No Days off
Saturdays. Sundays. Holidays. It didn’t matter. I had to put my head down for a full year. I had to see what would happen.
I knew there would be a lot of tough days and there were a ton. More than I care to admit.
In fact, there were more tough days than there were good days. That’s no different today. The awful days, the excruciatingly painful sessions, far outnumber the easy ones. Once you realize this fact it is much easier to deal with. As I always say, “The pain is necessary.” It can ONLY make you stronger.
Writing is such a great metaphor for the underlying process to any great achievement. If you dissect any incredible accomplishment there is always some sort of repeatable process that will surface. Something repeatable, a daily habit that, compounded over time, created the results.
This is true in sports. It’s true in business. It’s true everywhere.
I was fortunate to have this concept drilled into my head working in a large sales organization. Forget results and focus on behaviors. Learn to master your habits and you will master your life.
When you can develop a momentum-building daily habit that aligns with your Vision the world becomes yours. You can make anything a reality.
So my real Vision began to develop about 7 years ago, when I was 22. I wanted to build a multi-million dollar online business. I thought publishing a book was a great way to do this, so one day, about 3 years ago, I just decided that I would write 1000 words every single day for a year.
Just to see what would happen.
My writing sessions were life and death. There was nothing in the world that could stop me from putting those words on the page.
Every day was a battle. Every day my mind told me that I could “take just one day off”.
I knew I couldn’t. One day off always becomes another. And, so on.
I had to finish what I started. Every day I dug deep. Every day I wanted to quit. Every day I fought through it.
I just kept stringing consecutive days together. I kept pushing myself to become stronger. I kept pushing myself to create something that would change my life. I kept pushing to make an impact in other people’s lives.
When I started, I had no clue what the result of this 365 day commitment would be. I just knew that I had several professional setbacks and I felt like a lot of things were happening that were completely out of my control and I wanted to regain control.
On the first day, I opened a blank document, stared for a half hour and then just started typing. This became a ritual.
As soon as I didn’t like the direction I was heading I would save the document, open a new one and start over.
I wrote a lot of garbage. A LOT. The “documents” folder on my laptop became a digital trashcan. To this day, I will occasionally open these old documents and cringe. Surely it wasn’t ME who had written all of that junk…….but I did.
After 3 consecutive months, without missing a day, I decided it was time to publish some of my work.
I knew posting blogs in a public domain would force me to get better faster, or else I would face the wrath of internet trolls and online bullies who would constantly remind me how terrible I was.
Sometimes you got to stand in the fire.
That’s when I started my first blogging website, which was titled, “Yes, You Can – The Entrepreneurship Journey”.
This was an important step that helped me discover the types of topics I enjoyed writing about. I always seemed to write something motivational, sports-related, or my personal favorite, controversial rap-style status-quo-challenging blogs. I started to discover a unique voice. My mind began to expand dramatically.
From there, I kept writing every day and slowly started to publish blogs that I was proud of [at the time].
Looking back now, I’m mostly embarrassed. My content was weak. My style was elementary. My messages weren’t succinct.
Shoot – I’m sure I’ll look back on this blog in a year and say the same exact thing. But, oh well.
I believe every awful writing session led me to a great one.
Every mediocre blog helped me create a better one. For every paragraph that made me shake my head in disgust, there was one that made me very proud. Like I’ve said before, it was all a process.
Another few months passed and I landed my first UNPAID writing gig. Woohoo! Did I mention that I was NOT getting paid for any of the other writing I was doing anyway? I didn’t think I had to.
Writing wasn’t paying me big bucks. It actually wasn’t paying me any bucks. But, nonetheless, I became a columnist for a travelling website based out of Boulder, Colorado with my first official column entitled, “Matt’s Motivational Mondays”.
This was another step forward. I don’t know if it was big one or a small one, but I didn’t care. A step forward is a step forward.
This column was important. It gave me a weekly deadline. I had to publish a blog on Monday morning. It put pressure on me to think about my message all week. Much more carefully than I had in the past.
This blog would be blasted out to several thousand people on a weekly basis. I couldn’t sound like an idiot. Who knows, maybe I did a few times. But, I certainly tried hard not to.
As I built my personal blog, and published blogs for my column I still needed other areas to direct my writing. 1000 words a day starts to pile up. You create a lot of content.
That’s when I decided I was ready to write a book. I had never done this before, obviously, but I was ready for the challenge.
I began dedicating a couple of writing sessions each week to my various book projects. (Of course my attention span was too short to focus only on one project). Of course, this didn’t make writing any easier. It actually made it harder. I had to make sure I was staying on topic. I had a lot more days where I experienced the dreaded Writer’s Block.
Anytime Writer’s Block set in, I would just open up a journal and just start typing whatever was on my mind. I still do this. It’s a way to work through the tough days. It’s a process that helps me overcome the difficulties that I consistently experience. It’s a tool that helps me fight through the inertia that occurs in any endeavor.
Now I know what you’re thinking……What about the RESULTS???
I’d be lying if I said I never cared about creating results from my writing because I did. I still do.
But, after 12 months of total commitment, here were the results:
• I created 2 full-blown blog websites
• I published over 100 blogs
• I wrote rough drafts for 5 books (not a typo)
• I wrote over 400,000 words
• I became an official columnist for an actual business/website
• I made $0 writing
These numbers might mean something to you. They might not. I’m guessing they probably don’t. That’s totally fine.
There’s a bigger lesson here.
Developing a momentum-building, life-changing habit isn’t about the result of your efforts. Sure, there will be results, but what’s more important is what you become throughout the process.
In 1 year I became a real writer.
I wrote rough drafts for 5 books in my first real year as a writer. All 5 of those rough drafts are sitting on the hard drive of my computer right now. I may publish them at some point, but I doubt it. Those books were for me. Nobody else. I did those to develop myself. To understand what I wanted to become.
All of this writing helped me find a voice. It helped me craft a message. It led me to the idea that ultimately became my first official, self-published book, Relentless Forward Momentum.
That book is just another small step towards my real vision of building a multi-million dollar online business. But it’s a HUGE step.
After 365 consecutive writing sessions I learned more about myself than any other time in my life. I learned what it really meant to commit. I learned what the phrase, Relentless Forward Momentum really means.
It means always finding a way to move forward and create momentum. It means never giving up on your Vision.
In 365 consecutive days I never quit. I wrote every single day. I missed 0 writing sessions.
That in itself is the biggest accomplishment of all. That is what I am most proud of. I made a commitment to myself and I honored it.
Writing has done so much for me as a person but it doesn’t come easy for me. Even now.
It’s a battle every day. But, if you’re not willing to fight every day to make your Vision a reality why even have one?
Writing is work. It is hard mental labor. You are not always proud of what you write.
90% of what I write is never seen by anybody other than me. But it’s all part of the process.
It takes bad writing to discover good writing.
It takes fighting through adversity to become stronger.
It takes failures to succeed.
And that is the point.
You may not want to write, or like to write, or be good at writing, but neither am I. You need to write. Either literally, or figuratively. You need to find a daily habit that coincides with the person you desperately want to become. This, and only this, will provide the results, the confidence and the momentum it takes to be great.
That I promise you.
So start doing something. Take the 1-year commitment like I did and see where it takes you.
Forget the results.
Forget the failures.
Forget all of things that might [and probably will] get in your way.
Do it anyway. Do it for you.
You just might create a story the world desperately needs to hear.