I wasted money and gained 15 pounds, and probably did it on purpose. But, here’s why that matters. . .
You can either be a master of your destiny or the victim of your inaction. Wasting money and gaining weight sounds like an accident. But, have you ever heard the term ‘Fail to the top?’
When you’ve spent the past few years growing an email list of over 16,000, blogging everyday with the hopes to take it full-time, you learn a thing or two about marketing yourself, your ideas, building a business, and of life. All of these lessons happen unexpectedly, without warning, but were actually done one purpose . The knowledge just comes with the journey and experience of trying and failing, and now that I’ve taken Ivory Mix, my blog and our business full-time, I decided to take a full accounting of some of those life lessons.
So here are some of the fundamental truths of building this online business, of life , and of the universe. (Okay, maybe they’re not so grand as all that – I’ll let you decide)
#1: You are responsible for your own success.
Daunting, isn’t it? When you fully realize that you and you alone are responsible for your success or failure – that you’ve got no one to blame or pat on the back but yourself – it can almost take your breath away. However, this can also be the most empowering realization you will ever have because you realize that your destiny is in your own hands. It is up to you to make this the life you choose, not the life you settle for.
Take this a step further and you’ll find that you are also responsible for your own happiness as well. You can choose at this very moment to be happy or unhappy, regardless of your circumstances. You can choose to reach out to others or not, you can choose to get up early to work on your business or not – everything is in YOUR hands – it’s up to you to take full responsibility for your life and your success.
And if you’re saying to yourself, “I already knew this,” then allow me to ask you a question: Have you blamed anyone else in the last 48 hours for your own failure or shortcomings?
Have you thought something like,
“If only my spouse would ____, then I could _____?” Or “If only my parents had ____, then I could have ____?”
It’s human nature to want to place the responsibility on others, but I truly believe someone can be destined for great success when they take full and complete responsibility for their own life. It’s a scary circumstance to be in, when you realize you and you alone are in charge, but it’s empowering as well.
#2: Do what you’re good at (And if it’s also the thing you love doing, so much the better.)
We all have our own talents and aptitudes, and when we follow those instead of trying to be what we’re not, we’re already halfway to success. When you do what you’re good at and what you love, you naturally get a ton more energy and more happiness from it, which sends you further and faster to where you want to be, and the passion you demonstrate for your area of expertise is contagious – your readers and customers will sense it and want very much to be a part of it.
Imagine 2 people in the same field / niche – one because she knows there’s money to be made in it, the other because she loves it. Who’s going to be more successful in the long run? Personal and financial success are far easier to access when you’re doing what comes naturally to you but defining success around your happiness is easier to achieve as well. What’s that saying? “Money doesn’t buy happiness”
#3: If you’re not improving, you’re falling behind.
Staying ahead of the trends in your niche isn’t difficult – you simply need to improve one aspect of your knowledge about your audience and their interests every single day. Make sure to keep up with the right news sources and follow along. It’s in this constant improvement that you will find pride, confidence and security in your own knowledge and ability to deliver.
#4: Give to receive.
No, I’m not necessarily talking about giving away your knowledge or products, although there are times when this can add a lot of value to your business. Rather, you want to always be on the lookout for ways to add value to people’s lives, especially the lives of your customers. Dedicate yourself to solving their problems or making their lives better, and you’ll be rewarded many times over.
As Zig Ziglar says, “give enough people what they want and you’ll get what you want.”
#5: Be really really good, or possibly even great – but forget perfection.
You’ve probably heard that saying “money loves speed”.. and although money is a tacky subject, it’s what most bloggers hope for, and speed to get things done and completed helps tremendously. So, while you want to put out great products, well written emails and so forth, never expect them to be perfect. Get them done and get them out, not sitting on your computer waiting for the day you perfect them.
#6: To succeed you MUST believe in yourself.
The belief you can and will succeed always proceeds progress and success. In other words, to achieve it you must first believe it, and that goes double for believing in your own abilities, self-worth, creativity and perseverance.
#7: The fastest way to increase belief in yourself is to make immediate progress.
One step in front of the other. That’s all you need to focus on. When I first started blogging, I remember reading someone’s post about how they made $800,000 from one product launch in a 30 day period. I remember thinking… “If she can make $800,000, surely I can make $10,000” and I can tell you today, I’ve done that. I’ve made over 10,000 in a 30 day period. Will I ever make $800,000? I’m not sure but that’s not really the goal I’m focused on. I’m simply focused on tomorrow and maybe I have a few plans as far out as 90 days – and I’m making progress
So, although you might not yet believe that you can build a multi-million dollar blog empire this month, you can take the first step in that direction and believe in progress this month. Take that first step and then the next without hesitation, and with each subsequent step your belief in yourself and the reality will continue to grow.
#8: Focus on accentuating your positives
If you’re really good at writing content but you don’t like the technical side, find someone to handle that aspect for you so that you can concentrate on content creation. If you’re working in three niches but you only enjoy two of them, sell the third website and just focus on what you love doing. And if you’ve got a bad habit like spending too much time on Facebook, replace that habit with something you like equally as well, such as writing emails to your list. When you focus on growing the positive rather than eliminating the negative, you’ll make progress much faster.
#9: Embrace failure, frustration and rejection and keep going.
You can’t have success without failure, and the sooner we all come to grips with this, the more we can succeed. People who enjoy massive success have almost always had to endure massive failure as well. I’ve had multiple failed blogs and one blog that feels like a personal success. If I had given up at any point, I wouldn’t have found it.
An integral part of finding out what you’re good at and what you can succeed at is discovering what you’re not good at. Each failure can move you closer to your goal, if you keep going. A paradigm taught to sales people to help them deal with rejection is to find their closing ratio. For example, if it takes 20 phone calls to get 5 appoints, and 5 appointments to get 2 sales, then that sales person knows that on average they’re going to get 15 no’s on the phone and another 3 no’s in person to get 2 sales.
Now instead of dreading no’s, the sales person looks forward to them because each no gets them closer to a yes. And so it is with anything you do – you are going to get “no’s,” frustration and failures on your way to getting your successes, and that’s more than okay, it’s great. It’s the person who never fails who also never succeeds.
Fail your way to top.
The more you try, the more you will fail AND the more you will SUCCEED. Turn your frustration into self-motivation and view each failure as both a stepping stone and a learning tool and your success will become inevitable.
#10: Strive for real, tangible results every day.
Who do you suppose is happier and derives more job satisfaction – a typical potter or a typical accountant? Unless the potter is unusually renowned for his/her pottery, the accountant almost certainly earns more money. Yet it’s the potter who is nearly always happier in their work, because each and every day they get to see real, tangible results from their efforts. Accountants deal with numbers on spreadsheets, and so no matter how important their work, they’re never able to derive the same satisfaction of achievement as the potter who holds their finished product in their hands.
So what’s the point? To be successful you’ve got to stay motivated, and one of the best ways to ensure you stay motivated day in and day out is to see real results at the end of each day. Write your blog post and then post it. Work on your new product every day, so you can see the new pages you’ve written or watch the new video you’ve created. Everyday do SOMETHING that shows you’ve been working. Even answering your emails can give you a sense of satisfaction when you see there’s nothing left in your inbox to answer, but it’s not the same as creating.
But what if your work is more conceptual than hands on? Make “to-do” lists and post them prominently. Then each time you do something on the list, mark it off. If you start to feel motivation waning, look at the crossed off items on your list and know that yes, you can do one more right now.
#11: Be super-efficient in your decision making.
You’re checking your email and you’re not sure how to respond to 2 of them, so you decide to answer those later. Result? You forget, and the senders get annoyed, email you again, and the you have to reread the original emails and then decide how to respond. Better – respond immediately so you can put the task behind you.
Or what about this scenario: A new product idea comes to mind. You spend an hour researching it, but can’t decide what to do so you decide to work on it later. But later you’re busy, so you put it off until even later, and of course forget all about it. Two weeks down the road you think about the same idea, it still sounds good so you start the process all over again.
Do either of these sound familiar? It does to me!! When you have to re-examine everything that come across your mind and your desk, you’ll become overwhelmed and things will fall through the cracks. Instead, learn to make immediate decisions and move on. This way you don’t miss opportunities and your mind are clear to move forward towards your goals and new success.
#12: Success leaves a trail.
No matter what you want to do, someone before you has already done it or something very similar. Forget trial and error – find those who went before you and see what they did, and then model their success. Focus more on why they were successful than the exact steps they took. Once you know the why’s, you can adapt to almost any situation and get the same positive results.
#13: It might sound cliché, but be an eagle, not a turkey.
Turkeys roam the woods and fields in search for their meal. For a turkey, whatever happens, happens.
An eagle isn’t focused on a small area like the Turkey. An Eagle soars and flies high above the land, taking in a large view of everything that is happening below it. Based on that broad view, the eagle will then choose a smaller area to focus on, circling it patiently and waiting for his opportunity. Nothing distracts it from its mission and it gives 100% of it’s attention to the goal, because it knows another chance may not come along.
An eagle flies with a plan, intention, and purpose – while a turkey hopes something good somehow falls in his lap. Be the eagle.
#14: Be acutely aware of change.
All around us things are changing. Old industries are dying while new ones are being born. While you don’t necessarily need to be on the cutting edge, you do need to be well ahead of the curve. Find out what people will want tomorrow and start offering it today.
It took me a while to figure this out, but I learned that my audience needed more resources that would help them stand out. They didn’t necessarily want to do their own photography but they did need a more custom option. That’s why I started offering the Scene Creator and Styled prop kit. It doesn’t require Photoshop or a DSLR camera and can be used in free programs like Canva.
#15: Focus your efforts.
You can’t be all things to all people, nor would you want to try. And you can’t run 5 different businesses at the same time (unless you’ve got the resources to hire 5 different assistants or teams) Choose what it is that you do – whether that’s being the best source of info in your niche, providing answers at steep discounts, interviewing the giants in your industry, etc.
You’ve heard the old adage about a laser beam and a light bulb. Both use the same electricity, yet because it focuses its energy, the laser beam can cut steel.
I guarantee you can be mediocre in 5 or 10 different businesses at the same time. But to be truly great, focus all your time, energy and resources on just one business that you are truly passionate about.
#16: You are responsible your own destiny. Remember that Doris Day song…
“Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see, Que Sera Sera.”
With all due respect to Ms. Day, that’s pure poppycock. If you play the part of passive observer of your life, thinking that you will somehow eventually become whatever it is you want to become, you’re in for disappointments and death bed regrets.
You get the life you make. Stop daydreaming and wishing, and instead begin planning and writing down your goals. Then get committed to taking action. It’s your commitment backed by action that will create the life you want – not waiting for destiny to strike.
There was a popular movie that told people all they have to do is believe they’ll get what they want, and they will. Manifest it and it will come? You create your destiny through your actions and your in-actions. I do want to believe in manifestation, but come on… really? It’s all in your action.
Here’s some simple proof as it relates to you blog, ready? Try to get the people on your email list to buy a product through your affiliate link by thinking and believing with all your might that they will, without sending them the link. 😀
You and you alone are responsible for what you get out of life – you can be the master of your destiny or the victim of your inaction. Your choice.
#17: Take decisive and consistent action.
Is something scaring you from taking action and moving forward? The longer you wait, the harder it will become. Attack your day with decisive, consistent action and you’ll make progress in no-time. I like to make a short list of at least 3 things I want to accomplish every day. As long as I accomplish those three things, I know I’ve been successful
#18: Improve your communication skills.
The better you are at communicating, both verbally and in writing, the easier it is to find success. In fact communication skills rank higher as a prerequisite to success than almost any other factor. So, join a public speaking group or at least a blogging community in your local area. Make it a habit to write everyday, and study how your writing is communicated your ideas. Are people responding the way you want them to?
It’s all about that communication. Most of blogging is written word. Whether it be in email, a social post, or in a blog article. Communicate yourself well and you’ll find people will share and click more.
#19: Walk a mile in their shoes.
Whether you are dealing with subscribers, customers or a virtual assistant, the more you can understand their thoughts and feelings, the more successfully you can communicate and sell yourself, your ideas, and your products.
#20: Gain a working knowledge of every aspect of your business – then outsource the mundane tasks.
As a solo blogger, there are many facets to running your business. By knowing how each works, you’re better able to spot talent when you’re outsourcing the work to others. And yes, this is your ultimate goal – to know just enough about each job to be able to find just the right person to do that job for you. You’ll discover that by outsourcing many of your more mundane tasks, you are free to work ON your business.
When you’re able to work on your business instead of in your business, you can grow.
#21: Eat smart, eat sparingly and exercise.
What we sometimes forget it that excess need for digestion takes energy and a toll you day-to-day. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t lost 100 lbs in 2007 and I wouldn’t be as confident. I have work to do all the time and I let blogging allow me to gain 15 pounds. What good is wealth if you don’t have your health? Stop mindlessly eating. Stop eating long before you’re full, and only eat when you’re hungry.
And of course exercise. We should all engage in enough physical exercise to make you sweat at least three times a week. Exercise gives you energy, makes you feel better emotionally, and enables you to think better and work faster. Since taking the blog and business full-time, I’ve committed to working out with my husband everyday BEFORE I begin work. 🙂
#22: Spend Wisely.
I’ve wasted money. I probably could have taken my blog and business full time much sooner if I were smarter with where I spent it. Before you spend money, ask yourself if there is a more economical way to achieve the same goal. For example, do you really need that expensive computer desk when you can get one that serves the same purpose for half the price? More businesses fail for lack of capital than for any other reason. Don’t waste yours.
#23: Build relationships with others in your field.
I’ll be the first to admit, I LOVE to work alone. It’s why I started blogging to begin with. I wanted and enjoy the freedom to do as I want. But, no one truly succeeds alone. I didn’t learn what I know through trial and error on their own. Someone taught me a few tricks and I applied them. In “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey was considered the richest man in town because he had so many friends who happily came to his rescue when he needed help.
What about you? When you need help with a problem or want to know how to do something, do you have a small army of friends you can turn to? What about a resource website at least? If not, maybe it’s time you found some, and the easiest way to make a friend or find a resource is to become one.
#24: Build a mastermind group, then meet weekly (or at least very often).
Two heads are better than one, and 5 to 8 heads are better than 2. You’re not building a committee, you’re building a group of like minded individuals who help each other succeed through sharing ideas, support and resources. Remember, some of the most successful people in history attribute their success to their mastermind groups. I didn’t join masterminds until I was well over a year into starting Ivory Mix – and I wish I had sooner.
#25: Never stop learning and progressing, and you’ll never get bored with your blog or your life.
If you’re learning something new every single day, life is exciting and interesting. You’re either growing or dying, there is no in between. So choose to grow, and have the best life and most successful blog and online business as possible
#26: Start small, think big.
Know what it is that you want (you’d be surprised how many people don’t have a clue what they want!) and then devise a plan and take action. Pay attention to whether or not what you’re doing is moving you closer to your goal. If it’s not, you need to change what you’re doing until you’re on the right track, always checking and adjusting along the way.
It’s like a pilot flying a small airplane – most of the time he’s not headed exactly in the right direction, but if he keeps paying attention to where he is and where he wants to go – and corrects along the way – it’s just a matter of time before he gets to exactly where he wants to be. And by starting small you’re making it easy to take action. No one eats an elephant in one bite, but if they just focus on one small piece at a time, they can do it. And so can you.
Follow these and I can practically GUARANTEE an insane amount of success for you, not only in blogging but in every area of your life. Of course, reading them is the easy part – incorporating them into your life takes work, time and commitment, but it’s worth it.