Have you ever avoided doing something you know would be good for you? Something personal like improving your health, or in your business making more sales calls.
Every belief or action has a positive or negative consequence or payoff. If the perceived cost is greater than the payoff, you won’t take action.
Or you may start, but it doesn’t last and you fall back into your old ways.
Let’s look at a couple of practical examples to illustrate the point.
It’s summer. You want to lose a few kilos and get fit.
The cost of exercising includes the time, effort of regularly getting out there, eating properly, muscle soreness, paying for gym membership or a personal trainer.
The rewards include better health, looking good, more strength, endurance and energy.
But if you perceive the cost (after the first burst of enthusiasm) is too much and it’s easier to sit in front of the TV eating junk food, you’ll quit exercising. In short, you go back into your comfort zone!
There’s no exception to this rule! Whichever is greater, the cost or payoff, will determine the action you’ll take.
Which leads me to how your beliefs cause avoidance behaviour.
Every one of us avoids something in life. It could be going to the dentist because of a belief it’ll hurt or in business making follow up sales calls as you believe you’ll get rejected.
The most common payoff of avoidance is we get to stay in our comfort zones, avoiding pain, both real and imagined.
Avoiding actions which could cause pain is an automatic reaction which operates below our consciousness and can sabotage our success.
A lot of pain is imaginary, but feels real until you examine it.
Take making follow up calls to people you’ve met at a networking function. You’d like to find out more about them, talk about your business and explore working together.
But most people avoid this like the plague.
Why? Generally it’s the fear of possible rejection.
The emotional pain around rejection can be incredibly intense, so we tend to avoid putting ourselves into a position where it could occur.
You think your prospect may not welcome the call, feel you’re pushy, or simply not be interested. In turn you might feel humiliated, embarrassed or even devastated. So you do the obvious. Avoid making the call.
And your payoff here is staying in your emotional comfort zone.
But is this payoff really worth it?
What would happen if you made the call and they became a client? Isn’t that a far bigger payoff? And as you’ll be helping them achieve what they want, a win for both parties?
So the next time you find yourself avoiding something which could potentially help you grow (personally or in business) ask yourself the following questions and be honest with your answers.
- What am I avoiding?
- How does that feel?
- What is the belief that could be driving this avoidance?
- Is this belief really true and is it working for me?
- What’s the cost of attaching to this belief and allowing it to control my decisions?
- What’s the payoff of attaching to this belief?
- And is the payoff real and is it worth it?
Write your answers down and you may well shift and take different actions. Of course, the alternative is do nothing and stay in your comfort zone.
This process is applicable in any sphere of life. We all have limiting beliefs and exhibit avoidance behaviour in different areas. (Men, I’m sure you’ve experienced these beliefs and avoidance behaviour at times when deciding to call someone for a date!)
The key is to recognise when this is happening and then choose to do something about it. Anything else is to go through life, possibly unintentionally self-sabotaging your success.
Barbara & Rashid.
P.S. Credit where credit is due. The ideas for this article came from Robert Middleton’s excellent book, “The Unstuck Process, 12 Powerful Questions That Create Breakthrough Results”.