Because I avoid checking my stats, my work remains very personal - the only person I really need to make happy is me.
- I take more liberties and risks
- I take time off with no guilt
- I don’t bother with beginner content that would get the most numbers but that wouldn’t benefit me
- I remember what I do better because I am more driven by what I want than what I think my audience wants
- I build extremely strong loyalty in a small niche that “gets” me rather than milquetoast recognition by everyone
There’s no jealousy: I have no idea how I’m doing compared to my peers. (If you find your unique you will be peerless.)
There’s no goal anxiety: I have no year end target, I don’t have a plan for what I want to be when I grow up. (If you don’t have goals you can’t freak out about not meeting them)
What I do know is that I’m learning what I enjoy and what “works”, from week to week, month to month:
- Write ~1 blogpost a week
- Produce ~5 mixtapes a week
- Post YouTube videos when I can
- Say yes to most talks and podcast requests
- Keep a small circle of concern (inline with tech strategy)
- Pay attention to what people ask
- Experiment and always push myself
What I’m basically advocating is a simple form of Systems over Goals. I’ve just seen too many people start from overly ambitious goals and just completely forget them in 3 months. You don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems (a brilliant James Clear quote).
To be clear, I’m not anti-goals. I’ve advocated for goals-with-systems
before. I’m anti-“goals that devalue the creative process”. And I’m not anti-metrics, I’m anti-“creating with metrics as the primary purpose of creating”. I’m especially anti-“too many metrics”. It is not merely unhelpful (there’s no point changing any part of my process whether my stats take a sudden dive or spike), but often self-defeating, as readers and subscribers can sense when you lose your “soul” and your metrics suffer anyway despite you making it priority numero uno.
Another form of goals/metrics you see a lot is in “streaking” — counting how many days you do a thing and sharing it in public. It is very popular to tweet about #100DaysOfCode, or #Ship30for30, or #Tweet30. You see a lot of energy from these bright eyed bushy tailed people eager to change their lives. I’ll never discourage them from trying, but people who start like this don’t stick to it after.
The best way to get good at something is to do it for a very long time. This goes beyond a simple sprint; it is behavior change, and the only form of sticky behavior change is identity change.
Someone who is something doesn’t bother count how much they do the thing. Church members aren’t counting how often they go to church. People in a marriage don’t (shouldn’t) tally up how much one gives to the other. Healthy eaters don’t count calories, they just eat healthy. Likewise, you have to make the transition from “Yay I wrote an essay 30 days in a row give me your likes!” to “I am a person who writes”.
Identity doesn’t keep Count.