Are your expectations setting you up to fail?

It took me 5 years to feel successful

I’ve been designing websites and building online courses for 5 years.

I am finally starting to feel like I’m making good progress.

Yet, all along the way, I’ve been carrying around the expectation that I can and will be “successful” very soon. It’s always been just over the horizon.

I’ve built a lot of things over the years. And with every single one of these things I had the expectation that it was gonna be “the thing” that would make me successful.

Many people may see my accomplishments and think that I have “made it”.

I haven’t.

But I am in the game.

I’m making it. I’m creating it.

Everything I create gets better.

Everything I create gets easier.

Everything I create is more enjoyable.

And people seem to like what I make more too.

I used to always search for the shortcuts.

And if that time spent searching for the elusive treasure, would have instead been focused on putting my head down and creating things just for the sake of experience, I would be even further along. Far further.

6 Figures In 6 Weeks?

When I first got into the entrepreneurship game, I naturally went to the internet to find insights and wisdom on how it works and how to go about doing it.

That is when I discovered internet marketing culture.

All these self-made millionaires were creating these “landing pages” with big bold headline that promises to give you their secret formula for crushing it online.

You’d pop your email into the box, then they’d send you a series of automated emails and video lessons, showing you the overview of their innovative system.

After going through their mini course, they would present you with a hard-sell on their complete program that promised to teach you their entire system from top to bottom, and guide you in applying it in your biz.

The thing that really kept me engaged was the carrot that was dangled in my face. Usually it was something like “using my system you can build a $6 figure online course in 6 weeks” or “the complete framework to growing your email list to 10,000 subscribers in X months”.

This led me to believe that thing it would be quick and easy to reach my financial goals in the online business game.

Here’s the thing, it’s not that they were being dishonest. They just weren’t telling the full truth.

The problem is that to generate 6 figures in 6 weeks, you need to already be settled into your craft with a helluva lot of experience. You need to actually know what you’re doing.

You’re (Probably) Not a Unicorn

There is the occasional unicorn. The person that had no idea what they were doing, who followed some magic formula, and knocked it out of the park on the first try. These are the people that get featured on the sales pages of these magic formulas.

We think “hey, if they could do it, so can I!”

What we don’t hear about is the countless number of students who dive in, do their best, and then end up deeply discouraged by the result.

The sales pitch on most of these courses is that it’s what worked for the creator. “I hit 6 figures in 6 weeks with this exact formula!”.

What they forgot to mention was the 6 years of working their ass off to be skilled and experienced enough to make it work. Oops.

Everyone wants the shortcut.

And many people are profiting greatly by selling shortcuts.

It’s a hot commodity.

The problem is that they simply do not work.

There is no shortcut.

I can build a beautiful website in one day.

It took me 5 years of consistent, daily practice to build a one-day website.

I can teach you how I build a website in a day. But the thing is that it’s STILL going to take you days, weeks, or even months, depending on how much experience you already have.

It will definitely shave off some time, but it’s not going to do the work for you.

We can’t escape the work.

Every creative entrepreneur eventually comes to the realization that action is the only way forward.

There is so much fear of the long haul. Everyone wants success and they want it now. That’s how it’s sold to us and thats how our society behaves, so no wonder I had unrealistic expectations.

I’ve come a long way, but I am still just getting started.

I’ve finally come to embrace the long cut.

And now I’m catching my stride.

The wave is swelling.

My fire is stoked.

The Dream vs. The Reality

When we find ourselves disappointed with our work or progress, it is simply because our expectations were not set in our favor.

We tend to expect and hope for things that are outside of our control.

This sets us up to fail.

If I place my success and expectations on earning a certain amount of money, or gaining a certain number of subscribers, or having a certain amount of traffic hit my blog, then I am bound to wind up frustrated and defeated when I miss the mark.

If I place my success and expectations on producing a certain amount of work, or trying and applying something new, or launching something into the world, then my success depends entirely on me. If I fail, it’s because I didn’t do the work. The ball is entirely in my court.

The Long Cut is the Short Cut

This obsession with finding the quick fix, the latest hack, or the newest shortcut ultimately leads us down a path that will stunt our growth rather than boost it.

The irony is that when you decide to take the long path, you actually end up on the most direct route.

Instead of obsessing over nailing it the first try, what if you let the next 2 years be purely for learning and refining your skills in course creation?

Why does that feel so demanding?

People do it all the time when they want to learn a new skill, especially when that skill presents a business opportunity.

It’s called college. People pay a lot of money and a lot of time for education, and there is generally no expectation of applying that new skill in the real world until after they graduate. That’s 2+ years of hard work, just to get a diploma that says you’re now qualified to do it for real.

Yet in the world of making money online, nothing is ever advertised as taking two years. Six weeks seems to be the gold standard. And it’s 110% unrealistic, 90% of the time.

It wasn’t until I decided to slow down and enjoy the work, that my work finally became worthy. The best stuff I’ve made the result of me having a lot of fun.

Do it for the joy

The work has become the payout.

I love what I do.

The thought of doing something for the love of it doesn’t seem to resonate much with the entrepreneurial world. We obsess over conversion optimization, lead magnets, exit strategies and endlessly searching for the next wave of hype.

Here’s the thing: if you’re just starting out, or relatively new to this game, it will likely require years of action-taking to create something that really strikes a chord with anyone other than your friends. You won’t be ready until you start.

If you just started painting, would you expect anyone to buy your first painting? Would you even expect anyone to buy your 4th or 5th?

If you just started learning guitar, would you expect people to purchase your first songs on iTunes?

If you’re like me, then the answer to that is a big fat “nope!”

But if we set our expectations right, learning those skills can be a pure joy, and they usually are. That’s why we do them in the first place.

It is absolutely no different with course creation.

Someone can sell you a training program that will teach you how to create a painting in 6 weeks. But you better be real with yourself about the fact that it’s 99% likely that the only person who is going to like it is you, and you’ll probably think it’s rubbish the moment that initial satisfaction rubs off.

The course will definitely help you learn faster than going at it alone, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s going to take at least a year or two or more of consistent practice to create a painting that is good enough for people to think, “Wow, I need that in my home!”

Unless you have years of experience with running an online business, have a decent sized following, and are experienced in creating high quality content, then you would be best served to expect it to take a few big projects and a few years to get to where you want to go.

Slow consistent growth is the only reliable path.

This is why we don’t offer a misguiding promise that you’ll create a course in X number of weeks when you join The Great eCourse Adventure.

It takes awhile.

It takes consistent action.

It takes a lot of support.

But if you walk the path and don’t give up, you will reach your destination. And you’ll get there far faster than you’d expect.

When we ease ourselves of the anxiety that comes with trying to achieve the unachievable, we create the space for something truly magical to happen.

If I accept that everything I create for the next 2 years is going to be not very awesome, but that I have to create it to become skilled enough to make it awesome, then I am going to realize the only choice is between two things: to enjoy the work, or resist it.

Part of the work is putting yourself out there. Sure, you can refine your skills in the privacy of your studio, but if you drop the mask and learn out loud, you’ll supercharge your progress.

Yeah it’s scary, but it’s a massive opportunity.

Make friends with the fear and you’ll be well on your way.

You would have an unfair advantage if you decided to treat your first couple years in course creation as a “college education.” This will set you up for success, and prove to be exponentially more effective than any shortcut the world may promise you… IF, and only if, you show up, do the work and push through the fears that come up along the way.

I wish they would have told me this in online biz school

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned recently is that my work is my salvation. Creating work that matters, work that fills me up to the brim and beyond, work that changes my life and the life of others… That is the holy grail of my creativity.

We’ve been sold the idea that the goal is retirement.

You’ve probably noticed that current trend in the internet marketing world is the idea of early retirement.

Here’s the problem with retirement. Unless you do some type of creative work, your life loses purpose. You get bored. There is no escaping the work.

So we slave away our entire lives, because were promised retirement one day where we can finally relax and enjoy life. But then we get there and then what? Travel around, check things out, and then after awhile the boredom sets in and you have to figure out what to do with your time.

No thank you.

The true goal for me is to create a lifestyle that I don’t need to escape from. Retirement? Pffffttttttt. That’s for people that don’t truly enjoy their work.

The goal is to create work that is play.

Choosing to do work I love, and to love my work, has had a four-fold effect.

  • I am more present in my life. I am not waiting for tomorrow.
  • I am enjoying the process. I enjoy the imperfection.
  • I am doing better work and experiencing constant improvement.
  • I’m starting to care more about the work itself. rather than the end result.

They say the journey is the destination.

Maybe it’s time we listen.

Our joy depends on it.

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