December 20, 2016
I once said that the great thing about entrepreneurship is that you’re always learning. This is not a career path for anyone who wants to sit back and take it easy. The marketplace and industry are constantly changing and to be successful you must too.
As I look back over this last year there’s a lot I’m proud of but I wanted to be candid and share with you the biggest lesson I learned. The big lessons tend to be the ones you really need to learn even though you fight tooth and nail against it for far too long (or at least I do – perhaps I’m just stubborn like that). And I share this with you in the hopes that it may help some of you who are finding yourself in similar situations.
Bear with me when I say this because it sounds so simplistic when I write it down – but the biggest lesson I learned is that I really can’t do it all.
At the beginning of the year I was so gun-ho on many fronts and I planned out my days meticulously. I could, I believed, do everything and more that was needed while keeping expenses low and only relying on a handful of folks to help run this site. We launched a new podcast, worked like mad on a big new project that’s going to launch in January, and got to work on a new book in addition to writing more than 100 articles throughout the year and answering countless emails from readers.
So we did a lot but there was more, I felt, I had to do to stay competitive and I created these schedules that could have worked if only I didn’t need to eat, sleep, or do things like spend time with my family or go for a run. What I was demanding of myself was superhuman and I pushed myself for the first half of the year at a completely irrational and unmanageable pace thinking that I had to keep up with it or else I’d fail.
You already know how this ends, I’m sure, so I’ll make it short. My pace was unmanageable and finally I came to the realization (with the help of pneumonia) that pushing myself that hard wasn’t good for the business or for me. I pulled back on a few things – and I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy – but in doing so I was able to focus my energies on working hard and well on a few big things rather than being scattered and inefficient with a multitude of things.
As you start thinking about next year and what that’s going to look like for your business, I hope you’ll remember this. There is always more that we can achieve but we’re not going to be able to achieve any of it if we try to achieve everything all at once.
What about you, what was your biggest lesson learned this year?