Is It Time for You to Stop Dabbling and Get Serious?
By Steve Pavlina | Personal Development for Smart People
If you want to start on a serious career path, don’t even think about giving up during the first year. Very little happens during the first year in terms of results. Most businesses aren’t even profitable in their first 2 years; it takes them that long just to become sustainable, even for fairly small businesses.
So many would-be pro bloggers give up in their first 6 months. They get bored, lose interest, or get a “better” idea for some other venture. I see them change topics or URLs and start over once or twice a year. After five years of this kind of dabbling, they’ve still barely gotten anywhere. They keep erasing what little progress they’ve made, so they never have the chance to develop anything serious and enduring.
When it comes to building any sort of business, either online or offline, this dabbling approach is a bit ridiculous because the real payoff from business comes from consistency over a period of years. It takes time to build a following, attract customers, develop products and services, gain links and search engine placement, generate referrals, develop good business sense, acquire expertise, and figure out how to generate income from your work in ways that feel congruent to you.
It took 25 months from when I started blogging to pass $10K/month in income from it, which happened in 2006. In the first 6 months, however, my blog only made $167 total, mostly from Amazon’s affiliate program. If I gave up during that time and started over, I’d never have enjoyed the long-term benefits of this path. Most professional bloggers, however, give up well before they reach this point. They see weak financial results during their first year just as I did, but they conclude it’s not worth continuing if they haven’t made it sustainable by then.
In addition to earning abundant income from blogging (mostly from affiliate and joint-venture deals these days), blogging has also created opportunities in other areas, like speaking (I have talks coming up in Las Vegas, Rio, Germany, and Washington DC), getting a book published (ongoing royalties), coaching (started at $997 per coaching call, now at $4997 per call), free travel, amazing social connections, etc.
If you want to generate serious income and enjoy an abundant lifestyle, it’s crucial to get past the dabbling phase. For starters the incessant dabblers are perpetually broke. They keep giving up and changing their minds well before they’d otherwise begin reaping the long-term benefits of sustainability and growth. Before they even have a chance to experience serious results, they pull the plug.
The truth is that you can generate serious income from just about any form of creative work — writing, audio, video, art, music, programming, design, etc. Others who came before you have already made millions from these paths. But most of them didn’t get very far in their first 6-12 months. It’s the ones who stuck with it for 5+ years that are reaping the biggest benefits. They’re builders, not dabblers.
A pattern I’ve noticed in my most successful friends in business is that at some point they made the decision to get serious about their work. They decided to stop dabbling, stop drifting, and stop coasting. They committed to a particular path and doubled down on it, intending to stick with it for years so they could really master it. Consequently, those same people are enjoying serious results. Meanwhile, the dabblers are still looking for that next Get Rich Quick idea that can grant similar results within a matter of months.
If you ask your friends what kind of work you’ll be doing 5 years from now, what will they say? If you’re not sure, go ask some of them. If they give you answers you don’t like, or if their answers are inconsistent, why is that? Are you broadcasting that you’re a dabbler? Do you have a history of dabbling? Are you being wishy washy and noncommittal? If you think you’re committed, but the people around you don’t perceive that commitment, you’re probably not committed.
If you’re on a strong and successful path, the people in your life will likely be able to predict what field you’ll be in 5 years from now. It will be the field you’re committed to right now.