January 2, 2021

The Cognitive Dissonance of Hourly Billing

Have you ever heard the term cognitive dissonance?

Here’s a definition from Wikipedia (paraphrased):

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological discomfort that occurs when two beliefs are not psychologically consistent with each other. The discomfort is triggered when a person’s belief clashes with new information perceived.

When faced with cognitive dissonance, people who are unwilling to abandon the old belief will seek to minimize the ongoing psychological stress with rationalization and/or avoidance.

But minimizing cognitive dissonance is not the same thing as removing it.

To actually remove cognitive dissonance, one must abandon the old belief in the face of the new information. Doing so can relieve a massive amount of stress very quickly.

I’m no psychologist but I think it’s fair to say that the feeling of lots of stress disappearing suddenly could rightly be called an epiphany.

Which is funny because that’s exactly the word I use to describe the feeling I experienced the day I realized that hourly billing was nuts.

Here’s the thing...

Hourly billing creates LOADS of cognitive dissonance.

The longer you do it, the more cognitive dissonance you’re going to feel.

You can 1. continue to try to minimize it with avoidance and rationalization, or 2. you can examine your contradictory beliefs, abandon the faulty ones, and finally get unstuck.

It might not be easy, but it is simple.