May 17, 2020

Too Much Information? How to Not Be an Info Junkie

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We met online. 

And I liked her immediately. 

She (I'll call her Anna) was a positive, crazy smart, bundle of energy who was into personal development.  

Just like me.  

Unlike me, she'd read every single self help classic. Or so it seemed. I wondered where she found the time. 

We'd signed up for the same online marketing course.  

It was the first paid course I'd ever taken. Up until that point I was a lone ranger in the online business world. I'd taught myself how to build websites and make money from them, and by some strange fluke, managed to turn that into a full-time income. 

I figured it was time to invest in some 'formal' training.

I was curious about the things I didn't know. But more than anything, I wanted to make some entrepreneurial friends.

Anna already had the marketing credentials. She took a digital marketing course a few months earlier - part of her grand plan to escape the 9-5 life.

And so we became accountability buddies. We'd have weekly calls. We'd brainstorm ideas, discuss our goals, cheer each other on, and track our progress. It was great.

Except, for one thing.

Each week Anna talked about what she was learning. Her enthusiasm was contagious. But when it came to sharing the tasks we'd completed that week, Anna drew a blank.

One week Anna watched two YouTube videos, read five blog posts, and a book on marketing. 

She'd also found a $2,000 course by a big name guru that tempted her with the promise of earning '$30,000  in 30 days.'

"Anna!" I said, in my best accountability partner voice, "you do know we're learning all this stuff in our course?"

"Oh yeah", she replied. "I just needed more information."

Whaaaaaat? Whhhhhyyyyyyy?

I didn't say that out loud by the way. I just thunk it.

But it was obvious why. 

Anna was a junkie. An information junkie. Hording knowledge the same way a pack rat hoards cotton wool balls and woodchips.

"There's so much I don't know yet, and I don't want to make any mistakes", she explained. 

Despite having a digital marketing qualification, Anna didn't feel as though she had enough information. Let's sit with that for a minute.

She didn't feel like she had enough information... but she so did.

In my eyes Anna was fearful of taking the next step. 

In her eyes she was learning, and that counted as progress.

No amount of me pep talking or calling her out (I'm the sort of pain-in-the-butt friend who will call you out on your BS) could convince her otherwise.

All I could do was watch as Anna grew more and more frustrated, and felt more and more stuck. 

And then the inevitable happened. 

Anna quit the course, taking her dashed hopes of starting a business with her. 

Sadly, I see this all the time. 

People get caught up in the excitement of the dream, consuming information left and right. But when it comes to producing the goods, they choke. 

Common reasons for getting stuck in consumer mode:

  • a lack of confidence in ability
  • indecision and uncertainty
  • not feeling worthy or deserving
  • fear of failure
  • fear of change

Now, I get it. The need for more information is soothing.

It's daunting when you first start exploring unfamiliar territory. 

But when you choose to stay in info gatherer mode, all you're doing is swapping one form of pain for another.

The pain of working through the hard bits vs the pain of analysis paralysis.

Those big scary goals aren't going to shift themselves. 

At some point you've got to take a leap of faith. You've got to trust you know enough to get to the next step.

You've gotta jump.

(Click here to watch the Steve Harvey 'You Gotta Jump' video)

Because artists didn't learn how to paint by sitting under a tree and reading books all day long. They rolled up their sleeves and got messy with watercolours, acrylics, oils, charcoal and whatnot.

And authors didn't learn to write books merely by reading widely around the subject. They started scribbling, and typing words on a page. A little each day, until they birthed their SFD (shitty first draft). From there they turned their SFD into a winning manuscript.

How to Not Get Stuck When Learning Something New

1. Get comfortable with making mistakes

You'll stumble. You'll feel all kinds of frustration. Heck you'll most likely fail a few times. But that doesn't make you a failure. It makes you a persistent bad-ass. 

I remember how exasperated I felt trying to learn how to design a t-shirt graphic. It was painful. I made the stoopidest mistakes, but I got there. In the end. And when I did, my confidence shot 10 feet tall.

2. Learn a little, act a little

When I taught myself web design, I knew trying to learn everything about how to build a website would be futile. So I broke everything down into steps. 

I learned how to do one thing. I did the thing, then moved on to learning the next thing, until I had a functioning website.

There's no need to know everything from the get go. You can totally figure it out as you go along.

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