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  • Writer's pictureCarmen

this is probably why you feel stuck

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Not everyone knows this, but I spent a year working for a Think Tank, and it was a fascinating experience. It was focused on improving consumer habits in order to fight back Woke Inc, and I learned many valuable lessons as the resident non-woke shopping queen.

For one thing, I realized that until we have a viable competitor to Amazon, it's going to be an uphill battle in the freezing tundra when it comes to small, value-based businesses vs. Amazon. You all know I absolutely love an underdog, but the thing about a good underdog story is that there has to be at least a *tiny* possibility that they can win, which is why an actual competitor is needed in the non-woke movement. Initiatives encouraging people to boycott such-and-such will not get the job done.

(If you're reading this and happen to be the innovative, techy sort, shoot me a message. I have ideas.)

I also learned some valuable nuggets of wisdom from one of my bosses who happened to be an expert on motivational psychology (not the positive thinking motivation...more like "what truly motivates humans, no matter how messed it up is" motivation.)

In one instance, he was encouraging me about an upcoming boxing match (my first one) and explaining how I could win:

"Most people retreat at the first sign of danger. It's hardwired into us. That's why you need to just overwhelm her from the beginning. The specific punches don't matter, just go after this woman, Carmen. Scare her. Force her into flight mode. Anyway, see you on Monday."

Needless to say, he was eccentric but also wise. In another conversation about some non-ideal dynamics happening on my team. We were running into the problem of lots of talk but no action, and he finally revealed why.

"Nobody wants to make a final decision because then suddenly you become responsible for that decision. As long as it's abstract and vague, there can be no accountability, which is what we think we want. But, really, we want to get things done. And that requires both responsibility and accountability. So who wants to make the final decision?"

It's recently dawned on me that his advice about my fight is relevant to the topic of decision-making as well. Naturally, we tend to flee from responsibility and avoid accountability when it comes to difficult tasks, and there's really only one way to push through that.

We must make a "final" decision and "overwhelm" our weaker selves with action.

Similar to entering into a boxing ring, once you make a final decision, there's no going back. When your opponent stands before you (you could visualize the "opponent" as your most daunting goal in this scenario), the time for waffling is long gone. You must fight.

But most of us don't even get into this metaphorical ring. Instead, we stand motionless on the outside, wondering what punches would be best or most efficient or most fun or what will result in the least amount of damage. Or we think about who will be watching or not watching the fight, or how much we'll have to train, or what we won't be able to do or eat or whatever. Or you can spend your time assessing and reassessing how you "feel" from moment to moment.

This might seem wise (you're just getting prepared, right?) but it's actually backward. When you make a decision first, the "proper" preparation will follow. You will move with the focus and urgency you need. And to quote my former boss, you will get shit done.

So here are your action steps for the week:

  1. Make a final decision about the thing you have been thinking about for the last few weeks/months.

  2. Commit to your decision for six full days.

  3. Reevaluate on the seventh and make another final decision

  4. Repeat.

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