Are You A Poor Entrepreneur?

Don’t Lose Sight of The Customer — Or Yourself

At the first, second, and third look, a business is in it to make money.
If it’s not making money,  then it’s an exercise in frustration and a money-sucking black hole at worst, and an expensive ‘hobby’ at best. A business provides services or products to consumers in return for money. Electronic commerce (e-commerce) is the business of selling goods and providing services using an online platform, i.e the internet. That’s why you’re here.

So yes, you got into this wanting to make money . And somehow you are making money.  After keeping good records and getting updated licenses and permits and whatnot, how do you do? Do you lie awake at night worrying about how to make your mailing list grow? Do you wake up worried about making your bottom-line? Is your free time occupied with scribbling out plans with words like leverage, maximize, sales funnel, and  optimize?

When this kind of financial pressure makes you micro-focus on the numbers, you lose sight of several important things in the whole equation.
Yes, you do need to keep good records and updated permits and licenses and whatnot.
Yes, you do need to work on growing your mailing list. That’s all just good accounting and legal practice, and business sense.
But focusing on the bottom-line frames your business solely in terms of numbers. In doing so, that sort of gently moves out of focus the prime movers in the business.  And who are those? You, for one, and your customers, for another. Lose sight of either, you  can go off track.

Focusing solely on the point to get the money is missing the other points. Continue reading Don’t Lose Sight of The Customer — Or Yourself

Breaking Down Your Big Picture

Imagine a mosaic.

A mosaic is a picture or pattern that is built, piece by piece, from small broken pieces of material like glass or tile which are set in mortar.  Historical records and restored ancient architecture usually show mosaics were mainly used in decorating walls, floors, and ceilings — although mosaics today aren’t just restricted to those areas, or those materials.

Helpful examples:

Now, what do mosaics have to do with running a business?
Continue reading Breaking Down Your Big Picture

How To Deal With Self-Doubt

Being an entrepreneur is like setting out on an adventure with no clear map, and no one right way to get to where you want to go.

Sure, there are probably books, how-to guides, videos, blogs, and related stuff available on-line —  with billions of webpages out on the internet there’s oceans of data and advice you can try trawling through — but to establish your own particular business, with you at the helm, means that you actually make your map as you progress on your journey.

  • You can study, but you have to learn on your own.
  • You can copy, until you get enough experience to make your own riff, and enough courage to put yourself and your work out there.
  • You can follow, until the times comes for you to break away and  run your business your own way.

And it can be a nerve-wracking process.

The thing is, entrepreneurs are still people, serving people.  And people? Well, we’re a messy bunch. We can be full of doubt as well as dreams, and we often wrestle with ourselves as we go after our own goals. Sometimes, we’re the one’s in our own way.

How Do You Deal With Doubt?
If you’ve seriously considered venturing out into entrepreneurship, or are already on the rough and uncertain path to building your own business, you’ll understand that it’s a frustrating and tiring journey,  to say the least. Some days it can feel like all you’re trying to to is fix one mistake or another, or backtrack and wonder how to correct your course. while anxiously looking for some signs of wheat to do next. Continue reading How To Deal With Self-Doubt

How DIY Doesn’t Mean DIAY (Doing It All Yourself)

Working smart is one of the keys to creating a good living, and so is working hard. One pitfall to look out for is thinking that working harder will help you solve everything thrown at you in the course of running your business.  For your own sake,  don’t try so hard at trying that you get in your own way (advice that relies on the Taoist concept of wu wei — more on that in a little bit.)

A ‘Renaissance man’, as we understand the term, is someone who’s good at whatever they turn their hand to, and that basically encompasses everything, if you go by the definition given by the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Seeing as the phrase was coined in the 1400‘s, however, six hundred years has still not been enough to take this ideal to its logical conclusion. See, the times have very much changed.

Look at how much the sciences, arts, and humanities have expanded and deepened in all that time. Leonardo Da Vinci is a popular example of genius, and honestly, people with creative brains like his are statistical outliers.

Given today’s demands for specialization, it is very rare to find actual ‘experts-in-everything’. The bulk of people with notable successes can come from backgrounds out of the norm, or have been relentlessly putting in the work over a long  time — and then were discovered as ‘overnight sensations’.

And whoa, but isn’t that image exciting? Isn’t it seductive ? To think,  with just a little more push, you could be a sensation yourself.

 

The phenomenon of ‘overnight successes’ can often overlook years of work, or the set of circumstances that made these people successful (luck, family background, wealth, opportunities, etc).  But true renaissance men (in a non-gendered blanket term) today? Still statistical outliers.

The image lingers because it’s so compelling — think of John Wayne and the “Lone Cowboy’ hero image , and throw in the Lone Ranger too. And oh, hey, bootstrappers. The people who built empires out of their garages.

Stories like that are inspiring. We can dream big while we’re plugging away at our projects.

And sometimes trying to fulfill our dreams by following the old scripts can make us sick. “Going it alone,” and “doing all the things!1!1”, and putting letting rest, re-connection and recreation down by the wayside is like pouring out your energy on barren ground, and leaving no reserves.
Continue reading How DIY Doesn’t Mean DIAY (Doing It All Yourself)

In Cold Blood: How To Deal With Procrastination

Sometimes, when faced with unpleasant task that have to be done, the best way to get it done it is to just push away the unpleasantness you feel and do it. Like holding your breath when you have to take nasty-tasting medicine: you need to take it, you don’t want to do it because of the taste, but you do it anyway. And then it’s done.

Now, there are a lot of things we can feel ‘icky’ about. And sometimes — well, a lot of times — those feelings help paralyze us into not doing anything at all. By actively feeling them, we can blow the negative feeling out of proportion so they block the energy we need to get things done, and then drain that energy so nothing gets done. That’s why avoidant behavior is seen to be unproductive.

In a business, being non-productive is a liability. Procrastination is a solid example of how putting things off can hurt us. We push things off, we forget, we lose focus —  and small things can turn into large problems. How do you deal? identify the contributing factors.

Indecision.
It doesn’t help that the internet gives you access to massive repositories of data and countless options. Paralysis by analysis, anybody? You want to make the best way to fix it– whatever  ‘it’ is?

There are  specialized forums, customer reviews, and whitepapers. There  are first-person videos, how-to’s and comparison charts. You could dip a toe in that pool and not come up for air for days. You can lose time, lose perspective, and have your judgement affected by the sheer amount of data thrown at you.

Usually when we make goals we assess our time commitments and the weight of goals.  Colin Powell’s “40-70 Rule” (Lesson Fifteen here and explained a bit more here) gives a ballpark figure on how much data you really need to make a tough decision. Less than 40%, you don’t have enough to make a well-informed choice. More than 70% means you’d taken up too much time.

More isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s just more. You need to be nimble — you can’t  move fast when you’re busy weighing yourself down with data.

High emotions.
We can think more clearly before the actual commitment pressure is on–  a cold look, not a heated glare, so to speak. This helps you dispassionately assess what needs to be finished. Finished, not ‘in process’.

Pulling the trigger is easy when emotions aren’t clouding your judgment.  A rather cold-blooded, image, yes, but it does get the point across. Make the plan in cold thinking, pull the trigger even when —especially when — you don’t ‘feel it’ at the time you are supposed to act.

Now, how did procrastination ‘pay off’ for you in the past? More likely:

  • It increased the intensity and the level of your stress.
  • Added the number of  open loops fighting for your attention.
  • Added guilt, ate at your self image, and reinforced a negative one.
  • Gave you _more things to worry about, like additional fall-out and possible areas for screwing up.

 

This is trading in short-term relief for longer-term discomfort.
You already know this.
You also know you just want to get things done and over with so you won’t have to worry about them anymore– leaving you free to go and do stuff you like and want and look forward to doing.
The shadow side of ignoring stuff is that it’s like crawling  under the rock of misery and staying there since it’s so familiar it feels like home.

Resistance is the silent killer of momentum.
You have enough small stuff to capture your current attention, those small things become hooks that you catch on. They latch onto you and slow you down with ‘false dilemmas’

For example: cleaning papers in your office, whether on your desk, or filed away….somewhere. “Do I need this? Can I still use this later? I have to decide now? Maybe I have to keep this for tax purposes?”

And before you know it, you’re sitting on the floor with yellowing papers strewn out in ‘To-be-classified’ piles instead of actually getting the clutter out

‘Fake dilemmas’  are artificially inflated busy-work. Sure, you can attend to them but the net gain to your end-of-day productivity is negligible.

“But I  need to make the most out of this decision.”
No, you don’t. There are things that definitely need to be optimized, but these things are distinguished by their value and pay-off. Give the heavy stuff their due, not the light stuff.

“I need to get New Thing before I can start New Endeavor.”
Assess your resources.  Can you make do with Old Thing with New Endeavor to start with the New Habit or New Process?  Sometimes getting new stuff can keep the happy, but happy fades and you still have to do the work. And with business, keeping track of expenses is a good thing.

Don’t fall for the belief that New Thing will revolutionize your life and make New Endeavor an cinch. Work needs to be done, and if you can make do with your resources, cool.

It isn’t the newness of tools that get the work done, it’s what you know you will do with the tools you have. Try to make the new thing work with what you have, where you are. Unless you have very industry specific tools, the habit of practice comes from action and presence. It’s not always contingent on new stuff

“I want to do good!”
Yes, but you won’t do good right off the bat. It’s perfectly acceptable and expected to suck on the first few attempts or sessions. Waiting until you’re good without practice is impossible. A nice daydream, but impossible in real life. You don’t get to perfect on the first day, you just have to get it done for today. And that should be your  finish line .

This thing you’re putting off is important enough for you to plan and execute with the aim of getting it done. You don’t get it done now, you’ll still be the person to deal with it later, or tomorrow.   Plus,  the weight of disappointment and the blow to your expectations and self-esteem for not having done it will be the interest.

When you’re calmer, think of what situation or event triggers you most often.
You don’t want to do A Thing.
Why not the Thing?
Why anything  but The Thing?

Emotion is blocking you and your mind seizes any available outlet to explain why you don’t — won’t– do it.
Like, you could get a better outcome if you do a little more research. So you do that instead.
Or, you might need these files for tax purposes so you’ll sort them out later.

Where and when do you put off things the most?
Like any doctor, take historical data. Where have you screwed up by putting things off for so long they mutated and bit you on the ass? Filing important papers? Following up on projects? Where?

Be honest here, anything you hide will just fester. The areas in your work where you slack off may have secret minefield that you have to deal with, or else trip over at crucial moments .

The nature of your complaints can show you a connection you may have not been able to see, and show you a picture you might not want to face. You still have to — if not now, when? Until it’s too late (again)? How will you pay when that happens? In missed opportunities? In a missed-out life?

Bulling through is still reliable when doing so gets the job done.
— Do the task, being as present as you can.
— Remove temptation — use Leechblock, close the door, make sure you have a glass of water, and had been to the bathroom.
— Plant your as and begin until you finish. Not-feeling-it can fade away when you push through the I-don’t-wanna phase and find the groove.

Finding your personal relaxed best.
Have you figured out your personal rhythms yet? People have an optimal time for when they are relaxed and yet alert, so they can be fully present and immersed in what they do. Planning your  work for the best time that you  can do that work is a rare and treasured skill.

It takes testing, awareness, tracking, and knowing your productivity cycle: whether you’re a night owls or morning lark or somewhere in between, or needing the morning to gradually ramp up your processing power, etc.

What circumstances help you focus? What helps you brainstorm?
Find that spot, look at the circumstances that make it: a quiet room, closed doors, noise-cancelling headphones or your favorite inspirational, calming, or energetic playlist — whatever makes your environment conducive to get you into the flow.

Work at a coffee shop. Work in the library. Just make sure that what you’re doing is actually the work you’re supposed to be doing, and not just busy work, which is a stand-in for the real thing.

The point is to get this done so you can leave it behind.
The point is to close this loop so you can take the next step.
The point is to start so you can stop when you’re done.

Procrastination is a common habit, and a maladaptive one. It will take uncommon work and discipline to fence off and box in, as we are still only human, and sometimes, we need to have the freedom to put things off.

When you know you have a good handle on the things that are important to you, you can take that time. Until then, getting things done even when you don’t feel like doing them is one work approach that is sure to keep you on the right track.

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What To Do When You’re Having A Bad Day At Work

You can generally depend your business to have a particular rhythm to it, once you’ve been at it long enough. Sure, there are the kinds of businesses where you can’t really have the same day-in, day-out predictability of so-called desk-jobs, but even then, when  you’ve gotten the hang of stuff, you develop the kind of insight and mind-set, and prepper skills that helps you handle the ups and downs that come with your chosen field.

In emergency situations, you may even had the foresight to have laid out back-ups and alternative, just in case. In the immediacy of things when surprises, mix-ups, or emergencies happen, you’d do well to practice on-field triage: attending to the salvageable and savable while assessing the ‘least injured’ — and checking the irrecoverable just to make sure.

Triage helps when you’re in the crunch. In non-crunch time, disciplined ‘triage’ is simple prioritization skills:  You do the important and helpful, and drop the unimportant and seductive. This lighter-hearted ‘triage’ can help you especially when bad days happen. Continue reading What To Do When You’re Having A Bad Day At Work