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Following Up, Part I: Finding Your Why

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

-Maya Angelou


Have you ever promised yourself you’ll get to sleep at a reasonable time, then crawled into bed and scrolled through Instagram, rapid-fire double-tapping all the dogs and latte art until it’s 3am and your hand has morphed into a misshapen claw? Or decided to lose 10 pounds, then proceeded to inhale a dozen chocolate donuts?? Of course you have. Because you’re human. And with humans, knowing better doesn’t necessarily equal doing better.

So what’s wrong with that? Nothing, until the consequences get more serious than occasionally being mistaken for a zombie with carpal tunnel syndrome in the morning or starting your diet a day or two late. Think, for example, about your business. You’re probably well aware of the importance of following up with clients, both past and prospective. You’ve read the books and done the sales training. You know that following up is crucial to building and maintaining relationships and making your clients feel valued. You know all about the “rule of seven” — that a customer, on average, needs to hear from you at least seven times before they make a purchase. You know all of this, but if you’re like most people you still aren’t making consistent follow-up a priority. And that means you’re skipping a step that you know is essential to creating a thriving business.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking — we’re out here disappointing Maya Angelou! But don’t worry. You’ve already taken meaningful action by consciously acknowledging the disconnect between what you know you should be doing and what you’re actually doing. Now you can work on fixing that disconnect. And that starts with figuring out your why.

If you aren’t following up as consistently as you know you should be (welcome to the club!), it may be helpful to begin with asking yourself why not. As with any behavior or habit we want to change — yes, this also works with bedtime and donut behaviors — figuring out why we’re engaging in it in the first place is key. Considering why we’re doing something that conflicts with our true intentions helps us bring a level of mindfulness to the situation that will allow us to choose an alternative behavior that will serve us better going forward.

Mindfulness is a fancy word for a simple idea — it really just means paying attention. Paying attention in the right way - on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally - can help us make the leap from unconsciously engaging in non-productive behavior to acting in a way that better aligns with our goals. Think of it as a way of treating the root cause rather than just the symptom, a cure rather than a band-aid. Instead of ignoring the fact that we aren’t on top of our follow-up game (or beating ourselves up about it), we can focus our awareness and make a powerful change.

Ready to find your why? Start here:

1. Try some reverse psychology. Think about some times when you have followed up effectively. What made you do it? Did it produce the result you desired?

2. Face your fears. When you aren’t following up, is it because of a hidden (or not-so-hidden) fear? Are you afraid of seeming too pushy? Being a pest?

3. Be honest with yourself. This is not the time for sugar-coating. Just be careful to keep it objective and observational — no judging! Think - “I’m not following up because I’m using most of my time to take four naps every day” rather than - “I’m not following up because I’m a lazy good-for-nothing slug”.

Once you’ve figured out your why, stay tuned for my follow-up (see what I did there?) piece aimed at helping shift your perspective. Doing better, here we come!

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