Wow. Never thought I’d type THAT title into the subject line of this post.
Today, my friends, I wanted to give you some quick insight into a last resort strategy you can enact to finally get yourself to take action when other methods have failed. It’s very simple:
I’ve had an annoying psychological barrier lurking in the background of my brain for 25 years. I call it the Wiggle Room Barrier. The Wiggle Room Barrier has me believe that approximates can be substituted for absolutes, then makes me underestimate the consequences for not hitting benchmarks I set for myself. It sounds a little something like this (various formats):
- “It’s ok if I’m a LITTLE late. What’s 5 – (or insert much higher number) minutes between friends/coworkers/clients?”
- “This person SAID they wanted this deliverable at X time, but if I got it to them at Y time, everything will still run smoothly”
- “Officer, I understand. But I was only going 11 over. It’s basically the same.”
This barrier is very real. And it has real consequences. I’ve always known that it was something I needed to work on, but I’ve always been able to work AROUND it, not through it:
For instance, if I was late to class, I’d show up and do incredible, top 1% work. Teacher can’t be mad.
Or at work, I’d build such strong personal bonds that people would be forced to overlook my negative traits in the blinding glare of my awesome.
Or maybe I’m late for my training session at the gym. My excuse: I’m paying my trainer, he’s already getting my money. No big deal.
All of this, is of course, dreadfully wrong.
In the back of my mind, I’ve told myself that I’d continue to work on this weak point “when I have time.” But…umm…when has THAT phrase ever really helped us get something done?
As I get older, I realize that this is something that I need to handle now. I can blame it on my parents, or the fact that I’m still “young and learning (boo hoo)”, but in reality, I need to get this shit handled. Period.
Except I can’t FORCE myself to do it. I can’t WILL myself to be more accountable or show up at places on time. I’ve tried. If I have an hour to leave, I’ll look at Google maps, see that it only calculates 38 minutes of drive time, then leave at PRECISELY 38 minutes until I have to be in the meeting. Then I have the audacity to get mad at traffic. LOL. I’m funny.
So what’s the solution? Wallow in this? Let the habit take me down and overshadow my other good qualities? Not a chance.
Thank GOD the American Nazi Party is here to help.
I remember reading a post by AJ Jacobs a few months ago. AJ had an interesting suggestion for hacking your own stubbornness.
- First: Identify a habit that you want to be accountable for.
- Then, to get MASSIVE leverage on yourself, write a check to a charity you absolutely HATE — and give that check to an impartial 3rd party who will check in on you once a week.
- (Make sure to pick someone that doesn’t care about your feelings.)
- Have them call you 1x/week for 90 seconds. If you didn’t follow through on your end of the commitment (make them probe you), the check sends.
- That’s it.
Here’s my check. I’m sending it to a masochistic friend in Canada today. I would rather burn myself alive than send this out. So I know I’ll be overcoming the Wiggle Room Barrier. Come to think of it, the Nazis would probably rather me burn alive as well.
Writing checks to people/charities you hate is one way to take massive action to change yourself. But it’s not the only way.