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  • Writer's pictureCrystal Thompkins

That's How They Get You

I’ve recently fallen victim to a common trap. I’m sure many of you have also been suckered by this nefarious scheme, and it’s time we share our experiences of falling into its clutches.

That’s right. We need to talk about free trials.

My descent into free trial madness started several months ago at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. After 30+ years of access to corporate administrative tools, I suddenly had the power to decide what organizational tools I wanted. Email, scheduling, conferencing, project planning – it was now up to me to determine the set-up that best suited my needs, steadfast in knowing what I absolutely did NOT want from previous experience (sorry, not sorry, but I will never love Teams).

I’ve always been relatively up-to-date on the latest gadgets and information technology. I did the unforgivable almost two years ago when I switched from iPhone to Android, buying the Galaxy Flip 4 and making most of my friends and family roll their eyes at me for being the lone green bubble intruder in group chats. I was excited to discover the latest and greatest tools to make me the best solo entrepreneur nonprofit consultant/philanthropic advisor EVER!

Y’all. It was A. Lot. And that’s how I fell into the free trial trap.

Because this was a mission of utmost importance, I didn’t want to commit to anything right away without testing it out. The easiest way to do that was to sign up for free trials of various tools and then just set reminders to cancel for any that would charge me. I didn’t have too many that I provided payment info because that is a ROOKIE MOVE. Problem was most of the free trials were:

  1. Too short to be able to determine functionality and compatibility

  2. Testing the super deluxe premium version that was great but more than I, or my budget, needed

When that happened, I signed up for another. Then another. And another. They’re free! What’s the harm?! How else will I know if this is THE ONE?!? If I didn’t have the perfect calendaring tool, my business was DOOMED to fail!!

Suddenly, I had more reminders about canceling trials than I did actual work to do using all those programs I was trying. And yes, one or two did slip by, and I ended up subscribing, but luckily, I could cancel.

Finally, it hit me. The same doubt and pressure for perfection that plagued me before I decided to resign were now manifesting themselves in committing to software subscriptions. If it wasn’t the absolute right time, the right price, or the right everything, I delayed the decision, convinced that the only outcomes were utter perfection or complete failure.

And that’s how they get you, “they” being the twin gremlins of doubt and fear. Much like the creatures from the classic 80s movie, if you feed them, they will wreak havoc on your momentum and your dreams. For me, the sunshine cure to destroy the gremlins was to make one small decision and see it through. When the world didn’t end, I made another and another, and the next thing I knew, I was emailing, scheduling, and conferencing like a semi-pro!

Even more importantly, I realized I couldn’t “free trial” my way through tough – or not-so-tough – decisions. I have to commit and learn to accept the unlikeliness of perfection and the possibility of failure. The only way to reach a destination is to move and not let doubt and fear derail your progress.

That’s how they get you. Don’t let them.


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