psychology

Information zombies and their overnight success virus: Are you one of them?

This is a more a personal story on my reflections on the effects of trying to do many things at once. When I moved to Texas from Puerto Rico on the summer of 2010; I was trying to change my life completely and start working on my film career. Back then I was a completely different person, I was a mess. I knew that if I did not changed my environment and my psychology that my life was going nowhere. Much has change since then. It was 5 years ago and it feels like a lifetime has passed.

I bring this up because the internet or more specifically how people perceive the internet, has made people think that they can change fast. That somehow you can magically in a short period of time become a better person or become a successful entrepreneur, A YouTube or social media celebrity. You know this as “the overnight success” phenomenon.

I follow a lot of smart people which I have mentioned in the past like Tim Ferris, Gary Vaynerchuck, Seth Godin, Rammit Sethi and more recently Dorie Clark. Some of them as long as 5 years and all that time I have observed a common thread. That many of the fans devour desperatly their content; but they don’t necessary apply it, there just contented with knowing the theory of success, but not the practice. I have a name for this myself, the information zombie. I did this myself for a time and still have to remind myself of not to regress, by no means I say I’m perfect. Here’s how it works and how it can affect certain people.

Phase 1: Being exposed to the virus

You can become an information zombie by being exposed to the overnight success virus if you have extreme mental starvation and malnourishment; which can be caused by your past economical, psychological and social environment. You might have been raised in poverty, dysfunctional family, a lack of a positive role model. Alas, all the usual suspects that you have read in studies such as this one or this one. Making matters worst are the news you see on the media such as “First time screenwriter gets a million dollar offer.” It doesn’t matter that these are myths 98% of the time and the other 2% was luck or a certified genius. Still these kind of stories play tricks on your mind. You start thinking that you can be that overnight success, since your particular economical or mental situation may not have completely broken you. You still have a flicker of hope, a small fire, that you are desperately trying to cling on. This is called the hero’s journey, in this case your Luke Skywalker from Star Wars or Neo from the matrix, desperately trying to find out the truth.

Then comes the thought leader or the teacher; your Yoda. Here is where the real danger comes. You are so hungry to complete the journey that you fail on taking the precautions to protect yourself from the virus. This is Luke ignoring Yoda when he ignored the warning that he had to complete his training first and chooses to face Darth Vader instead. How that turn out for him? How many time successful people say over and over the same things before we catch on. It takes years to build a brand; which can be a business, your career, your network. However, we are so hungry that we try to do many things at the same time.

This is exactly what I did. At one point in my journey I wanted to be a traditional filmmaker, a freelancer, get out of debt, build my network, blogging, etc. All this despite that I heard time and time again from all my Yoda’s that I can only focus on one at the time.

Phase 2: Becoming a Zombie

Here where things can get real dark. If you are not careful you can lose yourself trying to change very quickly. You can become just like the undead going from eating brain to brain, reading and consuming finding only tactics. You try everything because you are multi-passionate and you want success and damn it…you want it NOW! Sadly all your efforts fail which is not so bad; if you are hyper aware, because you can move on. This is akin to getting shot in the head while you are human. The other alternative is that you don’t completely fail, your are just mediocre and you move at the slowest of paces. You start walking like the undead. Unfortunately many stay as a zombie all there lives. You get caught in this limbo of going through the motions, getting distracted with the flashy new thing just like the zombies watching the fireworks in a George Romero movie.

Phase 3: Finding a cure

The good news is that there is a cure, the bad news is that it’s a heavy treatment and it’s not easy. Just like the painful process of the chemotherapy, but a necessary one in other to survive. The first things to do when you are tackling to many things at once, is to stop what your doing and ask consult with mentors who have done what you are trying to do. If you don’t have mentors, find them. Do not try to figure things out on your own, because that’s how you got into this mess in the first place. Also don’t be tempted to substitute potential real life mentor’s that you can reach out to through networking with books. I’m speaking to all introverts who do this, because frankly books make it all sound easy. The authors of these books spent years with research and real life experiences and condense everything into a few pages of paper. Not to mention that the publishers edit most of these books to make it “marketable”. A real life mentor will give you all the nuances as well as the nuts and bolts of their experience. I wrote before on how to find a mentor and check the resources page for more in depth guidance of the process of connecting with other people.

Be aware, protect yourself from the virus!

4 crippling bad habits that are keeping you trapped.

During the week I did some cool activities. One was getting the ball rolling for a short film that I’m hopefully going to direct next year and the other was taking my first class in swing dancing in the Lindy project here in Austin. Those have been both on my to do list for some time and I’m glad the things are moving forward. 10 years ago I could only day dream about having what people call a life. As a matter of fact the only interesting thing I had up until 5 years ago was using a virtual avatar in my Playstation console, not that I’m saying using avatars is bad; as a matter of fact it was fun for a while, but it certainly wasn’t were I was picturing my life going went I went to the New York Film Academy 10 years ago. What happened is the I experienced four crippling situations that slowed my career goals down to a crawl. Most times being risk averse and fear come together in a package, couple them together with trying to figure things out alone and making false assumptions and you have something equal to the four horsemen of the apocalypse against success, here is how I experienced each of them.

Risk Aversion

What happened was that I was scared of taking risks, because I was clinging too much to my comfort zone. I had so many psychological barriers that I made excuse after excuse to not take action. It seems that many people have the same problem. It was not until I made the active decision to move, that things finally started to shake up both externally and mentally. I was like Frodo Baggins dreaming of having adventures, but never getting out of the shire..until chance came. That chance came from a call from my sister. I was already talking about moving to the states from Puerto Rico when she called asking me If I could spend a year with her while her husband did a military tour in Irak. Still I did not answer her immediately.

Fear

I was too worried if that was in fact a good idea. What if things with my sister did not worked out? What would happen after one year? What if I had to come back to Puerto Rico? Fear of the unknown was getting out the best of me. In the end I took a leap of faith. I still remember the day I decided to accept the offer. I was tired of working at Sam’s club and my life was going nowhere and I called her back and said I would do it. I figured that I could stay with her for a time and then move to New York.

Making false assumptions

Since I went to the New York Film Academy I thought that the only two cities worth pursuing that career was either Manhattan or Los Angeles. Even when I finally moved to Austin and I had seen the vibrant independent film community as was thinking that the only way to make it in films was to move to either of those places. Because we all make false assumptions. We go on in life having these assumptions and most of the times we don’t test them. Fortunately Austin made me pursue even more taking self development courses and quickly began to receive the guidance that I so desperately needed.

Figuring things out alone

The worst of the horsemen. It was here in Austin that I finally learned to seek people who have done it before. It seems obvious, yet so many of us go through life without seeking mentorship. I enjoy reading good books, however nothing beats sitting down with a person who has done the same thing that you want and giving you tips on how to go about it. Before I just read book after book, blog after blog and I learned a lot with those. Then again, it was having real conversations with peers and mentors that I finally realized that the path I was on and the choices I was making would not lead me to the goal I wanted. The Film industry has changed vastly since I went to film school and I was still operating assuming it was not the case. The moment I realized that my assumptions were incorrect I made it a point not to figure things out on my own.

That was the beginning of many internal changes that I had to go through. One of the many chances I took to get my own geeky better life. Some risks were huge like quitting 3 jobs in two months, others were smaller. However to grow I had to get more out of my comfort zone. Taking risk does not mean betting your life in the outcome of an event without any backup plan. It means gradually taking smaller riskier choices by testing your assumptions first, facing your fears and finding mentorship until you achieve what your goal is.

4 ways to control your negative self talk

This week I was in one of my mood swings. I can go for longs stretches of time thinking everything is awesome, especially when I go to the dentist and she gives me the gas. When that happens I feel connected to the universe and that nothing can go wrong…true story. Sometimes though I feel like asking myself What the hell I’m doing? Just like this week and it’s on those times the you have to be extra careful. If not your mind can start racing and the next thing you know you find yourself indulging to much in whatever vice you have when your feeling down.

As someone who has adapted to live with a rare condition, I know how the fog of insecurity can cloud the mind sometimes for weeks at a time. In the past when that used to happen I would lock myself in my room and try to figure my way out to clarity. It turns out that doesn’t work well at all. I would just go on circles and then feel guilty because I was felt stupid for not figuring out solutions. It took me years to understand and learn some principles that would allow me take a different approach when I’m not feeling “motivated”.

  1. Do not force yourself to take action when not motivated. Studies have shown that will power is limited. If you’re not feeling in the mood to complete a task that you set yourself up for the day, then don’t do it. Instead take to time to analyze what event happened that maid you feel unmotivated. Example, sometimes I don’t feel like writing or doing marketing research. If nothing comes out of my mind for 20 minutes while I’m in front of the computer then I just don’t force myself to write. Instead I would list events that lead me to be in that particular state of mind. The majority of times I find the reason I feel tired are usually after taking care of unscheduled errands. If after a few days of listing events you see a pattern then schedule around that. It could be anything. Maybe your a morning person and you should just wake up one hour earlier, maybe you eat something when you shouldn’t.

  2. Research out to mentors or support groups. If you’re mind is racing because of high anxiety and indecision just remember, your situation is not unique. People before you have already gone through that fire and back again, go talk to them. When I was feeling most insecure about my facial paralysis I reached out to someone who has my same condition. We were pen-pals for years, before I actually met her in The Moebius Syndrome conference in 2010 and have been good friends ever since. Now I realize that everyone has some crutch whether physical or mental and I choose not to feel down.

  3. Ask yourself Why? 5 times. Always go to the root cause when you find yourself over thinking a situation. This is a method used in problem solving scenarios and it’s called…drum-roll…the 5 Why’s. Basically it involves exhausting the reasons for a problem until you find the root cause. I Companies use this method to define, measure, analyze, improve and control situations that involve human factors or interactions. Let’s say that your worrying about your life. Why? Maybe you have too much debt. Why? Your not good managing money. Why? You don’t save money. Why? You don’t earn enough money Why? Your job does not pay much. At the point you can decide either to get a raise or get another higher paying job.

  4. Focus on what you can control. Don’t waste your time in things you cannot control. So much effort is wasted blaming others, because is the easy excuse not to do anything. Biggest time wasters are blaming people for your problems, the government and the past. Get away from toxic people as soon as you realize it, change yourself first before even trying to change the government and as for the past, well there are thousands of YouTube videos of “Let it go” from the movie Frozen.

How introverts can deal with insecurities.

This week I was evaluating how I was doing with my goals and I came to the realization that I was not hitting my marks in some areas. Sure so far this year I have been having incredible success with mainly with promoting the blog on social platforms and finishing the marketing research for my super 8 freelance business. However, I also had the goals of losing some weight and shooting my a short film. So far I have lost 10 pounds of my 40 pound goal and hit a plateau. As for my short film I was hoping to shoot by the end of the year and now it’s becoming clear that unless I might need to just do per-production and shot next year.

I must admit I had some feelings of guilt and insecurities. In the past I used to beat myself up for having them, but in the course of time I learned to implement systems to deal with both my insecurities and also to analyze better my performance to asses what things I have done right to achieve my goals and also to correct what might have gone wrong. For a lot of people feeling insecure can be paralyzing. I have experienced the same thing myself multiple times and I discovered two things to deal with feelings of inadequacy that stop them in their tracks.

Number one thing is to remember that even the most successful people have the same insecurities. Even one of my influencers; Tim Ferris , wrote at one time how insecure he can be. There are multiple books that discuss how creative people deal with their hang-ups and you would be surprise about who has passed through those same feelings that any one of us might have at any given time. Among them Karl Marx, Woody Allen, Jane Austen and Benjamin Franklin all had weird rituals to deal with their inner psychology. You can read more about it in the book Daily Rituals: How Artist work.

The thing to remember is in our own minds there will always be insecurities, now matter how much we try to tame our thoughts there will always be be a degree of chaos inside us and that is normal. Instead of fighting them, embrace them and make sure you have tools that can help you remain sane and help you revitalize so that you can continue on your journey of geeky self development. I don’t like to make list of top 5 suggestions because I think they just serve as a placebo effect and don’t lead to action. What I can do is to recommend this website that can give you guys suggestions made by professionals. Personally what has worked for me has been playing videogames, assigning a time to stop working, making a weekly analysis of my goals and because I can afford it, every three months I visit a therapist that I use as a personal couch because I don’t want to rant to my friends unless it’s absolutely necessary. Oh yeah and going to the movie theater is a spiritual, cleansing experience for me.

The second thing that I learned just recently is the goal setting is a skill and that the first few tries we are naturally going to fail and that’s normal and we can actually take action and correct our course. In my case I analyzed what things I was doing wrong and that fact is that I need to reases my priorities and be brutally honest and admit that I can only do pre-production of my short film this year and that I had unrealistic expectations for how fast I can lose some pounds. Note that I’m still going forward and not quitting.