‘Have you ever acted on impulse?’
(false question … because we all have … so I’ll rephrase …)
When did you last act on impulse to do something, and did it pay off?’
Okay, so here’s the thing; acting on impulse to do something can take many forms and lead to many results. Some of these will be positive but many will be consequential and lead us to regret. Here’s an example that you might relate to:
Quite recently, my wife arrived home from a shopping trip with a wonderfully colourful rug that was hugely reduced in price. (She loves spending money … when we’ve got it!) The saving was something in the region of £25 ($30-35). She had seen it on the market and fallen in love with it immediately. The rug could fit in our living room if I moved some of the furniture around. It was a harmonious clash of colours, but that didn’t come into play because we’d saved £25! The damn thing should have cost £90 and we got this fantastic bargain for just £65! The only trouble was … we didn’t need it. And, actually, we couldn’t really afford it.
My dearest had bought on impulse.
She’d fallen for that age-old sales trick of inflating the price then putting the item on a huge discount. She bought it knowing she had a bargain, but it didn’t occur to her that there was just a chance that it might not actually benefit us one bit – it didn’t.
Since then we have acquired a huge dog (actually my son’s), but as he is now back living with us the lovey animal is around most of the time. We have also acquired a new dear granddaughter who visits regularly, so guess what’s happened to the rug? Not wanting it to become full of hairs and then our granddaughter crawling amongst them, my dearest has had to roll it up and file it away for later!
Have we truly benefitted in any way from her impulse buy of a few months back? … I don’t think so.
This story is typical. Does you’re mind go back to something similar? Or do you have a positive experience of doing something on impulse? … I’d love to know.
Going back to the rug … we’ve all been there, but things can be better and we can choose whether or not to take control when these situations occur and make sure they can always benefit us in some way IF we follow a few simple rules.
I’m going to tell you about two extremes and how they have both worked for me in completely different ways, but first, there are a few rules about doing things
on impulse to get clear.
• Brain and heart must both say ‘Yes’ . In other words, be rational, but truly believe that what you’re doing is for the best. You must have a strong positive gut feeling.
• If those two things aren’t right … don’t take things further.
So, that’s easy to say, but how do we make it work for us?
Well, acting on impulse can be a good thing and I’m going to tell you how.
I did something earlier this week that shocked everybody that knows me. I always spend what money I have carefully; Like everyone, I make misjudgemental mistakes from time to time, but the other day I went out early in the morning and came back with this.
So what happened? Why did I do this/
Well, as always, there is a back story …
I knew that at any time I might land a bill on the old Fiat that made it not worth spending the money on. There were things inherently wrong with it – like the clutch was on it’s way out last year! (that’s been quite a joke amongst friends and family, but new clutches don’t come cheap.) So I made a definite decision that when the moment came I would have to do something drastic and I was prepared to pull all the strings I could to work this one in my favour. I’d been looking around at ways of making the money I have work a little harder for me instead of me always working harder to get that same money, so I’d been laying down a few stones … solid rocks so to speak. I won’t go into detail here but I kind of know that the next three months are going to be better than the last three.
This was all down to other things I had pipelining
(an important point if you’re going to act on impulse where money is concerned)
Then, there were other things, like getting any sort of credit to make monthly payments had been out of the question for me for a few years now but there was daylight at the end of the tunnel. I knew just how much my old car was costing me to run. (Remember that clutch had gone . . . and most of the fuel gets drunk in gear changing and acceleration … think about that – and how little mileage I might be getting to the litre of fuel!) I’d already worked out on what a newer car might save me every month. When it came to it, I had to apply for credit, I needed a monthly payment plan.
In the UK, if you think you might not get credit, don’t apply … whatever anyone tells you a failed application makes things worse.
But I had no choice.
The choice I did have was to wait and not to have applied earlier when I didn’t really need it. This has been a deliberate strategy of mine for the last two years, and it paid off. Because I had held off for long enough until the critical moment came it was all good, I had recovered enough financially to qualify for whatever I needed.
Now, I was in the driving seat. The salesman, after having me in front of him for 30 minutes really wanted to sell to me and I really wanted the car – there was honesty here from both camps, but the most honest thing I told him was how I couldn’t afford to take the risk and I needed everything covered, right down to a full guarantee for the duration of the payment period.
The result of all this: Setting off all the costs I had for my other car against the new one, I’m paying something around £30 a month more for something way, way better, and I got a watertight deal that’s given me five years peace of mind.
Friends and family are asking how I did it as it seemed a totally impulsive action.
It took 3 hours of hard bargaining, but I got just the best deal. In fact, since the other day I have met two other people that have bought from the same place, one, even from the same salesman, and they are both paying way more than me for way less.
If you are determined and things are already in place you can get yourself the best deal. You just need to do things right.
before I acted on impulse.
Now I’m not telling you all this so you can sit back and appreciate how well I might have done. Who really cares … until it becomes something you can implement for yourself.
For years I have looked on at people who have probably done something very similar and I’ve wondered just how they’ve managed it. Now I’m thinking every dog can have his day, IF you get things right in the planning.
I’ve thought about this a lot the last few days, and the thing that rings through my head is this:
Anybody can make this work if you have the important parts in place first
So you see, we are all wired to act in situations that require an impulsive response but we may respond quite differently in certain situations.
But can things that are long-term be born of an impulsive action?
The City I live four miles from the centre of is a fairly typical UK City. It has seen massive growth over the last twenty years just like a lot of other towns and cities, but it has remained true to it’s routes, and historical occasions quite rightly, get celebrated.
Peterborough was once a small dwelling place with some of the surrounding villages once being larger. But something happened several hundred years ago that gave it some real status. When the Abbey in the centre of the town was burned to the ground a new era began. A new wave of peasant folk jumped on board to take part in one of the biggest builds there has ever been in this part of the world. In 1118 (yes, I realise 900 years is a long while ago), the building of Peterborough Cathedral was completed. I stand in awe and wonder every time I pass by just how they did it!
This was 900 years ago; it took 70 years and three generations of workers to complete … yet, it was still an ‘impulsive’ project.
A few years ago I acted impulsively to something that happened around me and the result led to my writing career taking off in some small way.
I go into great detail about this elsewhere, but in a nutshell, this is what happened:
A family member had a strange, ghostly experience late one night. The next day a sporting event took place involving the City’s football team. I told my children a story that ‘mixed’ the two things together (in part), and my eldest daughter, over hearing it said I should write it down. I did so and it actually became two separate stories, one of them did make the Spirit of Peterborough series and one them didn't ... but that's altogether another story for another time.
I had to act right away, and I knew it.
Acting on impulse is a good thing to do when you are following a true gut instinct – a real feeling that the thing you are about to embark upon is the right thing for you to do at that particular point in time.
For this to work you must have planned for the moment. It’s all about timing. Whether you are buying something or taking action to do something or actually using your talents to create something new, these things have to be locked in place. So you see, acting on impulse need not be negative. in fact … quite the opposite.
So what are you going to do? What will be your next move?
Or can you even guess when that moment might arise that you do something impulsively that is for the better?
I’d love to hear about whenever you acted on an impulsive feeling and how it worked out for you. And in reflection, is there anything else you would do if you had your chance again?
To make this interesting I will send a free copy of The Ghost Walks, the 3rd story in the series The Spirit of Peterborough to the first six people that leave an answer in the comments below.
If you haven’t read it, here is the link to the first story … it’s free … enjoy.