The Reason You Will Fail
The reason you will fail is because you will choose not to do something.
NOT because you didn’t know how, or didn’t have time, or failed to do it properly, but because you actually made a decision to not do it.
You know you’re suppose to do something. You even know how to do it. But yet you continuously avoid it. I get it, we all push things off from time to time and we all have excuses for doing so.
“It’ll take too long”, “I don’t know how”, “It’s too haaaaaard”. Sound familiar?
Let me give you an example: As a freelance web developer and business consultant I often comb the web for small, struggling businesses to see what can be done to help them succeed. I often break the ice by pointing out a few things I notice that they can change rather easily on their own (and should). 9 times out of 10, this is the response I get…
“Thanks! I agree that those things should be done, we just didn’t get around to it yet. I appreciate your insight and for letting us know. If we think of anything we might need assistance with we will surely keep you in mind!”
I often leave the conversation at that and sometimes they contact me back asking for help. When they don’t, I always make it a point to go back weeks or even months later to see what changes they’ve made.
Of the 9 responses, at least 8 of them haven’t done squat even though they made it very clear that they KNEW those changes should be made and that those changes are ‘simple’ enough that they can do it themselves. In reality, these simple changes are often a little more complicated than they expect, but not complicated enough that they justify getting outside help, but that’s a whole other issue on its own.
The point is, these struggling business owners claim to know what they need to do and that they know how to do it (which may all be true), yet very little actually seems to get accomplished.
WHY?! The answer has to do with activation energy
This concept is almost literally true, not just a metaphor. The brain consumes about 20% of the human body’s total energy production. If you think I’m lying, go ahead and fact check it. When you commit to a task, you have to engage your brain in several ways. If the task is not part of the normal routine and is slightly out of your comfort zone, ie something that requires a learning curve, then your brain is forced to engineer some new wiring and networks on a cellular level, something that literally requires energy to do.
Once that commitment has been made and the process begins, the chemical reaction has been initiated! It’s smooth sailing from there.
We like to hit the snooze button. We delay getting out of bed because it’s warm and comfortable. Getting up requires energy and it often sucks. I urge you to try an experiment (although I doubt you will do it because “What’s the point?”). Set your alarm clock right now to wake up a half hour earlier than you normally do and do not hit the snooze button. Actually get up and start your day. You don’t have to do anymore work. If you find yourself having extra time to waste, don’t pass it by crawling back in bed. Just stand there and think if you really don’t have anything else to fill the time with.
What you will find is that the hard part was simply initiating the action even though the action itself didn’t require any thought or energy, I told you to literally just stand there if you want. But once you get to that point, it’s easy. So even when your task is to do NOTHING but breathe and exist, it’s still difficult to activate the energy required to begin doing it.
You might think you already know what the result will be and how you will feel and go “Okay, I get the point, I don’t need to actually do that”. But EXPERIENCING it is totally different than thinking it. So, just try it.
It’s easy to say “Just Do It”
Nike says it all the time. But actually “just doing it” isn’t always that easy. The difference between those that do it and those that don’t is simply the willingness to overcome the activation energy to commit. The excuses don’t exist. You DO have time. You DO have resources. You CAN figure out HOW. And so on. You have a database of unlimited knowledge called “the internet”. In fact, I would bet that you’re using it right now.
There is a “How To” guide for virtually everything. You can learn anything from “How to Properly Groom a Monkey” to “How to Compress Images for Improved Site Speed”. At the very least, you can find someone who can help you.
Quick Tips For Overcoming Activation Energy
- Slap yourself every time you mumble a lame excuse to yourself about why you can’t do something. Follow up by thinking of a way to do it. I mean, you are smart, right?
- Break your routine. Autopilot can be a great thing when performing tedious and mundane tasks, but it prevents us from manually switching gears which is required to take the next step. Do something different everyday at different times of the day. It can even be something enjoyable such as a 20 minute yoga session, ordering from a new restaurant, eating lunch outside, or seeing a movie by yourself. Whatever you want, as long as you do something different from your usual routine.
- Consult with friends and family. If you are having a hard time committing to a task that you know needs to get done, mention it to your buddy. “Yo dog, I got freaking homework to do but I don’t want to do it”. A good friend will say, “Oh, you should probably do it”. Hopefully you have good friends.
- Watch motivational videos. Like this one.
- Write stuff down. There is some weird science about how writing things down can cement ideas into your brain and help you recall and perform better. I don’t feel like looking it up though, so you should do it instead.
- Be healthy. Often times, the lack of ability to overcome activation energy is largely related to your actual energy levels. If you’re tired, stressed, and sickly then it becomes increasingly difficult to become motivated and productive. This means eat healthy, exercise, sleep and practice effective stress management.