How to Build a 'Work-Reward' MindsetDec 03, 2023
Most people will tell you if you want to succeed writing on the internet you need to be consistent. You need to show up. And you do. The trouble is. Knowing that doesn’t help much.
It doesn’t tell you much about how, why, or what it’s like to write on the internet. It doesn’t tell you how to show up, what to do when you feel low, how to coach yourself into doing it anyway.
Today, we’re going to talk about all that. Today we’re going to talk about how to manage your emotions when it comes to writing on the internet.
Let’s start with preparation.
Step 1: Preparation
I’ll set the scene of my life for the last three years.
Every day, for 1000+ days in a row, I’ve grabbed a cup of coffee (unless my stomach was on the brink), opened my laptop, popped on my trusted noise-canceling headphones, and started typing.
It sounds easy. And it has got easier. But it is by no means easy. Is it Simple? Sure. But simple day in, day out, arouses suspicion in your own mind.
Every morning I stir the pot, like my morning coffee — the water particles collide with the coffee grinds, resistant at first to merge. But as you stir, they give in.
Every day there is a battle to be had between myself and I. I must stir. I must collide with my emotions, I must fix the point at which my negative emotions blend with my aspirations and if I mix enough, I can sit down to write.
It’s a delusion to think this creative thing is easy. It’s the path to riches. It’s a fool's errand. To sign up for this thing, this creative thing, especially when you have a job that pays the bills, well I’ve never pursued something so tough. But then I’ve never been rewarded so well.
If you want to do this, be prepared for your emotions to be steamrolled.
Step 2: Stepping in (and crashing)
Novelty is cheap and unreliable.
Here one minute, gone the next. The first few weeks of newness will lure you into a false sense of security — this creating this is a breeze. You’ll be high on your own supply and think there is no way you’d ever quit.
That’s a sign you’re about to come down.
That first crash usually takes out 70% of people. That deep sense of disappointment, of monotony, of frustration that nothing is happening, well you almost render yourself insane.
You keep doing the same thing over and over — so far, no results. Yea, you’re only two weeks in but shouldn’t something have happened by now?
The answer — no.
- You’ll feel like you have nothing useful to offer the world.
- You’ll feel like nobody is listening (they probably aren’t).
- You’ll feel completely and utterly out of your depth.
You’ll be hanging on by a thread. It’s so easy to quit. I wouldn’t blame you.
I call this the first crash.
But if you can get past the first crash, the next one you’ll likely survive. They get less frequent but their intensity increases. Like resistance training for the mind. Get past your first one, the next 200 are just marginal gains.
Step 3: Acceptance
This is it.
After 100 days of doing the same thing over and over, you’ll realize that this is what they were talking about. This crazy, immense, life-changing thing? Well, it just feels normal. Boring even.
I know. Sucks right? But there is much beauty in boredom, you can learn to step into it, to dance in it, to make the boring, un-boring. But first, you must accept.
Accept that it’s not sunshine and rainbows, that some days it’s terriantial rain, you get soaked to the bone and you are decidedly, miserable. That is okay. That’s the acceptance.
Here’s what you must accept: you won’t go fast. In fact, you’ll go painfully slow. So slow you question whether you are going backward. You’ll fall, hurt yourself, and feel glum. And then there will be days when you feel it… purpose. There is nothing quite like it.
That feeling that you are where you should be, content. It’s magic.
But it’s not all magic, not even close. Maybe 10% of your time is magic. But that’s okay. It’s the sort of sunshine that makes you forget what rain feels like.
Step 4: The reward
I was convinced that it was never going to happen for me.
Ever. I’d given up that I was ever going to make it. That I was ever going to do this thing and build anything that people wanted to see. That it was a pipe dream.
Give over Eve, people like you don’t build things.
I felt it all. But I just kept writing because writing helped me get out of my own head. It had nothing to do with money or my audience. It had everything to do with me feeling better.
This year everything changed.
I hit 50k on Medium, smashed my target of making $10k per month, and kept my day job.
But weirdly, sitting here now, reflecting on the last 6 months, I realize the money came when I accepted work as the reward.
When I studied, tested, reviewed and actually started to believe that maybe it would happen for me. When I committed to writing the best content I could.
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