I was attempting to help my aunt solve a cat-related problem. It involved purchasing a couple of items and changing a couple of human behaviors. To me it seemed like a potentially easy fix. Not guaranteed, of course – nothing is guaranteed when it comes to cats! — but why not try it?
First, she agreed it was a good idea, but “forgot” to follow up.
“But,” I said, “I thought this was important to you…?” “It is,” she agreed.
So, I suggested she make a list. Unlike me, she hates making lists (guess it’s not genetic), so we discussed how it was going to help her solve the problem if she did.
When she finally did make a list (things to buy, things to do), she still didn’t take action.
Why not? Sometimes it’s a matter of time, and scheduling priorities. In her case, she wasn’t entirely sure which things to buy specifically, and as we all know, human behavior change can be challenging.
So, I identified the specific items that I thought would work, and where specifically to buy them, and suggested ways to hook her new behaviors onto already-existing habits.
She still didn’t do any of it.
I eventually asked her what the REAL reason was for her resistance.
Her ready answer: “I don’t think it will work.”
Well, as much as I wished she’d said so to begin with (I don’t think she knew either, to begin with), there was no arguing that point!
I immediately thought of my favorite Henry Ford quote:
If you think you can do a thing,
or think you can’t do a thing,
Why do we hesitate to try things?
Later, I found myself thinking: Isn’t that the reason most of us don’t do most of the things we don’t do?
Why, for example, hadn’t I proceeded with certain plans of my own, including fix-it and improvement projects around the house? Reasons included: the project will be expensive; I need more information; I need to break the project down into smaller, more do-able steps; I need to ask for help.
I see most of these reasons as merely a part of the planning process, not dead ends. But not everyone sees it the same way and some people are more easily discouraged than others.
But another reason cropped up more often than I expected it would: I don’t think it will work.
Whether it’s my plan, or someone else’s idea or suggestion, we all need to think it will work…or the investment has to be pretty low… if we’re going to try it. Usually I figure I just haven’t hit on the right plan YET to motivate me to take action.
I’ve encountered this repeatedly when working with clients. If I suggest a plan of action, new system, or new product, and they don’t think it will work for them, I have always considered it my job to find something that WILL work for them. More specifically, something that they are willing to try. Nothing’s guaranteed. Sometimes we need to try a couple of things before we find the one that works. Most new plans, behaviors, processes, and systems need some tweaking once they are implemented.
When I was learning home staging and redesign (using what you already own), the unofficial class motto was “Let’s try it!” There were usually several of us to help move furniture. And if someone said, “Wonder what it would look like with the sofa over by the window?” someone else would say, “Let’s try it!” I mean, why not? If we didn’t like it we could just move it back. But some things are easier to try than others. I get it.
3 factors that affect any path of action:
It seems to me that almost any path of action depends on 3 things.
And it seems they apply whether we’re talking about organizing, home improvement, genealogy, fitness, or any life or career decision.
- The Importance, or desirability, of the hoped-for improvement or problem resolution.
- The Risk Belief, or internally perceived likelihood of success or failure.
- The Investment, or amount of money, time, and energy required.
The “Why Not Try It?” Chart
So, I came up with this chart to demonstrate my thoughts visually.
Based on the 3 criteria above, you can see 3 zones emerge:
- The “Do It!” Zone = If you really want to achieve the outcome, and the investment would be low, and if you think the likelihood of success is high…well, then, you are probably going to do it, even without asking my opinion, or referring to a chart!
- The “Think Twice” Zone = If the outcome is not all that important to you, or you think the likelihood of success is low, and the investment would be high…then think twice about whether to proceed.
- The “Why not try it?” Zone = If the importance is medium-to-high, and the investment would be medium-to-low, and the only reason you’re not trying it is that you’re not sure it will work…why not try it?
What do you think?
Do you hesitate to try things because you’re not sure if they will work? Might you try something now that you’ve thought it through?
Please share with us in the comments below!
I can’t guarantee that what you try will work, but if you need more encouragement, here’s a post on why you should always believe in yourself: Always Believe in Yourself
P.S. My aunt told me, even before I told her I was writing about this, that she’s trying the plan I suggested. It’s too soon to report success, but I think trying it is already a bit of success in and of itself, don’t you?
Copyright 2021 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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