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This Question Will Fail You

This essay was originally published on my website. Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash Early this year, I started writing and publishing essays every week on my website. I explore ideas, what I’m curious about, what I know, and what I don’t know. It’s the place where you’ll find what I’m thinking.  After I […]

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This essay was originally published on my website.

Early this year, I started writing and publishing essays every week on my website. I explore ideas, what I’m curious about, what I know, and what I don’t know. It’s the place where you’ll find what I’m thinking. 

After I published a few essays, I asked myself, “Why don’t I publish these essays in a video format?” It was a no-brainer.

Then, I asked myself again, “Why don’t I make a quick video every single day exploring ideas and things I’ve learned that could help other people until I get to 1000 subscribers?” [1].

“That’s not too challenging,” I said after the third daily video. I would turn on the camera and talk for 2-5 minutes about things I recently learned or things I knew.

Days passed and so did the excitement. 

I had been working hard making videos every single day as well as the weekly videos, and NO ONE CARED. My videos had one or two views. Maybe three if I watched three times.

“What’s the point of all this anyway?” I started asking myself after the 30th day. I had been making videos every single day and posting them on Youtube for more than a month. 

This question is faced by everyone who tries to do something worthwhile. The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is being able to figure out this question. 

This question will always come up (unless you’re a robot 🤖). We have two alternatives:

  1. You can ignore it and keep going
  2. You try to convince yourself and keep going

Maybe there’s a third alternative, stop and give up (not the one I like).

Why this question?

We need to understand why this question comes up.

This question shows up because we’re smart. Our brains think about the cost of not choosing the next best alternative for your money, time, or some other resource.

This is defined as opportunity cost.  If we start a new venture and it does not seem like we’re achieving the goal, we think about the opportunity cost.

For example, I’m making videos every day, which takes time to publish, make the thumbnail, and so on. After some time, no one watches the videos, and it seems like I’m wasting my time. 

My brain asks, “What’s the point of all this anyway?”

Then, my brain says, “I think you should do something else instead.” 

In my case, I remembered the flywheel principle, which talks about how starting is hard and slow, but once it starts, it gets easier and faster. When we create something whether it’s a blog, a Youtube channel, a painting, a social media account, or a company.

It’s always always better to focus on the quantity instead of quality because as time passes by, the quality will improve as the quantity increases (Ironically, I made a video about this).

Be Patient and Stubborn

Know why this question comes up and know why you’re doing what you’re doing. 

For me, I try to show people a different world of ideas and opportunities. Sometimes, people just need to see a different path, and I show them a path that is both exciting and practical.   

When you say “yes” to a choice, you are also saying “no” to everything else you may have accomplished with your time, energy, money, and other resources. 

It comes down to choosing the “right” choice that aligns with your vision, skills, and needs of the market. Once you’ve made your choice, you need to be patient and set goals. Sometimes where it’s wise to give up, but most of the time you just need to persevere [2].  

This question is crucial because it’s the bar of entry for success. You either persevere and push or give up and accomplish…nothing.

Most times, you need one idea, love it so much that you become stubborn, work very hard, and you become successful. It’s that simple. You might need to repeat this process many times and confront the dangerous question, but that’s usually how it works. 

Next time you ask yourself “what’s the point of this?” understand why it comes up, and why you started, and remember this is something we all face. Your success will depend on how you deal with this question.


Notes

[1] The reason why I picked the 1000 subscribers goal is because I wanted to have a more tangible goal and something I could look forward to. Do I care about the views or subscribers? Nope!

[2] When should you give up? I don’t know. This really depends on your context. I’ll say this though. As long as you’re working on 1) something that you like, 2) something you’re good at, and 3) something people need. You should persevere. Again, this is hard to answer and depends on your context. 

Thanks to Lev, Avthar, and Charlie for reading drafts of this essay.


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