Do you remember the scene from The Princess Bride where Westley outsmarts Vizzini? Westley is the hero of the story, and Vizzini is the criminal genius. Westley challenges Vizzini to a mental chess match.
He will pour two glasses of wine and add a tasteless, odorless poison called iocane to one of them. While he does so, Vizzini may not watch. But Westley promises to drink whatever glass Vizzini does not choose for himself.
When the match begins, Vizzini is certain he will win. But Westley gets the better of him in the end.
He puts poison in both glasses.
Right before Vizzini keels over, Westley tells him his secret. He’s spent the last several years developing an immunity to iocane powder – just in case he needed it.
Thus, he attributes his success to a gradual process. He consumed tiny bits of the poison at first. And he ever so slowly upped the dosage until he was immune to it.
Harnessing the power of a gradual process can help you too. Read on to find out how it can help you get more energy for social situations.
As introverts, we have a finite amount of energy for social interaction. According to a recent study, I learned about through Introvert, Dear, we’re less motivated by social rewards. So we’d rather stay home and read or do something with just one or two friends than go to a party.
But there are and will always be times where we need or want to be with larger groups of people.
So how can we get more energy for social situations like these?
A couple months ago, I finished Darren Hardy’s book, The Compound Effect. In it, Hardy tells a story about one of his employees.
According to Hardy, she had gained a lot of weight and wanted to lose it for an upcoming class reunion. At first, her plan was to start running three miles a day. But Hardy warned her that plan would never work.
If she started off hard and heavy, he explained, she would give up within a week. When the motivation and enthusiasm quit, she would too.
So he convinced her to try an alternative strategy. She should increase the intensity of her workouts little by little.
Hardy asked her to start by walking around the block each day for a week. Then, the next week, she could walk around the block and go a few steps further each day then she’d gone the day before.
Next, she could walk most of the way but then try to jog the last bit of her route, still trying to go a little further each day.
He encouraged to jog a little longer each day. In a few months, the lady was running a mile without stopping.
Then, one mile turned into two.
By the time of her reunion, she was excellent shape. Better yet, she stuck with her exercise regimen after the reunion.
Because she increased her workout little by little, she’s now running marathons.
What’s the reason for her success? It’s the gradual approach she adopted.
Darren Rowse of ProBlogger calls this process normalization. He used it to get into better shape and to write more articles for his blog each week.
Why can’t you use this process to get more energy for social situations?
Last week, I told you about a system for staying in touch with friends as an introvert. The key to the system is to be realistic.
If you want to reach your goals and connect with people more often, you should bite off only what you can chew.
Michael Hyatt says to think, What’s DOABLE? But also set goals that inspire you.
As think about how to get more energy for social situations, consider the following:
1. Think “marathon” – not “sprint”.
I often burn out on a great idea because I rush into it without much thought about the long road ahead. So I start out great, but I often give up within the month.
Don’t be like me. Do as Ramit Sethi suggests, and use your initial excitement to create a system that’ll help you reach your goal.
For example, here’s Ramit’s system for getting to the gym more often: Go to bed in your workout clothes. And lay your sneakers and gym bag at the foot of the bed. Then, plan to meet a friend at the gym the same time several times per week. Make it a habit.
To connect with other people, sign up for a club or interest group that excites you. Do it when your enthusiasm is at its peak. Also, invite a friend. You’ll be more comfortable, and it’ll add accountability.
Remember to make a reasonable commitment. If you have to go several times per week, you may quit. Once or twice might be a better starting point.
2. Increase your social interaction after a few months.
After a few months have passed and you’re used to the club, you may want to consider…
- Meeting more often
- Or joining another group
Avoid being an overeager beaver: Temper your enthusiasm. Take the next step after a couple months. Wait until you’re comfortable with your current social involvement.
3. Plan your downtime.
One of the best things you can do as an introvert is plan your downtime.
Do it, and don’t feel guilty.
Every introvert needs alone time to recharge.
Put “DOWNTIME” on your calendar. If someone asks to hang out during that time, tell them you have plans. (Because you do!)
Planned downtime will give you the energy you need to interact with others. It’s a great way to get more energy for social situations.