Hesitation is great when you are about to walk into a car, because it can obviously save your life. However, when you are about to write a post and you hesitate to write the next sentence, it kills you. Slowly and certainly. Wasted seconds of your life… well my life in that case. Hesitation, if it is short aids you in maintaining your sprint. A pause for a millisecond lets you avoid the pothole, but if the hesitation endures for too long it brings you from running at full speed to a standstill. The longer you wait, the more energy it will take you to get back into action.
You are excited about this conference and enter this room just to realize you know nobody. Among all choices you have there are really only two that are most likely: A) You approach the next person you see and say hi or B) you hesitate a bit too long and screw up your chance. From here you may either pull out your phone and become one of these guys, you may circle the first group and maybe get another chance or you may end up as the person who feels all alone and awkward. How do you avoid B and get to A? The answer is three seconds.
The couch-potato personality of our brains is incredibly resourceful when it comes to finding reasons why we should not leave the comfort of the current and seemingly safe situation into another possibly uncomfortable inconvenient situation. If you hesitate for longer than 3 seconds that part will convince you more with every second and eventually win. You’ve gone through all these scripts a hundred times in your life. “What if they don’t like me? I’ll better walk around a little and check out the room. Ah, yes, I’ll get some coffee first. Didn’t I just get a text message? Oh no, I am sure I left something in my room.”
The point is, it takes only milliseconds before someone has a first impression of who you are. They don’t even need to talk to you to get that impression. Yes, they just see you and zapp. With one blink of an eye, everyone who sees you will create an unconscious image of who you are. Yes, everyone, all that while you are innocently wandering around. Regardless of whether you want it or not. Regardless of whether they want it or not, for that matter.
You can always overturn a first impression so don’t worry. But you can also be the one who controls the how and when this first impression is made, simply by approaching your co-attendees on your terms. My rule for those moments: “One, two, go!”
The three second rule works every time you know you need to do it, but hesitate. For example, when you should enter your bosses office, ask for directions, write the first sentence of a blog post, or make this call.
You’ve got this project to start, but don’t know where to start? Come up with a list of the next ten things to do. Don’t think about what is the first thing to do, just come up with an unsorted list of ten actions. Not just three, not five, ten. Ten is hard. Ten forces you to think about it enough to overcome the resistance. As soon as you have a list of ten todos you already invested too much thinking and time to remain out of it. Do it as an exercise when you are waiting in line. Take a project you hate and come up with 10 tings to do to move it forward, i.e. to get rid of it by completing it. The only rule: You have to write these 10 points down. For example on a scratchpad, in your phone. Heck, anywhere. Type them as an email to yourself. That shouldn’t be the problem, should it?
Remember it: Ten to Plan, Three to Act.