I'm really bad at showing up.
Most of the time I don't feel like showing up.
Still I somehow managed to show up each and every day for more than two years.
In October 2015 I decided to write and publish one article on my blog every single day.
Now fast forward two years I'm still writing one article every single day...
I never thought something like this would be possible.
Or that I'd have the discipline to do something like this.
I've tried similar things before.
And it never really worked.
So I decided to write it all down.
I decided to write down what worked for me.
And why I think it worked.
I've decided to write it down for myself.
As a reminder what has worked in the past.
And how I did it.
This stuff has worked for me.
Maybe it'll also work for you...
# START SMALL
I didn't decide to write and publish one article every single day for the next two years.
What I did instead was that I decided to write and publish one article for the next 7 days.
7 days seemed pretty manageable back then. Two years seemed too hard. Impossible even. It's just too far ahead in the future.
Two years would have been way too much of a commitment. And I have huge commitment problems. But more on this in a bit.
So the first 7 days were horrible.
I never felt like writing. And I never felt like publishing either. It never felt good enough. Most of it sucked. And I didn't want to put it out there. I never really found the time to write. I was constantly busy doing other things.
So when I was done with those 7 days of writing and publishing one article a day I said to myself that I'd probably never be able to do this ever again. That it was just too damn hard. And that I shouldn't throw all of this away. I know. Sunk cost and all of this...
Still, I thought this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. And if I stopped now I would probably be done forever. I would probably never ever get this chance again. I would probably never be able to build that much momentum ever again.
So I went for another 30 days. And it was the exact same thing. It was hard. Really, really hard. And I felt like giving up almost every single day. But I made it. And then I decided to go for another 30 days.
Again, when I was done I thought I can't possibly stop now. That I'll probably never get this far ever again in my life. And now two years later I'm still writing. And you're still reading... Thank you!
Here's the thing. Most of my stuff isn't really good. Most of my stuff is just ok. Sometimes I have more time. And sometimes I have less time. Some things I shouldn't publish. And others I should publish. But it doesn't matter. I publish them all.
Because perfectionism kills creativity.
Perfectionism takes a hell lot of effort. And nothing will ever be perfect. Especially when you do something you're not really good at yet. The only way to get better at something is to do it. Over and over again. As often and as much as you can.
And the more time you spend perfecting your work, the less work you'll ship. And the less work you'll ship, the more you'll be afraid. It's a vicious circle.
The more you try to make something perfect, the more afraid you'll get that it won't be perfect. It will never stop. Perfectionism never stops. It will eat you alive! Sooner or later. So you'll put in more and more time. Until you can't possibly live up to your own expectations anymore.
Perfection kills. Slowly. One step at a time. One day at a time...
[Related: 121 Unusual Tips to being a Better Writer]
# EVERY DAY
For me the only thing that ever worked was to do it every day. Everything else I ever tried never really worked. Why? I don't know. Maybe because if you say you want to do it on Monday and Thursday you still have five excuses left.
You'd still have Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday as an excuse. So if you still have Tuesday, why do it on Monday? And if you still have Wednesday why do it on Tuesday? I think you get the idea.
The more excuses you have, the more you're going to use them. It's all about eliminating possible excuses. Whatever your excuses are.
So I love excuses. That's why I have to eliminate all excuses. And the only way for me to eliminate all excuses is to do it every day. So that there are no more excuses left.
P.S. Publishing every day also helped me to fight perfectionism. Because you can't just put out one great piece of content, work or art every single day. No one can...
# DON'T BREAK THE CHAIN
The moment you skip it just once, it's basically already over. It's like a chain. If you break it once it will never be like it was before. You'll never be able to use it again. It's pretty much useless. You'd need an entirely new chain. You'd have to start all over again.
And when I say you, I'm basically talking about myself. Whenever I broke the chain just once, no matter what I was doing, I stopped doing it for good. Sooner or later.
The first time I skipped class in college wasn't the last time. I did it again. Over and over and over again. I probably skipped class more than a hundred times after that. Luckily, I somehow managed to get that degree. But it took me two more years on top of the regular schedule.
Here's the thing...
I also started doing daily videos twice. One time I lasted a few weeks. The second time I lasted more than three months. Both times I skipped just once. And that was the beginning of the end. Every single time. The same thing with my podcast...
If you skip it just once, it's so much easier to skip it a second, third, fourth.... time. Simply because you already did it once. So the damage was already done.
Don't break the chain! Ever...
# PUBLISH MORE OF YOUR BAD WORK
It’s easy to hit that publish button for a great piece of work. And so much harder to hit that publish button for a not so great piece of work. It’s easy to fall for the trap of always having to deliver great work.
It’s a trap because no one can constantly create great work. As a matter of fact most of your work will be not so great. And that’s what will break many of us. The desire of only publishing great work.
The weight of that desire will crush you. And over time you’ll publish less and less of your work. Until you stop publishing for good. I've seen it happened over and over again. To others. To myself. And pretty much everybody else out there who ever started something.
So every once in a while try to publish some of your bad work to take away some of that pressure…
# DO IT FOR YOURSELF
The only thing that helps me to keep going is to do it for myself. I know it sounds cheesy. And it probably is cheesy. But the only reason I write is to stay sane. To stay sane in a world that seems more and more insane every single day. A world with millions of opportunities for some. And close to zero opportunities for others. A world of abundance. A world of scarcity.
When I first started writing I wrote for others. I wrote for likes. For comments. And for shares. It's hard to get rid of it. I struggle with it every day. I try to get rid of it. But it's really hard to get rid of the need to feel accepted. To feel appreciated. Most of the things we do, we do them because it's what everybody expects us to do. So we keep doing it to feel appreciated. To feel like we're a part of something. To belong...
But the only way I'm able to keep showing up, to keep myself sane is to ignore all of this. As much as I can. Because if I did it for the likes and all of this stuff I would probably already have stopped a long time ago. I would probably not even have written more than 20 posts or so.
It's hard. It really is. It's hard to do something that doesn't seem to have any benefits. But if I think about it, the only thing that helps me to keep putting myself out there is that I stopped caring at some point. So even if no one would be reading my stuff, I'd probably still be doing this... maybe...
# EXPECT NOTHING
This is the only way. As soon as you expect too much, or as a matter of fact anything, then it won't work. Because at one point you'll get frustrated because the thing you expect isn't coming. And it will never come when you expect it. Most of the time it will never come...
Be it money, connections, fame, fortune or whatever...
And that's the trickiest part. Everybody says just do it and then the money will follow. Or the connection. Or the happiness. Or the whatnot. So you start doing it because you think the money will follow. Or the fame. Or the fortune. But sometimes it won't. Actually most of the time it won't.
Maybe it will. Maybe it won't. No one knows. There's no guarantee for it. So the only way to keep showing up is to expect nothing.
So why would anyone even show up then?
I don't know. I really don't know. You have to find your reason.
I keep showing up because it helps me to stay sane.
It helps me to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Even if that light might never come...
I have commitment issues. I really do. I have a huge problem to commit to anything in life.
That's why I've basically lived out of a backpack for the past 7 years.
That's why I've never lived in a place with the intention of staying there for more than just a couple of months.
That's why pretty much every relationship I ever had ended in a disaster.
That's why I suck as a friend.
But that's another story. Well, actually it isn't. It's all the same thing. Just like someone a lot smarter than me once said...
The way you do anything is the way you do everything. So the micro defines the macro. And the macro defines the micro. Everything is related to everything. And it all trickles down. Or crawls up.
And the only way to break that cycle is to commit.
Be it a relationship. A friendship. A business. Or whatever.
Which seems to get harder and harder every single day. With more and more and even better choices showing up every single day...
A better phone. A better TV. A better girlfriend. A better husband. A better opportunity. A better this. And a better that.
Still. Commitment trumps everything.
So how do you commit?
The only way you'll ever be able to commit to anything is love.
You won't be able to commit to anything if you don't love it.
If you don't love it, then you'll always give up.
Sooner or later...
And sometimes you'll just fall out of love.
That's ok also...
When you try to put yourself and your work out there you've gotta ignore each and everybody.
Sometimes your stuff will be good. Sometimes it won't. Sometimes people will tell you that it wasn't really good. Sometimes they will tell you it was good. But most of the time no one will say anything.
Most of the time you'll have something like 30 people a day visiting your blog. Or 10 people watching your videos. Or 20 people listening to your podcast.
And you know what?
None of it matters.
What matters is that you do your thing.
That you do what you love.
And get better at it...
But make sure you have a way to pay your bills.
Because making money doing things you love is just incredibly difficult.
Not to say almost impossible.
Ok. So how do you get better at it?
How do you get better at anything?
# QUANTITY LEADS TO QUALITY
The more often you do something, the better you'll get. It's as simple as that. That's the only way to learn anything. To get better at anything in life.
And that's something we tend to forget. As children we know exactly what it takes to learn something new. To get better at it.
We know that it takes bruises. And falling down. And getting back up again.
That's the only way we learn something new.
Like riding a bicycle. Swimming. Talking. And on and on and on. It all takes practice. And falling down. And getting back up again.
And the more often we do something, the easier it'll get for us. Sure, you'll fail a lot. And make a lot of mistakes. Maybe you'll even fall down every once in a while.
I've said this many times in the past and I'll say it again...
The only way to quality is quantity. To do it over and over again. To fall down and then to get back up again.
Unfortunately, there's no other way. I really wish there was. But there isn't. I've tried everything. And the only thing that ever worked was to fall down. And to then get back up again...
When I say that quantity leads to quality I feel like I have to add something. Some people will never get better. No matter how often they do it. Especially with a complex thing such as writing, designing, public speaking and all of these other hard things.
The key here is to not just do it over and over again but to also immerse yourself in what you do.
So if you want to become a better writer, you've gotta take a look at all the other writers out there. Take a look at their style. Copy their style. Combine it with other writers you like. And then mix it all up. Add your own flavor to it and then keep doing it.
No matter what it is you want to do, you've gotta take a look around what others do. And how they do it. And then add your own flavor to it. So don't just write a lot. Or shoot a lot of videos. Or create a lot of art. But take a lot at what others in your field do. And how they do it.
Live it. Breathe it. Do it. Consume it. Every single day...
What's the ROI of showing up every day?
Nothing and everything.
Nothing because I barely make anything with things like this right here.
Everything because my whole entire life only functions because I write.
If I wouldn't be writing I would probably sit somewhere in a cubicle, do stuff I don't really like, making money I don't really need, only to come home and talk about all of this nonsense with my friends or my wife and then do the same thing again the next day.
Until I'm 80 years old wondering what the hell just happened...
P.S. Just in case you haven't seen it yet.. I've put together a PDF with some of my best advice on writing. You can get it here.