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The End My Rope – When Trying Harder Just Isn’t Good Enough

by The Happy Rock on June 26, 2009

Something has to change.  I am at the point in life where you are honest enough to realize that what you have been doing just isn’t working.    You finally realize that just tweaking a few things and trying harder just isn’t going to do it.  I have tried hack after hack and rededication after rededicaton and if I keep trying it, I know I am going to get the same result.    SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE.

shipwrecked-failure-stuck-dreamsI am talking about my side businesses and entrepreneur dreams: The Happy Rock, Top Blog Posts, and my so called strategic web consultant business.   In April of last year I finished my MBA and created great plans for the next year.   It is now well over a year and things are almost exactly where they were 15 months ago.   It just isn’t working.  I had the plan and it just hasn’t come together.    I had dreams of replacing 30-50% of my income, I failed.   I still have the same mediocre blog and not much else.

In the back of my mind I know that it is OK.  I enjoy failure to some degree.  It is a new challenge that will require new skills and approaches and a strength that must be received, because my effort isn’t good enough.   It is also encouraging that a lot of my awesome successes in my life have sprung out of failure.

So why did I fail this time?

I am not fully sure yet, but I do know three huge areas that are glaring culprits:

Failure to focus on the tasks that provide the most value. I get about 2 hours a night if I am lucky and it is easy to spend it all checking email, tweaking a design, fighting sleep, or even just wasting time.  It is quite another thing to spend my limited time doing high impact tasks that are usually much harder and offer a lot more resistance and discomfort.  The high value tasks that I have avoided like the plague are prayer and meditation, researching and writing great content that helps people, and directly helping others achieve their dreams(especially through strategy consulting).

Not facing my fears and discomfort.  Web strategy consulting requires skills and knowledge that are quite underdeveloped.   I can do the web development no problem, but small business marketing is a newer endeavor.  I must also overcome my shyness to create leads, communicate effectively, and impart vision and hope.  I have pretty much avoided that business altogether; it was the path of most resistance.  Oddly enough it is the path I feel the most attracted to and deepest call to pursue.

Not focusing on others. Businesses make money because they provide value.  Fulfillment comes from positively contributing to world that far beyond your self interest.  I have spent much of the year so focused on what I am trying to accomplish that I lost all perspective when it comes to helping others.   I am not a particularly giving person by nature, so this another area that requires tapping into resources that outside my own ability.

So where does that leave me.? Again I am not all that sure yet.  Nothing drastic is happening as of now, but rest assured it will.  It has too.   I desire my dreams I have been given far too much.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

kosmo @ The Casual Observer June 26, 2009 at 9:19 am

Are you familiar with Problogger (www.problogger.net)? Lots of good tips there.

I know where you’re coming from about the lack of time. Between my day job and family life, time can be tight. I’ve minimized some of my leisure activities (TV watching is down to nearly zero – not a big loss). Nonetheless, I can still get distracted.

When this occurs, I try to engage in productivity sprints where I absolutely focus on the writing for a period of 30 minutes, then take a 20 minute break, then focus back on the writing, etc.

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The Happy Rock June 26, 2009 at 12:08 pm

@kosmo – I do read a ton of stuff on ProBlogger, but like I said hacks aren’t the issues right now. Sometimes the solution just can’t be hacked, you need a total overhaul. That is were I am at.

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Dajay June 26, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Long time reader, first comment.

I just have to say that you were an inspiration for me and one of the reason I kept out from a lot of my bad habits.

You. Will. Rebound.

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ed June 26, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Is success determined by $$?

I think TopBlogPosts is a brilliant idea.

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MoneyEnergy June 26, 2009 at 11:31 pm

I hear you… I know how it feels, which doesn’t help, of course – I’m going through a motivation spot myself. I agree with the poster above, TopBlogPosts was a great idea and must have taken a lot of work…. I’m sure it will pay off. Since you say you’re not looking for hacks but a total overhaul… sounds like you need a “break” in the sense of a totally new perspective. I don’t know what the break would be for you – it might not be in the literal form of a vacation. But inspiration, from somewhere, somehow. Maybe take another look at your assumptions when you started – the foundation you built the current project on. Maybe one of them needs to be changed or abandoned. Maybe the goal of the project can be realized in a different way?

Majorly congratulate yourself on the MBA, though… that’s amazing!

Hmm…. have you thought about trying a life coach? Could be interesting….

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the weakonomist June 27, 2009 at 1:11 pm

You may be trying to do too much. I’ve got a few great ideas I’ve been sitting on for a while because I don’t want to throw away more precious free time on them.

The reason I remain happy is I don’t do things that don’t make me happy. I’ve heard of problogger, but do know how much time I’ve spent reading it? Maybe an hour in the last year. Why? Because it seems like most of the people (at least commenting on posts) aren’t having fun with their blogs anymore.

Weakonomics is fun, but I could easily pursue other activities to “make money” or “get more traffic” or something else. Ultimately, I don’t think I’d be having as much fun though. Remember, this is your Happy Rock, do only what makes you happy.

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Debt Destroyer June 27, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Sounds like you need a kick in the pants. :)

If you haven’t already, you should check out:
http://www.gapingvoid.com/

I keep hearing about a “redesign.” I would explore that idea further before declaring yourself a failure.

P.S. According to your site tracker, you are now getting considerably more visitors than you used to get (too bad that didn’t translate into considerably more $$$).

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Thecpa June 27, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Happy Rock

Are you having a pity party?

You have been amazing in the inspiration you have given me from reading your posts. You have helped countless hundreds of readers in getting out of debt, saving money and getting control of their lives. We have but a short time on this Earth and the time we spend helping others is priceless. Why do you need to place a value on it?

But if you are unhappy then perhaps it is time to move on. Perhaps you need to spend more time with your family and we can understand that. But we do not think you have failed. You have touched many lives in a positive manner.

Perhaps your first instinct is the correct one. You need prayer and meditation. Surely you could find 5 or 10 minutes each day. It would probably help you to find the answers you seek. It can’t hurt anything. Church is a good place to start when nothing else seems to help.

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Peg June 28, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I almost feel like your speaking my mind; I know exactly where you are coming from. I have learned that its okay to have a “poor me” day but then you move on and keep trying something different everyday until you find what will work for you.

Sometimes I feel like yeah, I finally found something that will work for me until it suddenly doesn’t seem like it isn’t working anymore. So, I just move on and try something else and something else and something else….

Its alot of hard work but you have to determine if this is really what you want to do and are you willing to keep working for it. If not, then its time to move on and do something else. There is no sense in doing something you don’t enjoy or have a passion for. Try to remember why you got started in the first place, why were you so eager, what made you think you could succeed. You need to get those ambitions back and maybe kind of start over again with a fresh outlook.

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Tim June 29, 2009 at 11:31 am

Yo Happy,

Many people who are facing this type of a crossroads take time away to think through the type of person they are becoming, who they want to become and how that impacts the choices they will make. In ministry circles we call this a ‘sabbatical’. Obviously you can’t take time off of work – not sure your rock garden would dig the absence of a paycheck ;-)but I wonder if taking some time away from making plans and thinking about life strategy would be helpful. You could consider the above suggestion of a ‘life coach’ or maybe better, a spiritual director, to help you begin to reconnect with how God has put you together and what you want to spend your life doing. It may give you new eyes to see yourself and your life, or it may simply refresh you and enable you to move forward more hopefully and with renewed perspective (kinda like the difference between working when your exhausted and working after having had a good night’s sleep).

Anyway, thanks for being so transparent.

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Jonathan@Friends&Money June 29, 2009 at 4:49 pm

I don’t think you can call your blog mediocre, i find it a really interesting read. Perhaps what you need to do is take a short break for a week and come back to it fresh. Scheme in some creative time and start to outsource some of the repetitive elements of your business to reputable individuals, whom you trust with not damaging your online image.

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The Happy Rock June 30, 2009 at 9:22 am

@Dajay – Thanks for the compliment. I am glad to be of service!

@ed – I think Top Blog Posts is a good idea too, but only time and effort will tell if it is really valuable for people.

@MoneyEnergy – I think some sort of break is needed to gain a little perspective. I also think the idea of an objective external source(s) to talk with regularly will be something I will seek out.

@Weakonomist – Fun isn’t the end and be all for me. I agree wholeheartedly that you should love whatever you are doing, but fun is fleeting IMO. It seems to leave me chasing the wind and not emotionally fulfilled. I think purpose and fulfillment are deeper urges that I find need to be satisfied within me.

@DD – I have actually started the redesign and I don’t forsee not finishing. Stats are higher(money about the same), but neither of those are factors that quantify success for me.

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The Happy Rock June 30, 2009 at 9:35 am

@thecpa – I really didn’t mean to sound like I was engaging in a pity party. The article was meant to articulate my personal journey in my entrepreneurship career. A stage which I thought a lot of people would connect with and one that writing would help me clarify and think through where I am at. To be clear, I enjoy having the blog. I also know that a lot of people have and do receive value from the blog. What I haven’t done well is make the blog part of a larger journey towards the person I want to become and the dreams I desire to fulfill. That is why I need to get a little perspective and figure out how to best mesh the blog and my desires.

@Peg – I suspect a lot of people are in a similar place. I don’t want to move on from The Happy Rock so much as I want it to become something that is moving me down the path towards my dreams not be a distraction away from them.

@Tim – Bro, I think a little perspective is needed. Also some objective mentoring/direction would also go a long way. I am usually the do it yourselfer, but life just isn’t designed to work best that way.

@Jonathan – Thanks for the compliment. I really appreciate you readership and I am glad that you find value in The Happy Rock. I have considered outsourcing and will see if it fits into the plan going forward. It is a great idea when it works.

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The Happy Rock June 30, 2009 at 12:50 pm

I also hope that this article didn’t sound downbeat, because I am not. Like most things in life it is an invitation to deeper life and an opportunity for growth. I am trying to embrace it as such knowing that my life will be much better because of hurdles. Hopefully that comes across to some degree.

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Barbra July 3, 2009 at 11:08 pm

I admire and appreciate your honesty. I think many small business people can relate. It’s not easy starting a new business, and the online world provides no end of distractions. Best of luck to you.

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Scott Lovingood July 5, 2009 at 9:13 pm

I think it happens to us all. We look at where we are in life vs where we want to be and don’t like the difference.

Frank Kern in Core Influence speaks to what we really want to do. You sound like you need to take some time and write your perfect normal day. What would you spend your time doing if money didn’t matter? How would you add value to those around you?

If giving is a problem, it could also be part of the reason for your struggles. God gives to those who give freely. We live in a world of abundance and giving of ourselves, our knowledge, our passion creates reciprocity with the world and they give back.

If you ever want to talk, feel free to email me. I have a small business, a start up web business and can understand the frustrations you encounter. If there is anything I can do to help or provide feedback on, I would be happy too.

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