Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel

Controlling your barriers

I currently pay €2.50 in bank fees every month for an account that earns almost no interest. I’m used to free Canadian bank accounts which earn 2-4% interest, so paying money for nothing drives me crazy. I want to open a free, high interest account as soon as I can, but I’ve hit an active barrier: all of the legal text is in German. It’s an easy barrier to overcome: I can translate the documents online, and there are only a few pages to read. But just the thought of all of that work has made made a simple task stick around for weeks while I keep losing money.

Ramit recently wrote a fantastic guest post on get rich slowly about barriers, like these German webpages, that influence the way you think. I’m a notorious procrastinator, so I know that this roadblock will always make me want to read “later”. So I make the roadblock smaller: I keep the translated pages open on my work machine, so they’re always in my face when I’m waiting for my machine to build. I also emailed them to myself, and they’re sitting ugly and bold in my inbox. Even if I only read a couple of paragraphs a day, at least I’m reading something and getting a little bit further.

Ramit focuses on how barriers can get in the way of doing what you really want. But since barriers have such a shockingly strong effect on our beheviour, why not use them for good instead of evil? This is why I launched my secret weapon: I run my mouth. I create a passive barrier for myself when I tell everyone who will listen that I’ve found these awesome banks, and that I’m signing up right away. Once I’ve told people I’m about to do something awesome, fear of looking bad gives me all the motivation I need. Hell, I even wrote a blog post to create LIMITLESS SHAME if I don’t sign up for a bank account by the end of the month. Now, I don’t have to read those webpages, but I’ll sure feel pretty dumb if I don’t.

Schedule a homecooked meal with your friends to avoid eating out. Put a bowl of fruit on your desk, and put the chips and chocolate in a box behind the washing machine in the basement. Put your workout clothes on top of your laptop. Record your impulse buys on a public webpage for all of your friends to see. Make it physically or emotionally taxing to slack off, and make it painfully easy to stick to your guns.

All of us are lazy procrastinators. We’ll get tempted, we’ll forget our priorities, and we’ll just make bad decisions. So accept it, plan for it, and use your weaknesses to achieve things you used to only daydream about.

1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. Nina March 27th, 2009 5:09 pm

    Ok, this post is good BUT chocolate behind the washing machine? That’s just CRUEL!

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