Eyes Wide Shut — Don’t Outpace Yourself to Reach Your Goals

If you observe successful people you notice that success, both online and off, requires setting far-reaching goals and working hard enough and consistently enough to achieve them. What are less obvious to observe from these winners are the steps and pacing necessary to reach a goal. Let me illustrate this with a favorite allegory of mine.

A long time ago there lived a true martial arts master. He trained and had as his disciples only the best and most skillful fighters of the time. He put them through extremely grueling and challenging tests over the course of five years. It was certainly worthwhile, as upon completion they proved virtually unbeatable against all other opponents in every martial arts tournament they entered.

One day, a young apprentice came to the master. He was very talented and eager to learn, but wondered if there was a way he could learn everything in far less time. Five long years, he thought, was just too much.

“Suppose I practiced twice as long each day as the other students?” The master replied that it would take him 10 years to finish the training that way. “What if I practiced all day, every day, including weekends, and only slept for a couple of hours. How long would it take then?” The master replied that it would take him 20 years. Frustrated now, the disciple asked once more, “Why is it that each time I tell you I will double my efforts and dedicate more time to finishing the training you say it will take twice as long?”

The master chuckled. “The reason is obvious. If you do what you say, you will always have one eye fixed on your goal. But you need both eyes on the tasks at hand to reach your goal. Working with one eye alone, it will take you twice the time.”

Blogging and SEO with both eyes open

Let’s say you want to be the Darren Rowse or Rand Fishkin of the blogging/SEO world. Instinctively you would try to publish one or more high-quality posts each day, and do a massive amount of networking, guest posting, conference speaking, interviews, link baiting, and so on. The end result: you would burn out in less than a month (week?). However, if you take your time and write carefully researched posts and publish them when you feel they are truly ready, network and build your readership gradually, form lasting relationships with other bloggers, and try to learn as much as you can, you have a better chance of succeeding. And, most importantly, you will have both eyes open when you spend time with your family and friends. :-)

10 replies
  1. Richard Chmura
    Richard Chmura says:

    I see what you did there! ;)

    I would like to add that regarding: "take your time and write carefully researched posts and publish them when you feel they are truly ready"
    Peer review is quite important – despite how well thought out or intentioned your work is, it needs to pass the peer review test.

    (by the way, my winking smilely doesn't have both eyes open)

    Reply
  2. Caroline Middlebrook
    Caroline Middlebrook says:

    Nice post Hamlet and it comes at a good time for me. I'm in a position where I don't currently earn any money so there is a sense of pressure to do so. It's tempting to work hard and long as you describe but at the expense of other things. My gut instinct tells me to just work normally and to take time to enjoy life at the same time. The money will come.

    Reply
  3. Will Critchlow
    Will Critchlow says:

    Hi Hamlet,

    Great post. Tom's relentless evangelism meant I had to subscribe to your blog and I really liked this one :)

    Don't know if it was inspired by Rand's recent post about his lifestyle, but I was writing something similarly introspective on the train back from playing basketball last night. Not quite finished yet – don't know if it will turn into a blog post or not.

    Anyway. Thanks for sharing. I like the concept and the thinking.

    Will

    Reply
  4. Hamlet Batista
    Hamlet Batista says:

    Richard – I did not write this post because of our email exchanges ;-)
    I agree with Neil, aka WDN, that you brought a good point with the peer review recommendation. Thanks.

    Caroline – You are doing a great job so far. The important thing is not to be discouraged.

    I remember when I was in your shoes a few years ago, and I know how difficult it must be. Please send me an email and I will give you some tips to focus on the 20% that delivers the 80%. I might even share some of the tricks I haven't made public yet ;-)

    Will – Glad to see you here.
    Yes. I am really thankful for Tom's evangelism. He has help me A LOT. I always remember his words when I write a new post, and each time I try harder to improve the blog's quality and content. Thanks again Tom!

    I was partially inspired by Rand's post, and by some of the bloggers that I see working really hard on Sphinn everyday. I want to keep seeing them around and don't want to see them give up in a few weeks or months.

    Reply
  5. Richard Chmura
    Richard Chmura says:

    Hi Hamlet – ok just checking :) I could be wrong, but you might be getting sick of all those "SEOs" who blurt out just any blind theory with little thought or process – just to get people to listen? Could that be a motivator behind this post?

    Reply
  6. Dr. Pete
    Dr. Pete says:

    I have to admit I keep waffling a little on the quantity vs. quality equation. I suppose it depends a little bit on the niche, but I've mostly convinced myself that doing one solid piece per week is the way to go. It's nice to hear others reaching a similar conclusion. Especially for we one-man shows (or one-woman) where the primary aim is a mix of self-education and personal branding, I don't think our audiences penalize us for not churning out posts every day if the quality is there.

    Reply
  7. Sharingmatters.com
    Sharingmatters.com says:

    I would go a step further, Hamlet, and say – instead of opening another blog try to pick a new form and find your own new wave. Blog popularity is massive but we need to think what is comming next. There was MySpace, now there is Facebook, what next?

    Reply
  8. Hamlet Batista
    Hamlet Batista says:

    Richard – Not really. I don't spend much time in the SEO forums and I hand pick the SEO blogs I subscribe too ;-)

    Dr. Pete – The quality is definitely the key.

    Paul – It is important to stay ahead of the curve.

    Reply
  9. Jason Pearson
    Jason Pearson says:

    Great post, very well written. i have noticed that the more time I try to put into something, does not necessarily mean that the outcome is better. quality time is definitley better than quantity of time.

    Reply

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