In all its 10 year history, RobCubbon.com has only had two guest posts. Why? Because the guest posts I get are usually crap. But this one isn’t. Far from it. It’s awesome and I’ve added to it a little bit as well. My friend Michal Stawicki explains how you can get over income envy and a lot more besides.
Two years ago I published my first book on Amazon. Since then, I’ve often been frustrated by my rate of progress. I quickly targeted the source of my unease: I was comparing myself to others.
When it comes to this issue, the standard advice is: “Stop! Comparing yourself to others is an idiocy!”
And my analytical self agrees. But we don’t do that on purpose. As wannapreneurs, we devour success stories en masse. It keeps our engines going. We desire the shiny end result exposed so brightly in them.
Like Rob, I publish income reports. And while the figures remained in red, just a few friends read them. A few weeks ago, I published my report for May 2014, showing my first 4-figure month. I shared it in a Facebook Group. My website got a surge of visitors 15 times bigger that day than average.
No one is interested in the mundane details of a journey; everybody wants instant results. We need those stories to fuel our dreams. However, the subconscious then links these stories to our own situation. We compare; we’re frustrated because our life doesn’t match up.
The dangers of comparison
You are not Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas or James Shramko. Neither am I. I have a different business, different experience and different personality. Thus I cannot duplicate their results. At best, I can try to mimic them.
I was laid off from my job about 18 months after Pat Flynn. His site was dedicated to professionals and he had thousands of visitors a day. I had a site for hobbyists which had a dozen visitors a day. Besides, Pat had something Jim Rohn calls the “right character.” I had no character worth mentioning. Pat started an online business and earned $8k in the first month. I found a new job and got $1.3k in salary.
When Rob started his passive online business, he was already an experienced freelancer. He had stuff he could teach to others. Me? What kind of course could I create when I began? “How to be a timid employee?”
The results others get may be inspiring. Nonetheless, they are irrelevant to your personal situation, but rationalizing this won’t help much. You need other mental tools to cope with your internal frustration.
Appreciate yourself more
Start by reviewing all your achievements. I went back over the past two years and revisited what I had accomplished.
I had published 9 books. I’d given several interviews. My books were on Amazon bestseller lists next to the books of my heroes: David Allen, Anthony Robbins, Darren Hardy.
I’d sold over 12,000 copies of my books. I’d earned money. My business is actually profitable. In 2015, my income averages about 60% of my day job salary. Yes, and all this as a side hustle.
Revisit your achievements: OK, maybe your financial results are not yet satisfying. (It took me a year to make decent money for the first time; Rob earned only about $1,000 passive income in 2011.) But you can always add up your output: the number of blog posts, words written, coaching sessions done or YouTube videos posted.
I made a summary of my activity: words written (approximately 640,000); blog posts published (80); mailing sequences created (three; 469 messages); books translated (two and a half).
Review the tools you mastered: (I learned WordPress and several plugins, Scrivener, Aweber, Coach.me, Twitter and Facebook).
You can count your intangible blessings. I have friends and readers all over the world. I’ve helped to improve the lives of at least the few dozen readers who were bold enough to reach out to me. Entrepreneurs who earn 5-, 6- or even 7-figures a year know who am I and reply to my messages.
Throw in some ego metrics:
- I recently had a Skype call with Kimanzi Constable whose revenues are about 20 times bigger than mine. I was ready to pick his brain dry, but wasn’t expecting him to do the same back!
- I’ve been on the phone with Aaron Walker. This man sold his first business for millions at the age of 27!
- David Allen replied to my email.
- A rock star with 2 millions followers tweeted about my blog post.
Develop a long-term perspective
It’s almost funny how my frustration made me think and act as if only results ‘today’ meant anything. But we are humans. We will be alive for decades. We should plan for decades.
Here are four ways to think long term while acting now.
1. Enjoy building your business
If not, you will burn out, or worse, you will be miserable. There are some aspects of my business (like editing!) which I don’t like. I outsource these tasks.
But the rest? I love to write. I love to teach. I love to study. I love to help out. I love connecting with people via the written word, thus networking through blog comments is pure pleasure for me. I’m never bored.
Focus on what you can do and believe you’ll enjoy doing for a looooong period of time. If there is something in your business you hate, restructure your business. Don’t make yourself miserable.
2. Remember that beginnings are hard
It’s always true, no matter what venture you undertake.
At the beginning, your skills are at their lowest level. Your experience is non-existent. What’s trivial for the pros is challenging for you. The learning curve is overwhelming. But everything gets easier with practice. When I started writing, producing 400 words in an hour was a challenge. Nowadays I’m disappointed if it takes me more than twenty minutes.
3. This is a rollercoaster, but your results will compound
When you’re struggling, it’s like an empty pep talk. But it’s true nonetheless. Keep plugging away.
In the first 158 days (over five months!) of my writing career I sold only 145 books. But I sold more than that in the sixth month. I reached the ‘critical mass’ of experience and the sales of my third book “exploded.”
Results and rewards fluctuate, however. My fourth book was a flop. I needed to try new things to get better results. The fifth book was my first bestseller, but I couldn’t replicate its success with book six.
I translated two books into German and they provide enough income to pay my Aweber fees.
Keep going forward. Failures are the lessons which will profit you in the future. Everybody makes mistakes. Rob failed at podcasting. Pat Flynn’s first attempt of creating the software cost him $10,000.
Your meager results will grow exponentially. Do you know how much my royalties grew in 2014, compared with 2013? 1125%!!
Rob Cubbon’s monthly passive income
Pat Flynn’s monthly passive income
Steve Scott’s monthly passive income
That’s the real potential of owning a business. And this leads me to the last point:
4. The alternative stinks.
Excuse me for using an ugly word, but the alternative is a JOB. You won’t get an 1125% salary raise while working for someone else. The biggest I ever got was 50% by changing employers.
You will never be free in a job. Or maybe you will … when you retire.
But what kind of freedom is that? You will be dependent on your government. Nothing scares me more than being dependant on a bunch of bureaucrats and politicians.
Besides, what sort of work would I be doing for the next 31 years to ‘earn’ that retirement? Suddenly the idea of growing my side business for the next 10 years doesn’t seem so hard. Heck! It seems attractive.
Brian Tracy (and Rob too) teaches about the value of using positive affirmations. Your subconscious mind ignores negative commands. You can’t force yourself to stop comparing with others. Shift your mind to pondering your past achievements and your growth. This will cure the “income envy” insanity.
Focus on the long term. Your short term struggles will appear less significant. Don’t fight impatience. Learn patience. Enjoy creating your business, because your lifestyle and your journey will be much more pleasurable.
You can do it
You can grow and sustainable, profitable and enjoyable business from a side gig. Many people have and many more will. Do what Michal says: quit comparing yourself to other people – compare yourself to yourself only a few months ago!
Thank you Michal Stawicki, awesome post!