Ripping Off The Band-aid

Ripping Off The Band-aidIt hurts.

There’s no denying that it hurts, but as long as the band-aid that you’ve got over your wound isn’t made with super-glue for adhesive ripping off the bandage is likely going to provide a better result than leaving it on.  In the long-term, anyway.

The kicker is even though we all know this (or almost all of us, anyway – you know who you are, exception) we still hem and haw, stall and overthink it.

This is especially true if you have an overactive imagination like I do.  Your mind goes all sorts of places, imagining the absolute worst that could happen.  If you’re anything like me you’ve been able to logically tie a meteor crashing into your parents house as a legitimate consequence of telling the a friend they’re being stupid (sure, it took 2,376 steps falling into place before the meteor hit could be directly tied to it, but still…).  Or even if you’re a little less imaginative than that (or you rein in the dark side of your mind better) you can still tie asking “would you like fries with that” for the remainder of your career as a consequence to correcting your boss during a meeting or rationalize that if you told your significant other you didn’t like their hair that you’d end up single for the rest of your adult life.

The good news is the chances are heavily in our favor that we’re over-analyzing the situation and the real-life consequence that would ensue (assuming it was a negative consequence at all – don’t forget that good things can and often do happen instead of the bad) would be far less devastating than we expect them to be.  But while knowing that can make it easier to do what we need to do (have the conversation, write the check, sign the paper – whatever we need to do) it doesn’t make it easy.  We’re dealing with the unknown (we may think we know how someone will react/what they will do/etc., but that’s just an assumption) and the unknown is friggin’ scary.  It can be thrilling, as well – some people enjoy venturing into the unknown – but regardless it’s still scary when you boil it down.

Tim Ferriss points out in his first NY Times bestseller The Four Hour Workweek (which is one of my all-time favorite books) – “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”  Which is – at least in my experience – a pretty dang accurate statement.  And it’s also really inconvenient because it means if we want to move beyond where we are the band-aid’s got to come off…and that’s going to hurt.

The good news is there are ways to cope with it and make it less painful and they’re pretty simple steps.  To summarize Tim’s list from The Four Hour Workweek:

  1. Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering.  [Paul note:  GO WILD.  Put your pen on paper and hook that meteor strike into it if that’s part of the nightmare.]
  2. What steps could you take to repair the damage or get things back on the upswing, even if temporarily?  [Paul note:  Just think through it quickly; don’t over-analyze it.  If you wanted to leave your job could you work as a server for a while in the interim if your other gig doesn’t come through as expected, for example?]
  3. What are the outcomes or benefits, both temporary and permanent, of more probable scenarios?  [Paul note:  Be realistic.  Telling your boyfriend that you’re leaving him is more likely to result in some tears, a Facebook defriending and a scar that will take time to heal than you being accused of witchcraft and being burned at the stake.  At least if you’re not in Arkansas.]
  4. What are you putting off out of fear?  [Paul note:  Name it.  Don’t let it linger in your mind.  There’s something you’re putting off because you’re afraid of the unknown so write it down and acknowledge it.]
  5. What is it costing you—financially, emotionally, and physically—to postpone action?  [Paul note:  This is huge.  HUGE.  72-point font on your 2-page essay huge.  Don’t say that not doing anything isn’t costing you anything – at the very least it’s costing you mindshare or happiness.  More likely it’s taking a toll on you physically or emotionally – are you having trouble falling asleep because it’s always on your mind?]

Simple, yes – but not easy.

Not easy but necessary.

So why did I write this post?  Because I use The Paul Gillespie Experience as one of my outlets (remember this post?) and this is a pretty hot topic for me right now.  Among other things going on in my life I have to consider moving out of town for a job (Houston or possibly Charlotte) which is a pretty big and scary unknown for me.  My friends are here, my life is here – and a move down south or out east would shake that up big time.  Not necessarily in a bad long-term way – I shook up my life when I resigned my well-paying and well-respected position last year and it was absolutely the right move for me (although it was scary as hell when I did it) – but certainly in a big, scary unknown kind of way.

That’s not the only thing (but it’s looming awful large right now as a real possibility); I have a number of these rattling around in my head and to date I’ve done a pretty good job of putting lids over them to keep them from popping out.  But that stalling I’m doing is really starting to eat at me, and I need to put several of them to rest…and fast.  So it’s probably time for me to get out some paper and brain vomit on the page to really start making some of these decisions.

(post image courtesy of Maurilio Amorim)

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