Ten ways I could have predicted my own failure

I think I may have laid the cynicism on a little thick in that headline, but I got you to click so mission accomplished.

Truthfully, this article is not about wallowing in my self-pity. It is about some very important predictors of whether or not a person will follow through on his goals, and where I score on those predictors.

In my daily internet search for that magic bullet which will help me get out of my own way and finally take action, I came across Brendon Burchard and his High Performance Academy. He shares a free video (with accompanying worksheet) that outlines ten factors which collectively can predict if a person will take action on his goals. It was compelling enough that I watched the entire 40 minutes, and I thought I would share how I scored myself in the context of trying to create an online business.

I’m going to assume you at least checked out the worksheet I linked above, so you understand what each of these ten points refers to. If not, go do that now. Also, I answered these questions in relation to my current project, which is to help young men quit playing video games and improve their lives.

1. Future Identity

The first one is possibly the hardest to answer, because it forces you to push out all the other possible future identities you could see for yourself.

I’m 32. There are still a lot of pivots I could make in my career, and a lot of options that are still on the table for me. Out of all those options, do I see myself as a dude who helps other dudes stop playing videos games? I mean, I already do that to some extent by being active in forums, but it’s not part of my identity at this point. In fact, the only reason I’m doing it in the first place is because I thought it might be a possible avenue to make an online business.

I know for certain that I don’t want my future identity that would result from following my current career path, and continuing to work a job where my overall contribution to the world is forgettable at best and regressive at worst.

I’d give myself a 6 on this one.

2. Intrinsic Value

This is actually something that has developed as I’ve spent more time working on my idea. I started reading and posting in the StopGaming subreddit as part of my research, but eventually I found that I could actually be pretty helpful to the other people there. Helping people improve their lives is intrinsically motivating, for sure. Could I do this even if I won’t ever get paid for it? Yeah, I think so, and that merits a solid 9.

3. Utilitarian Value

This is a little tricky, because it can be hard to see what the ultimate results might be. If I had faith that I could definitely end up as one of those guys who makes five figures a month on about 20 hours of work, then the utilitarian value would be clear. But what if I eliminate the monetary incentive? If, at best, this business idea might break even, then is there any other useful benefits I could gain?

The cynic in my head says no. Or rather, he says that the benefits are trivial compared to something else I could be doing with that time. For example, I could go back and learn how to code, and that would provide much more obvious utility than whatever fuzzy skills I might get from the mess of trying to start a business.

On the other hand, this whole process has already knocked me well out of my comfort zone. I know that discomfort is the seed of real growth, so I can’t deny that this experience will make me a better and stronger person. I just can’t see what those benefits are, so I discount them. I’ll be generous and give myself a 6.

4. Opportunity Cost

Ahh, shit. This is, hands down, the number one factor that has consistently eroded my motivation to work on my business idea. What am I giving up in order to work on this crazy, uncertain project?

First of all, by choosing this one niche in which to create a business, I am giving up other niches that might be more lucrative or enjoyable. I’m giving up spending extra time to develop skills which might make me better in my job, and lead to a higher salary. I’m giving up spending time on learning a totally new set of skills which could allow me to jump to a different, more appealing career path. I’m giving up time I could spend with my family, or that I could spend reading more books.

Given the potential long-term benefits to be gained from building an online business, I’m willing to give up some of the things I listed above. But the uncertainty is what kills me! If all of this ends in failure, then any of those other options would have been a better choice!

This is my Achilles heel when it comes to motivation to follow through on my online business idea, and I suspect it is the same for many others like me. I can’t give myself anything higher than a 3 on this one.

5. Delay Time

You know, believe it or not, I actually do think that I could get results pretty quickly. At least, it won’t take me long to figure out if this is worth my time or if I should move on to something else. It’s not like becoming a doctor, with a decade of expensive and arduous training before you get any real financial return. I’ll give myself an 8 here.

6. Personal Control

Theoretically, can I make this happen, all on my own? Yes. I don’t need anyone’s permission or assistance in order to make this happen. This is definitely a 10.

7. Social Support

This is one area where I have improved my prospects by purchasing some coaching and getting to know others who are also on the long, strange journey of trying to build an online business. On the other hand, I don’t have any particularly strong support from anyone in my family. My wife has withheld her opinion, which is probably a good thing.

Right now I’m sitting at about a 6 here. But this is one factor which I could probably ratchet up to a 10 by adjusting my time commitments to the social circles that I am involved in.

8. Bandwidth Belief

I do have enough time for this, assuming that I make the tradeoffs implied by the opportunity cost. I have total control over the time commitment I am currently making to this, so there is no real reason to say that I don’t have enough time. This is a 10.

9. Resource Availability

Yes, I already have the resources. Starting an online business requires an internet connection, and that’s about it. Anything I could ever want to know about how to make this business is available on the internet. I’ve got every resource I could need. Another 10.

10. Autonomy

This is exactly why I want to do this in the first place! Starting an online business will give me complete autonomy over my work and creative efforts. There is no one who can second-guess my decisions or tell me no (except, perhaps, my wife). Finishing strong with another 10.

And the total is…

78! That’s actually a lot higher than I expected. As you can probably guess from the title, when I started writing this post I assumed I would fail to meet Brendon’s threshold of 75. But I passed, which means I have incontrovertible evidence that I will definitely take action to move forward on this idea.

Somehow, that doesn’t make me feel any better though. Perhaps I was too generous in my scoring, like on opportunity cost. I suspect that this result makes me uncomfortable because it means I can’t use it as an excuse.

There are many possible barriers that can prevent us from working toward our goals. But for my goal of starting an online business, most of these barriers do not exist. What does that mean?

It means… that I am my own barrier.

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