I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted from the volume of information about how to have the best marriage, raise the best kids, build a multi-million dollar business, turbo charge our careers, and lose weight. Like we’re supposed to trust these random people who show up on Facebook or in our inboxes?
And, even worse, that information comes wrapped in the “5 Steps to the Best Career/ Life/ Business/ Body” package. What they’re really saying is if we follow their plan, we’ll magically get the results they’re promising.
Trust the “experts?”
The thing is they want us to trust what they’re selling instead of our own, hard-earned experience. You know, that time you did the grapefruit diet, twice, and it did not work – and you vowed no more fad diets. But, hey, this peanut butter diet is based on all new research! So, boom, there you go again.
You read or view one of those “5 Steps” deals and think, “Umm, not really. That hasn’t been my experience.” The problem is that we’ve been conditioned to trust those “experts.” They’re crazy successful, their kids graduated from college when they were 10, so they must know something we don’t. We have to follow every single step just the way they describe it or we won’t get the result we want.
I fall prey to this kind of thinking. Obviously they know some secret that I don’t. I’ll try their tips verbatim – all of them. And they don’t work the way I expect them to (why can’t they work overnight?). Then I stop.
My journey into SEO land
For example, there’s the SEO (search engine optimization – it’s what people like me use to make sure you can find me when you search online) course I took a while back. They kept talking about writing your blogpost using keywords (the things I think you’ll be searching for) in the title, the headlines, the first line of the copy, and in the body of the post. It sounded like the end result would be forced and clunky.
When I wrote that way it felt forced and it was ugly reading, too! But I did it anyway. Here’s how I laid out posts using strict SEO rules:
Key words: Diet and holidays
Title: The 22 Top Ways to Diet over the Holidays
1st line: Don’t you just hate being on a diet over the holidays?
Headline 1: Diet 1 for weight loss over the Holidays
Headline 2: Diet 2 for weight loss over the Holidays
Headline 3: Favorite diet to get through the Holidays
You get the drift, right? Boring. Clunky. And, frankly, repellant. I wouldn’t read it.
Wait, I know what to do!
Well, here’s what happened in my brain in IRL (in real life). I ignored the fact that I’m a voracious reader. Since I read everything, I know what good writing looks like. Plus I’ve been writing professionally for various jobs for 30+ years. I know how to write content. I’m not stupid; I know how to add enough SEO to get found and still create an enjoyable read. But I still didn’t trust myself or my own experience!
So, a challenge for you: think about a time you read something about self-improvement, somebody gave you some advice, or you watched a PBS special about the perfect way to stay young.
When you consumed this content, did you walk away thinking you had to do every single thing that was mentioned to get the end result? Even though parts of it didn’t make any sense at all given your own experience? Like, maybe, Brussel sprouts make you gag and you’re supposed to eat them twice a day, every day?
Your experience vs Brussel sprouts
When you thought about how to use the content in your own life, did you combine what you already knew with what you learned? Did you trust yourself?
Or, did you discount your personal experience and blindly follow their method? And you ate those Brussel sprouts with a clothespin on your nose (do they still make clothespins)?
All of which begs the question, how do I start trusting myself? How do I catch myself in the act of throwing away my own experience?
Here’s what I’ve discovered. When I discount (ignore is more like it) my personal experience to go after the result the “experts” promise and I don’t bring my experience to bear, I get stuck. I stall out. Then I quit the whole process. Even the stuff that worked!
Pay attention, people!
Which means I’ve had to train myself to notice when I’m getting stuck. When I pay attention and catch myself avoiding the course emails or the meeting with my coach, I ask myself the following 7 questions.
What does my experience tell me about the advice I’m consuming? Have I ever tried something like this before? Did it work? Did pieces work? Which pieces worked? Is there a way to combine their advice with what I’ve done before to get the result I’m looking for? What would that look like (get out a pencil and paper for this one)?
Try this at home
Can you do that? When you catch yourself checking out of the latest course offering, coaching experience, or advice you’ve been receiving, can you ask yourself those 7 questions and force yourself through the process of trusting yourself?
For example, I’ve been working hard on something in my blog posts. Maybe you’ve noticed. I’ve read a lot about the importance of writing in our own voices. I even coach people on this very topic. So, instead of laser focusing on SEO, I’m concentrating on writing these blog posts and my marketing materials in my voice.
I think it’s working. A couple of weeks ago a reader emailed me saying that she got chills reading the post because it felt like I was sitting next to her. How cool is that? It’s like I’m a ghost!
I Dare You
So, I’m proposing that the next time your coach, or best friend, or professor, or YouTube, or PBS, or whatever tells you that if you just do it this way, you’ll have a perfect result, you take a minute. Pause. Think about the information. Filter it through your experience and expertise. Combine it with your own experience (which, by the way, is your secret sauce) – make it awesome and run with it.