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How doubt, inconsistency and procrastination stole my show...until they became my teachers

Elena Adina

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Feb 13, 2018
Ladies and gents, hello. It's great to be here! I'm actually smiling when I say this and no, I'm not rehearsing for a speech (although you never know, do you?), it's just that I'm humbled and amazed of how valuable this community is. Thank you for creating it and for making it so welcoming to people of all ages and backgrounds!

Here's my story. It's gonna be a long one - not because I love speaking about myself (which we all secretly kind of do) - but mainly because I'm going to go all out in case someone new, or tired or disheartened might find a little bit of relief and motivation in it.

TL;DR? Here it is: learn from your failures; always do your homework; f*ck the nay-sayers if they're more clueless than you are; never stop learning; never stop trying; MAKE A DECISION AND JUST DO IT (in the words of a fleeting tv character: "it's not gonna do itself, Hank!")!

My name is Elena and I'm from Romania. I've been lurking online since pretty much the Internet has gone mainstream (Yahoo chat rooms and mIRC, anyone?) but only in the last couple of years I truly got a glimpse of its opportunities, business wise.

Slowly and shyly, a dream has started to take shape: what if I could create an online business that would become my main source of income? What if?
So I started researching opportunities, within the limits of my knowledge and creativity.

The thing is, when it comes to money, I have a very strange mindset which I can't seem to shake off. I don't want to JUST make them. They have to come from something I believe in, both as value and meaning, otherwise, I just don't have enough motivation to put in the effort.

Don't get me wrong, I'm 34, which means I'm mature enough to know better than the "4 hour work week" and other.. well, I call it "fluff". I also know better than "find your passion" or "do what you love and the money will follow" or "if you build it, they will come" - it's not that they are false, but as with all distilled pearls of wisdom, they lack BACKGROUND.

Anyway, back to the story. After much rumination and googling, I decided the best way to start was to create a business that would make use of my existing skillset (I currently work in digital marketing; I've previously done copywriting and content writing and a little bit of graphic design on the side).

I'm not extraordinarily smart but I'm fast and good at learning new things. Also, I was very fortunate to be able to surround myself with people who could teach me things.

For example, I learnt the basics of business building and marketing during a four-year stay in the UK, from the brilliant founder and managing director of a successful finance company. He was my then boyfriend.

I learnt copywriting and content writing by reading a lot and by keeping a diary in English. I learnt graphic design - Illustrator and Photoshop - from my next boyfriend, who happened to be an art director.

And I was using these skills freelancing for other people while secretly wishing to build something to call my own.

Being passionate about the environment, and with the skills I had at the time, I finally decided to launch a website about eco-friendly living - everything from lifestyle (food, personal care, fashion) to home decoration and household care.
The timing was perfect as the subject was beginning to get more and more traction and credibility. "Eco-friendly" was starting to look less like an eccentricity and more like a better alternative to mainstream lifestyle choices.

The plan was to start by writing well-researched articles about all these topics, then focus on traffic and promotion, followed by monetization via affiliate links, private ad networks, sponsorships and then a private label product launch.

Did a lot of keyword research to write about topics that 1. would be useful to people and 2. I could then use on my way to monetization.

Also did my best to be original, warm, and real, because my end goal was to actually create a community around my site.

But then my big mouth and I started talking to people about this idea, and here's the thing: in my country, eco-friendly was not big at all. So a lot of them shaked their head and smiled at my plans, including my art director boyfriend. That hurt. I'm a wuss that way, you know? It matters - or it used to - matter a lot to me that people I love to believe in me. To have my back.

So it didn't take long for me, with the response I got, to let the doubt creep in. I started feeling demotivated and lonely, then my daily to-do list became a source of anxiety instead of joy. Enter procrastination: the days between articles got longer and longer until, one day, I stopped writing.
That was a mistake.

Fast-forward one and a half year later, I was mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed when BAM! A sponsored post with a lot of shares, likes and a lively comment thread caught my eyes. The post was from a website I've never heard before and it said something like " XY Eco-friendly Brand Alternatives to Fast-Fashion".

I clicked on it, read the article, browsed the site... and I literally felt my jaw dropping. That site was everything I envisioned mine to be. Simple yet beautifully designed. Minimal and stunning graphics. The articles were almost how I'd would have written them. Almost.

But the MOST IMPORTANT difference was not that I would have written them better. No, the most important difference was that THEY WROTE THEM and I DIDN'T.

Even now I remember in the greatest detail what I felt looking at that website:

I was jealous.
I was furious with myself for quitting.
I was angry at nay-sayers.
I was angry at myself for listening to them.

But I was also happy: the idea obviously worked. The site was getting a good amount of traffic and they fared well on social media too. For example, that guide alone had over 40K SHARES. Also, the people behind it did a great job. They DESERVED to be successful. Kudos to them!

With a newfound motivation, I resurrected my site from the dead and started writing articles again. But something didn't feel right - I was now imitating what my successful counterparts were doing. So, once again, I stopped. I needed a fresh start.

Fast-forward eight months later, I'm the happy owner of a site in another promising market. It's still in the early stages but it looks good. I work everyday on it - writing, SEO, social media, making and editing videos etc.

I don't know if it will ever be as successful as I envision it BUT here's what I know so far:

1. How to start.. AGAIN

My Zen master (i'm also a Zen disciple) once scolded us for answering to a question half-heartedly. He said something I will never forget:

"Whatever decision you have to make, MAKE IT WITH YOUR WHOLE BEING. Make yes a YES and no a NO, and your life will follow it accordingly. When the mind is split, so are your actions, and so will your life be."

Thinking of starting something? Then make a wholehearted decision first!

2. How to stop procrastinating... finally

Ha. You know when I said earlier I'm a professional marketer? I lied. I'm actually a professional procrastinator.

I could not stop it no matter what I did. So I faced it. I learnt that, in my case, procrastination is triggered by the stress or anxiety of NOT KNOWING certain variables, by tasks I find tedious or by perfectionism.

And I also learnt that the best cure for it is to just tackle those things HEAD-ON.

Procrastination is, first and foremost, the mental dance of avoiding things. But the more you do it, the more stressed you become and the more you want to procrastinate. You're neither doing, nor not doing. So you spend your time feeling stressed and guilty and useless when, in fact, there's no need to. TACKLE THE DAMN THING! It's the healthiest and best solution and is free :)

Don't know how to write? Just open Word, Google Docs or your diary and start writing. Keep writing no matter how bad you think it sounds. Do it for an hour. Then do it for two. Do it every day. To keep those words flowing you need to switch the tap on first. There's really nothing to avoid just a lot to learn from!

3. How to be consistent (working on your dream, creating a better habit, keeping a productive mindset... etc)

Another thing I learnt from Zen practice (and also from my failure) is that consistence also comes from commitment. Consistence IS commitment, actually.

So if you want to achieve something, commit to it and practice this commitment everyday.

I'll say it again: consistency is the material expression of your mental commitment.

I don't know how much you guys know about Zen, but it's a difficult practice. Its core is the practice of Zazen meditation, also called "just sitting". So you just sit in a certain physical posture, letting thoughts pass .. and at some point it becomes uncomfortable and even painful. But that too passes. You just have to be determined to go through it. "Miraculously", as soon as you decide to pull through whatever arises, the pain and discomfort dissipate. Most times anyway :)

That's why our Zen master always reminds us: before sitting, make a 100% commitment to it.

Of course, that doesn't mean to sit still until the pain makes you want to throw up, or to work yourself to death in daily life situations.

It means to put your intention in it 100%. Don't save your true effort for later. Don't save your intention for later. That later may never come. Do it now and then whatever arises will lead you to your next move.. and so on.

Sometimes, what arises is awesome - the confirmation we need to keep going. But other times it's bad. So what do you do then?

Another Zen tactic: detach yourself from the result. In other words, let it go. Detachment is a very misunderstood concept. It doesn't mean NOT to care. It doesn't mean F*CK ALL. It means to simply take the reality as it is, without letting yourself become consumed by it. It may hurt, it may suck - the best thing you can do is face it, acknowledge it, learn from it and move on. Life does.

I noticed we are very good at negotiating ourselves out of stuff that doesn't give us instant gratification or that seems too difficult to follow through. I, for one, have sh*tload of excuses for it: "but it huuuuurts", "but it's sooooo hard" "but I caaaan't" (imagine saying this in a whiny voice).

But then I one day (and fairly recently) I told myself: Really? Don't I at least have the curiosity to see what's ON THE OTHER SIDE of pain, difficulty, struggle or indecision?

How I applied all this advice to my new project:

- I found a topic/niche market that has great potential in terms of value, revenue and competition. Unless we f*ck up this planet for good anytime soon, there will always be mothers and there will always be a need for solutions, answers, guidance and better products. The fact that I'm interested in the topic also helps a lot with content creation.

- I "infiltrated" myself in every facebook group on the subject; I also hang around on forums and read articles about it every chance I've got. I "collect" people's pains (sounds a bit gruesome, doesn't it? ha!) and other people's answers, suggestions and recommendations to them. This alone gave me enough material for 10 websites, not one.

- monetization wise, I started with what's already working - affiliate marketing, but this is not a long-term strategy. I'm currently working on growing a community, both as a facebook group and as a newsletter subscribers' list. Hopefully, this will help me develop my own products, digital and/or physical.

- to stay on top of content creation, I write everyday, early in the morning. I still struggle with grammar, perfectionism, frustration and so on, but writing everyday helps.

- I've 100% decided that this time, I won't be behind anyone's game. So I spent the last month learning Premiere Pro and After Effects so I can make educational videos for YouTube and social media. Not the kind of smiling-dogs-fluff that makes you procrastinate on facebook (ahem!) but short videos with nuggets of useful and actionable info.

- what makes me truly excited about this site, though, is its potential to help people, for real. Besides the fact that it's geared towards helping mothers, it also has a Pay it Forward component that's becoming very popular.

Now, I wouldn't have written this long-a$$ post had it not been for Davis' one ( @KingCarbo )

He's a perfect example of what we call in Zen the beginner's mind: young, full of zest and willing to make things work (albeit easy ones).

And I just want to say this: I spent months on the internet trying to find the same thing as you: an easy way . A simple thing that makes thousands a month.

The lesson I got served was this: simple does NOT equal easy. Simple products are successful because they deliver a seemingly simple solution to a complicated problem. Their simplicity is partly the reason why they are successful in the first place. But creating a simple & successful product, from idea to implementation is not easy. Everything requires work and a varying degree of hard work.

However, I truly wish you and the rest of us here, succeed! If not us, who then? :)
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MJ DeMarco

I followed the science; all I found was money.
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Jul 23, 2007
Legendary intro @Elena Adina -- thank you for sharing your journey and your process. Hope to see more of you around here!


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Apr 4, 2016
If you are struggling with procrastination use the 5 second countdown method by Mel Robbins. Don't read the book, its a lot of fluff.

Count in your head 5-4-3-2-1....then just do it.

The science behind the method is that it shuts off the emotional part of the brain off. It's helped me a lot with getting things done and building momentum throughout the day.
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Elena Adina

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Feb 13, 2018
If you are struggling with procrastination use the 5 second countdown method by Mel Robbins. Don't read the book, its a lot of fluff.

Count in your head 5-4-3-2-1....then just do it.

That's very good advice, used it today to reply to some e-mails I wasn't looking forward to :) Thanks a lot!


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Jan 22, 2018
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Hello Elena and welcome to the Forum. Very interesting introduction and some useful info in there. I would be interested to see your progress through your venture. Keep us posted with the challenges you face.

Don't save your true effort for later. Don't save your intention for later. That later may never come.

Loved this btw, one of my daily struggles at the moment which I'm looking to overcome. Easier said than done.

Good luck!

Greg van Doorn

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Nov 6, 2017
Amsterdam, Netherlands
If you are struggling with procrastination use the 5 second countdown method by Mel Robbins. Don't read the book, its a lot of fluff.

Count in your head 5-4-3-2-1....then just do it.

The science behind the method is that it shuts off the emotional part of the brain off. It's helped me a lot with getting things done and building momentum throughout the day.

I also read that book ! Besides Fastlane & Unscripted a real gamechanger for me.
it's al about starting.

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