Your alarm goes off at 6:30 AM.
Last night you promised yourself that you would get up when your alarm went off, but in the morning haze you just can’t bring yourself to do it. Snooze.
Ok, so now it’s 7:00 and you absolutely have to get out of bed.
Now there’s no time for the workout you promised yourself you would do as a part of your morning routine.
Oh well, you’ll do it tomorrow.
You’re swamped at work. Even if nobody brings extra projects to you, there is just about no chance you’ll be able to finish what you were supposed to do today anyways.
You can’t possibly take on any extra work.
But when John comes to your desk asking for a favor, you can’t bring yourself to say no.
You head out to lunch.
The waitress was supposed to bring that side of grilled vegetables you really wanted, but she must have forgot.
You think about mentioning it to her, but then you decide you would rather not bother her.
When you get back to the office, you are still a little bit hungry, so you decide to head to the vending machine.
Then you realize that you don’t have exact change and you can’t get the snack you wanted.
You could ask someone else in the hallway, but again, you decide not to bother them.
After the long day of work, you decide to relax at the bar for happy hour.
Your favorite drink is the boilermaker, but the bartender doesn’t know what it is.
People are waiting to order their drinks behind you, so you just get a beer instead of making them wait a little bit longer.
Beer in hand, you look for a place to sit down.
You see an empty chair in the corner, but there are a bunch of people sitting near there and you think they might be saving it for someone. You think about asking them if that seat is taken, but you just stand instead.
Ok, that’s enough.
The above story demonstrated the concept of “micro-avoidance”, or avoiding the little things you want to do that require some degree of effort.
Ultimately, micro-avoidance is all about fear. See if you can pick out what fears might be underlying any of the examples of micro-avoidance above.
If you are avoiding doing things that you want to do out of fear (first of all, you should try to conquer your fear), the consequence is that your confidence decreases.
The Nature Of Confidence
Confidence is not some static personality trait, but instead has a number of properties.
First, confidence is contextual. I am very confident when doing a basic math problem. On the other hand, I am far less confident when asked to analyze a piece of literature.
Second, confidence is relative. If I had to measure my ability to do a math problem against the ability of one of my math professors, I would feel far less secure.
But the most important aspect of confidence is that it has momentum. This can be good momentum or bad momentum, and the purpose of today’s post is to shift towards positive momentum.
How To Build Positive Momentum
Our fictional character above would continuously avoid doing the little things that he wanted to do throughout the day.
Let’s say that night he had the opportunity to do something big.
An executive from a competing company walks into the bar. Our character has always wanted to work for that company, and now he has an opportunity to talk to someone who can make that happen for him!
It’s too bad a day of micro-avoidance has left him feeling deflated and unwilling to risk his ego in order to pursue something he really wants.
That story is the perfect example of building negative momentum and then having little confidence left at a time where it could have made a huge difference.
In order to build positive momentum, you simply do the opposite. When you have something that you want to do during the day, do it.
Every day, we have dozens if not hundreds of thoughts involving a desire to do something.
Do you actually do these things? How many times do you avoid doing it?
Every single one of these desires presents you with an opportunity to build positive momentum.
Are you taking advantage of them?
The Benefits Of Positive Momentum
It’s sad, because we could all be living much happier lives if we took this simple idea to heart.
Building confidence is as simple as not avoiding the little things. When we practice doing what we actually want, we build positive momentum for those moments where a shot of confidence can make a big difference in success or failure.
Maybe there is an attractive stranger you want to meet sitting at the bar. Maybe you want to ask your boss for a raise. Perhaps you see Ice T on the street in Chicago and you want to get a picture with him.
Whatever it is, if your confidence has taken a hit from consistent micro-avoidance, you will be much less likely to take the necessary action to get what you want.
Conversely, if you build positive momentum by doing the little things you want to do, it will seem like nothing to approach the girl, ask your boss for the raise, or get a picture with Ice T.
Once you get in the habit of building positive momentum, it’s as though nothing can stop you.
And of course, I haven’t even mentioned the fact that if you consistently go after the things you want, you will get the things you want far more often.
So How Do I Get There?
Ok, great. So we understand the problem, and we know what we have to gain by solving it.
But how do we actually get there? It’s not like we can just POOF and have positive momentum.
Exercise 1: Start Paying Attention.
As you go about your day, just take a mental note anytime you are using micro-avoidance.
Better yet, write down a real note. When you write it down, not only is it easier to remember later, but it more strongly solidifies the fact that it happened.
You shouldn’t do this exercise for more than a day before moving on to the next exercise.
You don’t want to get stuck analyzing the situation rather than doing something about it.
Exercise 2: Rubber-Band Technique
Now it’s time to begin the hard work.
At this point, you should be trying to satisfy all the minor desires you have.
If you have been practicing micro-avoidance for a long time, it has become a conditioned reflex.
That means you do it without thinking about it.
Now it’s time to short-circuit that conditioning.
This technique might seem a little bit strange, but bear with me here.
Find a rubber band that is relatively wide and fits loosely around your wrist. Now, every time you find yourself succumbing to micro-avoidance, give yourself a good, strong snap with the rubber band.
It is important that you do this either during or immediately after the instance of micro-avoidance. DO NOT snap it if you realize a few seconds late, and DO NOT snap it frivolously.
In the beginning, you will be snapping the rubber band many times per day. But within a week or two the frequency will greatly decrease.
It sounds a little silly, but try it. You’ll see.
Exercise 3: The 1-Day Challenge
When the frequency of micro-avoidance has begun to decrease, make it a goal to go for an entire day without doing it once.
If you can, you’ll feel like an absolute champion.
The feeling of confidence is not something that you just “have”.
It comes and goes, depending on the circumstances.
But we can use the principle of momentum to increase our confidence to much higher levels and for much longer periods of time.
The key to doing this is to understand the concept of micro-avoidance, and know how to minimize it.
If you found this information helpful, do me a favor and share it with other people who can benefit as well!
What are the most common situations you find yourself succumbing to micro-avoidance?