I have always enjoyed watching the flight attendants do the safety demonstration because they, generally, look so… Well they look like they know most people are not watching. The attendants move robotically through the motions and avoid eye contact, with me at least.
On my recent flight, the air mask portion of the demonstration really struck a chord for me. I was hit suddenly with half baked thoughts about paying yourself first and pulling yourself out of a hole so you can reach back and lift others. All of these thoughts and ideas came at the crux of a recent breakthrough about attaining my innumerable goals.
For context, I have a long-term vision of throwing retreats for primarily women of color as my primary job. During these retreats, we would focus on building systems and curating physical environments that help automate desired behaviors and foster self-actualisation. I am fascinated by behavior, decision-making, and the external factors that influence the two. Because 95% of our actions are due to habit, I have dedicated my life to studying and experimenting with habit development.
Here’s the thing, I realize that few people are interested in having a 21 year old as a life coach, so my initial plan was to spend the next decade(?) building up credibility through my blog by posting tips about optimizing one’s process. However, I realize the best way for me, personally, to build up credibility is by making myself my first customer and largely ignoring my online presence. I want to walk long before I talk.
When I was at the YED Summit in 2018, one of the panelists said that hearing about someone’s plans does not necessarily mean anyone will see the realization of those plans. He continues by saying, “some people just need to disappear for 6 months to create incredible things”. I heard that then and did my obligatory snaps, but it is not until recently that I truly see the value in that statement. If I siphon all of my energy into actually building something (in this case, particular systems) and expend no energy talking about it, I can progress much faster with my personal goals.
Right now with social media, I can post on whatever platform about a lofty goal I intend to achieve and be showered with praise and encouragement from my network for merely sharing the idea. That praise can satisfy the dopamine receptors to the point where the actual pursuit of the goal doesn’t necessarily have to happen to feel the pride of accomplishment. From a chemical perspective, our brain does not know the difference from attention on social media and true validation through accomplishment.
I have fallen into this trap several times. Specifically, I get caught up in creating the content to a degree that depletes my energy for making any actual progress towards my goal. And because content creation is hard work with challenges to overcome, I am often seduced into thinking that post engagement is a measurement of progression towards my goal.
Engagement on social media without a sales funnel is useless and, honestly, wasteful. But again, my brain doesn’t know that. So what I, Athena SM Panton, must do in order to achieve my lofty goals is to take the time to
quietly silently develop the habits and routines that take me to my full potential as a person until they become fully automatic. I personally am unable (at this moment in my life) to properly split my energy between working on my goals and creating content multiple times a week. I am not great at multitasking on small tasks, so it is, in hindsight, silly to believe I would save enough energy to pour into the bigger journeys with extremely delayed gratification, rather than giving myself fully to content which validates me within minutes.
I am speaking totally about my own personal limitations. Obviously, every entrepreneur needs to build an audience, so not promoting yourself and your progress is actually detrimental to your personal brand. I simply know myself and that this social hiatus will reap the results I seek in my personal development, which will eventually lead to my professional success.
I relinquish myself of the shackles of posting consistently on any platform outside of my own blog. For as long as I need to, I will post only when I feel compelled to. By devoting all of my energy to building my optimal self rather than trying to share my journey and behavioral insights on social media, I am putting my mask on first. I am giving myself the chance to stabilize, making sure the masks are functioning, and most importantly, figuring out the fastest and easiest way to put the mask on someone else.
*Written January 15 2020
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