Last updated on July 8th, 2022 at 03:56 pm
Have you ever noticed that throwing dollars at something has a tendency to relieve you of the accountability for whatever you paid for? You dream of transformation, and somehow paying money for it makes it more real. In truth, money might actually be separating you from what you want to achieve.
That’s not what we say to ourselves. We claim to ourselves that investing dollars will make us take the purchase seriously, and help us hold ourselves accountable. Consultants, for example, have picked up on that thinking and like to charge large amounts of money upfront. “If you don’t pay enough for it to hurt, you won’t do the hard work,” they say.
Pfft, I say. It’s really exactly the opposite.
If you pay the big money, in your own mind, you’ve done the hard part.
Now you can relax. That’s why consulting, and lots of other big-ticket items, so often fail. Money changes hands, but not much happens after that. The truth is, as hard-won as money is, it’s too easy as a solution. It has a tendency to stand in for doing the work of moving forward.
The classic stereotype is a gym membership. You pay for six months upfront, and promptly fail to show up and work out. You think: I spent the money, I’ve done my duty for my health. Do these jeans make me look fatter?
There are examples of this all around me, on my desk right now, as I’m typing this.
I have bought all of David Allen’s Getting Things Done books. I’ve read several pages of most of them. I did my duty: I invested dollars in time management. My time management, meanwhile, still stinks.
I have invested in online business communities. I joined one in May, after being wait listed for three months. Nearly six months later, I am still getting a weekly reminder to complete my profile and upload a photo before I can submit my first post. But…I paid the money, so that means I’m part of the community.
I have invested in a video course on tailoring knitted sweaters. I logged in once and watched one video about all the stuff I already knew. Never got around to watching the video on how to adjust an armhole to get a knitted sleeve to fit without pulling or sagging. Meanwhile, I’m up to three or four hand-knitted sweaters, representing countless hours of knitting and many dollars in yarn investment, lying fallow in a drawer. The sleeves bind, pull, or sag.
But hey. I invested. That means I know how. Or could know how, at least. No need to beat this dead horse any further.
What would happen if dollars were out of the picture for all of the things that require a measure of commitment, focus, and follow-through?
In other words, what if we did not have the option of substituting dollars for actual forward momentum? What if you could not have a big, expensive wedding, and instead you had to figure out how to symbolically solemnize your commitment and your vows? Like, free of charge?
What if you were prohibited from joining a gym until you worked out on your own at least 6 times, or lost at least 10 pounds? What if you couldn’t hire a consultant until you had made at least three meaningful changes to improve your business?
Well then. I think we’d have to move forward and actually get something done. We wouldn’t have the option of letting the money do it for us.
I know. This is a really weird, strange idea. Still, I invite you to consider it.
Jayne Speich is co-founder of Business Growth Advocate dedicated to the survival and growth of small businesses in the new era.
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