Right now. Before you read the rest of this post, stop and count to seven the way we used to as kids. One one thousand, two one thousand, and so on.
Did it seem like a long time? Short amount of time?
Counting it out always makes it feel like more time than I imagine it to be. Whether it went quickly or more slowly than you may have assumed, it’s pretty astounding what can go through your mind in seven seconds. No?
And that’s why you need to take action before those seven seconds kick in. These times include the moment you decide to…
- get up and go for that walk or run
- start writing that proposal
- make the sales call
- practice the presentation
- start pulling together the tax papers
- plow through the stack of filing
- say “I’m sorry”
I call this the Seven Second Syndrome. In those seven seconds you can come up with a myriad of excuses for why doing that thing later makes sense. Or why doing something else, even if it might not be as important, is a better choice.
Don’t fall prey to the Seven Second Syndrome! Beat the seven seconds to the punch and just get started before the brain tries to talk you out of it. Once you’re into the task for a few minutes it’s rarely as awful as you imagined.
Should You Always Forge Ahead?
There are instances when waiting the seven seconds is the smart thing to do. For instance…
- When the last half of the giant dessert is sitting in front of you (do you really want the whole thing?)
- When you’ve just drafted an angry email and are about to hit send
- When you’re about to say something in a conversation that you won’t be able to take back
- When you’re being asked to volunteer for something. Rather than blurting out the answer the other person wants to hear and then ending up with an unmanageable schedule and the stress that goes along with it.
This is called the Seven Second Save.
Seven seconds sounds like an insignificant amount of time. But look at the difference it can make!