Showing Some Discipline

In yesterday’s post, I told you about going out for an extra long and while listening to some music I had a couple of ideas I’d been playing around with in my mind coalesce into a really solid, fully formed project.  It was exhilarating, to say the least.  The more I thought about the idea, the better it got and the more sense it made – I was really excited.

I came home, wrote it all down and even managed to flesh it out a bit more on paper.

This morning I woke up and I was really sore in my oblique muscles – I’m not sure why you need to know that, but there it is.  Despite that pain, I was still pretty excited about my idea and I was looking forward to stealing some time today to work on it a bit more.

My wife and I went out for breakfast and on the drive, I started telling her about it.  She asked some good questions, had me clarify a few points and even got me to walk her through the entire idea from start to finish a second time so she understood it.

After we sat down in the cafe and ordered breakfast, she said, “That sounds like a really good idea, when do you think you’ll have the time to actually do it in amongst everything else.”

As soon as she said it, I knew she was right… And not even just a little bit right, she nailed it in one.  I’m totally flat out right now, the idea of taking on a significant new project is really silly.  At work I’m travelling two days a week on top of my regular workload, we’ve got our SEO and content businesses that still take a little bit of my time and then there’s Casual Marketer which I spend an hour or so a day on.

When you step back from it, the only way that I could possibly take on such a significant and time-intensive new project would to give up everything else or just forget about the need for sleep.

I’m being flippant, but it’s true.

In the moment though, as you’re hearing this from someone else you’re not looking for pragmatism or common sense, you want the other person to match your excitement and tell you how successful you’re going to be.

And that happens SOOOOO much online.

I’ve written about this a little bit back in early August how Derek Sivers in his TED talk described people who share their goals publicly then get the kudos despite having achieved nothing.  Those people get the same dopamine high from the kudos as if they had actually achieved something, so biochemically there’s no need to actually achieve the goal.

When you share an idea online in a community, immediately people start telling you what a winner you are, it’s a great feeling and I was half expecting it from my wife.

Except, she’s been down this road before.  I start working on something, it becomes routine, I come up with something new, leave the routine thing behind and move on to the new cool thing.  That’s not a good behaviour pattern.

More importantly, she has some perspective on how busy I am and can see first hand how tired I am come Saturday.

Mind you, that didn’t stop me from having a good solid sulk about not getting to do the fun, new cool stuff.  I put on my best petulant child act and pulled up just short of stomping my foot at one stage.

However, reality set in midway through breakfast and I realised she was right.  I had so many ideas for Casual Marketer that were still kicking around that I’d not gotten around to doing yet that it would be stupid to take on something else and risk not doing those.

And let’s be honest, something would have to give.  I don’t have the hours in a day to take on the scope of this new project, so I was setting myself up to fail.

By the time the second coffee rolled around I was pretty much contented with the idea that the new project would have to be postponed for a while and was excited to realise that I had some interesting and challenging work ahead to get Casual Marketer to where I want it to be.

The thing is, when a new idea hits you and it comes together so cleanly in your mind, it’s like a flash of brilliance.  You’re drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  It’s very alluring and attractive to want to work on the new thing because it stretches your mind.

But that’s where discipline comes in and to be successful in online business, you have to have discipline.  You need to stick to your plan and keep delivering consistently.  Success comes from doing good work regularly over time rather than spasmodic strokes of genius followed by periods of inactivity.

So I’m taking the idea and putting it on the shelf for now.  It’s a really good idea, to be honest, there’s nobody doing anything like it and I’m certain that it would help a lot of people if I could successfully pull it together.  The thing is though, I simply don’t have the bandwidth to do it right now and if I were to try, I’d probably fall short, end up helping nobody and ultimately wind up hurting my own business.

And that’s where discipline and self-control come in.  You need to be able to tell yourself “no” even when all of the dopamine receptors in your brain are crying out for you to say “yes” and start doing the fun stuff.

With that, I’m going to bed to rest my sore and tired obliques.

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