The perfect plan, poorly executed, will fail. A lousy plan, well executed, is often successful. It may seem obvious, but way to fix a failure is often simple: work harder.
If you fail to lose weight on a diet, is your diet the problem? Or is the problem that you didn’t follow it consistently enough? If your blog isn’t growing, the problem often isn’t your marketing strategy or writing style, but simply that you aren’t creating enough useful content.
The Effort Threshold
Imagine that every goal has a minimum work threshold. If you don’t put in at least this much effort, you won’t be successful. Sometimes you need more effort, if your plan is weak. But you always require at least the minimum.
Of course, this isn’t universally true, but it’s a useful assumption that emphasizes my point.
Being a successful blogger might have a minimum effort requirement of 1,500 hours of productive work. Getting in shape may have a minimum requirement of 3 hours per week, every week, at the gym. Going from social awkwardness to charismatic confidence may require 3,000 hours of socializing.
If becoming a successful blogger requires 1,500 hours of productive effort, and you’re only contributing 300, you’ll fail. Even with a spectacular plan, if you aren’t reaching the minimum, you’ll still fail.
When in Doubt, Work Harder
Whenever I get stuck on a goal, my first response is always to work harder. Often, the plan I already have will work, I just need to apply more effort towards it.
One of my biggest goals at the moment is learning to speak French. I’ve had of hundreds of different methods suggested to me. But I realize that the biggest factor in my success or failure won’t be which method I use. What matters is whether I work hard enough for it. What matters, is if I’m going beyond the effort threshold.
Many pursuits in life aren’t complicated, even though they might be difficult. When you aren’t getting the results you want, the most obvious problem is often a lack of effort. Making progress, even on seemingly easy goals, requires a tremendous investment of energy and time. If you aren’t giving 100%, even the best strategy is worthless.
Change Your Workload, Before Altering Your Strategy
Don’t make simple problems complicated. The most obvious explanation for a failure is a lack of effort. And if you weren’t fully committed before, this should be fixed first.
I have a good friend that wanted to be better with dating. He had been in a private boys’ school for most of his life, so he wasn’t practiced. To fix the problem, he didn’t spend hours reading books on the topic or buy a seduction course; he just started socializing more.
Often my friend went out to meet people a few nights per week, every week. It seemed a bit silly at the time, but it worked. Two years later, he is far more confident and successful with women. I doubt many of the people who met him after this transition phase would ever believe it was a recent adjustment.
My point isn’t that you need to go to the bar every night if you want to have a girlfriend. I’m trying to illustrate that the most straightforward solution to any problem is simply to work harder
J.D. Roth, the founder of the wildly successful blog Get Rich Slowly, worked on his website at full-time levels for two years, building to its success. He did this while having another job to pay the bills. The next time someone tells you blogging success is about marketing gimmicks or SEO tricks, remember this example.
If your blog is failing, ask yourself if you were really applying the effort needed. I’m friends with other successful bloggers, and although they usually have had a great talent for writing and been lucky with opportunities, they also work obscenely hard for their goals.
Does this go against what I’ve said previously? Somewhat. I am allowed to change my opinion after all.
But what I’d like to emphasize is that being below the effort threshold is often the key flaw preventing you from reaching your goals.