More often than not we make plain and simple assumptions about things, people and situations and we just don’t think about it anymore. An assumption is a conclusion, the end of the road. Once you conclude something, there’s nothing else to discuss or to think about right?
The habit of making assumptions is extremely dangerous not only for success, but for our personal development and wellbeing too.
Assumptions are based on the information we already have or the evidences that we can see or notice. The facts are, we often don’t have enough information (although we think we do), the picture we see may not be accurate or updated (although we think it is) and the evidence may be deceiving (although we tend to believe what we see). But we just don’t think about it! We filter the information in a matter of seconds and make our judgment. Once the assumption is made we hit a dead end. There’s no thinking process involved, most of our assumptions are completely “automatic”, we assume, we don’t think about it, then assume…
How many people assume they cannot quit their jobs “because” they have bills to pay? They don’t even consider other options, they just assume they couldn’t do anything else and it’s “impossible” for them to take the chance.
How many people assume they could never write a book?
How many people assume they can’t speak in public?
How many people assume they’re not attractive?
How many people assume that to be on the top of a career, they need to start from the bottom?
How many people assume they cannot ask for a raise?
How many people assume they should patiently wait for the right opportunity to show up so they can be successful?
How many people assume “the right person” will show up when the time “is right”?
How many people assume the person of their dreams would never be interested in them (and therefore never make a move)?
These are examples of very common assumptions people make. In each case, they don’t think about it, they just assume that’s the way it is and there nothing else to think about it.
Now ask yourself, how many dead-end assumptions are holding you back? How many assumptions are keeping you from reaching your full potential, getting what you want in life and doing whatever you desire?
The key here is to avoid simple and plain conclusions through argumentation. When you keep asking why, trying to find reasonable reasons (not excuses) based on solid information to answer to your questions, you escape the assumption trap. An open mind is absolutely necessary. If you keep “crystallized” concepts and ideas in your head, you’ll find it hard to get passed the “unquestionable truths” you maintain about how things work and how life is supposed to be. If you’re not ready to admit that everything you believe can be replaced by something better, you’ll still hit dead-ends here and there when you face issues that touch those unquestionable matters.
My first book was published to make enough money to “buy” my independence. I wanted to move out of my parents’ house. I was 19 when I started to write it. Instead of making any assumptions about how “I was too young to publish a book” or “nobody would publish a book written by a college girl that had nothing special going on”, I just went after information and decided that I would publish the book by myself, not through a publisher. The main reason I wanted to publish that book was because I needed money, not but because I wanted some kind of recognition or because I wanted “to be published”. Through the information I collected I realized I wasn’t going to make any money publishing through a publisher and I wasn’t expecting to turn into the next Tony Robbins. I knew exactly what I wanted and a publisher didn’t offer me this option. In fact, if I had chosen this path, the “natural path”, IF I had my book published “the normal way”, it would have happened at least 1 year after I had finished it and I would have lost control over the content. All that to make about 10% of the cover price (if that). Most authors in fact make no money with book sales and support themselves with other activities like teaching, coaching and seminars, etc.
I made the decision to publish the book by myself, but I had no money to do that either. The reaction of people around me, family, teachers and friends was a mix of stun and pity. They would emphasize the “how” as if it was impossible for me, a 19 year old college girl to publish a book and then feel pity when I would tell them that no, I didn’t have any publisher interested, in fact I was going to publish it myself AND with no money! They would just look at me with that “ok” face, and I knew they were thinking I was just a poor girl dreaming and I was going to be very disappointed when I realized life was not the way I was thinking.
Needless to say I did publish that book by myself, with no money, in the exact time frame I was expecting, for the astonishment of everybody that thought “it was impossible”.
We humans are defensive animals, we avoid everything we can’t fully understand, the unknown freaks us out. To justify why we don’t move ahead, we make a lot of assumptions, and we just accept them as absolute truth (well, people can’t just publish a book, it doesn’t work like that… They need to be “validated” by a credible publisher with enough money to fund the printing and market the book, right?).
We’re raised to believe that we need to accept our reality, that people that have more than us have something special that we don’t, that we just can’t do things that are outside our known world. You may have dreams so far away from your reality that you can’t even conceive the idea as doable for you. It’s like knowing that you’ll never be a movie star, it’s something so distant that you don’t even think about it, but not all dreams are equivalent to trying to be a movie star.
The thing is, if we just dig a little information and try to think about the things we want as if everything is possible, our dreams start to lose the aura of illusion. We begin to see a clearer picture and be able to decipher the path to get there. Most of the time, it doesn’t take much but simple research. Just finding out how it works, how other people got what you want is enough to destroy previous assumptions. And then, it’s all just a matter of doing what you know you have to do to get there.