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I’m a huge fan of personal development. For the last 19 months I blogged about very little else and like to think I made a mark on the industry – despite my age and “total nobody” status. I don’t really write about self improvement anymore but I still actively work on improving different aspects of my life.
Without books like The Power of Now, Psycho Cybernetics, and Tribes, I really don’t think I would be where I am today. In fact, I think that the majority of my success online is thanks to the life lessons I’ve pushed myself to learn and the knowledge I’ve picked up over the last few years.
Personal development is a very broad topic covering things like motivation, productivity, health, finances and pretty much everything else. I’m not going to pick any of these individually, although you can probably apply the lessons here to those areas.
Instead, I’m going to share seven things that I believe are be critical in helping you transform your life and succeed in various endeavours. More specifically, I believe these seven lessons have been instrumental in helping me make a living online, so there’s a good chance they can greatly help you.
I can’t find any better way to say this (profanity warning) but one of the biggest mind fucks I experienced last year was how much easier it was to achieve my goals when I actually stopped caring about achieving them.
I’m a huge advocate of the Sedona Method and one of the things they teach is a way for you to become totally “hootless” about your goals. In other words, they advise you to be totally indifferent to whether you achieve them or not. This completely goes against the thinking of society where you have to pick a specific goal, and work as hard as you can until you hit your target.
When you really can let go of attachment to outcomes, life and work just become so much easier. I would go so far as to say that most of the work I do now is totally effortless. When you let go of attachment to results, it’s far easier to stay focused on what you’re doing and it shows in the results. Not caring about something doesn’t mean you don’t work towards it — you just allow yourself to take action in a much more relaxed manner.
As an example, look at ViperChill. Each month when I share my reports, I clearly state that I don’t care about the stats. I really don’t. I do enjoy looking at them, but that’s it. Yet, this is a blog that only wrote 5 posts last month (how many can say that?) and gained almost 600 subscribers. I am so at ease with my work, and the result is nothing short of amazing.
Apart from being the author of the only book that made me feel less like a man, Elizabeth Gilbert can also give amazing speeches. The video I watched of her at Ted was a fantastic way to look at inspiration and using the many seemingly random ideas that come to you everyday.
Elizabeth talks of your brilliant ideas as something that comes not from within you, but something that passes through you from external sources. In her example, she says that she would be sitting in a field when she would have the huge urge to write something for her best-selling book, Eat Pray Love. Instead of hoping to remember the idea later, she would run through the field back to her home as fast as possible to get everything down on paper.
While I don’t want to get into too much about how the universe works, I do find that my best ideas are never when I am sitting in front of a computer or trying to create them. My best ideas are when I’m chatting with friends, doing my shopping, or lazing out on my balcony watching the world go by.
What I have learned more than anything in the last year is to store these ideas as soon as possible. I have notepads scattered throughout my apartment and a phone that is perfect for storing random creativity. If you have inspiration to build a certain site, or write a certain article, or try a new traffic generating method, write it down. Straight away. If you don’t, you might just have ignored the best idea of your life.
I love helping people in various different ways but one thing that really drives me is seeing my “students” succeed online. The very reason I relaunched ViperChill is so I can focus on doing that and help thousands of people every time I write something. Whilst the growth of ViperChill has been amazing and far better than I expected, the growth of my inbox is far less exciting.
I’ve just moved into my new apartment in Cape Town (pictures) so I was offline for a few days to sort things out and catch up with all of my old friends. When I got back, the number of emails waiting for me was almost saddening. I then vowed that I would spend the next 4 hours responding to them all (it actually took about 6) and work out a better solution.
It’s not that I don’t love giving advice and working one-on-one, as I really do. It’s just that the more I am working one-on-one, the less time I have to write articles that can help thousands of people at once. I did consider hiring an assistant, but then that would defy the whole point of people emailing me for advice.
I am going to continually update the contact page here with frequently asked questions I receive, but besides that, I’m just going to have to start giving people less permission. Not only to waste my time, but to tell me what to do or to change my course of action. The majority of things that have gone very well for me did so because I followed my own path, I focused on getting things done, and I trusted in myself.
Don’t be afraid to turn down advice, requests for help, or anything else that gets in the way of you being on your path and sticking to your mission. “The people that matter don’t mind, and the people that mind don’t matter” – Dr. Seuss.
In personal development, having your own set of values that you follow can be helpful in a number of areas. In terms of health, it could be that you don’t want to eat meat because you don’t support the way it is processed. In terms of relationships, it could be that you won’t accept a guy or girl in your life who is disrespectful to things that you really care about.
Sticking to your own values is also a great lesson to use in internet marketing. One thing I’ve noticed is that when bloggers who are successful give advice about how they did so well, a lot of the advice is generic and to the point.
It’s not that the advice isn’t true; it’s just that it is rarely anything new. This is exactly why I gave specific examples when writing my post on how I grew a blog with 6,500 subscribers. One thing most A-list bloggers forget is that one of the things that has made them successful is simply who they are and how they do what they do.
Darren at Problogger never fails to update his site daily, and has done so for years. Copyblogger will rarely publish a guest post unless it has been tweaked to have the best impact on their audience. I will probably never write more than two articles in a week. (To you crazy people who actually enjoy what I write, I apologise).
The only rule in internet marketing is that there are no rules. Don’t be afraid to do things differently because they’re how you want to do them. You will slowly but surely build an audience who loves exactly what you’re producing, and one that looks forward to seeing more of it.
When I wrote my article on WordPress SEO last week, I knew there would be some controversy as a lot of SEO’s build an ego around calling themselves experts. I did not expect that someone would write on Twitter that they want to shoot me, but that’s exactly what happened.
Despite knowing there would be some backlash, I just had to ask myself one thing: am I writing this article to help people, or am I avoiding writing it because I’m scared of how some people might react? As I have for most of my life, I just decided to focus on what I put out to the world and be completely fine with how people react.
After all, if someone doesn’t like the content here, they can simply unsubscribe. I’m not going to pretend the internet is a really nice place where everyone gets along in harmony, but for the most part, there are many ways it can enrich your life both socially and professionally.
The only thing you can ever control is what you do; not what other people do. Because of that, worrying about how people are going to react to things is just wasting energy and totally pointless. Surprisingly or not, the more you stop worrying about the feedback you receive, the better it tends to become.
They say that you are a result of the five friends that you spend the most time with. I’m not sure I like that concept, but I can’t deny that it has its merits. The people who are closest to me in my life right now include a professional poker player, a successful stock trader and blogger, and multiple businessmen who have built and sold large companies.
I don’t think it is a surprise that my own endeavours are also going well. Whether I subconsciously attracted these people into my life or whether it happened by coincidence, I don’t know. I do know that when I was lazy, unproductive, and not getting anywhere with my projects, I was spending time with people who are exactly the same.
I’m not telling you to go out and find people who have done well in your industry or environment and try to befriend them. I simply suggest that you look at your current friends and see if they are helping you get to where you want to go or if they’re holding you back.
It’s not easy to cut out friends from your life, but it is something to consider if you’re spending the majority of your time with people who have no aims or common interests. At 18 I left every single friend I have ever made and moved to South Africa where I didn’t know one single person. I have never regretted that decision.
Over the last 5 years, since I was 15 years old, I have built around 40-50 websites. I would say that 9 out of 10 have been total failures. When I realised this, I decided to work out what separated the sites that did well and the sites that just flunked. That way, I could replicate my success and build less failures in the future.
After looking at my list of sites for over an hour, there was something very obvious that stood out to me. The sites that did well were simply the ones I loved working on the most. This doesn’t surprise me, but it wasn’t something I had noticed until I sat down to really look at things.
Building web properties around things that you love means that:
When I was 16, my first serious website was featured in the book, DJ’ing for Dummies. This is the website that literally cost me a year of my college life. My attendance was so low as I kept going home to work on the site that they refused to let me go back for a second year.
This is how much I loved what I did, and it showed in the end result.
Most people online (who have something to sell) will tell you that you can make money in a few days or a few weeks. If you’re willing to spend a lot of money, then it’s possible. In most cases though, you’re unlikely to see a great return within 6 months on most of your ventures.
Could you focus on your topic for at least 6 months without making money? If not, pick something else.
And finally, as Gary Vaynerchuk covers in his book Crush It!, the best business strategy ever, is…to care.