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.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
His favorite investment platform is M1 Finance, a site that allows him to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free, has no trading or maintenance fees, and even allows him to set up automated target-allocated investments.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite micro-investing app is Acorns, a free financial app that takes just 5 minutes to set up and allows you to invest your spare change in a diversified portfolio.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
Full Disclosure: Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Terms & Conditions page for a full disclaimer.