When I first started blogging I spent an obscene amount of time trying to find the perfect site layout. I spent hours looking for the right images to include in my articles. I watched countless YouTube videos on how to build a social media following. I even paid to take an affiliate marketing course.
But I spent very little time doing the only thing that actually mattered: writing blog posts.
Deep down I knew I should have been focusing more of my attention on creating content.
But it was so much easier to change my site layout.
It took less effort to add a pin to my Pinterest profile.
It took less deep thinking to send out a tweet.
Put simply, I was spending most of my time doing easy things instead of important things.
I was neglecting the only thing that makes a blog successful: the content.
Social media, site layout, and everything else is secondary. It was only after I had this realization that I was able to spend more time doing the important work of content creation and less time on everything else.
The “One Thing” That Actually Matters is Always the Hardest Thing to do
No matter what goal you’re pursuing, there is always one thing that will push you towards that goal faster than anything else.
If you want to create a successful blog, that one thing is content. Make content. Lots of it. Everything else is secondary.
If you want to get in shape, that one thing is eating healthy. Consistently. Everything else is secondary.
If you want to build wealth, that one thing is spending less than you earn. A lot less. Everything else is secondary.
The one thing that matters the most is always the most obvious thing, but it’s also the hardest thing.
It’s obvious that you need to create content to have a successful blog. But it’s also hard to overcome Writer’s Block, to schedule uninterrupted time to write, to meticulously craft a post that communicates an important idea you have.
It’s obvious that to get in shape you need to eat healthy. But it’s hard to develop the discipline needed to make nutrition a priority.
It’s obvious that to build wealth you have to save at least some of your income, but it’s so much easier to spend whatever happens to be in your bank account.
The Danger of Doing Easy Things
Instead of doing that one hard thing to inch closer to our goals, most of us do lots of easy things. This is dangerous because we trick ourselves into thinking that since we’re doing lots of work, we must be making progress. But more often than not we’re just spinning our wheels. I’ll give you some examples.
Most people who want to create a successful blog spend plenty of time chasing social media followers, creating pins for Pinterest, and taking courses titled “How to Make $5,000 a Month Blogging in Under 90 days”. These things are easy to do but they rarely result in a successful blog. The hard thing to do is create great blog posts, which also happens to be the only thing that actually matters.
Most people who want to get in shape are willing to read fitness magazines, watch workout DVD’s, and buy protein powder. But very few are willing to actually eat healthy natural food, which again is the only thing that matters.
Anyone who wants to improve their financial situation is willing to download budgeting apps, buy personal finance books, and listen to financial podcasts. Not many people are actually willing to make lifestyle changes to save more of their income.
In all of these scenarios, the easy things that we spend most of our time on aren’t actually pushing us any closer towards our goals. They trick us into thinking we’re making progress. But they’re distracting us from the things that actually matter.
How to do More Important Work and Less Easy Work
There is one surefire way to start doing important work: be brutally honest with yourself. Identify the one thing you want to do the least. It’s probably the thing that requires the deepest effort. It’s also the thing that will push you towards your end goal the fastest.
For most bloggers, that hard thing is writing. It requires concentration, space to think, and time to craft one’s thoughts. This is a dead giveaway that it’s important.
For most people looking to get in shape, that hard thing is cooking meals at home. It requires some preparation, some effort, some patience. Dead giveaway that it’s important.
For anyone looking to save more money, that hard thing is changing habits. It’s easy to download a budgeting app. It’s much harder to kill the habit of impulse spending. A clear sign that habits are important.
Deep down, most of us know what the hard work is. We know what work will actually propel us towards our goals. The tricky part is acknowledging that something is hard and doing it anyway. But the more you’re honest with yourself and you start doing those hard things, the more natural it feels over time.
As you consistently do what is hard, you’ll begin to see growth. You’ll stop dreading the hard things because you’ll begin to see that they make you better.
The hard things hold the key to getting whatever you desire in life.
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8 Replies to “The Danger of Doing Easy Work vs. The Magic of Doing Important Work”
I fell into all the same traps when I first started my blog. I started a Pinterest account and focused on growing my audience there (even though I didn’t enjoy it all), tried to follow a bunch of people and engage with them, write posts that I thought would be a good SEO nitch. I thought that’s what I needed to do in order to grow my audience. While some of it was working, I also ran into the problem of feeling like a phony. Once I abandoned all those strategies and started writing every single day, my love for writing and readership had increased. There’s nothing as rewarding as getting up early – I wake up at 5:30 AM and write before work too – and putting in the work to improve your skills. After all, if you’re a blogger, you should mainly be.. writing. You can’t market bad content. Thanks for the reminder 🙂
Jen, that’s awesome to hear that you’ve developed the habit of writing each morning! I love meeting people who are morning writers like myself. It’s also great that you have decided to concentrate on writing so much. I just think that when people spread themselves too thin with social media accounts, marketing techniques, monetizing their blog, etc. it all takes away from doing the actual work of creating content. In the long run, the blogs with the best content always win.
Thanks for the feedback and I look forward to continue tracking your blog 🙂
Perfect. Time to get writing 🙂
That’s what I like to hear! 🙂
I’m currently reading “The One Thing” by Gary Keller. Your message throughout this post is very similar to the message in his book. Have you read the book before?
That’s actually one of my favorite books on work ethic. I read it a little over a year ago but I have been meaning to read it again. That book combined with “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown are two of my favorites on the philosophy of doing important work.
Good insight, Zach. It’s easy to get caught up in over optimizing and stop or slow down the core of your business or blog.
Definitely a trap I get into. You have to spend most of your time on the basics – build up your soldiers, then worry about optimization.
Exactly, Robert. The basics aren’t always pretty but they’re usually the most important. Just doing the important work day in and day out is what leads to success over time. Not a pretty strategy but it works 🙂