Walking the “Sellout Line”

You hit “post” on a blog post that you think is terrible and trite and go to sleep. The next day, it has thousands of visitors and is being passed around.

“The people” are now clamoring for more work from you like this. 

Is this a problem? Is something wrong with you? Is something wrong with “them”? You hated the thing and almost didn’t publish it, but it turns out to resonate.

Who knows? I certainly don’t. But I do know that this is the basis of “being a sellout.”

The basis is this, you are not the consumer of your work. Therefore, if you do not resonate with your work, but the consumer does, then you have a choice. Choose the consumer? Sellout. Choose yourself? Pure creative.

There are pros and cons to each. And it’s not black and white. There are grey areas for sure.

In creative work, you will always face the tug of these two forces. Your creative vision and the vision of the consumer. The farther you go towards the consumer, the more you will feel like a sellout. But are you really? Or is this just a case of limited perspective?

I honestly don’t know. My intention is to relieve some pressure from anyone who feels like a sellout or who struggles with this fine line the way I have. It’s a very fine line, as I alluded to in the title.

If your creativity is to be consumed by others, then you will ultimately have to consider the needs of your audience over your own.

If you don’t, no big deal, you just won’t have an audience. So you’ll be talking to yourself. Maybe that works for you, I don’t know.

 

Lower Your Expectations of Your Creative Work

Expectations are the bully pointing out your flaws as you walk into the gym. They’re the nag telling you to quit because “You’re probably not going to measure up anyway.”

Expectations help give you a foundation for what you are trying to accomplish in linear, non-creative work, like building a house or cooking a meal. However, for creative work, expectations can be a liability.

When I sat down to write this, I asked myself what I most needed a refresher on right now. I had a few ideas, and they seemed pretty grand, and I noticed fear inside myself keeping me from doing it. Then I remembered the power of lowering my expectations. It’s very freeing. Like taking off your swimsuit underwater when nobody is looking (not that I would know).

The counterpoint, of course, would be that without knowing where you are going, you will surely get there… nowhere. But I find that not to be the case with creative tasks like writing. It’s almost like they take shape as you write. As though there was a final outcome predestined and all you have to do is show up to punch the keys.

It’s quite a fun experience to write something and see yourself creating without really knowing where it’s coming from.

Give yourself permission to be an amateur, a novice, a beginner. It’s only in this state that we learn. The expert learns nothing and fades into irrelevance.

The first site I built, I had no expectations. The only expectation was that I would build a site. It ended up being a humor site dedicated to videos. But that’s not what I set out to build. It was great. Afterward, I had trouble replicating that success, because I had expectations. I had created something viral, how would I do it again? It really jammed me up. Now when I start something, I have to remember that not everything I do has to be for a particular outcome. I try to get more in tune with the work itself and wanting to do it for its sake.

It’s easier to be authentic when you don’t have expectations. When you let go of your expectations, then you can explore things you might not have otherwise.

Hope, on the other hand, is a softer guide. I can have hope for a work, without having an expectation. For instance, my hope for this article is that it’s helpful. If not to anyone else, but to me. When I forget and get wrapped around the axle with expectations, I hope I remember to return here and get back to lowering my expectations.

Lower Your Expectations Unisex T-Shirt Black

How to be responsible for yourself

Surprise… the 3 ways are actually one action. 

After a few weeks of working on beating procrastination, I realized that there is a pre-requisite mindset.

That mindset?

Taking responsibility for yourself.

And how exact, do you do that?

Well…

 You may think you are making choices, but most of the time, you are in “Zombie Mode,” just behaving unconsciously and habitually.

In order to truly be responsible, the first and only action is to start to consciously choose your responses to what happens in your life.

Be responsive.

  1. Don’t make excuses.
  2. Don’t procrastinate.
  3. Have a routine.

As I said, I started working on my procrastination a few weeks ago. That was very difficult.

I’ve kept at it. And something strange has happened.

My sights shifted up to personal responsibility for my life.

Instead of focusing on tasks, I’ve started to notice my underlying attitudes.

I’m ashamed to admit that I found a core lack of taking responsibility for myself

qoutes:

The price of greatness is responsibility. – Churchill

I’m embarrassed because, after a few google searches, I realized that books on responsibility are almost entirely kids books. Yikes!

So here I am. Face to face with me. Nobody else is responsible for me. I must take it on myself.

Nobody else is forcing me to procrastinate. Nor are my genes or my upbringing.

Fortunately, we are never too far gone. And getting behind the wheel isn’t as hard as it seems. The trick is not to try and take it all at once.

Which is why I’m going to stop this post here.

Conclusion?

The true nature of procrastination is a failure to be responsible for one’s life.

So, I’m going to work on taking responsibility for my life and my responses. Good luck if you choose to be the same.

Method: Getting Your First Customer

 

The most important thing in business is to get your first customer. 

Here we will discuss a simple way to do this.

If independence, not riches, is your first goal (the riches can come later), then this method is for you.

If you’re looking to be the next startup whiz kid, you may need to keep looking. 

In this article, I describe a simple (not easy) method for getting customer #1.

This business’s purpose is to feed you. That’s my assumption. So I based all my advice on that. My figuring is that if it feeds you, you can then move on to bigger and better things.

SO HERE WE GO: 

  1. Make your idea specific
  2. Clarify for yourself what the idea should do for YOU.
  3. Create a simple offer – AKA, what are you selling?

For the people who ask “WHY?”, here’s why:

  1. Vague things don’t sell. If people can’t understand it, they can’t buy it, nor can they refer you (this is huge! You need referrals to survive).
  2. Should this idea make you rich? Fulfill your desire to be independent? Let you run a website? If you don’t know what it’s doing for you, you will not be able to make good decisions about how to modify it.
  3. If you don’t create a clear offer to sell a service or product and deliver it, then you can never really get a customer. Customers BUY. I see too many people working with “customers” who haven’t paid them anything and never will. It’s easy to get people’s business, it’s HARD to get their MONEY.

It’s easy to get people’s business, it’s HARD to get their MONEY. 

THEN ASK PEOPLE TO BUY IT: 

  1. Go to your target market and offer them the offer
  2. Listen to their feedback and adapt your idea, always keeping in mind what it must to for you to be successful.
  3. Adjust the offer and keep moving.

People can’t buy something you haven’t offered them.

SPOILER ALERT:  Someone will say YES.

Once you get the first customer, YOUR FOCUS MUST BE ON SERVICE. You will learn so much from this first customer. Keep in mind you may lose them. Don’t let it crush you. It’s not about their money, it’s about your learning.

Not until you get a few of them can you really understand the similarities between them and what your business really should be.

I’ll say it a different way:

Ingredients for success:

  1. A specific idea (If you can’t answer “WHO” it’s for, then it’s not specific enough)
  2. A plan B
  3. An offer (Price, Benefit, Commitment)
  4. Action and refinement.

This method does three things: 

  1. Keeps you from analysis paralysis.
  2. Tests whether your market will buy your product/service before you spend tons of time building something.
  3. Keeps you adaptable, so that you can keep going if your Plan A is wrong (it probably will be at least slightly wrong).

Things you don’t need at first: 

  1. A website (unless it’s a super simple 1 page kick out from something like WIX or square space… it better not take you more than an hour to make)
  2. Business cards.
  3. A product (You need a CAPABILITY… but not necessarily a finished product, there’s a difference that can be elaborated on later)
  4. Patents
  5. Copyrights
  6. Incorporation

That’s it. This can be built on more, but this is my rough thoughts for a Friday afternoon. 

Get out there and get after it!

 

 

Good Advice Sounds Harsh to the Ear

“You just need to do your homework.”

Didn’t you hate that advice when you were a kid?

But, it was true. All you needed to do to get better grades, was do your homework.

That simple act, will give you the right habits to succeed.

As an adult, when you are struggling with something and someone gives you advice that feels annoying, ask yourself this question:

“What if they are right?”

As if, what if they are right, then what would I do?

Basically, instead of spending a ton of time trying to figure out if they are right or not, how would you apply their advice?

So here is mine about pursuing a business idea:

“Work on it a little each day, and let it change.”

If that sounds weird, annoying, or too easy, why don’t you try giving it a shot and see what happens?

What have you got to lose?

How to Start Procrastinating

 

Are you a high performer who is tired of always getting everything done on time?

Are you annoyed with your ability to start a task immediately?

Is there something nagging at you to slow down a bit?

Try procrastination!

Tried and tested by evolution to conserve energy.

All you need to do is follow three easy steps:

  1. Start thinking a lot about what you are about to do. You should especially think about the parts you don’t like.
  2. Lose sight of the goal or mission. Whatever this task will ultimately do for you should be pushed to the back of your mind.
  3. Start on it LATER. That’s right, don’t start on it now or do anything about it now. Just put it off until later.

And that’s IT!

You’ll immediately have:

  1. More things to do than you ever have before.
  2. More time to think about it!
  3. More energy stored in your body (some of it fat!)

If this sounds good to you… start on it tomorrow!

Start businesses like Forrest Gump

An IQ of 75, and he became wealthy and lived happily.

If you don’t know the story, read the IMDb page here. But really, do yourself a favor and go watch the movie from 1994.

Forrest was a “stupid” man, but he always did the following things right:

  1. He took action
  2. He did his best
  3. He didn’t quit
  4. Never focused on the results, only the action.

Let’s not complicate it. To start businesses like Forrest, you just take action. You don’t have much more than a rough idea of what you are doing.

Here are some of Forrest’s great ideas.

  • I’m going to be a shrimping boat captain. (This is the most complicated one, but really this idea was Bubba’s)
    • Started a shrimping empire.
  • I’m going to go running.
    • Started a movement
  • I’m gonna play ping pong
    • Became a professional and got endorsement deals

I understand that it’s a movie, and ultimately not real. But what makes it so entertaining and lovable is that the principles it shows in action are very very real. And they are timeless.

Let’s look at a couple of real-world examples of the principle.

Nintendo

The video game maker started much earlier than its 1966 video game debut and was creating playing cards, vacuum cleaners, instant rice, a taxi company and even a short-stay hotel chain. It wasn’t until much later that Nintendo started producing video games and consoles, which gained wide popularity over the following 30 years. They were already hustling well before they became famous.

Forrest Gump Idea: I’m gonna sell playing cards – Now: Video games

Instagram

Instagram started as Burbn, a check-in app that included gaming elements from Mafia Wars, and a photo element as well. They weren’t gaining traction as Burbn because it had too much clutter and potential actions. So they took a risk and stripped out everything but… photos. They rebuilt it to focus exclusively on photography. It was clean and simple, and… you know the rest.

Forrest Gump Idea: We’re gonna build an app – Now: We are the most popular photo app on iPhone

To drive the point home, take the opposite of the Forrest approach to starting a business and see what this sounds like.

  1. Hesitate to take action until things are clear
  2. Do only the minimum
  3. Quit when things don’t go your way
  4. Focus hard on the results instead of the work

Does this sound like success? Of course not.

The wonderful thing is, you don’t have to succeed. Honestly, that’s not the goal. You just need to develop the habits of:

  1. Taking action.
  2. Doing your best.
  3. Perseverance.
  4. Focusing on the work instead of the results.

Think you can do it? I know you can.

 

Making Your Business Ideas More Likely to Succeed

How? – Be specific about the problem it solves

SPECIFICadjective – clearly defined or identified.

So, you clearly define the business problem. But it’s OK to start with clearly defining your solution if that is how you are thinking about it.

This makes it easy to explain it and easy to understand it.

A good rule of thumb at this point:

If it’s not stupidly easy to know who your target customer could be, then you need to make your idea MORE specific.

Take out any AND or OR or WITH statements from your idea.

So:

“An app for people with kids and dogs who feel stressed out and need a break”

Becomes:

“An app for parents looking for kid-free hangout opportunities”

Being specific makes it easier for people to understand what you do and give you referrals.

 

Example: This post title. 

Making the subject of this post specific was hard for me. I rewrote it more times than I could count. Well, that’s not true. It was about 10.

The first time was short, it was just “Be Specific”.

But that didn’t seem very specific at all.

So then I tried, “Make Your Ideas Specific”.

But then I said to myself “Ideas about what?”

It forced me to become very clear on what this article is about. I figured what most people would be looking for is advice about business ideas.

After I wrote all about specifics, I realized the point was being specific about the problem, but the problem the user was trying to solve was making their business ideas more likely to succeed. So that was the final rewrite.

Now, if you didn’t make your idea a “Problem statement”, do that now.

So our early idea goes from (Idea/Solution): 

“An app for parents looking for kid-free hangout opportunities”

To: (Reframed as a problem)

“Parents of small children are starved for time with people who share their interests.”

See what we did there? 

That’s all we got for today. Remember, make your ideas specific enough for you to be able to find people to test it with. In our case above, we are looking for parents with small children. If you can’t think of people, your idea sucks.

 

 

 

How I overcame procrastination [REAL-TIME]

[REAL-TIME]?

This is a real-time account of how I overcame procrastination.

Let me explain what [REAL-TIME] means here.

Instead of writing about procrastination AFTER I have already figured it out and saved myself, I’m going to write about it AS I’M WORKING MY WAY OUT.

I’ve read many articles from the perspective of someone who has already learned or achieved a particular goal or habit.

Rarely do I get to read the perspective of the person at the start of the journey.

This is because of the so called, curse of knowledge:

The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand

Said more simply:

Once you know something, you forget what it was like not to know it.

 

So, since you are in the mindset of the person seeking help, hopefully my writing [REAL-TIME] from the perspective of someone also seeking help will resonate.

At least that’s the thought anyway. 

 

Why, and why write about it?

I read a book called solving the procrastination puzzle and decided I wanted to flip my habit of procrastination on its head. It was bothering me, but as I went through this, I was confronted with just how much it was bothering me.

I asked myself what value I can get out of my procrastination habit.

One of the simplest silver linings from any situation is the strength and confidence from overcoming it.

That and the ability to give first-hand advice to people struggling with it.

That’s when I decided I wanted to write about it. So I just started, which was the advice from the book.

As I did, I realized what I was doing was describing how to overcome procrastination from the perspective of someone who procrastinates.

This again, was the genesis of the [REAL-TIME] concept. And it will HOPEFULLY help people who can identify with what I was feeling as I went through this exercise. Since I am publishing it from the perspective of someone who has already moved through these feelings, but writing in the moment as someone who is feeling it, I will denote when you are reading my real-time writings with [REAL-TIME] and note my narration with [NARRATION].

Now… on with it.

Starting to overcome procrastination [REAL-TIME]

I’m currently in it as I write this. I probably won’t have this perspective once I’ve actually fixed the habit, so I am preserving it here.

I feel like I can’t do anything. It feels like I’ve dug myself into an insurmountable hole. That thought keeps me from going forward

Back to the book. The advice from the book is just to get started.

There was more in there than that, but even the author states that’s the basic gist of it.

With me, I needed a replacement habit.

What I’m doing right now is writing this article anytime I feel like procrastinating.

I also asked my Higher Power for help.

Once I realized that it was possible to beat this. More possible than I thought, I was in good shape.

One thought that always killed me is thinking of the future negatives.

I get around those by just doing the right thing for today.

[NARRATION]

At this point, I’m pulling my phone out of my pocket constantly to check stuff and diverting myself here to write. That’s why it seems a bit fragmented.

In the beginning, I think it’s important to identify your biggest distractions and pick a simple replacement behavior to get in the habit of doing.

[/NARRATION]

I feel like I’m using this as a replacement for the distracting behavior that usually goes with my procrastination. This is creative whereas my usual behavior is consumption.

Procrastination is delaying a task unnecessarily. Delay is not always procrastination.

Currently, I’m writing on this because I’m procrastinating on doing the dishes and cleaning up.

Is being tired a valid excuse for delay? I guess in the case of dishes, it’s not.

Perfection is the enemy of progress. It’s hard for my ego to be ok with just being 1% better every day. That’s all I have to do.

So I’m back here avoiding the dishes again.

What is the opposite of procrastination? Being on the ball? Johnny on the spot?

I find myself getting into a rhythm as I pull myself out of the funk. Writing on this instead of my go-to distractions has been fun.

I’m using the WordPress app to write on this from my phone so that any time I feel like I’m gonna procrastinate I can hit this.

One thing I thought of while writing this is how I rarely read every word of an article. I think many others do the same.

So I will come back later and edit this to be more punchy. Or maybe I’ll procrastinate on that too.

[NARRATION] Yeah, I procrastinated. Just gonna let it fly. Otherwise, I’m not gonna release it. 

Something that had bothered me about procrastination is, it must have been advantageous to our ancestors or we wouldn’t have it. But why does it make us feel so bad?

I asked myself why I didn’t feel liking cleaning up my side of the bed and my part of the room and the answer was ” it will take too long”

So I timed it… it took 3 minutes and 11 seconds.

What the heck. My mind is making me miserable for no reason.

Day 2 – I laid in bed for a minute before my dog jumped on me to feed her. I reached for this after I got up because I realized that waking up is a tiny microcosm if the whole procrastination experience. I am averse to the task of waking up so I delay it needlessly.

I remembered Mel Robbins 5 second rule and that helped.

She just says to say 5-4-3-2-1 in your head and then act when you see procrastination. This works for people apparently. It works for me sometimes, but then at 1 sometimes I find myself immobile and I realize I have a manual override.

Take THAT helpful tricks!

Just now I caught myself about to commit a tiny procrastination infraction of putting the dog sweater down on my dresser instead of walking it to the closet where it belongs. Why? That seems so counterproductive. The thought seems to be “I can do this later”

I kept hitting snooze just now. I make more work for myself later by procrastination.

Now I’m supposed to cook and I felt like getting on the internet instead. Part of my reluctance was thinking that I wouldn’t have anything good to make. That makes a lot of sense… not.

Creative vs consumptive – I think there is something to this. Doing something that forces me to create or produce instead of consuming seems to kickstart my anti-procrastination. Still, need a good word for this that is not proactive.

So I’m supposed to make soup right now. Do I want to make soup? Do I want to make soup? I could probably spend hours here saying why I don’t. I think it’s gonna take an hour

Ok, back, it took 35 minutes.

I’m cleaning up now. Yet another thing I want to procrastinate on. I want to go look at Reddit. Cause that’s important right?

Alright now I cleaned up after cooking and I want to procrastinate on cleaning off the crap of junk building up on the counter.

I’m going to delay it long enough to call a friend.

As you can see, this one is a little more nefarious. But this is the kinda crap I LOVE avoiding. I can write a novel about how much I don’t want to do this. So I’m gonna follow the stupid simple advice and just get started.

I’m also going to do the Pomodoro thing.

One thing I just thought about too is my mind said “man if you start doing all this stuff you might do too much” the fuck? What does that mean? I’m crazy.

So after 25 minutes, I got this one cleaned up and man do I feel better. I also had plenty of distractions happen while I was doing this and it definitely slowed me down. However, I feel great now. Of course, my asshole mind is like ” you’ll stop doing this in a couple of days and then you’ll feel bad about yourself” thanks! Asshole! I thought we were on the same team.

So now I’m on this high where I’m like “let’s do everything!” But something smarter is telling me to pace myself, so I’m gonna go reward myself

Just ate some of the soup I made.

Well, I just “rewarded myself” with my distraction of choice. It didn’t make me feel good at all. Lesson learned. I probably would have been better off with reading something enriching.

Now I’m looking at this stupid door that has been broken for years! And I have the damn replacement door. But I’ve been crastinatin’ tellin myself how hard it is and how I gotta cut the door because it’s a weird fit and all this stuff. Right now I’m not doing it because my daughter is asleep and I don’t want to wake her.

I guess I can meditate but I have all kinds of things in my mind about that too. Like it won’t work or I’ll just quit anyway and all this stuff.

I’ve noticed that thought that I will just mess up anyway is a recurring theme. I think the best way around that one is to just focus on today. I’m only working on lot procrastinating today only.

I meditated for 25 minutes somehow miraculously. Then I was about to look on the internet again and I suddenly remembered. I was doing this instead.

Exercise is the next thing I’m crastin’ on. I think I’ll try the “put on your exercise clothes trick”

I did, it worked, I ran.

Now I’m avoiding making the bed so I can go to sleep. But I’m gonna do it. I think I will take 5 mins.

Day 3 1/21

So I am feeling overwhelmed now. I have competing things in my mind I want to do. I will decide what is most important and then put the rest on my to-do list.

I’ve been wanting to write more on this today but I have been too busy doing the things I need to do. Seriously, but of course, I have all the fear of not being able to keep this up. Plus I am noticing a new level of things I’m procrastinating on. The maintenance light on my car, the pile of garbage that is my closet. Getting my taxes filed this year.

So I did that and I am finally trying to replace the damn door.

Home Depot won’t cut the door for me, which I need because measuring it revealed it to be slightly too big. So I have to make a decision to either cut it or spend money on a custom sized door. My dad and others are telling me not to cut it, but I have first-hand experience with another door that tells me it’s ok.

Now I’ve opened the saw in the back of my car and I’m telling myself how hard getting the blade on is going to be and getting the tools and now I’m realizing I don’t know how to use this thing nor do I have saw horses and it’s about lunch time so I’m gonna go do that and see my daughter

Is this delay or procrastination? I think I’m just delaying it until after I eat.

Ok, ate. I’m in a weird spot. This exercise is forcing me to face my years of prior procrastination. I’m trying to be nice to myself about it. Asking the universe for help again.

I noticed that I’m being forced to make decisions about how I’m going to do these tasks. Am I going to rush through them or am I going to do them the right way?

When put that way, the answer seems obvious. But when I’m feeling impatient, it’s the opposite.

I’m going to go see if I already have some of the things in the shed that I need to do this task.

Hmmm, the shed looks pretty organized…

Ugh, damnit. Now I want to really run away. Is there like a reset button somewhere?

Back to the saw. I finally got the blade on. It was really easy. All I had to do was read the directions. I’m realizing a lot of this is fear based. If I just focus on the question “what is the next action to complete this” it’s not so bad.

6:48PM 1/21

So I’m amazed at how this has been going.

Definitely feeling like knocking off for the day and going to watch the NFC championship game. But… I really don’t want to procrastinate on getting ready for the week.

I really need to clear out my inboxes and go through my to-do lists and make sure I have a plan for the week. I have been procrastinating so hard on implementing GTD in my life. Plus my bed needs to have its comforter put back on it after the toddler peed on it.

I feel like stopping really bad. I keep saying in my mind “It’s gonna take so long to do this”.

I’m about halfway through it. I want to quit so bad. Just had to say that.

7:05 – Want to quit. It’s only been like 17 minutes, ha, this has felt like 2 hours.

Just looked at the game score.

Ok, hold on a second. Why do I want to quit so badly? Obviously, something interesting is happening that I want to be doing instead. The problem with delay here is that I probably won’t feel like doing it later in the evening. And honestly if I just buckle down and do it, I bet it won’t take much longer. I’m going to check back in at 7:30.

7:36 – OK, I guess I’m done.

8:52PM – Things I am delaying on right now. I would call it procrastination, but I’m just tired. I mean, I don’t know what to do here. I can clean out my closet, but it’s almost 9PM and at some point, you have to cut yourself off. I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished today. I did NOT get the door installed. However, I did mostly clean out the shed. I actually cooked a lot. I got my weekly planning done. I spent time with friends.

Overall, I feel like the key that I mentioned yesterday about fighting procrastination is just get started, coupled with a productive project to use as a “procrastination preventer”, is the best way to beat this complex foe.

I’m going to end this article on day 3 and pick up a new one for day 4. I don’t know how long I will keep this going, but man, it’s really helping me avoid procrastination to write on this and work on it, so I am going to do that as long as it works.

I think the key is remembering that Rome wasn’t built in a day. The difference in how I feel in just 3 days is incredible. I still have the crazy thoughts. I still wonder if this is going to stop. But I’m hopeful. Let’s see. Either way, I’ll have a record of it.

[NARRATION]

As you can see, I started out saying:

I feel like I can’t do anything. It feels like I’ve dug myself into an insurmountable hole. That thought keeps me from going forward

And after 3 days I was saying:

The difference in how I feel in just 3 days is incredible.

So it’s clear that it works.

I’ve been procrastinating on pushing publish on this article, so I’m going to do that now.

I have more of these I’ve created. Any thoughts on how I can make it better are welcome.