Chapter 21 – Getting Out of the Urgency Trap
Your email pings. Your message app pings. Your other message app pings. You’ve got forty-seven notifications and thirteen new requests and an overflowing inbox. It all seems urgent. After all, it pinged. That must mean it’s important.
Your brain is hard-wired to respond to immediate stimulus. This is another survival mechanism. Anything that sounds like “Alert! Something is happening!” gives us a little hit of adrenaline, whether it’s a rustle in the bush that indicates a hungry tiger is nearby or a text from the spouse reminding you to get milk on your way home.
Correspondingly, our brain releases a hit of the “feel-good” chemical dopamine each time we feel a sense of achievement, even if that achievement is simply texting back, “Yes. Milk. Love you.” As Simon Sinek explains in his brilliant book Leaders Eat Last, we can get addicted to the cycle of doing and doing and doing, and we fail to notice that nothing is actually getting done.
We get addicted to the cycle of doing and doing and doing, and we fail to notice that nothing is actually getting done.
Bringing just a bit of mindfulness to your daily movements can help a lot. One way to check in with yourself is to play the Because/Because game.
The Because/Because game asks you to pause for one moment before you begin an activity and ask why you are doing what you’re doing and why you’re the person doing it.
So, in the moment before you start catching up with the bookkeeping for your side hustle, you might have this conversation with yourself: “Why am I doing this bookkeeping? Because it’s important to me that I know whether this side business is really profitable. Why am I the one doing this? Because even though I dislike doing these kinds of detail-oriented tasks, I’m the only employee.” Now, this awareness might not lead you to hire an assistant immediately, but once you’ve had this conversation with yourself five times in a week, you might start to see the value of getting some help.
On the other hand, if you find yourself dreading a visit to Sad Susan, your friend who just ended yet another disastrous love affair, you might hear yourself thinking, “Why am I going to see Susan? Because she needs a shoulder to cry on. Why am I the one doing this? Because even though Susan’s love life is a non-stop soap opera, I care deeply about her happiness.” Remembering your true motivation can put a smile back on your face as you stop off along the way for the margarita mix and ice cream.
Little Changes Action Step: Put a few of your least favorite activities through the Because/Because game. Are there any that you could you eliminate from your life today?
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