Stop Self-Sabotaging: You’re Really Your Own Worst Enemy

Stop shooting yourself in the footThe Brexit event reminded me how we constantly self-sabotage our own progress due to emotion. Fear and greed tend to triumph over logical reasoning in the short run. In the long run, we find pangs of regret asking ourselves, “What were we thinking?” Here's some reflection of my own self-sabotage as it pertains to this site.

One of the main reasons everybody should start their own site is because you want to own your name and traffic online. Why should Facebook, LinkedIn, and a bunch of other social networking sites pop up first when someone Googles your brand or name? These sites are worth billions each because they own you! Not only do they own you, they're able to get you to write content for them for free. Brilliant!

I've always had a somewhat defiant attitude. When someone says it can't be done, I enjoy trying to prove them wrong. I fail all the time because what the heck. It's not like I'll get trapped in a burning car and die if I fail. So when I first contemplated starting Financial Samurai in the mid-2000s, I told myself why couldn't I just create my own Yahoo? WordPress made it easy to launch a site. Hosting was cheap and has only gotten cheaper since.

RIDING SOLO

From 2009 to 2015, everything went pretty well. Financial Samurai was growing in the triple digits every year with little traffic help from the larger social networking sites. I didn't spend a penny on advertising either. People found FS organically through search engines or word of mouth.

I wanted the conversation about my posts to be on FinancialSamurai.com not on Facebook. After all, it can sometimes take 10 hours to write one article. It also takes effort to maintain a site and the last thing I wanted to do during my growth stage was spread my time between multiple sites, especially ones that don't pay me for my time or don't let me own my own content.

But now, my hyper growth phase has passed. Financial Samurai has turned into an established dividend paying stock with strong operating profit margins and lower volatility. No longer is it a swashbuckling, money losing startup that broke new internal records every month.

I'm glad I've been able to survive this long without much help from other platforms. But what I've come to realize is that hugely successful companies have learned to leverage existing platforms rather than shun them. Here are two examples:

  • Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed is a media site that came out of nowhere in the past seven years to dominant the attention spans of the Millennial generation with its click-bait titles and social sharing surveys on Facebook. When Buzzfeed first came out, I thought there was no way this site could be hugely profitable due to the topics it was writing about. But who cares about profits when you can attract mega funding from Venture Capitalists and be valued at $1B? Only people like me who want to run lifestyle businesses care about profits.
  • Zynga. Zynga created all of its games it copied from others for Facebook because that's where hundreds of millions of people already were. Zynga was able to go public at around a $7B valuation back in 2011. Even though its been sucking wind for the past couple of years, it is still worth ~$2.3B almost all thanks to Facebook!

There are countless other examples of companies which have leveraged Facebook and built valuable businesses. And here I was not giving a damn because I'd told myself I was just too busy to throw up a page. I'm not a regular Facebook user because I have no desire to post selfies, post vacation pictures, and get sucked into a rabbit hole when I could be producing.

In retrospect, if back in 2009 I had spent the hour required to create the Financial Samurai Facebook page, today it might have over 100,000 followers and be an additional engine for growth and revenue. Perhaps thanks to Facebook, I could be making at least $100,000 more a year! I self-sabotaged due to laziness and stubbornness.

RECOGNIZING MY FAULTS

In order to grow, I think it's important for us to recognize our faults. Here are mine.

* Dumb ass know it all. I have a tendency to think I know more than I do when I first start things out. I also have a very skeptical eye because I've been burned plenty of times before. It's important to tackle an endeavor with a very open mind and listen to those who've been there before you.

* Overconfident. Because I believe there is a strong correlation between effort and reward, I believe I will never fail because effort requires no skill. Everything is rational. If I want to succeed, I should do everything possible to succeed. If I want to be skinny, I should stop eating cookies. If I want to have a winning record in tennis, I should train three hours a day. But sometimes, there are just forces that are beyond your control e.g. old age slowing you down.

* Too much pride. It's always been a problem for me to ask someone for help or even to accept a birthday present. I hate bothering people, so I seldom ask. I've also been taught to always try to help others first.

* Too stubborn. Stubbornness is the inability to change despite the obvious. It is obvious Facebook is becoming a monopoly in the media space. To not leverage its platform as a media company is stupid. Sure, Facebook won't pay me anything to use my content, but I should be able to gain exposure to a new set of readers. This in turn should help Financial Samurai grow.

* Irreverently defiant. It must be genetic, but I don't find it comforting walking amongst the herd. It feels dumb. When I learned Facebook doesn't show all the people who like your page new posts on their feed, I felt that was wrong. What's the point of trying to build your following on their platform then? Then I soon realized why: to encourage you to pay FB to show your new posts to people who already like you! Wow, no wonder why they're doing so well. FB smartly changed the rules after individual companies spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars building their FB following. Given their time and effort are sunk costs, these companies might as well pay FB for exposure.

Consulting with marketing departments for several startups taught me a lot. Despite the questionable business practice, FB has the highest return on investment for marketing dollars spent. Google is next. Twitter is terrible for advertising and LinkedIn is way too expensive.

Financial Samurai Facebook Page

So here it is folks! After seven years, I've finally launched the Financial Samurai Facebook page. I'll spend some time interacting with readers who enjoy the FB platform. Over time, I'll open up with more videos and photos as well. I might even do some live group chats and stuff. Who knows what the thousands of well-compensated FB employees working on new features will bring.

Hopefully, my FB page will tap a new audience and bring new ideas and insights to the Financial Samurai community. I’ve always gained inspiration to write new posts from reader comments and feedback. If nothing else, the page took less than an hour to set up.

Everybody should do some soul-searching and ask, “What are some faults that may be holding me back?” If we want to get ahead, it’s important we maximize our self-awareness. Otherwise, we'll be stuck spinning our wheels wondering what the hell is going on, when it's so obvious to others.

And for those who are hooked on Facebook and other social media platforms, please consider transferring some of that time over to building your own platform. Everybody working at Facebook is already rich thanks to other people making them so. Start making yourself richer already!

Interested in starting your own website? Check out my step-by-step tutorial guide on how you can launch a site like mine in under 30 minutes for just $2.95/month. A website legitimizes your business and becomes your online portal. Not a day goes by where I'm not thankful for starting Financial Samurai in 2009. In just 2.5 years, I was able to quit my job and be free. Everyone should leverage the internet to build a brand, build a business, and become untethered from an office to live a life of purpose!

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32 thoughts on “Stop Self-Sabotaging: You’re Really Your Own Worst Enemy”

  1. Middle Class Millionaire

    “The Brexit event reminded me how we constantly self-sabotage our own progress due to emotion.”

    This reminded me of a quote I heard once that I think is relevant:

    “An investor’s worst enemy is not the market but his own emotions.” -Anonymous

    I have to constantly remind myself not to let my emotions get in the way from making smart investment decisions. Emotions are part of our nature and it is not always easy to set them aside and use specific fundamentals and/or technical analysis to make decisions.

    With that being said, I feel like there are times that our gut instincts can be right… so it is important to at least stay in touch with our feelings to some extent.

  2. I used to sabotage by thinking that I could not create a blog with good content on a consistent basis. All I needed was to hone in on my time management skills and write what people were interested in. As long I stay focused on the goal, I’ll get there. Btw… I’ll look for you on Facebook.

  3. Frugal Familia

    As someone who has recently taken the plunge and started my own site literally less than a month ago, I can relate. As someone who is technologically challenged for the most part it is very overwhelming and challenging, but hey that’s half the fun! Hopefully one day I can look back with half as much success as yourself!

  4. FIRECracker

    “I’ve always had a somewhat defiant attitude. When someone says it can’t be done, I enjoy trying to prove them wrong”

    – You are my kind of people :) I think we were born to be rebels. And clearly, your rebellious streak has paid off ’cause look how much you’ve accomplished! Stay hungry, stay foolish!

    Liked your Facebook page! Thanks for sharing your faults (I have the same faults and I have a REALLY hard time admitting it) and making the rest of us realize it’s okay to be human :)

  5. From my own experience what sometimes holds be back are these things. Being content with what I have. I have a decent job, which pays for a decent living. I have been content with it for about a decade when I realized that this will not change significantly only if I sell my soul to the man basically. I had a realization last year that I needed to do something about it. The other thing is that hold me back as I come to realize is analysis paralysis. I realize I need to actively work and act rather than gather information. This is inherently hard being a very analytic minded introvert but at least I realize it which is the first step.

  6. Ten Bucks a Week

    I took your advice to start my own site after talking so much about my ideas with an audience of my coworkers who probably tired of me. I did choose to set up a Twitter and Facebook, but I’m getting too old to do Instagram or Snapchat. I remember looking for your Facebook page several time :)

  7. Welcome to FB Sam! Why not leverage this huge platform? It is only a drain of time if you make it to be with photos you don’t care to see and food recipes you probably won’t make :-). I have a love/hate relationship with it myself but I hope it serves your intended purpose!

  8. Apathy Ends

    I am still learning how to use social media sites (yep a millennial that doesn’t know how Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest work) and it can be a ton of work for little value at the beginning.

    Not asking for help when I need it – I always try to figure stuff out myself because I don’t want to call or wait for someone to reply to my email (inpatient). End up wasting a lot of time that takes someone else 10 minutes to fix

    1. It’s ironic that you and I were JUST talking about expanding the Facebook presence for our sites the other day, AE. After reading this article, specifically the section regarding FB’s withholding of posts from people who already like your page, I’m not so sure I want to spend time on growing my presence there.

      If I were to write about my biggest self-sabotaging faults, most of them would be the same as yours, Sam. As a kid and young adult I achieved success by outworking others at every step of the way. For example, in college, while most of my friends took 16-18 credit hours per semester, I petitioned the Dean’s office to allow me to take 23.

      I am finding more and more that increased effort does not always correlate with my desired results. In a way, I’m glad I realized that, as it has led me to ponder new career directions. In the meantime, I’m trying to keep up the grind and not allow myself to believe that my hard work will be in vain.

      1. I don’t think your hard work will be in vain b/c you will also naturally get smarter and wiser as you age. If you can keep up the consistent level of high work ethic, I think it’s an inevitability you will find great progress in your life.

        23 credits is a lot! I think the most I took was 21, and then I only had 3 classes my entire 2H of Senior year, one of which was GOLF! :)

  9. The Green Swan

    When I started my site earlier this year I wanted to get on as many social media outlets as possible. I figured the more the better, the more site the more traffic to the blog. I’ve also realized that stretching myself too thin does the opposite (and thanks to some good advice early on I’ve put more effort into one platform rather than spreading across all 4 or 5). Twitter is my most successful that I’ll continue utilizing. I like the conversations Twitter has allowed me with the viewers, readers and friends. Facebook is one outlet I haven’t quite mastered yet. Thanks for the honestly and insight Fin Sam!

    The Green Swan

  10. Jack Catchem

    What got in the way of launching projects from my blog to learning the violin was a lack of self discipline. I have always been good at ensuring the priorities in life (family, work, daily routines) were met, but what I wasn’t doing was initiating the “elective” endeavors and consistently prioritizing the time required to progress.

    Dedicating myself (often publicly to increase the social pressure expectation) to 30 minutes a day on the violin and Tuesday/Thursday posting has been critical in super charging my ability to complete the side quests in my life. Victory comes from within.

    On another note, I will say that Facebook has been critical at growing my blog readership from nonexistent to microscopic! Go team blue!

    1. Nice job learning the violin! I used to play, and hated it with a passion.

      I’m really on a mission to do ONE THING each month this year that I’ve been putting off or don’t want to do. Hope others do the same.

  11. Finance Solver

    Great move. What’s harder than changing your bad habits I think is actually recognizing them! It’s comforting for me to hear that someone as established as yourself still has faults. I have countless ones that I’m trying to better. I guess it’s a good exercise to write down one’s faults and do a progress check on each one!

  12. Nice, I was wondering why you didn’t have one but that explains it. Facebook’s not dead yet!

    I never enjoyed Facebook personally but it’s a great platform to connect with others when you’re not trying to stalk the crap out of them!

  13. What impeccable timing! I just started work on my online store last night and I’m probably half way there before it gets published. As I was shutting down my computer last night, I was asking myself how best to advertise my new site. It seems like FB is one useful marketing tool. FS, how did you get your name out there when you first started?

    1. Through consistent production. It just takes one person to start following. S/he tells their friends who tells their friends. In the beginning, you must survive long enough so that people will take you seriously. Too many sites come and go within 6-12 months. Eventually, you’ll get your lucky break with a bigger site picking up your work. Search engines start working their magic after about 3-6 months too.

      1. Thanks for the tip, Sam! I’ll keep plugging away and I’ll let you know if anything good comes of it.

  14. Congrats on your FB page! Social media is definitely not one of my strengths. There are so many various platforms today that I can’t keep up. Twitter and FB are probably the best ones to be on. I was much more active with social media several years ago and then it fell lower on my list of priorities as other job functions and priorities took over. I’d like to be better at it though.

    I also want to get better at tackling tasks on my to do list with less hesitation. Sometimes I get so hung up on trying to figure out what to work on next that I waste time that way. That’s one of my bigger self sabotaging weaknesses. I need to stop hesitating, just pick something on the list, knock it out and move on to the next.

    You’re really good at social media engagement so I think your FB page is a great idea and should perform well!

  15. My blog is tiny right now, but my limited Facebook follower list (under 10) still sends me some traffic. It is really interesting.

    My self-sabotaging used to be wanting perfection, which prevented action. Now I’m more comfortable with just being decent at some things. It gave me the space to learn new skills without being embarrassed.

  16. Not a fan of FB. It is untrustworthy (collusions with US gov/NSA etc) and studies have shown it makes users more depressed (“why does everyone else have a life and I don’t?”… etc). Its degenerated into a clickbait content platform (from that perspective, you can try to get FS to go clickbait viral).

    Whatever you do on FB, keep your website/blog and RSS feed going. Stay independent!

    ie: join the common market but keep your currency and sovereignty. ;)

    cheers

    1. Haha, exactly. Social media is a great way to keep in touch with people. It’s also a great big time sink. But given FB is the largest social media platform on the world, every publisher and company might as well be on there too. More access channels.

      FinancialSamurai.com will always be sovereign!

  17. Definitely agree it’s more important to build your own platform since it’s the only one you control. All the social platforms consistently change the rules in their favor. Depending on them for your success is ridiculous.

    That said, they do generate insane amounts of traffic so you don’t want to ignore them either.

    I participate on Twitter and Facebook, but mainly for fans who prefer that to my blog or mailing list. The majority of my scarce time goes into my platform.

    Welcome to Facebook!

  18. Believe Fire

    Great post Sam!

    Our big fault is that we haven’t used any social media platforms to promote our blog. This post is a great reminder that we should start using those outlets right away. We make excuses for ourselves because we’re traveling the world, but we really need to put in the extra effort.

  19. I have never been a big user of Facebook but I do see the importance of using it to grow the blog. A couple weeks ago some folks were tweeting about how FB was shutting down pages of bloggers who were anonymous and didn’t have their accounts tied to a personal page (or something along those lines). Maybe someone can address that here – the whole business account/tied to a personal account for those of us who aren’t really savvy FB users. Thanks for any assistance you or other readers can provide.

  20. My Facebook page at 1200 followers is much more successful than my Twitter at around 120. Facebook has played a huge role in preventing my site from just being read by me, especially in the beginning.

    I think part of having different pages is experimentation. Some personalities and messaging come across better on different mediums. I’ve also wondered why so many bloggers focus all their effort on Twitter, why doesn’t anyone have Instagram? What about periscope? Why not snapchat? Seems like people could take more risks for free to see what enhanced the brand , and what is just a waste of time. Truly , a lot of what takes place on social media is exactly that.

  21. I’m not a huge Facebook user either, but you have provided a lot of value for me personally through this site, so I just got on and liked your page. Best wishes for your continued success.

  22. Smart move. I think Facebook is a decent platform for cultivating your audience in its own right, but the true power of Facebook is as a platform for advertising and expanding your audience that way. And having a decent presence there already really increases your potential success with FB-ads.

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