Day 7. Cognitive distortions that hinder change and how to deal with them

Day 7. Cognitive distortions that hinder change and how to deal with them

| Self-development

You fear failure and delay things until “better times”. Confident that what you want is not unique and feeling nothing will work.

You suffer from concentration problems and procrastination. You can describe it in just a few words - mental traps or cognitive distortions. They are the fishing nets our minds cast over us to keep us from moving forward, evolving, and stepping out of our comfort zone. However, distortions are distortions - they do not reflect reality. They are merely an obstacle on the path toward changing our lives.

Prepare yourself for the fact that before making any changes and during the entire process, your subconscious will try to discourage you from doing it. Moreover, the subconscious mind can throw up some very convincing and useful arguments! So, you must put a muzzle on your inner critic and alarmist in good time. To simplify this task, we have gathered all the cognitive distortions into a list and will tell you what to do about them.

The feeling that all the places are taken already

This distortion can be faced by both a businessperson starting out and a professional who is fed up with their work and wants a change. For example, there might be too many big and well-known competitors in this area, and it is simply pointless for you to compete with them. Or the dream job vacancy was snapped up long ago because it is not for nothing that they say, "a holy place is never empty." However, do not forget this: success does not come to those who were the first to enter the field, but to those who know what they are doing and do it with great enthusiasm.

Of course, in a business context, there are nuances: you must ensure that your distortion is right and certainly does not exist. Because in today's market, there are still highly active or tight niches. Do your research, identify and study the target audience, work out the competitive advantage of a product and evaluate the companies you will have to compete against. If market research objectively tells you that the niche is not as active as you originally thought, and you are still afraid, then it is a distortion, and you should pay no mind to it.

Not knowing where to start

Taking on a new and unknown business without experience is always challenging. In these moments, the task is simply overwhelming. It is better to abandon it altogether before it is too late and you regret starting it. If this is the case, you must calmly sit down, take a piece of paper, and methodically break down one gigantic task into smaller, easier-to-do ones. You do not need to eat the whole pie either, do you? Rather, you cut it into smaller pieces. So, it is exactly the same thing here! You do not need to complete the smaller tasks in a particular sequence. Nevertheless, doing it is important because these are your first steps towards your big dream.

Being unable to focus

Being unable to focus

An inability to focus could be because of emotional burnout, so it is particularly important to differentiate it from procrastination and laziness. In the first case, a loss of concentration is often accompanied by several other symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, apathy, sleep problems (or excessive tiredness), anxiety, and other mental disorders.

Based on this, if we are talking about emotional burnout, you must first restore your internal resources before making any changes. However, if it is just procrastination, then standard time management techniques, such as Pomodoro, will help you: set a timer and work for only 15-20 minutes, take a few minutes to have a break and repeat. Then, gradually increase your work time until you can work for an hour without a timer.

Depending on the opinions of others

Depending on the opinions of others makes no sense because you will never escape from an unwelcome and unpleasant viewpoint, no matter how hard you try. Even if you refuse to change and continue to do what you are doing, you risk hearing someone's opinion at some point: "Why don't you change anything?! How stupid!" That is why listening to someone else's opinion is catastrophic. People will think about you and then forget you, and you still have to live the life you choose regardless of them.

Try the following technique: list all the people you frequently interact with, and then pick those whose opinions really matter to you. In all likelihood, these people will be your family members or close friends who will definitely support you. So why do you listen to those who are irrelevant to you?

Striving to be the best of the best

On the one hand, it is a productive distortion that encourages people to achieve outstanding results. On the other hand, however, it is unsuitable for long-term goals because perfectionism will drain your resources halfway through. Perfectionism derives from the desire to prove something to someone, so you must work with it first. Refer back to the list you made earlier: which of these people are you afraid of disappointing? Why? Is there any genuine reason for this? What is the worst thing that could happen if you are not the best? Is it really that scary?

Endless preparation

The previous distortion often results in the following, such as exhaustive and detailed preparations that threaten to go on forever. Instead of acting, you continually produce conditions for yourself: "No, you need to save money first, then you can", "We have to study and check everything again", and "You must first consult again…" As a result, changes are postponed and put off until later.

You must understand that you cannot predict everything in the world and guarantee yourself 100% security. One way or another, you will encounter unexpected situations that will be challenging. These situations represent points of growth! Following them, you will have gained new experience, knowledge, and skills. You can prepare for them during the process and find solutions in parallel. Learn to adapt and start small if you are afraid to immediately jump in at the deep end.

Worried about wasting time on training and facing unbearable work

Worried about wasting time on training and facing unbearable work

You have spent a long time mastering an area that is not right for you, or you have worked in your current job for many years. You may think, "How do I quit after this? Was everything I did in vain?!" Which would be a cruel delusion. After all, any job develops not only our hard skills, which are directly relevant, but also soft skills, which are universal for all other areas. For example, the ability to manage a team, public speaking, and emotional intelligence. All of this will certainly come in handy in your new field. However, you must not give up on your previous hard skills: cross-functional specialists who can work in the intersection of different areas are especially valued in the job market today. For example, an art designer turned programmer will definitely be in high demand.

You believe that there are no other viable options

For example, you speak three languages but think it is not a good enough reason to change your area of work. You believe you won't earn enough money because the only place suitable for you is a language school. However, what makes you so certain of this? Research the job market before drawing these conclusions. Not only can you teach adults as a personal tutor (which is paid very handsomely), but you might also consider job vacancies in another country, in tourism, online courses or even blogging.

You are scared it is too late to start

People often give up on their dreams because they consider themselves too "old" to pursue them. For some, professional old age begins at forty, for others at fifty. However, no age is a good enough reason to be afraid of change! The stories of real people who were not scared and changed their lives will help you see this. For example, the famous DJ grandmother under the pseudonym Mamy Rock began building a musical career aged 69 and eventually got to the point where she even went on world tours!

None of your beliefs, other people's opinions or social stereotypes are worth settling for a job you do not love or burying your dreams. Change is not stressful. There is no jumping into the abyss or burning bridges behind you. It is just a new path, a fork in the road that you can follow at your own pace. However, the keywords are "go forth" and not "stand still"!

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