In 2015 I decided that I was working on projects that didn't fulfill me. In fact, for some of them, I put off completing tasks because I really didn't enjoy working on them.
So I decided to make a set of rules that I would take with me into 2016, that would help mold my business and future.
It all started with a 6-month review
On the 1st June I decided to take a half-yearly review (I know a month too early but hey I was keen!).
I got out a pad and pen and next to the rules I had set just 5 months earlier, inserted a simple column for the answers “Yes” or “No”.
What I wanted to find out was exactly how many of my ‘rules' I had stuck with, and how many I had broken.
I tried to keep them simple, so there could be no confusion over whether I had accomplished my goal or not.
- Create no additional niche sites until I have sold at least 2 from portfolio
- No new software subscriptions
- Purchase zero new domain names
- Only work on projects you enjoy working on
- No new courses/training in 2016
- If I do something twice, it needs a process/system and an owner assigning
- Do not perform tasks that I don't enjoy doing on a regular basis
- Do not work on a business/website that I don't enjoy working on
- Don't feel obligated to blog for the sake of blogging
- Ignore paid traffic and focus on SEO
There were 2-3 more on this list that I will not share as they are personal to me, but they were of a similar vein to the ones above.
How Did I Do?
I'd love to report that I had a 100% success rate, heck even 80% would be amazing…
You know how many of those ‘rules' I've stuck to over the first 5 months of 2016…?
2..two, Deux, Zwei
That's a 20% success rate, or an 80% failure rate to be precise.
Over the last 5 months, I have started new sites, purchased domains and sites at auction, joined a course (which I don't regret), clung onto my existing portfolio, continued to work on projects I don't get any enjoyment from…and a number of other things.
Basically most of what I wanted to avoid doing, I did.
Why I Failed?
Looking at the list and reading it back to myself now, it does seem very negative. Don't do this, stop doing that, no more of this.
Perhaps more positive rules are required, ones that will make me want to achieve them, such as “Grow X Site to $XXXX” or “Blog Weekly” etc.
Below are a few areas/reasons/excuses why I feel I didn't stick to my rules.
Reading too Many Blogs
This is huge for many people in SEO and affiliate marketing. Because of the speed at which this industry moves, staying ahead of the curve mean a constant need to keep up-to-date with the latest changes.
That also means reading a ton of blogs, being a member of numerous Facebook groups and forums and generally setting yourself up for a very distracting time.
I came up with a way to limit this, so this was only an issue at the start of the year. Essentially I add all of my favorite sites to Feedly.com and take a look at my feed 2-3 times per week.
However, I ONLY view those headlines that jump out at me and have something to do with my current project(s). I also only read something that I believe I can implement immediately or will improve my business.
It's within my own personality to seek out new adventures. In the case of my business, that takes the form of a new idea for a site or a new service I can provide.
Again, these should, in theory, add to my business and help to build on the foundations. However, the next point will explain why that wasn't the case.
Lack of Systems
This came to my own attention when reviewing my latest case study and trying to understand why I was having such a hard time taking the site from $1k to $3k per month in revenue.
The answer was that I had zero systems set up to take the burden out of my head and onto paper/people who I could trust to get the job done.
A great example of someone who systematizes everything and is a really nice guy to boot is Jon Haver. He seems to have an endless supply of businesses and websites he's involved in, yet he still holds down a full-time job.
This is basically being distracted by new things you see and hear about online and stems from reading too many blogs as discussed above.
It's really simple and you can see it happening, but the excitement of buying a domain name and setting up the website is an adrenalin rush as you consider all of the possibilities for your new project.
This one I have managed to keep in check lately. Mainly as I was forced to, due to a serious lack of time to work on all of my various projects.
It helps to fill out your calendar completely, not allowing for any free time during the day. Then when you next get that idea and find yourself wanting to start a new project, you can look at your calendar and realize you simply don't have the time.
If that doesn't help try waiting for 1-2 days, often I find that the ‘adrenalin rush' you crave has subsided and you will actually feel glad you didn't go through with it.
The Multitasking Myth”
Before leaving the corporate world in early 2015 I had visions of being able to work 12-hour days and 4x my business in no time given that I'd be putting in 4x the hours.
The truth is, instead of doubling down on existing projects, I started a bunch more in various industries and with various models. Lead Gen, CPA offers, Amazon Associates, Adsense…you name it.
What I thought I was doing at the time was setting up my business for success by spreading out my income across numerous sources so that I didn't have all of my eggs in one basket.
What I was actually doing was spreading my limited attention, time and energy across too many projects resulting in a small amount of growth for each.
People see multitasking as a skill, but I see it as a hindrance.
Of course, all of the above reasons are just excuses. In reality, I worked a lot and I worked hard. It all comes down to where you focus your time and allow that effort to compound until you've either achieved all you can with a site/business or you fail.
Admitting to yourself that you failed to hit your goals or in this case “rules” is hard, especially live on a blog where thousands of others will read about your failures.
There is, however, a lot to be said for accountability. Perhaps I should have set my rules out here for all to see. Then perhaps I would have been more inclined to stick to them?
Perhaps in doing so I would have invented reasons why I had to break a rule, for a golden opportunity, a wide open niche or a great pay-day.
Whichever way you look at it, you need to trust yourself and your mindset when you initially wrote those goals or rules. Today's you, the one in the ‘here and now' is impulsive, not methodical like your former goal-setting self.
Today's you, will invent any number of reasons why you should go with your gut, “so what if you're breaking a few rules, you set them anyway so you can change them right?”
My fear is this is all too familiar for those of us in this industry and I hope these thoughts help you realise the path your headed on, before you lose sight of your grand plans.