Are You REALLY Trying to Succeed?
I’ve spent the better part of the past two and a half years trying to build a business online while holding down a full-time, 9 to 5 job (and during parts of the year, working much more than 40 hours a week). This blog, My 4-Hour Workweek, was born like many others – following the reading of The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.
Since that time, I’ve had a strong desire to build an online passive income business, and those of you who have been reading this blog for the past couple of years have seen my many ups and downs. Recently though, I’ve called into question my own motivation: Am I really trying to succeed? Or has the once lit fire finally died out?
Looking At the Past
When I look at my success (or lack thereof) through the posts documented on this very blog, I’m disappointed about the way things have progressed, and for good reason. Last October, I wrote a post that summarized my earnings history up to that point.
In November 2010, I earned a whopping $987.92. If you saw that back then, you would think that today, almost two years later, I would surely be earning at least $1,500-2,000/month, right? Sadly, this isn’t the case. You don’t have to look much further than my last income report, which shows an underwhelming $261.05 earned for the month of June.
Someone left me a comment to call me out on it (I disallowed the comment because it was a disguised promotion for his own MLM earnings scheme). The gist of what he said was (and I’m paraphrasing here), “I appreciate your transparency, but dude, this is pathetic. You should be earning much more than this by now.”
He’s absolutely right. While I genuinely appreciate the positive, encouraging comments most people leave for me, they ignore a much more significant issue: Why haven’t I progressed at all?
Motivation & Execution: Without Them, You’re a Failure
I’m writing this post from a coffee shop, because I knew that if I sat around my apartment today, it would take an entire day to write this post (instead of an hour or so). This little tidbit about my Sunday afternoon is really a microcosm of the past year or more for me: I’ve been wildly unproductive.
I’ve been here before. Most of the time, I can temporarily fix it with some kind of productivity mind trick, like some of these I’ve written about:
The truth is, you can’t trick yourself into being productive or motivated. It doesn’t last. You need to fundamentally change the way you work – the way you plan your day. While time is everyone’s major constraint, it’s never the core problem. The core problem is being able to properly manage your time and prioritize your life’s obligations.
Do you want to know my most productive times? The times where my earnings were high and everything was trending very positively? Here’s what was happening in my life (#2 and #3 weren’t simultaneous):
- I was working an extremely stressful and time consuming job at one of the largest accounting firms in the world.
- I was training for (and ultimately completed) a half marathon.
- I was taking on the great fitness challenge of P90X.
What do my days look like today? They’re not stressful. I get into work about 7 AM and leave around 3:30 PM. During tax season, I work until maybe 7:00 PM (a far cry from working until 11 PM or midnight at my first accounting firm). I’m extremely inconsistent with exercise – I work out or run maybe once or twice a week, for 30-45 minutes.
Clearly, free time isn’t an issue. The only thing I’ve been able to consistently maintain with my internet business is updating this blog once per week, something that I’ve been able to keep up for the past two and a half years with only a few exceptions (where there were maybe 9-12 days between posts). But because I really don’t try hard to make money with this blog, I’m not really doing anything to actively increase my bottom line.
What’s the Problem Then?
Motivation and execution. I was a lot more motivated to build a side business when I hated my job. Because I’m content with my job right now, I’m not working as hard outside of the job. Don’t get me wrong – my ultimate goal is to still be independent and escape the 9 to 5 grind. But it’s not something I’m working hard to pursue right now.
I really admire those who are crazy productive. Off the top of my head, Pat Flynn (from Smart Passive Income) and Sunil (from The Extra Money Blog). The guys have built a wide array of successful online businesses.
And although they are both very smart individuals, the success is really a result of pure execution. Hard work. Putting in the hours and being productive. As I write this post, I’m hit with a funny coincidence: Sunil recently wrote a post titled, “The Secret Ingredient to My Success“, and here’s what he says:
All successful individuals have certain key characteristics in common. There are several components that contribute to a successful venture, regardless of the nature, type or size of the initiative we take.
But there is one particular ingredient that is the “secret” ingredient that makes the mix complete, and successful individuals make masterful use of this ingredient.
So what’s this secret ingredient to my success? It is no other than taking action, or speed of execution.
I’m actually laughing to myself right now, because this post he recently published supplements my post here so well.
You’ve probably read, no less than two dozen times, that in order to succeed you need to take action. It’s a cliche in entrepreneurship, but it’s so fundamentally true that it’s worth repeating.
I will add to that, however, that action or execution is hard to sustain without motivation. And while action can be measured and observed, motivation is so difficult to identify because it’s different from person to person.
No one can tell you how to be motivated, or what motivation is. It’s kind of like love: you’ll know it when you see it. (And yes, I’m kicking myself for this cheesy analogy).
One Final Question
I’ll end this post the way I started it – with a question for myself, and for you if you’re in a similar position: Are you REALLY trying to succeed? Or are you tricking yourself into thinking you’re on the path to success?
This post was really self-serving, as I’m trying to kick my ass into gear. I’m tired of sitting around and relaxing. It feels good in the moment, but in retrospect, it’s destructive to my future. This applies to business, fitness, and anything else in your life that requires motivation and execution.
The best starting point is to declare right now as your starting point. Don’t put it off until tomorrow. And with that, I’m going to go for a run and then write an article for one of my authority sites. It’s not enough, but maybe it’ll get me back on the right track.
I look forward to reading your comments.
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