— February 22, 2019
“Father of online marketing” Mark Joyner knows a thing or two about stress.
During his time as a CIA agent spying on North Korea, he had to be aware of his surroundings every waking moment on edge.
The ability to stay calm under pressure then served him well as a serial entrepreneur, with 30+ startups under his belt.
At Project Persuasion Goes Dark, Mark Joyner shared his advice on managing stress and staying at the peak of your game.
It drains your energy. Darkens your mood. Makes you sick. And it takes years off your life.
Stress may be unavoidable.
But in the freelance copywriting game, where you’ve swapped the comfort of a regular paycheck for surviving by your wits and word processor, having systems for managing stress is vital to your success.
1. Reduce Overwhelm
Our brain’s can only handle so much information at once. But the amount of apps, channels, and people demanding our attention overwhelmed our brain capacity a long time ago.
The only way to stay productive is to make some cuts.
Identify the habits and channels that aren’t helping you (for me, it’s reading the news) and look to reduce the time you invest in them. Or even better, cut them completely.
Focus on the things you can control and help you towards your goals. Everything else is a distraction.
2. Don’t Feed the Trolls
“The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep. You become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart. The roar of freedom” – Osho
Haters gonna hate.
Us copywriters (me included) tend to be introverted types. We don’t go looking for fights on Twitter.
But as you start growing your following and running ads, the trolls will find you.
There’s no shortage of frustrated people in this world looking for someone to unload on. So when they come, set ground rules on how you engage, if at all.
Personally, I engage with people online the same way I would face-to-face. But if they can’t play nice, I pull down the shutters.
A mind hack for dealing with trolls is to be clear on who you are and what you do. That way you can create emotional distance so you can walk away without feeling like you’ve lost face.
After all, if you’ve confidence in what you have to offer, why should some random troll’s need to unleash bother you?
3. Pursue Fulfilling Projects
Life’s too short to be working for clients who don’t appreciate you or writing about junk nobody needs.
Find projects and quality products you believe in.
This will naturally make the hours at the keyboard more fulfilling. Believing in what you’re selling will naturally make your copy more persuasive too.
4. Replicate Your Role Models
Why allow your feeds to get polluted with people complaining when there are so many positive people to take inspiration from?
People I follow include Arnold Schwarzenegger (if you’ve read his autobiography you’ll get why), Joe Rogan, and Dave Asprey (Bulletproof Coffee founder). I follow them for their work ethic, desire to inspire others to be better versions of themselves, and their healthy attitudes to life.
We might not have the money and success of our celebrity idols. But what we can do is share some of the traits that led to their success.
So write down the characteristics of your role models you admire. Then try to adopt them in your daily life.
Mark Joyner and yours truly
5. Know Your Path
“Comfort is bullshit. Getting most out of yourself is real comfort. Get that through commitment” – The Iceman Wilmhoff
We live in the safest period in history. Globally, you’re less likely to be killed in war or die in poverty. But that doesn’t mean happiness is assured.
We still carry the same primal drives as our ancestors. They had to struggle every day to survive. And the only reason they survived and prospered was because of their motivation to overcome challenges.
The drive to overcome challenges is still buried within us. And it’s something we’re going to need armies of psychologists and sociologists to cope with when AI arrives. When people suddenly have no reason to get up in the morning they’re primed to self destruct.
It may still be a few years before AI can write a natural sounding sales page.
So until that day arrives, remember it’s making progress towards your goals that makes you happy. Not the pot of gold at the end.
6. Enjoy the Ride
When you retire, your brain starts to shut down.
The satisfaction that comes from living a productive life was reinforced to me when I met Drayton Bird a couple of years ago.
Drayton is the UK’s copywriting godfather. Our own David Ogilvy. And he’s still going strong in this 80s. I plan on doing the same.
Many entrepreneurs see retiring by age 40 as the goal. Or amassing a few mill to pay for endless travel.
But this is a mistake countless millionaires have made. They may have bank vaults of cash to roll around in, but many still feel empty inside.
It’s the journey, not the destination. So enjoy the ride.
7. Conquer Procrastination
Procrastination arises from indecision + distraction.
Here’s how to beat it…
Get clear on what you want. Write it down. Then write down how getting stuff done gets you closer to that goal. And post it somewhere around your screen.
Writing down your objectives this way makes it easier to stay focused on the prize. You can strip away the time wasting habits and bat away the “fear” of doing something hard that makes many of us freeze when staring at a blank screen.
If that’s not enough to get you shutting down tabs, keep ratcheting up your desire for the things you want until it overwhelms your avoidance behaviors.
The more you focus on being productive, the more it becomes a habitual pattern.