Thursday, April 2, 2009

Destroying and Creating Barriers for a Better Life

Before I started this blog I talked about it a great deal for probably a year, there was always something in the way preventing me from starting it. I recognized there was a lot of paralysis by analysis going on, but I also recognized there were several barriers that were getting in my way. I thought a great deal about registering the right domain, creating the right logo, picking the domain provider and hosting service and so on and so forth. One day I had an epiphany, I was never going to get around to doing this blog because I had too many barriers in my way. What I needed to do was destroy the barriers and just move forward.

What barriers are preventing you from reaching your goals? What goals could you achieve by knowing your barriers better?
  • Starting your own business
  • Finding a significant other or friend
  • Furthering your education
  • Pursuing your dream career

First things first we need to figure out what we are fighting.

Defining Barriers

The first step to destroying barriers is recognizing them. I had read a guest post by Ramit Sethi of a couple of weeks ago on the Get Rich Slowly blog called "The Psychology of Passive Barriers: Why Your Friends Don’t Save Money, Eat Healthier, or Clean Their Garages" and it really got me thinking. In this post Ramit idetifies two types of barriers active and passive. He goes on to explain that the result of both is we don't accomplish what we'd like. Ramit defines these barriers as follows:
Active barriers are physical things like the plastic wrap on my food, or someone telling me that it’ll never work, etc. These are hard to identify, but easy to fix. I usually just make them go away.

Passive barriers are things that don’t exist, so they make your job harder. A trivial example is not having a stapler at your desk; imagine how many times a day that gets frustrating. For me, these are harder to identify and also harder to fix. I might rearrange my room to be more productive, or get myself a better pen to write with.

Destroying Barriers

Using my personal blog example I had several active barriers:
  • Domain Name
  • Hosting
  • Branding
  • Marketing
  • Fleshed out content
My passive barriers were harder to identify, here are a few I think apply:
  • Lack of previous blogging experience
  • lack of hosting experience
  • lack of a defined starting point
There are several ways to destroy each barrier, the only requirement is that you are happy with the end result and the barrier is circumvented. My main motivation was to get some momentum going on my blog and let the laws of physics keep it going. I destroyed my active barriers by just getting off my butt and using a prepackaged blogging system, picking a domain name I liked and writing some content. I destroyed my passive barriers by using the old tried and true fake it until you make it, as something came up that I didn't know I researched it figured it out and moved on.

Don't get me wrong I'd still like to get an actual domain name and host, but I decided I really just wanted to get started and see if this was for me. If you know exactly what you want to do you should deconstruct each of your barriers in to doable next action and tick them off one at time.

Creating Barriers on Purpose?

Creating barriers is really why I wanted to write this post. Why would you ever want to do that? Well do you ever do anything you know you shouldn't do? Why do you do it then? Many times the reason is it's too easy to do? Here's an example of some self dialog:

"Oh I really shouldn't have this ice cream, but you know it'll go to waste if I don't eat it."

Ok, if you know you shouldn't be having ice cream, maybe you shouldn't be buying it at the store. That ice cream is too easy to consume. On your next trip to the store, first off go with a full stomach and a shopping list and stick to it, put some fruit on your list instead. The next time you're at home even if you think "oh ice cream sounds good" you'll have the barrier of getting your fat butt in your car and driving to the store. I know I'm lazy enough that I won't do that. I'll end up telling myself, well I have these strawberries here I'll eat some of them. Maybe it won't completely hit the spot but you just tricked yourself into eating healthier and it's not going to kill you, as a matter of fact you'll probably live longer.

Here are some other barrier ideas I thought might be interesting to create:
  • Leaving pocket money in your car, the extra barrier of having to go back to your car may be enough to not buy that pop from the vending machine.
  • If you're married how about staying out of the singles bars, or having extended alone time with individuals you may find attractive. Eliminate the opportunity for screwing up your life.
  • Change routines, routines make life feel comfortable and sometimes part of our routines are unhealthy, change your routine from having a coffee and a cigerette to having a coffe, with a non-smoker.
  • Some people work too much, make plans with your family to meet somewhere at a certain time or meet up with friends after work and promise you'll be there at a certain time. All of a sudden you'll have the motivation to get your work done on schedule and leave work, have you ever noticed how that works?
These were just a few ideas, really there is no limit. Have any good examples?