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12 Sep

Raw data will help you stop hesitating


Date: 2012-09-12 12:00 Comments: 0 st

Have you ever postponed doing something since you feared that it would be unpleasant, that you would be criticized or that something negative would happen?


You actually want to do it (or rather want to have it done), but you are hesitating and postpone doing it for another day, since you do not want to experience what you are afraid will happen.



Things do not feel easier the next day, and you realize that procrastinating was not what you needed.



Have you also experienced that once you have done the thing you dreaded doing, things did not turn out as bad as you predicted they would?

The person you called was not angry with you and did not hang up the phone, it was not as much work as you had anticipated to begin with or it turned out to be quite fun and enjoyable to give the lecture.



Well, isn’t it so that things tend to not turn out as bad as we initially thought they would?

Tools rather than terror

It would be easy to say just think positive, take every chance you can to push your limits, or something equally perky. But thinking like this or telling myself off for postponing has at least never worked for me in situations like these.



I would not be referring to myself as a struktör if I didn’t have a love for finding concrete methods, or even tools, to solving dilemmas such as these.



Because you see, if we have difficulties remembering that what we fear tends not to happen, it would not be more than fair to ourselves that we clearly illustrate the reality of things.



Hence, prove your hesitant self wrong with a little help of statistics.

Do this

  1. Create a new Excel-sheet or something equivalent to this.
  2. Let the first heading be “Date”. When you notice that you are hesitant and reluctant towards doing something due to fearing it will result in something unpleasant, write down what date you feel this.
  3. Give the next column the title “What is it you need to do?”. In this column you write what you need to do but are hesitant towards, such as “I am going to call person X and talk about Y.”
  4. In the third column you set the heading “What I fear will happen is that…”. Here you then write down your fear, for example “… the person I call will be angry that I called and bothered them, that I will perhaps even be yelled at, that I will have to be embarrassed for even calling and that she will then hang up the phone.”
  5. Now just do what you are hesitating to do, regardless of what you fear will be the consequence of doing it. After all, you are curious of what will happen and you want to gain another experience.
  6. When you are done, set the heading “How did it go?” at the top of the fourth column and write down what happened. “We had a rather pleasant conversation and I got a meeting with her in three weeks.”
  7. Let the fifth column have the title “Were you right?” and simply write “Yes” or “No” next to what you feared would happen.
  8. Finally, create a sixth column and set the heading “If yes, can you live with it?”. It doesn’t need to be a complete disaster just because you happened to be right this one time concerning what would happen.
  9. Now save this Excel-sheet in an easily available location and give it a title you easily will remember, such as “Fears.xlsx”.
  10. Continue adding rows whenever you fear something negative will happen, do what you are reluctant to do and fill in the blanks on how it went.
  11. Notice how many times you have been wrong in your prediction of the outcome compared to the number of times you were right.
  12. If you now want to, you can create a fancy bar-graph when you have made note of a few instances when you went against your fear, so that you will have the truth clearly in print and so that you from now on need not take your fears and apprehensions so seriously.

Not very clairvoyant

If you are like me, you will be wrong far more often than you are right.

When I had gathered nineteen “No” and only one “Yes”, I stopped making note of my fears. I now have plenty of data to show myself that I am not very good at predicting and foreseeing unpleasant experiences.

When I today hesitate to do something due to fearing some negative outcome, I know that my judgment in these matters probably isn’t to be trusted.

So, I do it anyway in spite of my hesitation.

What is your way?

How do you manage to do things you fear or feel hesitant towards doing? Write a comment to pass your best tip on to others.

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