[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]
"This could change your life," said a man on the phone, who called me trying to sell me some sort of sales enablement tool that promised to find me new business leads who were searching for exactly the thing I am trying to sell. I didn't fault him for his overpromises. We've all overpromised something, sometime.
But I did highly doubt his promise that another piece of software might change my life. It felt like a commercial for Slim Fast circa 2001, or a radio ad for Tupperware in the 60's. Anything could change your life, but the degree to which a life can be changed is not entirely clear.
The sales guy was doing the opposite of what I do when I try to sell something; overpromising and under-delivering. I like to make promises I know I can keep, then go above and beyond what was promised. That way, myself and the thing I'm selling look really impressive. Or, maybe a better rule of thumb would not be to promise anything at all, since promises have a bad habit of being broken.
His promise got me thinking about how difficult it really is to change your life, and how the promise of a plug and play piece of software underestimates the complexities of human behavior. Someone might be searching for specific item online, and his piece of software may let me know that. But the software doesn't tell me why someone is searching for the item in the first place, or who they know in the industry, what their timeline is, what specific features they might need or not know they need, who the ultimate decision maker is, or which specific piece of information drives their decision-making.
Promises are easy. Change is really, really hard. A few months ago, I wrote about having my body composition measured. In just over a year, I gained 1.2 pounds of muscle and lost about four pounds of fat. Small numbers don't seem so impressive, but those changes were made over months of consistent weight training, running, proper nutrition, and rest. Consistency isn't sexy, but the results of consistency are, which is why I'm skeptical of any quick fix promising to "change my life."
I don't make New Year's resolutions because I find them sort of stupid, and because the idea of a New Year's resolution smacks of quick fixes and hollow promises. Everyone goes to the gym for a few weeks before it's empty again mid-February.
One year on New Year's Eve, a friend and I went to CVS and bought poster boards. We sat up late cutting out images from magazines that represented things we wanted to "manifest" that year. Very mid-20's white girls of us. We never finished our project, giving up before we even glued the ridiculous images on paper, to walk to a restaurant for sushi and cold sake. Another year, I wrote a list of resolutions on the back cover of my diary, each one as pithy and meaningless as the last, "be nicer," "wear more sunscreen," "sleep longer," "ask for a raise." They weren't bad resolutions, but I surely didn't need to wait until the first of the year to (try to be) nicer.
Resolutions are intentions, but intentions don't matter much if you never follow through with anything. The thing that resolutions aren't is action, and the only thing that produces lasting results is consistency. Consistent exercise, consistent work, consistent investing, consistent therapy, consistently showing up. The sales guy called me eight more times before I blocked his number, and then he simply called from a different one. He was consistent, I could give him that. "Please stop calling," I told him, so he started emailing instead. I wanted to throw my computer at a brick wall. Sometimes, consistency can be annoying as well, but maybe one day I'll need the thing he's selling, and I'll probably think of him.