When I was 25 years old I discovered a writer named Paulo Coelho.
You may have heard of him because of his world famous book, The Alchemist. I read The Alchemist after first reading Coelho’s The Pilgrimage book and both had a profound impact on me.
I loved Coelho’s writing style. His ability to transform words on a page into powerful emotions kept me captivated as I eagerly devoured book after book.
Like many people, The Alchemist is one of my favorite books, especially because of the stage of life I was in at 25 when I first read it.
When I was 25 I felt a lot of frustration, depression, and during the worst of times, despair about my progress in life.
I didn’t really have a lot to complain about. I was young, starting to get somewhere with online business, and while certainly not rich, I had my needs met comfortably.
My frustration came from the slow pace I felt things were moving at. I had desires for more money, more business success and life experiences like romance and travels. I also wanted to buy my own place and purchase a car, typical goals for a 25 year old in a western country like Australia where I grew up.
I had already poured seven years into various online projects by this time. I felt several years prior I had ‘figured out’ the keys to making a business work, yet I struggled to take home more than a basic-wage sized income. I had some money saved up — but barely enough to cover the cost of a down payment on a small property in the booming Australian real estate market.
To put it simply, I expected more from myself by then. I questioned my direction frequently, often thought about starting new things only to give up on them 24 hours later (this all occurred in my mind of course!) and worst of all, was incredibly jealous of every success my friends and colleagues enjoyed.
The Journey Not The Destination
I don’t believe it was a coincidence that Coelho’s writing came to my attention at this point in my life, especially his book The Alchemist.
In case you have never read The Alchemist, I won’t spoil the entire plot for you, but here’s a basic synopsis…
The book tracks the journey of a Shepard boy in search of treasure. He gives up all of what he has known in his life to that point – basically the sheep he tended – in order to travel to a distant land in search of hidden gold.
The message you walk away with after reading The Alchemist, is that the journey is more important than the destination. At least that is what my 25 year old self took away from it.
You’ve probably heard that message before. I had at the time too, but there is something powerful receiving a message like this delivered through fable. Storytelling is after all the most effective means of communication we have as human beings.
It was around this time that my blog began to take off. I still had a long way to go to make even a full time income from blogging, but it was becoming clear that I enjoyed writing and learning about direct response marketing.
A Seven Year Overnight Success
Looking at the early success of my blog you might say that I had good timing. Blogging was new, and I jumped on early, getting a lot of free traffic from Google search results.
However if you drill down a bit, the only reason I could capitalize on this good timing, was because I wrote so many articles.
Why could I write so much content? Because I had spent SEVEN years running different projects by then.
I had so much locked inside my head that I could easily sit down and just explain what I did in the past or what I was currently doing with my business.
I never got writers block. I never lacked for topic ideas. My biggest problem was I couldn’t get out everything I knew even if I wrote all day long. I had to decide what to focus on — what story to tell — at the expense of not writing about something else.
Where Are You Now?
Just recently I invested time helping some of my coaching community members deal with the ‘what topic should I focus on’ challenge.
As I attempt to help these people by giving them the tools to figure out their topic, I’ve seen a common frustration…
When you are not certain of your topic and nothing in your past has worked before to the level you want it to, it feels like you’ve been stuck in limbo for a long time.
The problem is that progress doesn’t always look like progress.
To make matters worse, progress often feels like failure.
When you’re fixated on an outcome, but you can’t seem to even take the first step, the mountain quickly becomes too big to climb.
We’re all well aware that significant work is require to make a business succeed. Yet if you find yourself spending three months just trying to decide what to sell, or what topic to blog about, or what problem to help people solve, your probably wondering if you will ever get anywhere.
If you stick to it long enough though, eventually you’ll find your sweet spot, discover something that works, and dive in to create the business of your dreams (or at least something that makes money!).
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There Is No Destination
Many years later after building a successful business you’ll look back at your early days struggling to figure out what works and realize that what you were actually doing was going through a process.
You’ll come to the very powerful realization that there is no destination, there never was.
The journey — the process — is all there is.
This might be frustrating to hear right now if you’re still stuck, but trust me, we all go through it. You can’t skip to the end without experiencing what you are going through now.
The reason this process exists is because you haven’t had the necessary experiences yet to give you the awareness you need to progress.
Experience leads to knowing how things work or don’t work. Each time you decide to do something you draw upon the accumulated awareness from all the experiences you have had to that point.
Unfortunately most of us tend to look at objectives as static states of being.
You are where you are right now with your business (not where you want to be) and there is a goal, an outcome you desire (where you want to be).
The feelings associated with this are not having what you want today (lack) and desire for something else, probably something you decided you want after seeing other people have it.
If instead you saw what you are doing right now as exactly what you need, an experience to give you the awareness to know how to create the business you desire, then you would enjoy the process wholeheartedly.
This is a powerful mindset shift, but a difficult one to make if you’ve spent a long time not experiencing what you want to experience.
Stop Focusing On The Outcome
If right now you’re working hard to take early steps with a new project or business, and you’ve been feeling frustrated by your lack of progress, then I strongly suggest you change your perspective.
You’re not stuck, you’re not in limbo, you’re actually making progress all the time.
You can’t avoid moving through the process. Life itself is a process. How you decide to perceive your progress through the process is entirely up to you.
Any time in the future if you feel frustrated by slow progress or a situation where you might even feel like you are going backwards, stop and remind yourself that you’re not.
You’re gaining experience to create awareness, which is going to lighten up the path to what you want.
Still On The Journey