Mind & Brain

Impulsiveness: The good, the bad and the awesome

Written by Philipp

This Saturday morning I was lying in bed, when suddenly my thoughts shaped into something appealing. Really appealing! (A project idea, as usual…)

Quicker than my beloved partner in life & business could possibly realize, I went from horizontal to vertical and was drawing boxes, arrows and letters on my beloved flip chart.

That’s how good days start. Not with “work”, but with good ideas and enthusiasm.

Now, project ideas aren’t something that I, you, or the world is lacking. The thing that is lacking is proper execution. And unfortunately the impulsive folks like me (and maybe you) aren’t exactly the best when it comes to sticking to an idea and actually executing it.

However not following our enthusiasm clearly isn’t an option. So let me tell you a couple of things I have learned about harvesting its fruits.

Needless to say that this Saturday the first meal I was putting into my body was not breakfast, but lunch that I cooked while still wearing only boxers.

But (good news!), this is not turning into an article about my preferred sleeping garment.

This is an article about how I learned about dealing with impulsiveness and therefore harvesting the fruits of enthusiasm, while cutting down on its negative effects.

Impulsiveness is good

Impulsiveness (or enthusiasm – I feel free to use them interchangeably them in this context) is actually something great to have. It makes you feel alive. How could you ever start off a project without being enthusiastic about it? I couldn’t.

For me it’s a benchmark that I’m connected to my vision, my goals. Could I work in a 9–5 job? Maybe for a very short while, but that’s so disconnected from my vision, I would dry out.

So it is super important to be in tune with your desires. And how enthusiastic you are for what you’re doing reflects that very well.

Impulsiveness is bad

But: there’s a but! We impulsive folks are known for not being good at sticking to things. When you wake up with a new exciting idea, the one from 5 days ago is comparably boring. Who wants to hold on to yesterday’s dusty ideas?

That’s – in my experience – the dark side of impulsiveness: Previous highlights are suddenly stale. Or: yesterday’s vision and true desires are now overwritten with new ones.

That’s ok as long as we’re talking about your private life. But when you want to get things done, this is poison.

I have a looong list of ideas, all of which I thought would CHANGE FREAKING EVERYTHING. But if I scroll through this list now, I’m happy I moved on. It’s literally one of the most boring things to read!

Impulsiveness is awesome

So how do we not drown in this inner conflict?

Simple: we use the good, cut out the bad, and therefore make it awesome!

1. Develop skepticism without ruining the party

Whenever you find yourself in your underwear in front of your flip chart, ask yourself: Is this aligned with my long-term goals?

Yes, I know, long-term is a frightening word. But a long-term vision is exactly what you need to develop, for not letting your life be steered into wrong directions while wearing underpants.

If you find yourself writing something down that has absolutely nothing to do with your long-term vision: enjoy the process, but take your thoughts and all potential consequences with a pinch of salt.

2. Have “48hr rules”

Everything can look very different with a bit of distance. 48 hrs does it for me. Just two days after binge flip charting, I can usually distinguish the keepers from the distractors.

Writing things down properly helps enormously with either tapping into the enthusiasm again (good sign), or recognizing that it suddenly feels stale and boring (bad sign).

3. Have a step-by-step approach for implementation

Most importantly, and unfortunately also most challenging for folks like us, is to take the implementation step-by-step.

Project execution is usually not a process that you can do in one impulsiveness-driven session.

You might be able to harvest some low hanging fruits during your enthusiastic period… but there is usually hard and also boring work involved, which makes you prefer to put on pants.

For me personally, it’s super easy and fun to play around with the look & feel of things. Slapping together a simple logo and color scheme is how I tend to start projects. Or better: how I run away from the actual work.

Because when it comes to getting in touch with real people, evaluating responses from your audience, or even cold calling, enthusiasm often goes down the drain.

The solution: have an implementation plan broken down into tiny, but regular parts. For example:

  • Have one cold call every day.
  • Record one short class of your online course every day.
  • Write one page for your book every day
  • Do one pushup every day

On most days, you’ll do more than one anyhow. And on “bad” days, you at least did one.

By this you can develop a habit that is very contrary to your already existing enthusiasm: perseverance. Stubbornness almost. Getting things done, reaching your goals, getting closer to your dreams – all that doesn’t work without (boooring) perseverance!

Follow your fckin dreams!

While I hope that you can learn a bit from the experiences of a probably way too impulsive person, let’s round up with the fun part:

Everything is more fun – therefore easier – when it’s aligned with your desires.

Developing a writing habit won’t work if you don’t enjoy writing, or the topic that you’re writing about. Your ideas will never be realized if they are only catering to minor goals.

So the next time you find yourself in front of your flip chart, make sure to dedicate a couple of pages to what your dreams in life are. And what step-by-step implementation will bring you there. Otherwise you might as well be having breakfast instead.

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About the author



Founder of Metamonks, CMO, and guy that constantly comes up with (too many) new things.