Human beings are not rational. Instead, we have the power to rationalize our decisions and our actions. One of the ways we rationalize is by negotiating with ourselves, believing we won the negotiation when, in fact, we lost.
The part of us that wants what we want now promises we will do something later so we can do or have what we want now. The part of you that knows you should be doing something else argues that you should delay your gratification or comfort and do hard things now, continually ending up on the losing side of the negotiation.
Your risk your success, your results, and your productivity by negotiating with yourself. Here is how to stop negotiating with the part of you that would lower your standard.
Commit to Yourself Instead of Negotiating
There are three kinds of people. There is the kind of person who does hard things, believing the work is the reward. Another type of person might do the hard work, rewarding themselves by doing something they find more enjoyable later. And then there is the person who rewards themselves, promising themselves to do the work sometime in the future. The person who does the hard work believing it is its reward keeps a commitment they made themselves. They exercise their discipline, refusing to negotiate with the part of them that would try to seek comfort or distraction. The highest achievers leave no room for negotiation.
The person who does what they need to do first, delaying their gratification until later, has conducted a successful negotiation and achieved a good outcome unless the reward is something that works against their longterm goals. More people, however, lose these negotiations. They do what they want to do now, promising to do what they need to do in the future. But they fail and negotiate with themselves again later.
Of the three choices, the decision not to negotiate with yourself is the strongest. Building the capacity to commit to yourself and to perceive the work as the reward itself is a blueprint for success. If you are going to refuse to negotiate with yourself, you must start by committing not to.
When You Feel Like Negotiating, Start Doing
Any time you begin to rationalize a decision to do something you want to do instead of what you need to do, start doing the thing you would prefer to avoid. The way to break through procrastination is to begin doing whatever it is you are putting off to later.
The resistance to doing something dissipates once you start. Procrastination may be powerful, but “doing” is its kryptonite. Just starting to do the thing you would avoid weakens procrastination’s hold on you, preventing the need to negotiate with yourself. When your natural response to resistance is to start, the things you might have resisted will lose its power over you.
Routines and Ruts
Routines are a remedy for negotiating with yourself. Discipline is the key to producing excellent results and attaining goals.
If you work in sales, starting each day with ninety-minutes of prospecting is a discipline that will ensure you build a pipeline that allows you to reach your goals—and inoculates you against most of the diseases that might harm you. Over time, but not as much time as you suspect, your routine will take over, and you will feel no resistance. You will no longer lose that negotiation with yourself.
Maybe your routine is to step on the treadmill first thing in the morning, preventing a negotiation with yourself and blasting through any resistance to hit the snooze button and go back to the warm comfort of your bed.
Routines prevent ruts. If you find yourself in a rut, it is because you have negotiated with yourself unsuccessfully so many times that you have burned in the habit of doing what you prefer instead of what would serve your longterm goals and ambitions. The way to get of a rut is to change your routine, something that requires your willpower, a strong desire, and discipline.
If you never negotiate with yourself, you can never lose. By doing what you need to do without consulting with yourself, the time for negotiation will have already passed.
Why You Want to Stop Self-Negotiation
Those who negotiate with themselves always lose. It is too easy for your mind to rationalize avoiding the important tasks that might be unpleasant and provide every reason for doing something more comfortable. By refusing to negotiate with yourself, you eliminate the possibility of not doing what you need to do and might otherwise avoid.
Your effort determines your results. The more active and consistent your effort over time, the greater your results. Better results will follow when you refuse to negotiate with the part of you that seeks comfort, allowing the part of you that wants results to dominate your decisions.