opinion

Are You Listening To Your Inner Drill Sergeant?

Domenic R. Merenda

Making the decision to venture into the world of the self employed, whether part time or full time, is not something every individual can stomach.

Your Average Joe slaps the “snooze” button several times before reluctantly rolling out of bed to start another dreary 9 to 5 cycle. Joe doesn’t think too much about this decision, he just recognizes that like his parents before him, and his grandparents before them, he punches a clock in the morning and is paid every other Thursday. The mind of the self employed is a different specimen. Somewhere along the line, a spark of a different type of energy lit up in these individuals. Maybe it was during their morning commute. Perhaps it was over a long weekend they failed to enjoy due to work-week exhaustion. Whatever it was, you, like them, decided to strike out, away from the herd, and seek your own fortunes in this world. XBiz has the “army” analogy correct: you listened to your Inner Drill Sergeant, soldier!

When we first started in this industry, most of us were hounded by that maniac drill sergeant screaming at the top of his lungs inside of our craniums. I, for one, couldn’t wait to get out of bed in the morning and devour the next morsel of knowledge the industry’s “basic training” had for me. I stayed up many long nights, burning the midnight oil well into the morning, learning all that I could so that I could be successful. Success did eventually come, not because my inner drill sergeant wouldn’t shut up, but because I didn’t stop listening.

It’s a very easy choice in the morning to roll over and sleep an extra hour or two. It’s not a hard decision at night to sink into the couch and stare at the idiot box (also known as your television set). You can hear that voice inside your head, jumping up and down, screaming, “soldier, you’ve got to work on that website, or you’re never going to be successful!”. For some reason, a lot of webmasters ignore it after the first few weeks. In an industry flooded with competition, ignoring a source of motivation that’s locked inside of your own head can mean snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Drop And Give Me Twenty!
Consistency is key. You don’t have to design and promote for 16 hours every day. Some people do it, many don’t. The most successful webmasters are consistent. They put in their hours every day, and don’t make excuses. Part of this comes from eliminating daily distractions and setting a schedule. If you find that TV is sucking you in every night, make up a sign that says “do I want to be successful?” and put it on the front of your TV. Better yet, put the entire TV in the closet until you reach your goals. Are other activities holding you back? Examine the value of those pursuits, weighed against the rewards of having a successful home-based business. Having a firm set of priorities is very important.

Setting quantitative goals will help you get to where you want to be sooner rather than later. It’s been said that “goals are dreams with deadlines.” Reach for the stars, but make sure you remember to be specific. “I want to make more money every month and increase my visitors” is not a goal. It lacks the sort of concrete measurement that will keep you motivated. You can’t measure any worthwhile progress against “more money every month”. One dollar “more” every month would qualify under this scenario.

One helpful tool is a calendar. By keeping a calendar by your workspace, you can mark off which days you made a meaningful contribution to your success, and which days you did not. By having the positive reinforcement of a visual aid, you can accurately assess how much of your time and energy is actually moving you closer to your objectives. Remember to be honest with yourself. Checking your email and your website stats does not positively impact your membership sales.

Dismissed!
The good news is, the more you cultivate your inner drill sergeant, the more he will become a part of your daily life. His (or her!) initial whispers will become shrieks that have you bouncing out of bed in the morning, excited to work on the latest project. The satisfaction of whipping yourself into tip-top webmaster shape will translate into dollars and success.

See you in the trenches!

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