I read your post "The Million Dollar Question". It was very good. Thank you for sharing it. I can see myself in the friends you mentioned. I have these dreams of ways to increase my income. I have an internet side business that makes about $1500 a month. I know that there are many different ways I can scale it. In my mind I see the way, the things I need to do. But then I sit down to do those things and I freeze. I believe I am frozen by fear. I fear that if I do these things and they don't succeed, I have wasted my time. Or, I sit down and think of all the things I need to do to get to the endpoint and I think "that is a whole lot of work". So I don't do anything. I waste an hour reading HN and playing solitaire. It is really stupid.
Anyway, your post really made me think about it. I think I will write a plan of all the things I need to do to scale in one direction. Then I will break down the plan in small enough steps that can be accomplished in an hour or two. I'll write each step on a Post-It note. When I finish the step, I'll put it on the wall so I (and my wife) can see the progress. What do you think?
I think it's a good idea, and I empathize with where you're at. A few thoughts -
First, I think it can be helpful to start thinking in terms of expected value (EV) - I learned it from playing poker. If you play poker, you're often in a position where you make money on average by doing a good play, but you'll still lose a lot of the time. For instance, if you have an 80% chance of winning a hand and you get a big bet at you - of course you call. But 20% of the time you'll lose. Which sucks, but you've got to just shrug and not get upset because you did the right thing.
It's funny because people don't feel as bad when guaranteed time wasters waste their time as when they try something that might work and it doesn't work. But you've got to think in terms of EV. If you run a big multivariate split test, 25 out of the 30 elements you test might show no positive change. The other 5 might collectively double your conversion rate. The right answer isn't to say those 25 were a waste and the 5 were good, but rather that your tests have a 1/6th chance of working, so for every six of them you run on average, you get a good improvement. It's not that the winning tests/campaigns are good and the losers are bad, but rather that trying things that might work gets you there if you do enough of it.
Finally, this is a weird paradoxical thing I've noticed about motivation - if you have so many campaigns that even if you put a gigantic massive effort in for three days straight then you'll still have a gigantic massive amount of work to do, it can be very hard to get started. It feels like shoveling sand into the ocean. It shouldn't, but our minds are kind of a little broken when it comes to motivation and things like that. I'm totally a hypocrite giving this advice since I have way too many campaigns, but your best bet is probably to pare to 1-2 really crucial things, and focus on those nonstop until you get entire completion on that campaign. Then you can celebrate and completely put it out of your mind, maybe take a day off if you want, and then pick your next campaign. Whenever I've nailed a day or few days in a row down to, "Today I'm only working on X until it's complete" I've gotten massively more done and you can see where success is on the horizon. So splitting up your work into tangible concrete wins helps with motivation as well.
As with anything, it's a constant training and moving up. These elements here - thinking in EV, not feeling like attempts at success that don't work are a waste, and nailing down to one or two campaigns to get out of overload - they're just a few little elements that help do more. There's a lot of little things like that you train and habituate, and each one helps a little more with consistency and quality of putting in good time and good results.
A nice email, and good questions -
your blog has helped me really transform my life in a matter of a week or so. I've never had so mcuh motivation, to do even simple things like clean up my workspace. it only seems to be getting better from here and it really is because of you. every morning i read your blog and get fresh insight into myself.
I've started getting books you've recommended, and so far so good. It would be great if you could suggust some more for me, particulary about getting the motivation to take a risk.
I'm having trouble making myself have passion for what i love, although everyday it seems to be getting a small bit easier. I have started to track my time, and so far even the fact that I'm doing it gets me more motivated knowing i cam keep up a system.
Thanks for the kind words. It'd be great if I could suggest some books on taking a risk?
I actually found this on boingboing.net. I shouldn't even post their name since they're one of the few big aggregating sites that has never run one of my articles. But hey, when they've got a good article, they've got a good article.
They posted This MP3 about how to always do the right thing. It's brilliant. I've actually been wanting to write a post to that effect, but the speaker, Dan Gilbert, did a much better job than I would have.
The essence of the speech is that EV is king. EV is expected value, a term used commonly in the gambling world. I would explain what it is, but if you listen to the lecture you will have a better understanding and then I won't have to type as much.