No, instead, I went straight for the jugular: the stats page.
I don’t know how many times I’ve checked my stats page in the past five days, since I started posting an article every day.
It’s an obsession. It’s a compulsion. It plagues me constantly throughout the day.
The Need to Judge And Compare
I continually want to know how I’m doing, how many people have seen and read my article, how many claps I have on a certain story, and above all else — you guessed it — how much money I’ve made so far.
Ridiculous, given that it’s so early on in my journey. Deep down, I know without a doubt that it could be months, even years before I see any type of traction with my writing. I’m even expecting to have to write and publish daily for at least two years (and it could be 10 years!) before anything notable happens.
Of course, it’s also possible that nothing EVER happens on the surface level (meaning accolades, awards, fame, fortune) — all the things people tend to associate with “success” or “making it.”
However, knowing that it’s ridiculous to want results so soon on a conscious level doesn’t stop the subconscious impulse to check — constantly.
What Good Is Checking Stats?
It’s obvious that since this is only the sixth article I’ve published since June of 2019, it’s reasonable to expect that there probably isn’t a whole lot going on, if anything. It would be more like a miracle if there was.
So, I’m going to do myself a favour and nip that bad habit in the bud before it gets any worse. It’s still early on for me in this publishing every day thing, but what happens when I’ve been publishing regularly for two years?
If I keep going like this, do you know how much time I’ll have wasted refreshing a screen on my phone or laptop?
TOO MUCH! is the answer. WAY too much!
And for what purpose? Nothing but a momentary high or low, depending upon the “results” I see (the numbers on a screen that apparently reflect my worth).
Author, philosopher, and spiritual teacher Vernon Howard encourages people to notice the tormenting worry over results:
Will the new friends like us? Can I make the sale? Will my marriage be happy? Can I succeed at this?
“Concern with results is a major torture to man,” he says. “Moreover, it is the very thing that unconsciously causes failure.”
Most of us don’t have to look far to realize the truth of this in our own lives. My past few days of incessant monitoring and comparing are good evidence that pining over results mainly creates tension, anxiety, disappointment, stress, and feelings of failure.
Just Write, Don’t Hope or Expect
On the flip side, when you simply do the work without trying to meddle in the results, everything about it becomes more enjoyable! It’s playful instead of stressful.
“Let whatever wants to happen go ahead and happen. You keep your peace when you don’t demand a certain result.” — Vernon Howard
When I sit down to write an article without wondering in advance how it will be received, or what I can do to make sure it’s successful, I feel free and unencumbered. You’ve probably noticed, as I have, that this feeling of freedom is a much more productive and creative state to work from.
When there’s no pressure to perform, anything is possible — and everything is okay.
Whether or not this particular story makes it to the big screen is of no concern to me; and frankly, it’s none of my business!
The 3 Kinds of Business
Byron Katie, a mentor I have found particularly helpful along my own spiritual journey, teaches that there are three kinds of business in the world: Yours, Mine, and God’s. (By “God’s business,” she means anything that is out of our control — like the weather).
The more work I do on myself and the more inner insight I gain, the more I realize that there are very few things in life that are actually up to me. I control even less than I originally believed when I first started down this path — by a lot!
I’m learning to distinguish what is my business from what’s not, and I see now that I have very little control over what happens to my writing after I write and hit “Publish.”
Wherever it goes, whatever happens to it out there, who sees it and who doesn’t, who reads it and who doesn’t, and who likes it and who doesn’t have nothing to do with me. I cannot force or predict any of that.
Of course, I can do my part to make it findable, which is my business.
I can write the article, tag it with some keywords telling what it’s about, and try to come up with a title and subtitle that is descriptive and interesting enough for someone to potentially want to read it. I could even share it on social media to invite others to read it.
But that’s all I’m doing — inviting people to it, putting it out there. Whether or not they decide to engage is not within my power. Whether it’s actually found and whether it resonates is not up to me.
If it was, wouldn’t everybody be rich, famous writers reaching millions of people with every article, blog post, or book they write?
Do It For Fun, Not For Results
Reminding myself of this helps keep me grounded.
Staying in my own business, without obsessing over the results keeps me doing what I actually need to do: write.
Just yesterday, I wrote about my intention to show up and do the work of writing and publishing every day for a year straight. Why? Because something has been telling me to try it, because I want to see what can happen if I do, and because I know that ignoring this inkling any longer isn’t the answer.
I don’t know what the answer is, or why I’m pulled to write, or where this year of experimenting will lead me — but I think that’s the point.
Shaunta Grimes captured my feeling perfectly this morning when she wrote:
And that’s what I’d like to focus on this year.