Want To Get Really Good At Something? Avoid These 7 Deadly Mistakes
Quick history lesson: I started blogging two years ago.
My first 20 posts must’ve had 80 views combined. I remember manually “following” blogs on Wordpress in hopes that their owners would follow mine back.
When I got 100 followers, I threw a mental party.
It didn’t mean shit, though. I was still getting 4–5 views on new posts.
When you set out to become an expert at something, it turns out you make a ton of mistakes along the way.
You end up wasting a LOT of time, getting super stressed out, and feeling that you’re lost in the woods without a map most of the time.
It’s true — I’ve made a ton of mistakes on my journey to blogging proficiency.
Here’s a few that will definitely ring true for you as well — no matter what you’re trying to get good at.
1. Trying To Do It All On Your Own
“Too much self-centered attitude, you see, brings, you see, isolation. Result: loneliness, fear, anger. The extreme self-centered attitude is the source of suffering.”
I’m convinced you can’t be successful alone. It’s just not going to work. You NEED other people at some point to, on a very basic level, purchase whatever it is you want to sell them.
It’s also so much easier to make real progress (especially as a blogger) when you’re collaborating with other bloggers and “exchanging” audiences to drive new people to your content.
There’s no way around it — you need other people to succeed.
Back when I started I was way too introverted to reach out to other people for interviews, quotes, or just to say I liked their writing. I tried to hammer away at the wall by myself in the corner while everybody else was helping one another.
Only now do I realize that all the opportunities in the world exist in the hands of other people. All you need to do is ask enough, and you’ll receive what you want.
Do this: Collaborate. Be social. Read other people’s content. Offer legitimate value. Don’t be stingy.
2. Not Doing Enough Research
Heard of Gary Vee? He councils people to research Pinterest or Instagram strategies for 10 hours straight in some of his videos.
Yes, there’s a lot of value in getting out there and being a practitioner, but research is like typing in your destination to Google and allowing it to calculate that route for you.
You could throw away hundreds of hours “doing” one thing without knowing there’s a MUCH more efficient way to do it.
That’s why I love Medium. It’s an efficient way to connect with people and build your audience. I wasn’t getting traction on Wordpress, but I am here!
If I would’ve kept my head down and kept publishing on Wordpress, well, you probably wouldn’t be reading these words right now.
Do This: Research more! It’s like your roadmap forward.
3. Overestimating How Much You Can Actually Accomplish
“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”
This point is like a kick in the groin. I always hated hearing about how much longer things were going to take from cheeky writers like me. I wanted stuff to happen now, dammit.
It turns out that people are horrible estimators. We underestimate how much work it’s going to take while simultaneously overestimating our abilities.
If everyone was not even good, just somewhat good at estimating things, this would be a MUCH better world to live in.
We suck at estimating.
I always thought it would take me one year to monetize my blog. Here I am two years later finally making that happen (shout out the Medium Partner Program).
Nothing is easy. There’s things you aren’t working into your calculations because you haven’t RESEARCHED enough. It always starts as a drop before transitioning into a trickle. And even then it’s going to take a long time before you reach a full-on stream.
4. Placing Invisible Boundaries On Yourself
One of my childhood friends always used to complain about EVERYTHING. Even when we were older he’d focus on all the obstacles in his way instead of the opportunities.
Me: Why don’t you move to New York City like you dream to do?
Him: The rent is too high.
Me: Why don’t you work at home for a year and save up money before you go?
Him: At what job?
Me: Find one?
Him: I don’t want to work at so-and-so again.
Me: Why not find a new job?
Him: It’s too hard to find work nowadays.
And on and on and on.
There was always an insurmountable fucking wall in front of this dude that kept him from living his dreams.
I always thought I needed a certain number of subscribers before I could launch an online course. That was an unnecessary boundary.
In what areas are you deeply afraid to fail?
Most of the time we build invisible boundaries to keep ourselves from trying something — something that we’re deeply afraid of failing at.
Think about it.
5. Dwelling On Failure Too Much
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
I’ve read some nasty freakin’ comments from people.
A lot of them were right on the money, too!
Instead of letting them roll off my shoulders, I decided to, all too often, dwell on these comments for the rest of the day.
Imagine what I could’ve gotten done without focusing on B.S.
The problem was I’d take these comments/my failures to heart. I’d sit hopeless acting like I was NEVER going to improve at ANY point in the future.
I put the failures on a pedestal.
But guys, failures are just a pothole on the trail.
That was probably my biggest source of stress upon graduation. Employers kept rejecting me and I believed I’d never get better/become a more attractive candidate.
Just because you can’t see the way forward doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
You’re here today. You’re breathing. That means you’ve found a way to get past thousands of problems in your life leading up to this moment.
All that’s in front of you is a problem — you’ll figure out how to surmount it in time.
6. Taking On Too Many (Meaningless) Projects
You can look at this two ways..
On one hand when I created my magazine/podcast/travel blog I learned a heck of a lot along the way.
On the other hand, if I would’ve focused my time on the 20% of tasks that yielded me 80% of my progress, I’d be WAY ahead of where I am now.
Sometimes I’m the equivalent of a hyped-up puppy who’s discovering EVERYTHING in the world for the first time.
My head darts from thing to thing, and I end up chasing something only to change my mind and chase something else along the way.
Try to simplify your life.
If I would’ve poured all my time into writing at my publication and The Mission (JUST THESE 2 THINGS), I’d be so far ahead of where I am now.
Do This: Figure out what activities in your life yield you the most “fruit” and start doing MORE of that and LESS of everything else.
7. Not Giving Yourself Enough Credit
“Never underestimate your problem or your ability to deal with it.”
-Robert H. Schuller
I have some smart friends. One of my smartest friends lives out in Los Angeles. We used to wrestle on the same team back in high school.
A year ago he decided to pack his bags, hop in a car, and drive from Maryland to California (coast-to-coast) by himself.
I’ve never been more proud of any of my friends.
Now that he’s there, he’s making steady progress towards becoming a writer of his own — and he always makes time to call me and congratulate my progress every now and then.
He makes it seem like I’m so far ahead of where he is, but I’m not.
My friend is 14 times better at writing than me (legit statistical figure). He knows what he’s doing and more, and yet sometimes when talking to him I feel he’s not going for things because he thinks he isn’t ready yet.
He is ready.
If he thought he was, he’d have so many more opportunities coming his way.
But you know what? In a lot of ways I’m the same way.
Some of us overestimate what we can accomplish (#3 above), while others severely underestimate what we can accomplish.
You might be stunting your growth if you are. It’s like going for that perfect 10 at the bar. The worst she can do is ignore you, but what if she actually engages with you and enjoys the conversation?
Don’t be asking this question one day. You’re ready right now. Believe it.
I talk a lot about blogging — could you tell? I actually have a free 5-day email course called “Your First 1,000 Medium Followers” that will teach you how to build an audience here on Medium! Sign up for it right here. I’d love to teach you a couple things.