Positivity is great. You need to remain optimistic and upbeat to achieve your goals.
But, how far does this extend?
Are you supposed to ignore the fact your entrepreneurial, artistic or coaching journey can, sometimes, feel impossible and pretend everything is ok?
It would be naive to think you’ll ride a wave of inspiration to the life of your dreams.
Instead, what awaits, are years (possibly even a decade), of hard work, failures, setbacks and lessons learned.
To say it can be a struggle is an understatement. Pursuing your entrepreneurial, artistic or coaching dream could be the hardest thing you ever do.
And yet, it will also be the most rewarding and inspiring thing you ever do.
So, you must continue. You must follow your bliss and see your vision through till the end. However, while doing so, you should understand some of the harsh truths awaiting you (see below) so you can plan for their impact, strengthen your character and increase the speed you, and your business, grow.
I planned to release my latest book, The Personal Freedom Manifesto, in October of 2020. This was a postponed release date. Earlier in the year, I’d promised a summertime release.
Therefore, October was an immovable deadline. Nothing could delay this release.
So, what ended up happening?
The Personal Freedom Manifesto was released on the 1st March 2021!!!
How was this possible?
It’s easier if I show you.
My original concept for the book cover and title bombed. I went for attention grabbing but my audience didn’t ‘get’ what I was trying to achieve (Do you? Leave comment below). As a result, I had to do a rethink, and rebrand, in an attempt to discover something that would appeal.
Almost 6 months later, after countless revisions from the cover designers and a delay in the book formatting, The Genius of Joe Barnes became The Personal Freedom Manifesto, and got its release.
Major projects ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS take you longer than you think.
That website you’re getting designed, which you imagine will take you 2 months, will take you 4. That new product you’re planning to create, which you imagine will be ready to launch in the new year, most likely won’t hit the market until the end of Summer. As Bill Gates once said,
“Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years.”
So, what can be done?
Solution: Whatever project you’re about to start, begin with this knowledge in mind. Add at least 50% to your proposed deadlines. So, if you think something will take you 6 months to complete, tell your clients and customers it will be 9 (and this really is a minimum). This should help manage their expectations and prevent you from getting down on yourself about your perceived lack of progress.
Here’s the catch 22 situation you might be experiencing.
There’s a good chance you’re an introvert (or have introvert tendencies). After all, introverts are the ones more likely to think deeply, question the world around them and want to go in a different direction. However, to be successful in moving in this new direction, you’ll need to be the face of a new business or creative idea.
It’s very unlikely your work will get noticed by itself. On an almost daily basis, you’ll have to push yourself, or your work, out and into the public’s consciousness.
For a lot of people, this can be very uncomfortable. You’ll feel exposed, any criticism or trolling you receive will hurt and, at times, you’ll want to give up.
Solution: There is no real solution for this harsh truth. However, there is good news.
With time, being the driving force behind your work gets a lot easier. In fact, you may even start to enjoy it. After all, no one believes in your product, or project, as much as you, so who better to sell it? The more you push yourself out of your comfort zone, the more comfortable you’ll become.
This is perhaps the harshest truth of all. The investment you make might be time, money or your heart and soul, but the outcome will be the same. Whatever you had your hopes and dreams set on, will NOT come to pass and you’ll be left picking up the pieces.
Rudyard Kipling writes about this in his classic poem, IF,
“If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken,
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
And watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build them up with worn out tools;”
Experiencing this kind of failure is heart-breaking. Back in 2012, I released my first book, Screw The System. I’d spent four and half years writing it (albeit part-time), put everything I had into its completion and expected it to do well.
My dream was that it would become a best seller and I’d be able to live off the royalties. The reality was that it took over a year to sell its first 100 copies. I was crushed.
Solution: Fortunately, since 2003, I’d been recording every significant positive result I’d experienced in a journal. Just because my book flopped, didn’t mean I stopped.
Ok, so I didn’t sell 100,000 copies, but I sold 100. That was something. I didn’t have 1000 five-star reviews but I had 10. Again, this was a positive.
By focusing on the positives in this way, rather than dwelling on the negatives, it lessened the impact of the failure and helped me learn the lessons needed to ensure my next book would be more successful.
This one is sad. You’ll be excited about the new business you plan to launch, or the new book you want to write, and, in your enthusiasm, you’ll share your idea with your boyfriend or girlfriend, a parent or a close friend, and they’ll look at you as if you’re crazy.
Unfortunately, they can’t see what you see. Instead of excitement, a chance for success and doing something meaningful, all they see is risk and financial ruin.
Solution: Try not to take it personally. Over the years, I’ve learned that loved ones eventually come around and do support you (even if they never understand why you do what you do). Therefore, don’t waste time trying to convince them.
Instead, forge ahead. Go for what you want and you’ll be amazed at how your success can communicate in a way your words never could.
In many ways, the path of an entrepreneur, coach or artist is harder than getting a regular job. The tendency to doubt yourself is greater because you haven’t got a crowd to support you.
Unfortunately, this can make you think society is right and you are wrong. As a result, when times get tough (and they will), you may start to think you’re crazy for ever attempting to follow your dreams.
Solution: Avoid thinking in terms of society being right and you being wrong (and vice versa). Instead, still your mind and listen to your heart. What’s it telling you? If love or inspiration is guiding what you’re doing then you must continue.
Begin your entrepreneurial, coaching or artistic journey and it’s likely you’re leaving behind a regular income. Of course, you can always work part-time or support yourself with a side hustle but, at least in the short-term, you may struggle to maintain the lifestyle you once had.
This causes a lot of people to panic. Next to our loved ones, we’ve been conditioned to value money above any other commodity. As a result, the temptation to give up on your dreams, or allow fear to cloud your decision making, is strong.
Solution: Understand that the ramifications of living on less, at least in the developed world, are mainly psychological. You are not going to lose your home and be unable to eat. Instead, you just won’t be able to afford some of the things you used to do and buy.
This isn’t so bad when you train your mind to focus on what you’ve gained. Remembering that you get to work on an inspiring project every day and create a future where you could, potentially, be financially free, should make up for any short-term sacrifices.
You’re on your own. That’s the way it is. You may hope that a marketing expert is going to come into your life and teach you how to promote your work, or that you can partner with someone to avoid giving presentations, but it’s probably not going to happen.
It’s more than likely you’ll have to rely on yourself for everything. This can be tough, time consuming (as you have to learn new skills), and lonely.
Solution: Commit to the process. Build resilience and embrace your challenges, believing you can overcome all of them.
If you do, an amazing thing happens. People do lend a hand.
Partnerships are, possibly, the most important factor to the success of your business or endeavour, but they only occur after you’ve demonstrated your value.
(image used courtesy of Bernard Goldbach flickr stream)
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