Imagine if you followed through on every good intention.
Wouldn’t life be incredible? We’d all be Calvin Klein model billionaires. We’d be the most dutiful, giving partners to our spouses. We’d eat more greens. We’d probably meditate, daily. Life would be amazing.
The human condition makes this impossible. We don’t do the things we want to do, because we’re conflicted. We also want to eat hotdogs, vegetate in front of TV and avoid working on that scary big business project. Despite our best intentions to the contrary.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, the saying goes. Successful entrepreneurs are different – they transform their good intentions into real world actions. Wannapreneurs dream big without follow-through.
Become someone who transmutes intention into action.
The secret lies not in trying to increase your willpower or beat discipline into yourself, as many proponents of personal development technology would have you believe.
My experience, both client-based and personal, suggests that understanding the ebb and flow of your psychological power (figurative go-juice) is the key.
We all have a continuum. A scale. Our “highest self” is the entrepreneurial champion -eating healthy, being kind to others, working out and generally living out our best intentions. Our highest self implements huge ideas and makes the bucks. Our lowest self orders pizza, acts selfishly and procrastinates. Between the two, we have varying shades of grey. Our ability to live up to our best intentions waxes and wanes between each end of this spectrum.
Nevertheless, you are in control. Your emotional state dictates where you are on this continuum, at any moment.
This is the explanation for the “break up ice cream” phenomena. In moments of extreme emotional stress, we’re far more likely to fall from our “highest selves”. We’ll make bad decisions and suspend our commitment to our good intentions. Bring on the cookie dough!
When your emotional state is low, you act as your lowest self. Your grand intentions are forgotten while you succumb to the desires of the reptilian brain. Pizza companies know this – they buy TV advertising slots late in the day when your exhaustion from work is more likely to result in you making a decision you’ll regret.
Entrepreneurs experience an amplification of this effect in their businesses.
When the first sales call goes badly, plunging you into a depressed state, it’s likely you’ll quit make calls altogether – despite your best intentions to commit to ten per day. When a new project is overwhelming, you’ll spend days avoiding beginning it.
On the flip-side, an intense meeting or even an inspirational TED video might spring you into an empowered state. This will result in hours of high intensity action as your highest self – where you get in “the zone” and make huge things happen.
But this is problematic. If you’re waiting for the will of the fates to throw you into a good state so you can get things accomplished, you’ve already lost the battle. The power to achieve your good intentions won’t be in your hands – your business will be like a sailboat becalmed, while you pray for wind.
The secret is preparation.
When the fates do throw an amazing day your way and your emotional state is fizzing, think differently. Instead of focusing on pure achievement and frenetic activity, take a few minutes to put together a future game plan for your lowest self…. who is going to slink back into the picture, sooner or later, no matter how good you feel.
When you’re feeling incredible, start planning for when you WON’T be!
By creating structures in your life and business in your peak states, you can effectively set snares for your lower self … so that when it arrives, it can’t sabotage your intentions.
Here are some suggestions for gaming your lowest self, to be actioned when you’re in your highest form of awesome:
- Throw away the ice cream. Remove the unhealthy foods from your home/office – your lowest self is also lazy, so making bad stuff hard to get really works!
- Book commitments into your schedule. Interactions with other people (meetings, coaching, whatever) tends to bring out your best, no matter what state you start the day in. Break up your day with interactions you know are going to exhilarate you.
- Fill your sales funnel. The part of selling your lowest self hates is early-stage prospecting and cold calling. Do this in your peak state and then do the follow up when you’re not feeling so good. Make sure your lowest self never has to deal with anything less than warm leads.
- Do important, creative stuff first. If you have to do accounting and creative writing in the same day, do the accounting in the PM and writing in the AM. The urgency of the accounts will still be there when you’re finished writing. Your creativity won’t be there if you subject your mind to spreadsheet hell beforehand.
- Make contractual obligations. Hire a personal trainer (just do it) and think about how you can promise more, on paper, to your customers. Making serious, documented (and paid for) obligations will force your lowest self to deliver, even when you don’t feel like it.
What other ways can you prepare to snare your lower-self, when you’re being your highest-self in the present? Sound off in the comments with your suggestions, questions or thoughts!