It's generally pretty easy to write up a list of things of habits that elite people who excel in their area are prone to doing:
- Elites excel at habitually getting up at 5 am
- Elites excel at habitually exercising first thing in the morning
- Elites excel at performing all of their daily tasks (even if they don't want to)
But as we all know, recalibrating your life to actually adopt a new habit and behavior can be pretty difficult.
We've all experienced it first hand:
You absorb some inspirational content or stimuli, you restructure your day, you say aloud or write down that you're committed to this new set of behaviors and habits; however, some how — when the inspirational flame fades, you keep finding yourself reverting to your old habits and behaviors after some time passes.
According to researchers at Duke University, 40% of the actions that account for an individual's day aren't a response to a person's decision-making but actually a response to a person's habits.
Much of that 40% is a makeup of bad habits, unfortunately.
Think about it:
- The habit of bingeing Netflix when you should be reading or working
- The habit of endlessly scrolling Instagram (in 2018, users spent an average of 53 minutes a day on Instagram — that's an entire workday every week!)
- The habit of eating nutrition-less and numbing foods when we should be fueling our body for more energy expulsion.
And it's not as simple as just quitting a bad habit.
According to Bestselling Author James Clear, bad habits do offer some form of benefit in your life. People make a habit of smoking cigarettes because it offers (or once offered) a reward.
- Stress relief
- Oral asphyxiation
The need for reward doesn't necessarily go away. People are still going to get stressed. What different reward can you add to your habitual construct that will help you replace a bad habit with a good habit while still satisfying the reward system?
In this article, I want to go over the bad habits successful online content writers don't do. With that, I want to offer up what they do instead while attempting to illustrate the complementary good habit still satisfies the reward system.
When at all possible, I'm going to refer to real-world examples (that could be regarding myself or another) in an attempt to make this as applicable and practical as possible.
Let's take a look…
1. They don't waste time.
"I like refried beans. That’s why I wanna try fried beans, because maybe they’re just as good and we’re just wasting time. You don’t have to fry them again after all."
— Mitch Hedberg
For those of you familiar with Tim Denning — do you think he sleeps?
I have been writing on this platform for over 3 years and I remember the days where he had a humble following of just a few thousand people. Now — he's high in the stratosphere of ultra-successful online content writers.
I'm still amazed at the amount of content he's able to produce on a daily basis.
Do you think he treats every minute with the utmost urgency possible?
I bet he does.
For many years, I worked as a side hustler in order to make my build towards my dream of being a self-employed online content writer and marketer (or as I like to call it, Internet Cowboy).
I used to work as a fine dining server. In that game, you get to the restaurant hours before dinner service. Everything has to be perfect.
You perform your duties and then you still have to stay hours after the last guest leaves to make sure the space is set up properly for the next day's battle.
Needless to say, it's hard on the body and you have to work long hours (anyone reading this who has worked in restaurants knows exactly what I mean).
I wasn't able to waste time.
Hours before going into dinner service, I was waking up early in the morning so I could get in my workout or run, write and create content, build my site, respond to subscriber emails, build digital products, and then head to work for the dinner shift.
I know writers like Tim did the same when they were building their empire as well.
By waste time, I'm trying to be obvious here:
- Wasting time on social media
- Wasting time playing mobile phone games/video games
- Wasting time watching 24/7 news channels
All of these bad habits give the reward of status and comfort. You gain status through learning about the world (news) and through likes, shares etc (social media and scores in games).
You can replace this with producing content on sites like Medium and Quora. The work may not be exactly what you want it to be but you'll get that feedback from an audience in the form of upvotes and claps. Plus, you'll get an even better reward if you can monetize the content.
2. They don't criticize others.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; […] and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
— Theodore Roosevelt
Gossip and the critique of other can feel so damn good some times.
It gives you a lot:
- It gives you perceived power and status over another
- It gives you the feeling that you're superior
- It gives you control over understanding a situation
But what does it really give you?
Not a whole lot to be honest.
When it actually comes to the tangible things you earn as a result of constantly criticizing others — you're really left with an empty well of still yearning for more.
Look at all of the great online content producers out there, what do you see?
- Do you see [non-political] podcasts out there bashing and criticizing potential guests? No — they're collaborating
- Do you see writers slamming others for their work? No — turn any book over and see how others writers in their space are helping advocate for their work
Elite online content writers know that when water levels rise — it raises all ships.
Those water levels rise through collaboration, shout outs, features and helping each other out.
Listen, I'm not advocating against the constructive critique — I think that's healthy and needed in this space. I also think if you think something or someone is "stupid" (which I've been called many times), I also think it doesn't do you any good if you don't have any content of your own to argue otherwise.
Instead of merely criticizing for the sake of feeling better, channel that angst in some content. You can still take someone's idea and challenge it. You'll still get the reward of status and control but you'll be channeling it in a form that can actually give you something back — rather than feeling empty.
3. They don't overthink their work.
"Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind. Withering my intuition, missing opportunities and I must. Feed my will to feel my moment drawing way outside the lines"
— Maynard James Keenan
I'm a fan of paralysis by analysis.
Well — I'm not a "fan" of it. I'm a fan that I know the saying and now can be responsible for moving forward.
From 2013 to early 2016 I religiously took improv classes in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was amazing for many reasons.
One of the best lessons I learned from those 3 years studying the craft was the idea that nothing being sacred.
What exactly do I mean by that?
Well, as briefly as I can put it — one day in improv practice we had a substitute instructor. We had a handful of really funny "skits." One of them was particularly funny.
When we returned the next week, we had our regular instructor, Nate back to help us with practice. I don't remember who exactly started telling Nate about the skit from the week prior but more classmates joined in and finally Nate had to stop us,
"Listen, guys — that's all great, you had an amazing skit last week. Nothing is sacred! Get on with the next one. That's the beauty of improv: it's there one moment and then it's gone! That's how it is in life too — everything is improv and nothing is sacred — get onto the next one."
I've carried that forward in many areas of my life.
My content production being one of them.
While I always look to put my best effort and produce only valuable and quality content — I know that this piece is just as fleeting the one that preceded it.
I get it — you want to do the same:
- You want to put out only the best content you can produce.
- You want to make sure it's "perfect" before pitching to a publication
- You want to safeguard against any negative criticism
I get all of that.
If you're in this for the long haul, however, you'll know it's about the next one.
And the next one.
And the next one.
Constantly checking and editing your work is a habit that allows you to stay in control: you control how the content looks, you control the ability for criticism to come or not, you control how favorable it is to the audience (because you're the only audience member).
By making a habit of editing once or twice, pitching, and publishing and then going onto the next one you still exert the reward of control over your content.
You control how much is being created, you control when you'll send it to a publication, and you ultimately control when you'll publish the work.
4. They don't compare themselves to others.
“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”
― Bruce Lee
We live in an interesting time in history.
We can see what anyone is doing at any time. What's more — when we peek into their life, sometimes it's for real and other times, it's fabricated (and that's becoming more and more the norm).
It's hard to not see what others have or are doing and want that for ourselves.
When we don't have what they have (and what we seemingly want) we tend to feel down on ourselves. The comparison makes us feel inferior.
- "How can I expect to be successful at this when I don't have 35k followers?"
- "I'm not college-educated — I can't write like she can."
I see comments and emails like this all the time.
Sure — you're not where some of these online content writers might be — but that doesn't mean that you're not somewhere great!
The high achieving online content writers know their individuality and they exploit that.
We live in such a beautiful world that we even have amazing writers writing about their own personal experiences in sex and erotica (something I don't have the balls [pun intended] to do).
Your work won't ever be as good as someone else's.
But that's a good thing!
Because their work won't ever be as good as yours.
Your uniqueness is what’s going to move your career forward.
The habit of comparing yourself to others offers you comfort. You don't have to take responsibility of being something better because right in front of you is someone to compare it to.
When you find your lane, find your voice and exploit that — you can still get the reward of comfort when you see how it will inspire others (through feedback and comments).
You have everything you need.
"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."
— Joseph Campbell
Restructuring 40% of your day can feel overwhelming.
However, it doesn't have to be.
Really — you're right on the other side of something great, you just have to see the obstacles in front of you at a different angle.
You have everything you need to build yourself into the person and professional you know you're capable of becoming.
You can still get the reward you seek, just be open to seeing an alternative to the negative habits that are currently holding you back.
On the other side is the life you want to create.
On the other side is freedom.
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