Sunday, April 14, 2024

Do You Suffer From Untilitis?

That little voice in your head that keeps saying “Don’t get started until …”

There is a closely related syndrome called unlessitis.

Of course, until and unless never actually happen, so you never get started at all.

When I was first thinking about setting up the BizE- zine web site I suffered from these complaints the whole time.

‘I’d better not start until I learn HTML’

‘It would be better if I wait until I’ve bought Paint Shop Pro.’

‘I can’t design a web site unless I’ve researched the field thoroughly.’

‘I won’t get started until I’ve read a few books about e-commerce.’

And on and on.

But you know what? None of these objections really mattered. They were really just my subconscious demon’s way of stopping me from putting my head above the trenches.

We all have that little demon living inside our brain. It evolved with us as a survival instinct – so we think twice before doing something dangerous. And in that respect it is very useful. But when it gets the upper hand and prevents us from doing anything at all – that is the time to take action.

How do we quieten that annoying little voice?

It is all a matter of behavioral training. Like with a dog. Be firm, and provide the right rewards and pretty soon it will be helping you rather than hindering.

Here are some tips that really work:

1. You have to become aware of the demon before you can learn to tame it. As you go through your day, observe the times that you put something off – no matter how small. In time, you will recognize the signs. At this stage, don’t try to change your behavior, just become aware of it.

2. Start to consciously use the demon for positive purposes. So, when you are about to start, or are in the middle of something, and the voice keeps telling you to do something else, pause for a second and say to the demon ‘I will stop, but only when I have finished, and then I will give myself a reward.’ Promise yourself some small token of your own appreciation – a cup of coffee, a candy bar, a phone call with your best friend – anything that will make you feel good. But only reward yourself for completing the task.

3. Once you get into the habit of making the demon wait, you can move on to the next stage: making it worry less. You procrastinate because the demon fears failure. All the ‘unlesses and untils’ are put up to prevent you from failing by not even starting. When you become aware that you are putting off something, stop and get a sheet of paper. Write down a full description of the action you want to take. Then, under it, write down all the bad things that can happen if you take that action. Then, under each bad thing, let your logical mind answer them.

For example, when I was dithering over whether to launch BizE-zine, I wrote down the following header:

‘I want to launch an email newsletter dealing with practical matters pertaining to business, internet market and personal development. It will be published weekly to opted-in subscribers.’

Under it, here are some of the ‘demon-thoughts’ I listed – and my conscious rebuttals:

1. I will have to build a web site.

And why is that a problem? I have worked in marketing, both online and off, written more copy and designed more ads than I care to remember. No, it wont be a problem – it will be fun.

2. I don’t have any subscribers.

Do you think any of the thousands of e-zines out there started out with huge subscriber lists? Of course not! So you’ll start small – doesn’t mean you have to stay small. After all, you do understand marketing, don’t you.

3. People might think I’m crazy?

I am, so they won’t be surprised, will they.

4. Or I might look like a fool.

What is worse – to look a fool to other people for trying to do something, or to look a fool to yourself for not. In any case, if people don’t like what I write they can always unsubscribe.

5. Will it cost me a lot of money?

The Internet is still the closest thing to a free lunch. Sure I might have to spend a little, but only as much as I want, when I want. It certainly isn’t going to be a significant drain on resources. Besides, I can afford it.

6. Will it take up too much time?

This is the unknowable. So how about this. I will schedule in a set number of hours each week that I know I can devote to it. Then I can review it as time goes on.

You can see from my own small example, that it is only by understanding all the obstacles that your demon is dreaming up that you can get past them. Of course, some of the obstacles may be real. Your demon may be truly trying to protect you from something that you hadn’t consciously seen. This method will help you find that real problem and perhaps even deal with it.

The voice inside our minds is not so much an evil monster trying to stop us from acting at all, rather it is a benign old watchdog who is scared of its own shadow.

Even an old dog can learn new tricks.

Martin Avis is the author of the best-selling ‘Unlock the Secrets of Private Label eBooks’ – a complete blueprint to private label rights success. Visit to see how you can tap into this goldmine for yourself.

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