In my 10 years online, a question I’ve often asked – first of others, and later of myself is:
“If you had to start all over again…how would you do it?”
It’s a question that assumes a few things.
First, that you are starting with nothing. From “scratch.” With a blank slate.
And second, that the person you’re asking actually has an answer that could do anything beneficial for you.
The truth is that neither of these assumptions has any veracity.
Let’s start with the first assumption – that you’re starting with nothing. Unless you were born yesterday, you have life experience.
It might not be exactly related to what you want to be doing, but it is experience that will color anything and everything you do from now on. It’s your belief system through which you see everything like no one else does.
Which means that you are uniquely qualified to be YOU, doing what you’re doing the way you’re doing it.
No one else has that capability.
And that brings us to the next false assumption – that the person you’re asking actually has a useful answer for you.
Sure, they might have advice, know who to contact, or maybe have a few helpful suggestions…but the fact is that the way YOU do something will never equal how someone else does it (even if you copy them step by step).
How does a person “start from scratch” successfully – meaning, start from where they are, and actually reach their goal?
May as well turn to my personal experience in marketing for the answer.
Specifically? A/B split testing.
In marketing, A/B split testing means doing two things with the same purpose, and tracking results to see which works. If ‘A’ works, for instance, you test it against a new version, ‘C’, and keep going until you improve your results.
I once wrote about this idea of being consistent. Stick with me here, because it’s totally related to A/B split testing your life into success.
Consistency is how I reach all my goals (well, the ones I achieve, anyway).
And consistency is simple. Do one thing every day that brings you towards your goal.
And the reason it works is NOT that you pick the right thing to do every day (although that’s useful). The reason it works is that you’re creating an experience that moves you in some direction and gives you feedback.
So here’s the background story:
After I had my son 6 years ago (well, six years ago as I write this, anyway – no telling when you’re reading it), I really wanted to lose weight. Not because I wanted to weigh less, but because I wanted 6-pack abs.
But no matter what I did, the weight didn’t come off.
Until I decided to be really consistent.
I weighed myself every single morning and tracked it (wrote it down). I started tracking everything I ate. I worked out and tracked what I did as well.
After months of this, nothing really changed for me weight-wise (or 6-pack wise).
Then, something DID happen. I went to see an allergist, and in order to get the testing I needed, I had to get off my allergy meds for a few days.
I suffered through sneezes and extreme itchiness for 3 days…and then had to go another 4 days without the medicine because I needed more testing and there was a weekend in-between.
And because I was tracking…I suddenly realized that, despite not having changed anything about my food intake, water intake or workout schedule, weight was coming off every morning.
BINGO! I thought at the time. I’d unknowingly split-tested taking allergy meds vs. not taking them…and how it affected my weight. As it turned out, the allergy meds were keeping me from losing weight (Zyrtec, in case you’re wondering. I’ve since switched to Claritin).
I told my wife about my theory and she thought I was crazy. Then, the following week, a doctor she was seeing told her she gives Zyrtec to patients who need to gain weight. Case closed.
All that to say…I might have been doing the right things (things a relatively in-the-know person would do if they wanted to lose weight), but they weren’t working. Not until I fixed the one major, underlying issue. I was doing something else that was keeping me from reaching my goals.
Sabotage by Zyrtec.
(In case you’re wondering, still no 6-pack abs, but I have dropped around 30 lbs since).
And inside that story are several lessons.
Lesson 1: being consistent and tracking your consistent actions might seem pointless at first, but when something small shifts and things change, you’re able to catch them and use them to your advantage.
Had I not been tracking, I’d probably still be taking Zyrtec every day and still wondering why the heck I wasn’t losing any weight.
Lesson 2: because of your different life experiences, no one else can give you the exact success formula you need to reach your goals.
Let’s imagine I was working with a nutritionist…and that nutritionist told me everything she did to lose weight, along with every single thing that worked for 10 other clients. And let’s imagine I did all those things, exactly as I heard them.
But because I kept doing one small thing differently (taking a tiny little allergy pill), I’d have never succeeded.
Those little things you do that sabotage your success aren’t necessarily a pill. They could be the way you say something on a sales call. The way you react. Or something small you don’t do that’s so second-nature to your teacher or coach (or well-meaning friend) that they don’t know to tell you.
Lesson 3: there’s no such thing as “starting from scratch.” If you want to achieve a goal, pick an activity you can do – and track every single day, and start doing it (and tracking it) every single day.
Which by the way is why I wrote this blog post. I’ve decided to (finally) start towards a goal of mine I’ve put on hold for a year.
But more on that next time.
For now, I’ll leave you with this: