When we start a new project, we have high expectations and we are enthusiastic. After a while, when those expectations fail to materialize, we go through a dip.
When you enter a dip, you have two options. You can pivot to another project or you can stick with your project. If you stick with your current project, don’t expect quick results. In the real world, results tend to come in spikes after long periods of plateaus.
If you want more clarity about the future of your project, you can take the following steps
- Determine the potential of your project. What is the target revenue? What is the target number of active users, followers, or subscribers?
- Measure your weekly growth rate.
- Calculate how long it would take to reach that potential, if you can maintain your growth rate.
For example, I determined the potential of my blog to be 100K Medium followers and 20K email newsletter subscribers. My weekly growth rate is 10%. It will take me 15 months to reach my targets, if I can maintain the 10% weekly growth rate.
For more details and examples about the steps and calculations above, please refer to the previous post.
Face the Reality
That means I have to work for free for 15 months to build my business. This might look scary to you, but this is the reality. This is what my numbers are telling me. That’s a one big, long plateau. How many personal development blogs, books, or seminars tell you that?
How can I go through 15 months of unpaid work to build my business?
If I read a personal development post, buy a book, watch a video, hire a coach, or attend a seminar, they will tell me one of more of the following.
- You can do it!
- Work harder!
- Keep your eyes on the price!
- And so on, and so forth…
We all know that motivation lasts only so far. When the personal development industry fails us and our motivation ceases, we need something else to keep up with the work to stay in the game until the payoff day.
You need to stay in the game until the payoff day.
That’s the essence of startup success. Each startup goes through an incubation period when it isn’t profitable at all. In that period, the startup is either burning through cash or through the unpaid sweat equity of the founders.
A startup needs to stay in the business until it becomes self-sufficient. Sustainability might as well be the most critical issue for a startup.
Sustainability until profitability is the key to startup success.
If sustainability is the key to startup success, everything you learned from the personal development industry loses its meaning. Neither hard work, nor motivation can help you with sustainability.
The only thing that can help you with sustainability is to figure out what the essentials of your business are and let go of everything else.
Figure out the essentials of your business and let go of everything else.
That doesn’t sound like your typical personal development advice, does it? I don’t tell you to work harder, work longer, be present on all social media channels, and so on.
Have a Daily, Weekly Working Routine
The key component of the sustainability is to create a working routine that would produce your weekly targets without burning yourself out during the process. The best way to do that is to come up with a daily and weekly routine.
Here’s how I approach my routine. I don’t randomly carry out tasks or randomly publish posts. I publish a post every day and an email newsletter every Sunday. That requires a working routine, which I explained in Four Steps to Becoming a Published Author.
Here are two questions to consider:
- Which tasks in my routine contribute to my 10% weekly growth rate and which aren’t?
- Which tasks can I add to my routine that would contribute to my target weekly growth rate?
Those two questions are critical, if you are going through a dip. We add a lot of tasks to our daily and weekly routines when we first start a project, because we are so enthusiastic about it.
Focus on Essentials and Eliminate the Rest
We realize over time that our workload is not sustainable in the long term. We need to let go of some tasks that don’t contribute to our target values and focus on the essentials.
I have quit the following tasks.
- Reading and commenting the Medium posts of lesser known Medium authors.
- Participating heavily on Twitter.
- Trying to post in multiple Medium publications. Posting in a single major Medium publication is enough in my case.
What is the essential in my case?
- Publish a quality, interesting, original post every day in a major Medium publication.
I haven’t started at all with other popular social media advice, as I explained in my post called The Only Tip You Need to Grow Your Audience as a Blogger.
First of all, I don’t think participating in social media adds any value to anyone and I don’t enjoy it anyway. I don’t need a side project to do something I don’t enjoy. There are better paid options for that.
Focus on Sustainability
Moreover, I’m thinking of further adjustments to my daily and weekly routine to optimize the following variables.
- Maintain my 10% weekly growth rate.
- Increase the sustainability of my work.
- Increase the work that I enjoy.
- Minimize the work that I don’t enjoy.
How can I create a sustainable way to create content that contributes to my 10% weekly growth target?
My intuition says that I need to make my daily and weekly routine as effortless as possible. I’m going to leave it there, because that’s the subject of another blog post. I’m going to think and write about it and hopefully, you’ll benefit from my reasoning in these series.
Success in life and business comes in spikes after long plateaus. In my case, I project the incubation period of my blog to take 15 months.
Contrary to the common personal development advice, motivation and feeling good won’t get you through those plateaus.
What will get you through a plateau is to focus on sustainability, focus on the essentials that contribute to your targets, and eliminate the rest.
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.