yellow-ladder
When I do Clever Sessions, I help my clients with all sorts of things.
We talk social media.  We come up with ideas for info products.  We wax philosophical on the merits of traffic-driving posts versus personal essays on important, thought-provoking topics.

Regardless of the client or topic, one questions almost always comes up:
“How much traffic/followers/subscribers do I need before I can  ________________?”

And while I do have a pragmatic, number-based answer to that question, I also have a much healthier, sanity-saving response.
You will be about a million times happier if you track your efforts rather than your accomplishments.

This is true for many reasons.

1. As with most things in life, the only thing you can control is yourself
You can’t control if something you write goes viral. The biggest traffic spike that Yes and Yes ever received was when Reddit thought I was the Ermagerd girl.  Shockingly enough, I did not build ‘be mistaken for internet meme’ into my marketing plan.  You can control how often you post.  You can control how much time you spend on Twitter befriending awesome people.  You can control the topics you write about.

You can’t really control who links to you, who retweets you, who likes your funny cat photos on Facebook.   You can make it significantly more likely that people will link to you and like your stuff, but you can’t really make anyone do anything.

2. Most goals are reached really, really slowly with a lot of hard work
About 11,000+ people read my blog Yes and Yes every day.  Which is great!
But.
I’ve been getting paid to write since I was 20 and I’ve been posting seven days a week for five plus years.  If I’d been working towards the goal of 10,000 daily readers when I started my blog I would have given up a 4.75 years ago.  (Also: I would probably have drown myself in a sea of noodles and butter but that’s beside the point.)

3. Most accomplishments probably don’t feel the way you’d expect
When you’ve been working towards one goal for months and months (or years and years) you might just come to hate that goal.  Or by the time you reach it, you’ve seen it looming in the distance for six months and it’s not particularly surprising or joy-making.

When I handed in the final paper for my M.A. I felt super glad it was over.  And then I went out for pizza with my boyfriend. When I signed with a literary agent, I felt nervous and all “Welp, I guess this is what I’m doing with the next two years of my life.  So that six-week trip to Russia and Mongolia is out of the picture.”

4.  You’ll have a lot more efforts than accomplishments – so you’ll feel happier when you track them
Two scenarios.

What you say: ”I’ll keep track of how many new clients I get!”
How you feel: “Sooooooo, three months and I’ve only landed one new client.  I’m a failure, I hate everything, and I should go drown myself in a pool of butter and noodles.”

What you say: “I’ll keep track of how many potential clients I pitch!”
How you feel: “Wow!  I pitched five potential clients this month!  I’m about a million times braver than I was last month and my presentations are heaps smoother.  I’m getting better at dealing with rejection and my pitches are getting tighter and smarter each time.”

See the difference?

Lastly – and most importantly obviously – regular efforts lead to accomplishments.  If you focus on little, day-by-day steps the big stuff will take care of itself.

What regular efforts are you taking that you can track?  How do you keep from getting discouraged?

photo by la farfalla // cc