Welcome to the 52 week challenge: a year-long commitment to systematic growth and profit for your business.
I have a shocking story to share with you today. It’s a tale of quitters who seemingly had it all (great website, self-confidence, professional showmanship, etc), but they simply couldn’t hang. They threw in the towel after nine months or two years or too few visitors. Each one of them created a unique excuse, convinced themselves they didn’t want that dream anyway, and high-tailed it back to an easier path toward a cozy (albeit average) comfort zone.
I get it. I’ve almost convinced myself the same several times during my career.
To make certain this doesn’t happen to you, I’ve created two giant, year-long projects: one for you, one for me. Yours is the 52 week challenge I explain in full detail below, but here’s the gist: Online business is a machine – simple components make up its success and determine how well it will perform. For the next 52 weeks, I’m going to challenge you, via weekly assignments, to build and enhance your online business machine. My theories are tested, my strategies are proven, and I know I can help your business grow.
Now, here’s my year-long project: I’m bringing back income reports. Long-time readers will recall that in 2014, I shared my income reports every month. It wasn’t until the end of the year that I disclosed my real reason for doing so: I was ready to quit this business once and for all. I was *this close* to becoming one of the quitters we’re going to talk about today.
During the year of income reports, I learned one thing for sure: I knew how to make a specific annual salary ($28K), and I knew how to make it well. I’d been making the same amount for four years. Nothing more, nothing less.
I stopped sharing reports in 2015, and the next thing you knew: I announced my journey to six-figures and revealed the strategy behind one of my 40K launches (2016). And in those posts, I explained the changes I’d made to earn more income, but there haven’t been any breakdown reports to see exactly what makes money and why. This year through the upcoming reports, you’ll get to see exactly how I earn my glorious income. It’s a beaut, Clark!
But today, let’s focus on this 52-week challenge and why I think it’s so important to your success …
Last week I was telling you about frenetic New Year energy and how 95% of people will have given up on their freshly-set goals by January 15. If that’s how impatient our craving for instant gratification is, no wonder people quit their businesses! The struggle is real. I plugged away at my own business for four+ years wondering what I was doing wrong and why I couldn’t shatter the glass ceiling over my head.
The Backstory of the Challenge
A few years ago, I created a list on Twitter of local creative businesses I admired. I checked back last month – the majority (at least 95%, if not more) quit their dream. Designers pursued other career fields, writers took 9-5 editing jobs, bloggers left the building, and shop owners vacated.
(By the way, that Twitter list has been deleted because this post is not meant to be catty. If you’ve quit a business – as I have – in pursuit of a higher calling, this post is not to shame you. Sometimes things aren’t meant to work out – we’re not talking about that here today.)
Ever since I discovered they’d all quit, I’ve been fascinated by what makes some people persist despite the odds. Because if there’s a thing you can’t NOT build, a talent you MUST express, or a better life you know you were MEANT to live, I believe it’s your duty to pursue it with everything you’ve got.
I hear a lot of noise right now about not setting goals; big mistake. HUGE! (I’m on a roll.) I spend a week in review and reflection every year because, you not only need goals, you need to set your mind right in order to BARREL-ROLL toward them.
Some of these quitters had very specific dreams, and at one time, they took their pursuit of those dreams very seriously. I don’t give admiration freely, and I genuinely admired these bloggers and business owners for the work that they did. Years ago, I was intimidated to contact them. I reached out to collaborate or connect; most ignored me.
It’s so easy to create an important-looking online persona. For that reason I always recommend the Alexa extension for your browser – don’t let people trick you with over-confident representation of themselves. The Alexa extension shows you just how popular every website really is, and you never know. It’s quite possible your site is just as popular as the one you’ve been admiring.
When I installed the Alexa extension, I realized that many of my peers didn’t have anywhere near the clout they were touting. Don’t sell your work short by measuring it against the perceived *face value* of others.
I couldn’t write this article without revealing that I’ve applied for three jobs in the last year. Yes, my resume is up-to-date. Just so we’re clear, there is a difference between being open to opportunity and quitting your dream.
This story’s longer than I have space for here, but last year I threw my name into the hat for three different positions that would help me meet my income goals, but not take me away from the business I’m building. (I could’ve easily done both in all three cases.)
Long story short: my job applications did help me meet my income goals, but I didn’t get any of the positions I applied for. More on this very soon because it’s an important lesson.
Focus on Your Path
This year I’m going to challenge you to acknowledge your strengths, and stop babying your weaknesses. Being subtle about your accomplishments won’t help you showcase them, and avoiding your pain points will only prolong them.
The truth is, most business owners know exactly what they need to do next in order to grow their businesses, but they fail to do so. Whether it’s a rebrand, professional services, virtual assistance, web development, product development, email marketing, or quality lead generation – there’s probably a list of things you KNOW you need to do to get to the next level … you’re just not taking the leap.
Now, let me ask you this. What’s scarier: Taking that leap or keeping your problems for another year?
After discovering that Twitter list of quitters, I had the scariest thought: What if I’d quit? Because don’t get it twisted, it’s been very tempting at times! What if I’d tucked my tail between my legs, left this blog because “it’ll never work”, and started all over in a more traditional career? What if I’d never created The Luminaries Club (my online group coaching program), written Your Best Year, or instructed on CreativeLive? What if I hadn’t pushed through the frustration to tap into my full potential?
How much of MYSELF would I have missed out on?
That’s a much scarier alternative to taking any of the risks I’ve taken. That’s why I’m begging you to stop being prisoner to miserable things that you can change! Let’s make this the year you shatter your comfort zone to create huge results.
Get Ready to Barrel-Roll
The 52 week challenge is designed to help you endure, and I’m going to add some healthy competition throughout. Why add competition to it? Because playing this business like a sport, and surrounding yourself with other people who play it well, will increase your motivation for success.
By playing together, we exponentially increase our collective staying power.
Humans are a pack animal, and individuals always want to be recognized by the rest of the pack. This is why hashtags on Instagram are so popular and addictive. It’s why you check over and over to see if your post is being recognized as a “top post” by the rest of the pack. So, of course we’re going to use a hashtag throughout this challenge: #52wkchallenge.
The overarching theme: HOW MUCH CAN YOU ACCOMPLISH THIS YEAR?
It’s not about money or sales or numbers, even though you’ll definitely see an increase if you play along. Instead, it’s about completion and follow-through and endurance, and that’s a beautiful thing because those attributes are well within your control.
Here’s how to play along:
- The challenge contains 52 prompts for business growth. These will be distributed through my weekly newsletter.
- Instructions and examples will be found on my blog and Instagram, but you won’t know what the prompts are unless you receive my newsletter.
- The challenge officially gets underway Thursday, January 12 – you’re welcome to jump in anytime. Do as much as you can, and feel free to take it at your own pace.
- Each week, I’ll show you how to use the hashtag, #52wkchallenge to show off your accomplishments.
Important note: You must be subscribed to my newsletter in order to play along. I will sell my products and services via that same list throughout the year. My sales emails are so informative and valuable that my subscribers thank me for sending them. If you don’t like campaigns and promotions, or if you have some kind of beef with selling in general, we’re not going to be a good fit. Play on, playa!
If you’re not already, subscribe to my email list below. Let the challenge begin!