pavlovs_dog_conditioning-svgMost people are too short-sighted to ever achieve more than a fraction of their potential…

Ever heard of Pavlov and his dogs?  Basically, an old psychologist put some dogs in a cage, and started ringing a bell every time he fed them.  In the beginning, the food caused the dogs to salivate, but the bell sound didn’t.  Well, after a long enough time of tying the bell sound to the food, eventually he could just ring the bell and the dogs would salivate.

That’s the basic stimulus-response mechanism studied by behavioral psychology.

It’s also not too far off from what we do.  (Gary Halbert once said that marketing is nothing more than behavioral psychology and math.)

We put a stimulus (our ad) in front of a prospect, and try to generate a specific response (the sale).  Not that we think our prospects are dogs, but stimulus-response definitely happens in humans as well.

As marketers, we’re always looking for a better stimulus.  What can we put in front of prospects that will cause more of them to respond?

And that’s definitely helpful, but there’s another way you can apply this newfound knowledge of stimulus-response.

On yourself.

You see, we all want to create certain results in our lives.  For example, money.  But often when you work, the act of work is separated significantly from the money you get.

So, for example, you pour your heart out into a marketing campaign today…  But it doesn’t hit the market for weeks (if not months), and your financial rewards come well after that.

Because the reward that gives you pleasure is so dramatically separated from the work, your subconscious mind finds it difficult to tie that hard work to the pleasure of financial reward.

Your subconscious is too short-sighted to recognize that the money I get in a few weeks or a few months is directly tied to the work I put out today.  It’s not immediate, like the food and bell sound of Pavlov’s dogs.

The end result?  If you don’t tie the experience of reward to the hard work required to get it, you don’t tend to work as hard, and so the reward is not nearly what it could have been.

The solution: understanding the process and giving yourself small rewards every step of the way…

I once heard Dan Kennedy say that the best predictor of his future bank account balance was how he spent his time today.  The more time he spends today on moneymaking activities, the bigger effect it will have on his bank account balance, long-term.

And Dan managed to teach his subconscious mind that today’s productivity equals tomorrow’s reward.

Which has led to tremendous output, tremendous success, and tremendous financial rewards.

But how do you bridge that gap?

First, you have to break down the process.

  1. The first step is MOVEMENT. Doing something that you have a reasonable expectation will lead to the result you want.
  2. The second step is recognizing PROGRESS. You may not be getting the result yet, but the work you’re doing is starting to add up.
  3. The third step is fueling MOMENTUM. This is where your work accelerates, as you’re able to build on the progress you’ve been making. The end is in sight.
  4. Only then do you reach step four, RESULTS. This is where your continued work starts to pay off.

The best way to stimulate this process is to track your movement or activity, and give yourself tiny rewards for reaching your movement goals.

For example, you may have a big project you’re working on.  A marketing campaign.  It will be a moneymaker for you, but it won’t actually start making money until it’s done.  You’re expecting to invest the next couple months on really nailing this, which can start to feel like a long time when you’re looking forward at all the work that needs to be done.

But you need to get started.  So you sit down and do SOMETHING, anything, today, to get started.  Set a goal to write 500 words, even if you’ll eventually throw them away.  Set a goal to brainstorm five potential ideas.  Set a goal to find and clip 10 relevant articles to Evernote, to start your research pile.  Do something.

Then, when you’ve hit that goal, give yourself a little reward.  Maybe it’s taking off on a 30-minute walk, so you can clear your head.  I like to make music, so I reward myself with a little music production time.  Or perhaps you find something else.

The idea is to make yourself feel good after completing productive work toward your goal.

Along the way, also set progress milestones.  These are spots where you know you’ll be able to look back, and realize you’re on the right track to get it done on time, and at a level you’ll be excited about.  Then, decide how you’ll reward yourself for that.

I find that momentum doesn’t need much of a reward, because it’s the feeling of being on the right track — which is quite rewarding in itself.  But if you have a big goal toward the end of your work that represents momentum for you, you can also tie a reward to that.

And finally, when you get results, that’s the big reward you were aiming for in the end.

But here’s a little tip I first heard from Carline Anglade-Cole, for really reinforcing the power of the results.  Whenever she gets a call from a client letting her know she got a new control, she drops everything and goes shopping.  For her, that is the way of making the intangible reward (digits in her bank account) into something tangible (such as a new item of clothing).

What can you do to reinforce this cycle when YOU get the result you’re looking for out of your current project?

Now work that back, recognizing the reward will come from momentum, momentum from progress, and progress from the simple movement of DOING SOMETHING today.

Then, do that!

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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