Hello, everybody! You are listening to the 16th episode of Sensibly Happy podcast. This episode is about how to prepare yourself for life challenges like a pro.
You have probably asked yourself: “what makes one person more successful than another?” And this is a really valid question. Because if it’s something which we can control, we can use it in our daily life and be more successful as well. I’m convinced that there are some reusable ingredients of success. In this episode we are talking about how to get you prepared for possible struggles and make yourself stronger!
Merging two topics
Hello dear listeners!
I’m glad to welcome new listeners as well as regular ones. I’ve created this episode having in mind two different topics. One topic will give an alternative point of view about a way to success, how it could look like. Not the success itself, we already know a lot about it, but how the way to success could look like. And the second topic will show you what you should focus on when starting something new. I will name those topics later. But for now, a short intro:
I’ve decided to merge those two topics because I believe that a combination of those should bring real value. And after this episode, you’ll be able to reduce some of your negative emotions every time you are going to make some changes in your life. So, let’s start!
Expectations when starting something new
When we start something new, we have some feelings, some expectations about what we would get from it, how long it would take to implement. But it often happens that our initial feelings are way more different from the ones we have after starting something. Initial feelings and expectations can be good, or they can be bad. And that depends on different factors: for example, on type of personality, or current level of self-confidence. There are several major cases.
One case is when a person is over optimistic. For instance, you’ve got a new idea of what you want to try, or what you want to achieve. And you start searching for different information about that, most likely on YouTube, or by purchasing some online course, that should help you achieve your goal. You’ve watched a video, or read several pages, and you can see that the person who shares information with you has already succeeded and tells you that it’s not so hard to achieve.
The second case is when a person is too scared to start something, probably because of previous fails or lack of confidence. And it’s really hard for that person to start something new.
Also, there are other cases, like, “I don’t know where to start, I’m not sure that this is what I really need to want,” etc. But let’s focus right now only on the case when a person thinks that he or she really needs to achieve something and has some initial expectations.
What can you change in your life?
What changes, what new something I’m talking about right now? It could be a lot of different aspects of our life. For instance, you’ve decided to change your current profession, or switch to another work direction, or you want to start a new business, or you want to learn something new, like playing music, cooking, or snowboarding. It could be education or participation in some challenges. Doesn’t matter! We often have some expectations at the beginning.
What are your initial expectations?
Do you have something you’d want to start right now? Do you have some ideas that it would be great to change something, or to try something new? What do you want to change in your life? Or have you already started your way to change something? What are your initial feelings and expectations? Are you excited? Are you scared? Are you full of energy, or full of doubts? Or you don’t have any changes in your mind right now, but you’ve recently achieved something, and you can recall some details about the change and what your initial feelings were.
Look more closely at your emotions while trying something new. Before sharing my conclusions with you, I want to tell some of the interesting stories from my life. And those will be good examples to show how and why our emotions are changing during implementation.
Story 1: The jewellery business
The first story is about a small business that I tried to set up probably ten years ago. The idea was to sell jewellery, not an ordinary one, but high quality fancy and modern pieces. I spent a lot of time trying to find the suppliers who had good designs, good price and high quality because it was clear for me that having such a good product, my business would grow up quickly. I selected several vendors, bought several samples from each of those and selected one with the best characteristics. Earrings, rings and necklaces were of the really beautiful quality of work as well as materials were good. The vendor was from Thailand. I ordered from him around 200 pieces, received a package from him and spent a lot of time photographing, describing and packing. Everything was set, including software for accounting. I started my own business, and I was excited about that. I had really great products! There was no competition for me in the market in my city. And I was full of dreams about my wealth.
In two months, I showed outstanding results! I’ve sold… how many items do you think? One! I sold only one item out of 200 in two months! It was funny for me in the past to imagine myself with such a problem. But at that moment, ten years ago, it was a surprise for me how having such amazing products, I’m not able to sell them.
But the reason was very simple. In my business plan, the main idea was to have great products, but I didn’t have the proper answer to the question “How will I sell those?” Because it was clear for me that when I have great products for an affordable price, I will definitely find some ways to sell them, but it appeared that I should have some license, have to pay additional fees for marketing my products, and taxes to be able to sell in some stores. And the only available way for me was to sell my shares of sites like eBay and to compete with Chinese suppliers. And at that moment, I didn’t have a clue about social media marketing. So, as you’ve understood, my initial excitement was replaced with despondency.
Story 2: Photography career
The second example from my life is when I decided to work as a photographer for microstock, like Shutterstock, IStockPhoto, DepositPhotos, and so on. For those of you who don’t know anything about microstock, those are services which connect photographers and different types of consumers who need those photos for their marketing, or as a part of the design. And each of those micro stocks gives a photographer the ability to upload his or her high-quality photos, and then lets consumer buy those photos, then pays a royalty to the photographer. So, the idea of that business is to create a lot of different photos, upload them and wait till people start buying your photos and you get paid for those.
Before starting working with that, I read several articles on how to make good photos, how to upload those photos to microstock sites, and where it’s very easy to start earning with your photos. I already had a good camera and lenses, I’ve been photographing for a while, and I liked the photo industry. I was ready to make money! I generated several ideas which would be the subject of photos, I created and edited those photos, and started uploading those to different microstock sites. And what was my surprise when some microstock rejected most of my photos, while others didn’t even let me upload my photos for selling because I had to pass some exams first. And it took me four more months of continuing practising, of improving my photos’ quality and plot of each photo, to pass exams in order to finally have 70+% of my photos being approved by microstock. Do you realize that it takes not one week to make photos and upload those, but four months of practising, just to be able to sell?
But earnings appeared only after I found my own style, after I realized what was the commercial value of photos, and started generating something valuable that people were ready to pay for. You can feel the difference, initial expectations – one-two weeks, and the reality – four months for improving technical quality and approximately two months to find plots that were valuable. And it’s obvious that after not getting the results I expected, my mood has fallen a lot. I lost my self-confidence again, and only self-discipline helped me not to stop and move forward!
Story 3: Snowboarding star
And the third story is about starting snowboarding. I watched several YouTube videos, remembered how different tricks should be done, how gracefully you can move on a high speed, and I was ready to be a snowboarding star! I’ve decided to dedicate one day for snow activities. I had reached the hill with ski lifts, and on my first ride I injured coccyx, this is a bottom part of a spine. As a result, I wasn’t able to squat for one week. Next time I was snowboarding, I fell down and partly injured the muscle on my shoulder, and I wasn’t able to lift my hand aside for probably two months. Only after that, I decided to find some information on how to fall safely. And after that, I didn’t have any major issues anymore because of using the learned technique.
First, you fall, and then you achieve something
You have probably already guessed what the first topic of this episode is about. This is about a common practice when we begin something new, and it goes not as smoothly as expected, instead of going straight to success, it often lets you down. And only after continuing working hard, you can see some positive results.
It is similar to a bird that flies out of the nest for the first time. In the beginning, it starts falling down, and only after working hard with all the muscles, it gets some speed to fly. And only then, after those extra efforts, remuneration comes. I mean that you start seeing the results you expected from the very beginning, you finally do something that you saw on YouTube or read in some courses, or you finally have the results that your friends were talking about. Again, every time you start something new, you have a big chance to fall down at the beginning, you have a chance to spend most of your resources and still not be close enough to your goal.
Learn more information before starting doing something
Why does it happen? Because we don’t estimate all the risks properly, because we don’t have full information about that, or because we don’t want to hear that there are such risks, or we believe that bad things happen to others only. And this is the second topic of this episode. You should correct your expectations at the beginning using extra information about the further process. And here are two more stories from experience that could be used as examples of corrected expectations.
Example 1: The Paper magazine business
The first story is about starting a new business. A long time ago, working in an investment company, I and my colleague were asked to prepare the budget for launching a new paper magazine. We spent two weeks collecting different information about journalists’ salaries, about prices for printing, and all the other details. And after two weeks we prepared a document which was precise from our perspective.
But before moving forward with that budget, we had a chance to show this budget to one mature financier who already had huge experience in launching small and big businesses. He looked closely at our numbers, and told us, “You did a great job! You’ve put a lot of details in your budget, and the only thing that you should do is to multiply that budget by two.” And then he mentioned several risks that are likely to appear during the implementation. And he was right. And this was the correction of our expectations.
Example 2: The Instagram for my podcast
The second story is about starting the Instagram account for my podcast. How do you think, how many new followers of my Instagram account are going to listen to at least one of the podcast episodes? It would be nice to have numbers like 30%, or 50%.
But before launching my Instagram account, I’ve collected some additional information and realized that I should expect 1-2%, no more. And when I launched it, I saw that around 3% of all new followers of my Instagram account were going to my podcast. All other followers were just liking my posts. And this is another example of how my corrected expectations saved me from negative emotions.
Lower the risks and don’t be afraid
What can be done to reduce those risks? How can you prevent disappointment? Or the opposite: How can you be not too afraid of starting something new; and after postponing that start for a year or more, realize that this is not as complicated as you expected? The answer is really simple. You should start something new because you like the process and you don’t have any extra expectations about what you will have in the end; or if you want to start something new because of the final goal, you should collect more information in the beginning. And by having that information, you will be able to correct your expectations.
Where can you get that information? First of all, you should search for different communities. It could be Facebook communities, different forums, or Reddit groups, where you can find information about different ups and downs, there you can often find pieces of advice for beginners.
Then, you can purposely search for experts in different social media. It is so easy right now to find such people for instance, in Instagram, or LinkedIn. And you can speak to them and get some information. If you want to start something important, you can even pay for the information. For instance, you can prepare some plan and then show it for a review.
Another great idea is to find places where those experts like spending their time, for instance, some specific bar. If you’ve decided to change your profession, or current job, and you don’t know where to start, or you are too scared that you’re not smart enough to do this, you can also go to that bar to have some drinks and see that people from that sphere or from that company are ordinary people, you can speak to them, you can ask something, and you even can have some insights. And all that information will definitely help you correct your expectations and distribute your resources more properly when starting something.
Estimate time and resources better
You should know your personality better! And you probably know that you tend to underestimate or overestimate. If you underestimate things, you search for negative cases while collecting information about that new sphere. But if you’re overestimating everything, and are too afraid, you should find cases’ examples that this is not that complicated and a lot of people start this much more easier than you think.
One more tip for you: We often underestimate or overestimate time or other resources that are needed to complete something, there’s a very useful technique on how to estimate time more properly. This is called “Three-point estimation”. The idea is really simple. For instance, if you want to estimate the time that you should spend to achieve something, you should find examples of different scenarios. First of all, find a positive scenario, when someone spends less time for something, then the scenario that took too much time, and then more common time that people spend on it. You need to sum up positive-scenario time, negative scenario time and common time multiplied by four, and all that sum you should divide by six, the number you get would be a realistic estimation. And you can use this approach for estimating time, money, number of followers, and so on.
Your task for the next week
What do you want to start soon? What do you want to change in your life? And what expectations do have right now?
- The first step, describe the purpose of starting something new. Do you want to do this for the sake of process itself, or you want to achieve some final goal? If it’s about the process, then enjoy it.
- Step two, describe your expectations: how much time it would take, what resources it would take and how much of those resources?
- The third step, recall what sources of information you used to have such expectations? Do you think you’ve done enough research to have expectations properly set? If you feel that there is enough research, then I wish you good luck.
- Step four. If you lack some information, then think where you could get more information about the further process? Think about different sources, use your creativity.
- Step five, start collecting additional information. If you are underestimating things, then search for negative cases. If you are overestimating things, then search for positive cases. Such an approach will help you to balance you up.
- Step six. Write down those insights, which you get from the additional research.
- And step seven, analyze whether there are any changes in your expectations.
Those are changes that will help you to be more stable. They will help you not to give up too early and will save you from some of your negative emotions.