My mentor had habit of asking penetrating questions that rocked me to my core.
One in particular stuck with me, which he originally asked when I was trying to end an unhealthy relationship.
Are you allowing this person to create a future with you that you’re obligated to be a part of?
Not an easy thing to ask yourself.
But what he was trying to teach me was, don’t let the wrong people contribute too much to the things that are yours. Especially if they’re not going to be in your life down the road. Have a strategy for not letting them get overly involved.
My mentor’s advice not only applies to relationships, but to business a well. It’s one of the ways we can protect ourselves against the inevitable entrapment that so many of us fall victim to.
Just think about the number of current services you’re subscribed to. Many of them you can’t live without, and your life is markedly better for their existence.
Fantastic. Keep those commitments in your life.
Then again, have you ever reviewed your credit card statement only to discover one of those mysterious recurring nineteen dollar monthly fees from some vendor you didn’t even recognize? And then you realize they’ve been charging your card for the past year?
That shit adds up. And it’s one thing to look out for credit card scams, since those are highly common and expensive. But in general, we have to remember that we live in a subscription economy. The entire business model of most companies hinges on the principle of customer lifetime value.
Five bucks a month might only be a cup of coffee to you today. Until you multiply that five by twenty years, multiple that by five thousand total customers, and that adds up to six million dollars.
What’s more, those companies don’t exactly make it easy for customers to unsubscribe. The goal is to retain customers at any cost. Brands know some people will want to act in ways that don’t make money for their business, that’s why there are entire teams of brilliant user experience engineers whose sole purpose is to work on conversion rates companies don’t want to optimize, like cancel service, unsubscribe downgrade your account, and so on.
As the great rock song goes, you can check out any time you’d like, but you can never leave.
However, don’t get mad at businesses for being businesses. They’re just doing their jobs.
Instead, take that energy and redirect into protecting yourself from entrapment in the future. Before you commit to things, ask yourself if you’re allowing a person or even a company to create a future with you that you’re going to feel obligated to be a part of. Work out a strategy for not letting them get overly involved.
Set boundaries on when necessary endings must take place.
It reminds me of a hilarious television episode about how healthcare providers will prescribe an insane duration of a course of care. Homer visits a chiropractor about his back pain, lies down in the examination room, and the doctor performs his spinal adjustment.
Hey, it feels a little better.
To which the doctor replies:
Mmm hmm, I thought so, as he looks at the medical chart.
And now we’ll need to see you in this office three times a week…for many years.
Remember, you don’t have to subscribe for the rest of your life.
Get what you want and bail.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you letting the wrong people contribute too much to the things that are yours?