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Clutter Clearing: Removing Barriers to Retail Success

Clutter Clearing: Removing Barriers to Retail Success

    Your retail space is so appealing, neat and organized. But, look behind the checkout counter. Check the storeroom. That’s another story! And, the office. . . let’s not even go there! It’s quite common for the public spaces in retail establishments to shine while the work areas that are visible to staff and management are littered with clutter of all kinds.

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    You may be thinking, “It’s the public areas that affect the bottom line, right?” Think again. All areas of a business affect the bottom line. Feng shui teaches that everything is connected. Clutter, dirt and disorder in one part of the establishment are sources of negative energy and that negative vibration will affect all other areas of the business. If that energy happens to be located in the area that holds energies associated with wealth and prosperity, the business may suffer financial challenges. If it is located in the area that holds energies associated with fame and reputation, it could experience difficulties with visibility and attracting business. If it is located in the areas associated with children or family, there could be difficulties with employees. And, if that source of negative energy is located in the area that holds energies associated with helpful people, the business could have difficulty attracting customers.

    In addition, clutter in those out of sight places has a profound effect on staff morale, behavior and efficiency. A cluttered environment attracts more of the same. In retail it could manifest in a fuzzy, cluttered brain that is less able to make good decisions with customers. Or, a cluttered space with its annoying, irritating energy could lead to irritations among staff members. If nothing else, clutter in the areas of the business that are visible only to staff creates a double standard. The public gets and deserves to have a pristine environment, but the staff must tolerate clutter and visual chaos. What message does that send to staff about their importance to the business?

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    If a business has an office on site, think of it as the physical brain of the business. A cluttered brain operates ineffectively, is unable to make good decisions consistently, and tends to be reactive rather than proactive. Can you really afford to have a cluttered business office?

    So now what? First, if you have neglected those out of sight places in your retail establishment, you must begin viewing those areas as just as significant as the public spaces. You may not worry as much about their decor, but investing energy to make them neat, clean and organized will have a big payoff on many levels.

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    An initial cleanup will be necessary plus the establishment of procedures for maintaining order and cleanliness. Job descriptions should include clear expectations about maintaining both the retail and the out of sight spaces of the business.

    And, the business office. Clear it of anything that does not pertain to the current operation of the business and management of employees. Old records should be archived in another part of the building or off site. Keeping only current documents and records, with the exception of old records necessary for current operations, keeps the business alive and vital. Old records can be distracting and take up prime real estate in the brain of the business.

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    Clear the clutter. Create a new order. Commit to maintaining a clutter-free environment and watch employee behavior and interactions both with customers and other employees improve. Pay attention to your own ability to think clearly, handle problems and make decisions. And, watch the bottom line. Having removed the clutter barriers to success, you are more likely to experience positive change in many areas of the business.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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