The Most Important Thing to Stop Procrastinating to Succeed
In a great article by Michael Simmons on Fortune.com, he reviews Ronald Burt’s (Prof. at Chicago School of Business) leading work in network science. The astounding conclusion is that the number one predictor of career success is having a large and open network.
The reason directly ties to a theory called “the strength of weak ties“. The theory outlines that if you spend time only with people you already know, you only are exposed to the same ideas, skills, and interests as your own.
However, the biggest opportunities in life come when you spend time with different people, exposing you to new ideas, skills, and interests.
So if growing your network is so important in having a successful career, why do we always procrastinate nurturing and growing our longer-term business relationships? Science actually backs up this behavior, and in the analysis of why we procrastinate, there are some important observations:
Temporal Discounting Means You Like Quick Rewards
Humans have a tendency to overestimate or undervalue something based on temporal proximity (closeness in time). For example, if I offered you $1,000 today, or $1,100 in 30 days, most people would take the $1,000 today.
However, if I offered you $1,000 in one year, and $1,100 in one year and one month, most would take the latter, as they would think “I have already waited 12 months, why not wait one more?”
This human condition gears us to focus on activities that provide near term rewards, as we discount rewards that are further out. Social Media, is a great example of a new trend that has taken advantage of temporal proximity.
Spending time to post something can generate a “like” or “retweet” almost instantly. But getting back in shape, or learning an instrument, or growing your network have rewards that are too far out – so we discount, and procrastinate doing anything towards those goals.
We Are All Dopamine Addicts
The issue lies with an organic chemical called dopamine. Dopamine acts as a neurotransmitter in your brain and plays a large part in reward-motivated behavior. When you experience something you enjoy, more dopamine is released in your brain, which then makes you want to repeat the same behavior to get more.
So the key to stop procrastinating is finding ways to bring those rushes of dopamine earlier. If you look at the literature on how to increase dopamine, there are some common things that can help:
- Healthy Diet
- Regular Exercise
- Listen to Music
- Achieve Goals/Establish a Streak
- Discover New Things
I think #4 and #5 can be used effectively with longer-term goals that we procrastinate from doing today. For example, growing your network.
Networking Pays Off in the Long Run – But Where’s My Short Term Benefit?
Every business professional I know values their network, but when it comes to networking – they hate it. One of the big challenges is that the perceived pay-off in networking is very far out.
But the truth is, if you take a “modern” approach to networking, the payoff is very fast. By focusing on helping people, and engaging with people you have shared interests with, you can quickly realize satisfying rewards like gratitude, validation and increased happiness. And once that process starts, the dopamine in your brain drives you to want to do more.
Your Network and a 1, 1, 1 Model
What I am going to propose is that you start nurturing and growing your network with short term goal of your own. And it involves a 1, 1, 1 Model that I believe is doable by everyone.
- 1 Social Engagement a Day
- 1 Reach Out with a Reason Per Week
- 1 Meeting with Someone You Can Help Per Month
If you follow this process, you will not only receive short term rewards, but you will soon become addicted to the increased levels of interaction with other interesting people. And of course, ultimately, long term success of your career will be greatly enhanced with the power of your network.
Would you be willing to try the 1,1,1 Model to nurture and grow your network? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!