When you go through a tough time in your life you start to look at the choices you have made up until that point. And if you are anything like me you will have a few regrets. And after a while these regrets can begin to weigh you down.
They are tricky too. They might be overt things like cheating on your wife (which I’ve never done), or more subtle things like wasting hours of every day playing video games (which I often do).
And you get to a point where you just need to ask yourself, “What are you doing, really?“
Sometimes I think bloggers are destined to wander in mediocrity for the rest of their careers. They have a few subscribers, get a few visitors but never really do anything substantial with it all.
But that isn’t the curse. Actually the curse is more about the fact that we don’t own up to the fact that we caused this shitty state of existence. The curse is that we blame Google or the competition or the lack of time in our lives to make it work.
Its a form of laziness. We would rather spend two hours reading some other blog than working on our own. We would rather spend money buying someone else’s product instead of creating one ourselves. We find and endless stream of distractions in the pursuit of more knowledge or a magic cure-all that is going to skyrocket us into the heavens of pro blogging.
So, every once in a while I ask myself, “What are you doing, really?“
And why are we doing it in the first place? Why are we spending all this time struggling to write new amazing content just so we can make a few measly dollars?
Wouldn’t we be better off getting a “real” job that pays a “real” wage and gives you more time after work to play sport, see your kids or kiss your wife? Why are we so intent on making this blogging thing pay our way full time?
Is it because you have something to say on your blog? Is it because you want to help someone? Are you trying to make money so you can help someone in a less fortunate situation?
Making it work is one thing. Having a good reason is more important. So sometimes I ask myself, “What are you doing, really?“
Regret is a really nasty little thing. It will come back to bite you again and again in your life. So if you love blogging, want to change your own working situation or, better yet, help a few people out there, you owe it to yourself to make it work; not leave six weeks between articles.
Again and again I need to remind myself to be vigilant and catch every type of laziness when it comes up. Fear of failure, fear of success, small blog syndrome, big bad workplace fear.
I have a lot of regrets. And the funny thing is that it isn’t anything big that upsets me. Its the sum of all the little ones. The 30 minutes wasted here and there that will, eventually, add up to a life time of mediocrity.
I don’t care if I never become super rich or influential. I do care, very much, that I wasted the opportunities that I had to help myself, and help others.
So more and more now I am going to be asking myself, “What are you doing, really?”
58 CommentsJoin in. The comments are closed after 30 days.
Definitely a worthwhile question to ask. I recently asked myself the same question and came back with this answer: Living my life, spending time with my husband and sister, devoting time to work on my fiction.
My blog may be neglected and mediocre (for now), but I have non-blogging things to show for the time I’ve spent not updating the blog…and yeah, plenty of hours of video game time in there as well. (What? Hubby and I play video games together.)
And I have to say, it’s a whole lot easier to write about improving your life once you’ve already made the improvements. 🙂
Glad to see you’re back, btw. Was wondering if you’d fallen off the planet.
I’m still around Jen my dear. Just really busy.
“It’s a whole lot easier to write about improving your life once you’ve already made the improvements.”
If you do write about your own improvements while they are taking place, shouldn’t they be private anyway?
I guess some people enjoy putting self-improvement projects out there because it makes them more accountable with an audience or something, but I feel like you shouldn’t worry about writing about improvements until they are done.
Um, except when you write about living a more positive, joyful life, you’re never actually done. It’s a journey, not a destination. (Cliche, blech.) Setbacks are part of life. People who write on the subject I do shouldn’t be hiding setbacks, they should be writing about them because they’re the meat of the topic that people need to read about. The “guru” approach rings disingenuous (imho) in my niche.
As for keeping ongoing improvements private, I think you and I have a different idea of what I’m talking about.
Also thought you’d left us for another planet. Thanks for posing a burning question, and providing empathetic answers. You really are very good at this kind of article – about time you had a regular, paid, column somewhere prestigious (don’t you?)
Anyway, your words completely swept me in, before I had a chance to press the ‘delete’ button to save precious minutes and get back to my own mediocre blogging. Again, you have made me question my blogging motives, and I imagine others out there will be put to the same test. “What are you doing really?” It’s something amateurs like myself lose track of so easily when caught up in the delightful web of the blogosphere.
But now I must away … not to the fun, inspirational, empowering, all encompassing mini-universe of my own blog but to the more serious real world of earning a crust for my freelance words. And perhaps therein lies the rub? “What are you doing really, Jo?”
Hey Jo. You are a very good writer you know?
Thank you for the compliment – Mwah 🙂
The sentiment is reciprocated.
Looking forward to your next BT installment.
Resentments and regrets – known killers of good spirit and of the good Spirit, if we are not vigilant to the points made in your post. Bravo, bravo.
In a relatively small percentage of my 43 years on this Earth, I have learned a disproportionately large percentage of valuable disciplines in the last 4 years — things that will, and do, make me happy, caring and giving. Near the top of that list: not to regret the past nor to shut the door on it. While painful, on the surface, my past consists of the trials and tribulations that make me stronger today than I have ever been. In mind, spirit, and emotion.
For me, being in a healthy state helps me help others.
Thanks for the reminder of that, BT!
Thanks Scott. Good stuff as always.
Wow BT this one is intense! Hope you are OK. You’re a great writer and I think if you keep putting this kind of post out there, eventually something good is bound to happen! Your fan in Germany (but not for long- I’m moving)! I’m wondering who is going to take over the presidency of your German fan base once I’m gone…
Where are you moving TJ?
Welcome back, BT.
This blog post reminds me of your first podcast on distractions. I think because the web of so full of “overnight” success stories, we’re conditioned to think that if our websites don’t hit it big fast, we’re failures.
When the media put the spotlight on young tycoons like Mark Zuckerberg, they emphasize his young age now. I think it would be more constructive to point out that he’d been programming since he was a child. So let’s say if he started at 13 and Facebook bloomed at 23, he actually had 10 years of experience. That’s a more pertinent fact than saying he’s a whiz kid. Not doubting his intelligence, but I think his persistence and patience are equally important factors in his success.
I like to think that it takes at least 10 years of practice to become an “overnight” success. 🙂
I think I should do more Podcasts. Seems easier. Ha ha.
Here’s what I’ve learned about creativity, there are times when I am very creative and productive and other times when I am not very productive and I kind of flail around until I regroup. This is kind of part of the whole creative schtick.
Blogging reflects how creative I am, how much I have to learn and how willing I am to take on projects that scare and intimidate me.
Another worthwhile question is “Is this the most effective use of my time?” I often spend time doing stuff I enjoy but is not the most effective use of my time.
BT opening my email this morning was a joy.
You are too kind Rachelle!
A thoughtful post, BT, and one all of us can relate to at one time or another. While it’s important to stay focused, we do deserve some down time too. That’s when I get my best ideas.
However, it’s those days that go by and I’ve been “busy” with nothing to show for it that I regret. I have 2 quotes on a sticky on my computer that help me.
“What’s my outcome?”
“Now. Not tomorrow.”
I like them Peggy. Great ideas.
A very poignant and thought provoking post on issues we all struggle with. Like many, I too can beat myself up over wasted time, lost opportunities or regrets. It can be a cycle that’s hard to break. However, like your great post today points out, it’s usually the hard questions that make us focus, re-evaluate and get back on track.
Thanks for today’s poke in the right direction.
Glad it helped Maurice.
Great point here. Choosing to leave my full-time work to become full-time blogger was one of the turning point in my life. And for the past two years, I’ve experienced a lot of struggles, including laziness. And I agree that without a reason, “knowing why you do what you do”, you will be tempted to regret and have self-pity for the small progress you make. But with enough reason, constantly asking yourself, “what are you doing really?”, it refreshes and motivates you to keep moving and doing. 🙂
Thanks for the share! Thumbs up!
Knowing why… so important.
@peggy baron: I’m stealing your stickies!
Thanks for the kick in the ass – I needed it!
As always, an excellent read!
sometimes it takes 6 weeks in between articles to re-affirm that you really are doing whatever you are — for the right reasons. if you need to “waste” that time, so you can slap yourself, and come back that much stronger — then it wasn’t really a waste.
yep, it’s important to keep reminding yourself, to keep “poking” your answer to that question. that’s the only way to stay on track ( especially when the answer is ” helping people” ).
great post 🙂
Yeah good point inna. Cheers.
No worries BT,
We all have spurts of inspiration here and there. We’ll go weeks or months on this new energy of excitement and passion. But eventually, it can and WILL burn out and we need to take a little break and just do something else for a minute.
If what you were doing is truly enjoyable to you, you’ll come back to it, often with more flare and insight you had earlier.
It’s all part of the process brother, don’t sweat it. Now, just get your damn themes released already eh? 😉
Thanks Sean. How’s all your stuff going?
It is good to see your email today. I wondered what happened, but thought it would be weird to write and ask. I mean…how odd is it to send someone one hardly knows an email to ask what’s up. I tried reasoning that your blog is my friend 🙂 but heck, didn’t get around to doing it.
I’ve been recently going through a similar phase. I’ve found my focus again. And consoled myself with the thought that I have been busy doing a lot of things, online and offline, even though I haven’t been able to do everything I wanted to.
Again, good to see your post. Your blog is one of my favorites.
Ha ha. I wouldn’t mind an email.
THE question is a crucial self check. You said that you ask yourself this, “… every once in a while ….” I’ve gotta ask myself this on a moment-by-moment basis. Why are you on Facebook? Twitter? Blog Tyrant? Now, I may have great reasons to do so, but I also might be avoiding doing something more difficult. And, for me, more difficult frequently means something I’ve doubts about, a design that’s lacking inspiration, writer’s block, what might others think, etc., etc.
Then again, I may be far better off sitting with my 8 year old daughter, watching a movie. Something that will be more difficult to fit in once school starts again. Or once mediocrity sucks up years and, seemingly, in a matter of weeks she’s married with kids of her own.
So, what am I doing? Oh, reality check! I’m outta here. I’ve got previously avoided work that needs to be completed. But first, I need to go sit with my daughter.
Keep up the excellent work BT!
Great comment Garry. Thanks for writing it. Reality check for real.
Garry you just described me to a T. Farting around the internet avoiding tackling stuff!
I believe a lot of people are almost ashamed to admit that the “internet lifestyle” may not be for them. When working online becomes a “dreadful task” or you find every excuse not to do the things needed to be successful, you really need to examine if you’re headed on the right track.
It took me almost 2 years to realize that I do not want to work full-time online — even with a business/website that is a passion of mine. The thing is, it’s just one passion in a sea of many and for that reason, it doesn’t make sense to stay cooped up behind a computer screen 7-10 hours per day and not progress towards larger goals that I have.
This is my first time here, but I’m glad I stumbled upon this post. It’s a great eye opener for those stuck in the phase of not knowing what they’re doing and for what reason.
I went over to your “last article” and it’s probably one of the best articles I’ve ever read about affiliate marketing.
I’ve been in the real estate business for over 15 years and I’ve seen many companies come and go, there is a big difference between sustainable business practices and telling people what they want to hear and doing what they need for them to be successful.
Now when I read most affiliate marketing spiel it reeks of flash in the pan business practices which I have learned do not pay off long term. I won’t even recommend something unless I believe in it myself and have tried it. I’ve panned the crappy real estate books when I could have said differently and made a few bucks. 99% of the time I don’t get paid for anything.
However I do get all of my business online and it’s growing all the time, in a time when most of my competitors are spamming craigslist to get leads, I have too much work. This is because people trust me because I don’t try to sell them crappy stuff that’s not worth the money.
[…] must admit I was pretty startled when I read the recent post by local blog guru Blog Tyrant. It felt like a cry out to the blogging hemisphere about all the difficulties that a single […]
Very timely article BT and relevant as well. Majority of the bloggers me included) have so much to do, achieve but while away time on mundane stuff. This time I have to get my act together!
It really is easy to let regrets get to you, the hardest part is staying upbeat and hopeful in the face of adversity (or worse…mediocrity). I can’t count the number of times I’ve come home and watch TV for two hours rather than working on my own business. But lately I’ve been getting up 2 hours earlier to work on my business before heading out to my “real” job. Whatever the situation is…it can be improved. It just takes hard work and time. (and networking, that really helps)
very interesting post BT. personally, i think this is kind of like a growing up thing. most people will not be world changers. but, we can all still have a meaningful life. and, ironically perhaps, when people stop “trying” to do something great, they may actually be able to do something truly great. contentment and acceptance, in a healthy way, particularly for bloggers IMHO shines through in their writing voice, and they are infinitely more attractive to their audience when they feel good about wherever they are at that point. while still having the good kind of stress that keeps you moving and motivated. personally, i always liked that notion of having 1000 true fans. that bloggers dont need the subscriber numbers that problogger.net has to be successful. that 1000 truly passionate followers was plenty. and to that end, i also believe life is exactly that way in general too. to feel that you are leading a meaningful life, i do not believe you need to contribute to every single person’s life. just 1000. (perhaps even just 1)
Great comment JB. Actually, I’ve learned a lot about growing up from you.
[…] BT) shares a simple and useful question (which is also the title) in his most recent post What Are You Doing, Really? He suggests that such a self check be asked of ones self on a consistent basis. It […]
Yeah, time can be a huge killer of our production. The thing is, no one likes to learn things like “Time Management”.
It’s not fun.
What is fun is learning how you can do this or do that to make a lot of money or get more traffic. What’s even more fun is watching it happen after you put the steps it took to get that result happen.
But the process of getting there and the backend work it took (like Time management) often times sucks and is boring.
Good point. Gotta work on the non-fun stuff too.
Hi Ty, missed your words, but figured you’d resurface eventually. Saw you sitting cross legged in India somewhere, meditating on “What am I doing,really.”
I asked that question about five weeks ago, too. Result was, I dropped my blog. Still tuned into yours, though.
I don’t know what your true mission in life is, but I know you have a gift for communcating with others through your words. Good luck with honing your talents, and remember, you’ve got lots of time yet to find all (Ha! That’s a joke) the answers.
Why did you drop your blog Dorothy?
Too tired and stressed from spinning my wheels and getting nowhere with blog, lack of computer know-how to do what needed to be done, along with dying mother, aging husband. Just decided I didn’t need to keep knocking my head against that brick wall.
I love it!
We can’t lay the blame on other people for our shortcomings… we all have to own up to our mistakes.
And I believe that it’s easy to start a good idea (such as starting a blog)… but how many of us, stick with it and see it through to the end.
I believe what separates the winners from the losers, when it comes to the area of blogging is this:
Are you willing to keep on writing on a daily basis — even when it seems like no one is reading anything you’re posting.
I wonder how many people have missed out on the chance of being the next StevePavlina.com — because they stopped posting on a daily basis & went to the “I’ll post every 6 weeks” routine.
Just my 2 cents 😉
Absolutely right Daniel. Steve isn’t that amazing, he’s just consistent.
Steve is pretty amazing but he’s also got some strange ideas – the no sleeping thing was uhmmm extremely committed.
Still I have to agree the hard part of staying in business is just keeping the doors open. If you provide a valuable service people will eventually find you. A few years ago I had two full months where the phone didn’t ring once. With a family to support it was lean and really tested my commitment to continuing mostly because I was starving to death. Blogs are no different. It takes a long time to get competent and try different ways to get business and different clients and so on.
BT – I think just keep to the blogging tips, stick to what you’re best at – otherwise you’ll have to do posts about Paulo Coelho, navel gazing, horoscopes, the meaning of life and aromatherapy.
How do you know I don’t write about that stuff on other big blogs? 😉
You forgot the iced coffee blog!
loved this post. i’m a first time reader (found you via a link from craftmba.com), and your post is definitely right on time. time management is so important!!! i’m making that my goal for this week, just because of this post–thank you.
enjoy your evening!
[…] Blog Tyrant writes about why it’s important to have a good reason for doing what you do: What Are You Doing, Really? […]
Great post and a great reminder that we should guard against laziness of all sorts, which also includes time wasting. I agree with Zubyre – stick to what you’re best at and do as much as you can of it.