We have to pay attention to our work, and not just stay busy doing it

Ask yourself this: are you someone that you’d want to pay attention to?

It’s a hard question to answer. Not because we’ve all got self-doubt and fears of inadequacy, but because we sometimes sacrifice ourselves for our goals.

PSST: Stop guessing when I publish new posts and get articles like this in your inbox every Sunday.

While making a living online, it’s easy to get lured into other people’s vision of doing business. You see something work for them, or something they’re sharing that netted them great results and you want to try it too. Why wouldn’t it work for me? we think. And sure, maybe it would.

What we neglect to account for is if how we’re going about building a sustainable living accurately reflects not only the life we want but how we want to be perceived. By others, and by ourselves.

The Internet can be like an aisle of shiny metal toys, and we’re all 6 year olds with no-limit credit cards. There are so many ideas, so many things to try, so many opportunities, so much “more” to be had. We can easily lose track of why we are doing what we’re doing.

There’s really no wrong way to build to a business. What I mean by that is that it’s your business. And guess what? You’re in charge of it. You can build it however you want, in whatever way works for you—regardless of expert opinions, thought leader advice or what some guy with a Sunday newsletter tells you to do.

Building a business in your own way is easier said than done. The shiny toys! The proven tactics! The people already where you want to be, telling you that you can have the same in just 6 easy steps! So… tempting…

Am I someone that I’d want to pay attention to?

When I ask myself that question, sometimes the answer is no. Not because what I’m sometimes doing isn’t working, but because what I’m sometimes doing isn’t working for me. I lose track of my work because I’m so busy doing work. And that’s dangerous. So I pull back, or adjust or completely scrap something.

I typically don’t pay attention to others who do things simply because that’s the way things are supposed to done. I’ve always been on the edges, so I pay attention to the folks who are experimenting with ideas that could absolutely fail, because they’ve never been tried. Or who are being so radically honest about who they are, regardless of outcome, they haven’t failed.

This all might sound like a petulant child shouting, “you’re not the boss of me!” but we’ve got it backwards. Kids actually need to listen because they don’t know any better yet. Don’t put your shiny new metal toy in the socket Timmy, you’ll get electrocuted… and can I please cut up your credit card?! But as grownups, we do know better. Seriously, we do. And we know enough to know what suits us. We’re smarter than we give ourselves credit for and if we listened to ourselves half as much as we listened to others, we’d always be in a much more suitable-to-us place.

We have to pay attention to our work, and not just stay busy doing it. Otherwise we could end up becoming someone that even we wouldn’t want to pay attention to. And I wouldn’t trade all the shiny metal toys in the world for a successful business that didn’t suit who I am.