In January, I took a huge risk. I submitted notice to leave my contract because I was going on a one-way trip to Europe, and then began to methodically remove every single source of income I had. I sold my personal finance blog, which was a huge income-generator for me. I halted the biggest income stream on another website I ran. I stopped working with my freelance writing clients. I put the Etsy shop on vacation mode. Not only did I pull the plug on the one big income source in my life – my contract – but I then consciously decided to stop making money altogether. You may be thinking I'm crazy right now. Wasn't I concerned about paying the mortgage? About staying afloat while I was travelling? About not being able to put food on the table without a job or any other source of income? Trust me, I was nervous. My stomach was in knots when I pressed the “send” button on my emails to my clients explaining that I couldn't write for them anymore. I buckled down into ultra-frugality mode when I sat down with the director of my contract to tell her I'd be leaving. But I had a plan. I did all of this, because I knew that if I focused on just one specific thing, I wouldn't have to worry. When Unsettle first launched back in January, I was hyper-focused on building my email list. So focused, in fact, that I specifically did not want to make money. Because if I earned money from Unsettle, it would pull my focus away from building my email list and toward the pursuit of money. In Europe, Marissa and I would be on a Eurail train going between Portugal and Spain or on our way from Marseille to Florence and Marissa would ask me what my game plan was. I think she was a bit nervous for me. The risks that I took are not ones that many people would be comfortable taking. Marissa would remind me: “Unsettle is not a business unless you're earning money from it. You need to think about your game plan for when you do want to monetize it”. She was right, of course, but I stayed focused. I maintained that I would not monetize until I reached 1,000 subscribers. When I reached that initial thousand quite quickly, I bumped that number up. I turned down Unsettlers who wanted to pay me for coaching (though I did some for free). I ignored opportunities to earn affiliate marketing income. I filed away opportunities to consult with brands and companies. I focused on building that email list because I knew one thing… If I built my email list, the money would come. I wouldn't have to pursue it. I wouldn't have to develop elaborate pitches. I wouldn't have to desperately try to sell whatever product I came up with to strangers who didn't know me.

My email list was my results driver.

When I did finally open up some time in my schedule to take a few select coaching clients, I didn't have to hit the pavement and hassle people to sign up. I didn't have to work for less than I was worth initially. I didn't have to “sell” to people. I had a group of people I was already helping through my email list who were eager to snap up those coaching slots. By focusing on one thing (the driver), I achieved awesome results in not only that one thing (building relationships through email with people who “get” me) but also a whole other aspect of my business (my income).

What is Your Results Driver?

What is one thing that you can hyper-focus on in your business or your life to achieve not only one goal, but the goals on the periphery, as well? Think about it:

  • If you had a goal of networking more for your business, going to conferences and meet-ups helps you meet more people and book more clients
  • Building an email list helps you grow your list, build connections with your audience and earns you more money
  • If you're trying to lose weight, working out in the morning helps you get fit and eat healthier during the rest of the day.

So what's your results driver? What one thing can you focus on exclusively that will bring you abundance in a related area?

That's Where You Need to Focus

If you could put $1 into a machine and be guaranteed to get $2 out, how much money would you put in the machine? My guess is you'd put in as much as you could. You probably wouldn't wander away from the machine after a few goes and try betting on horse races. Think of these results drivers like that machine. You want to spend all of your energy and effort plugging those $1 bills into that machine, because it duplicates your results. Focus on your results drivers, and they'll do the same thing. So focus on those drivers. Write a mission statement about focusing on the drivers: “I will focus on ________ (result driver) and only _________(result driver) until I reach ___________(result).” For me, my mission statement would have been this (with the initial 1,000 people on my email list goal): “I will focus on building my email list and only building my email list until I reach 1,000 people receiving my emails.” Write it down. Post it on your mirror. Your steering wheel. Set a reminder on your phone. Do not stray from that driver. Find it. Focus on it.

17 thoughts on “Find Your Drivers: How to Achieve a Goal on Autopilot

  1. Jesse says:

    Sarah thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. It is really helping me navigate through getting started in my adventure of building multiple streams of income. My first one was to produce bio diesel from used cooking oil, which is almost complete. I am also setting up to sell products on amazon.
    Enjoying the adventure and challenges
    Thanks again

  2. Kashif says:

    Few noob questions:
    1. How do you survive during the Europe trip when you have severed the income streams?
    2. How do you generate revenue from the list?

    • Sarah says:

      Hey Kashif –
      I built up my online income while I was working full time such that I was able to sock away quite a bit of money, so savings.
      As to your second question, that’s a whole other blog post, but as I mention in the article, I’m a coach which is part of it. I also have a product and do affiliate marketing. I don’t monetize the list (because the list is made up of humans who are interested to get my emails) – I simply build relationships through my email list with the people on the other side of the screen and some of them find value in the free “content” (hate that word!) I put out which is about 99% of what I do, such that they use my affiliate links or buy coaching from me or opt in to the 30 Day Challenge.

  3. Jaco Alberts says:

    Hi Sarah,
    This is a great post, and thank you for reminding us of the crucial principle of being focused.
    There is a lot of hype in the world today about “multi tasking”, but it has been proven that the human brain has not been created for multi tasking (sorry ladies…lol). For achieving the best results in whatever we do, we need to focus on one thing at a time.
    I recently also heard the principle of “doing less to get get more done”, which comes down to exactly what you have discussed here. Since I started paying attention to apply it, my days are definitely more productive.
    Have a great day,

    • Sarah says:

      Hey Jaco – you’re absolutely right, multi-tasking simply isn’t a “thing”. Focus is a mighty force.

  4. Ritu says:

    Awesome post. If I needed a motivation to start guest blogging and building up my list, well, here is a big one. Thanks Sarah, really needed the firm reminder.

  5. Paul Morello says:

    Hey Sarah,
    I’ve just started reading your writing and it’s been really enjoyable. It’s great to read the work of like minded people.
    Keep up the great work.

  6. Theodore Nwangene says:

    Hello Sarah,
    Building an email list is what every internet marketer should take very seriously because with a good list, you do not have a business.
    However, I’ve neglected this fact for a very long time now and I’m beginning to see my mistakes. I’ve started focusing more of my energy on that now.
    Thanks for sharing.

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