I am trying to stop doing things I don’t like to do. Wait Captain Obvious – don’t all people do this? No. We get sucked into other people’s expectations and our own expectations of ourselves. We end up voluntarily spending lots of time doing things we just don’t want to do.
Live Sports – I Don’t Like Them
I’ve been to a bunch of Red Sox games. When I moved into Boston a few years ago I was that guy who sat in front of my laptop on the one day that tickets were available bought as many as I could. I tried to keep up with how the Sox were doing. Why? I played baseball as a kid and told myself a story about how I was a baseball fan. But whenever it came time to head to a game – different story. I was often not happy that it took up a weekend, or even an evening. I had trouble with people bailing on me and had to scramble last minute to find people to go to games with – it was stressful. When I was in Fenway Park – it was OK – but I didn’t always have a fabulous time. I finally realized that it was time to re-write my expectations of myself.
New Rule to Live By: I don’t like watching sports. If there is a compelling social reason – go ahead and watch (deepen friendships, make a new important business contact) – otherwise do something else.
You Don’t Like Doing All That Stuff?
Once I realized this about sports I started looking for other activities that I routinely engaged in but didn’t actually enjoy and didn’t add any value doing. Turns out there were a bunch. Here are a few – along with what I believe were the expectations traps for why I was doing these activities.
Attending Conferences/Entrepreneurial Events
- Expectation Trap: Make new contacts, keep fresh on your industry, be seen as an influencer.
- The Reality: I f*ing hate most events. I just don’t like being in a room full of people I don’t know and needing to make conversation. But were there results? Nope. I’ve got more business contacts than I can keep up with already – so meeting 50 new ones doesn’t much help (and may actually hurt). And showing up to lot’s of conferences just makes it look like you’ve got nothing better to do with your time – poor signaling.
- New Rule: Attend conferences/events for two reasons: Opportunity to really influence people who matter OR personal love of the topic.
- Expectation Trap: Seeing a band live is a great experience, one that cool people engage in regularly.
- The Reality: It’s loud, anti-social, sweaty, and I prefer to listen to music in the comfort of my own environment much better. I think bands sound worse live.
- New Rule: Avoid live music. Only attend for social reasons.
- Expectation Trap: It’s awesome to have 3 houses, 4 cars, and a merry-go-round. Stuff==happiness.
- The Reality: Some people take pleasure in maintaining a garden, staining a dresser, or fixing an engine. More power to them. I would rather blow my brains out than engage in any of these activities. I hate housework and stuff maintenance more than almost anyone I know.
- New Rule: Try not to own stuff that requires maintenance.
- Maybe I should go minimalist. Except for outdoor gear. I love my outdoor gear
It has served me extremely well to know as much about what I hate as what I love. It’s leading to better decisions. Should I go in with a friend on a fixer-upper sailboat? Nope – I hate maintaining things. Which conferences should I go to in the fall? Only the one’s where I can speak and influence huge numbers of important people.
Create and Maintain A List
Random idea. Could this list of love/hate be created and maintained – and even tracked?
- Creating and deepening meaningful relationships
- Spending time in nature
- Taxing myself physically
- Overcoming exciting business challenges
- Helping others succeed in business, mentoring
- Maintaining stuff
- Live sports, live concerts
- Situations where I meet lots of new people at a superficial level
- Feeling low-energy
Perhaps a well-created list that was reviewed once a week or once a month could fit into a life management system. Fascinating… it’s a nice way of creating a feedback loop. I’m not committed to trying it yet – but let me know if you make the dive!