Succeeding online has a lot to do with managing unrealistic expectations.
People think they’ll make a million with courses and a snap of fingers. A few paid RTs and a course to sell.
But that’s just not true. And I argue the #1 reason why people give up before even giving themselves a chance to succeed is having too high expectations.
But where do these expectations come from?
From marketers just like you and I of course.
It’s easier to sell anything by making people imagine the optimal results. Even though most people, deep down, know the results require work. So let’s spend some time grounding ourselves a bit this week.
Optimism vs. Expectations
Maybe one of the most famous thoughts about expectations comes from Zen philosophy: the power of having no expectations.
In our Western cutthroat culture this could be seen as a lack of ambition, but some smart people have figured out that detaching yourself from chasing outcomes allows you to be fully present. And this leads to genuine happiness and peace. You know, the kind of happiness you don’t even feel like necessary to share on Instagram.
On the other hand, I always say you have to think it’ll all succeed. Expect great things to keep going.
Why bother even trying otherwise.
But while optimism is a great motivator, a driving force of sorts, you must distinguish it from unrealistic expectations. Fail to do that, and most likely two things will happen very fast. First, you’ll fail to reach your goals. And this leads to the second, you give up as you think you’re doing something wrong.
Take some time to reflect on this and learn to balance them. Be confident, be hopeful, know that you have the potential to succeed. But don’t expect it to happen immediately and with a loud bang.
If you do that, I guarantee you’ll stay in the game to win!
A Five-Step Action Plan to Managing Expectations
Then, the other big thing is comparing your journey with the journeys of other creators.
Yes, by all means learn from them, buy their courses and coaching to speed up your journey, but do also understand that the game is not the same for everyone.
The game was never equal!
They didn’t start where you did. And they followed different advice. Their origins are different from yours. Their friends are different from yours.
Or, yikes, maybe they just worked harder? I know it’s an offending thought but sometimes it’s true. And in those cases, I don’t even want that kind of “success” because it’s just too much work for me! Remember, you’re here building yourself a utopia, not to chase other people’s goals.
Anyway, here are five important things you can do to maintain a healthier set of expectations about your own journey online:
- Recognize past expertise: Many of those you think found “quick success” bring in a lot of prior experience and skills that played to their advantage, big time. They’ve honed their craft over years, just in a different context. And then what appears as an overnight success is really the culmination of sometimes years of work. Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter twenty.
- Understand luck plays a role too: Some people stumble upon success by sheer serendipity. I like that word, by the way. Serendipity. Anyway, I see two things at play here. First, some people are great at capitalising on a trend. While this is not luck per se, it maximizes the chances of getting lucky. Second, some people manage to get ONE thread, one post, one video so viral that it boosts the rest of their careers. I guess, in a way, this is the modern version of “one hit wonders” but in the case of the modern online environment, it all snowballs fast. One viral hit leads to another that leads to another… Your best bet here is just to be consistent. Your time in the spotlight will come. But not if you stop!
- Remember success bias: This is what you’ll notice only after time: For every successful creator, hundreds start. But they quit. Known more formally as survivorship bias, it’s a phenomenon where we only see or hear from those who made it. As meme as it sounds, your best bet here is to treat each failure as a lesson and use it to refine your future strategy.
- Learn from the unseen: So… this is not exactly the easiest thing to do, as it depends on you having networked or keeping an eye on the quitters anyway. And maybe it’s easier to learn from your own mistakes anyway, but try to do this anyway! The experiences of those who quit are a goldmine of insights. If you can find out their challenges, what made them lost motivation, and just point blank “why did they quit”, you’ll understand what to avoid and expect. Building online is not always easy, so being clear on why it might go wrong will absolutely help you on your path.
- Have patience: I know I know, this is such a silly thing to even say. Everyone knows this. But, this is one of the things that cannot be repeated enough. Be patient. More likely than not, results will not come immediately. Keep evolving, keep engaging, and keep creating.
Add these five points to your arsenal and you’re already better prepared for what’s to come. And I’ll even add one extra point here: Make friends to build with. Always better to build with other people and to hear about their struggles. To help others. To push forward together.
And that’s it for this week!