I’ll never forget that feeling.
It was a strange mixture of both fear and excitement as I was officially setting up a site that would be known as “Willpowered”.
I had no idea what I was getting into. I had no idea if anyone would care about the science of willpower or if I would just be writing to help put my research into practical terms.
Either way, it was day one and I had a blank canvas that I needed to fill with something that I hoped people would like. One year later, over 1,000,000 people from all over the world visited the site to help strengthen their willpower.
But it has not been all a success. I have had many struggles, many failures, and it is important to look at those as well.
So here are the 10 major successes and failures from the first year of Willpowered:
FAILURE #1 – GETTING CAUGHT UP IN HYPE
In March something miraculous happened. The traffic to Willpowered doubled as I wrote an article that would go “viral” called 10 Daily Habits That Will Give You Incredible Willpower.
When that happened, I got caught up in the hype.
I assumed that this would be the start of Willpowered turning into the next big internet sensation. That we would instantly help millions of people around the world and become an overnight success!
So I increased spending on promotions and advertising before I had a lot of things figured out. This led to a lot of mistakes that made a lot of subscribers angry.
In year 2, I will remain objective and not overreach.
Success #1 – Consistency
By far the biggest success in my first year has been consistency. I read long ago that the most successful people are not those who are the most intelligent – it is those who are the most consistent. 
I truly believe that if you dedicate yourself to taking a step in the right direction every single day, you will eventually get to whatever destination you want. No matter how long it takes.
My "step in the right direction" was writing 1,000 words per day.
That would help me practice my writing, find out what worked, and make progress every single day of Willpowered's existence.
I didn't set out to get one million visitors in the first year – that is far too big of a goal! But by ensuring that I wrote at least 1,000 words every single day, I was able to build an audience that added up to that huge goal.
In year 2, I will maintain the habit of writing 1,000 words per day.
FAILURE #2 – BEING TOO SELF-SERVING
No one cares about your goals as much as you care about your goals.
Whether your goal is to lose weight, establish better habits, or get the job you've always wanted; no one will ever care as much as you do. Not that they're bad people, they're just busy caring about their goals!
I truly believe in the purpose of Willpowered. Which is to strengthen the willpower of the world - one person at a time.
To achieve that purpose I need support to help grow the business and help reach more people. And I made the mistake of believing that other people “should” care about that happening as much as I do.
Because of this, I wrongly felt "entitled" to your business.
So I sent too many promotional emails, sent too many marketing messages and acted in too self-serving of a manner. This made a lot of subscribers angry and betrayed as they felt like I was just running the site to make money.
To any of you who may have felt this way, I genuinely apologize.
And in year 2, I will do better to earn your support and not feel entitled to it.
SUCCESS #2 – Sticking To My Principles
Through this process, I have met many other researchers and writers in different areas of psychology who offer advice similar to mine. And I am always shocked when I realize how little of it they listen to themselves!
Some write on the benefits of consistency - but don’t publish another article for weeks.
Some write on the benefits of practice - yet they don’t practice their writing skills.
Some write about "following your dreams" - yet they stick with their day job.
When I started Willpowered, I made a list of principles that I would never compromise. One year later, I can feel proud saying that, although I’ve made mistakes, I’ve stuck to these principles during good times and bad.
In year 2, I will continue to commit to following my principles.
FALURE #3 – NOT PUSHING MY COMFORT ZONE
At the beginning of Willpowered, I was pushing my comfort zone.
I was trying new things, establishing myself in a new environment, and learning a lot about how I can help strengthen the willpower of the world – one person at a time.
But eventually I got comfortable.
I realized that practices like publishing an article twice a week, citing my sources, and writing 1000 words/day were all working. So why push my comfort zone and do more speeches, organize workshops, or create videos?
So I stopped pushing myself. I stopped going the extra mile. I stopped making myself vulnerable. And Willpowered suffered for it.
In year 2, I will be more vulnerable and continuously find ways to push my comfort zone.
SUCCESS #3 – FOCUS
After consistency, the second thing I tell anyone who is trying to start a blog or a business is that they need to be relentlessly focused on one thing.
The world is full of noise. There are way too many other blogs, sites, and other content out there for you to be anything but relentlessly focused on one thing. You need to create a signal in order to break through the noise.
And I believe that I have succeeded in creating an initial signal.
There are many other “self-help” blogs out there, but people come to Willpowered because it is focused only on the science of willpower! As much as I would love to write about politics, entrepreneurship, or sports, that would weaken the signal.
In year 2, I will continue to be relentlessly focused on the science of willpower.
FAILURE #4 – NOT SEEKING A MENTOR
No person has reached success on his or her own. It takes the efforts of many people to help guide and motivate them through the journey.
I have been arrogant in this last year about mentorship.
I felt like I could do it all on my own. I believed that since the science of willpower is a relatively new concept, that there aren’t many people who know more than me. Why bother trying to find them?
So I didn't seek out a mentor.
This has led to a lot of mistakes that I may have avoided if I had someone to guide me. I also missed out on a lot of opportunities simply because I don’t know what I don’t know.
In year 2, I will begin the search for a mentor to help guide and advise me.
SUCCESS #4 – THE “STOP DOING LIST”
Many of us live busy but undisciplined lives. We try to accomplish our goals by constantly adding more to our to-do lists. And in this process, we do not think to remove the unnecessary things from our lists.
Any time I want to add a new goal, habit, or routine, I must also remove something from my daily activities. That way I am sure to have enough time and willpower to get the new things done. 
Not only did this help me accomplish more of my goals, but it also helped me remove things that were unnecessary.
The best example of this is when I wanted to devote more time to writing my book, I decided that I would take the year off of sports. I love sports, but I knew I was spending too much time and energy following my favorite teams and athletes.
So I took the year off and so far it has been amazing. My mind is clear and I have the time and energy I need to devote to what I really care about.
In year 2, I will continue to "stop doing" as much as I "start doing".
FAILURE #5 – BEING BOLD
One of the biggest challenges I have faced all of my life is being bold.
Sure, I have been bold enough to take risks like starting Willpowered in the first place, but that is the extent of it. I have not been bold enough to talk to investors, talk to potential partners, or seek out a mentor.
It is always easier to just “rely on myself” to get the job done.
But I know if I am going to fulfill my life’s purpose of strengthening the willpower of the world – one person at a time, I am going to have to be bolder. I am going to have to be willing to be vulnerable and ask for the help of others.
In year 2, I will be bolder and actively seek out the help of others.
SUCCESS #5 – EMBRACING THE JOURNEY
I count myself extremely lucky. At a relatively early age, I have found my life's work. I truly hope that Willpowered is what I will be working on until the day I die. I am fully prepared to take that journey, but it has not been easy so far.
I have seen my friends be able to relax on the weekends while I have had to work.
I have seen them buy things I can't afford as I fight to get Willpowered off the ground.
And my amazing girlfriend has been extremely supportive while I work long hours with low pay.
But I know this is the beginning of a lifelong journey. And the sacrifices that I am making today will be worth it in the long run. No matter how long it takes to strengthen the willpower of the world, I will keep pushing.
In year 2, I will continue to embrace the journey and make sacrifices for the greater purpose of strengthening the willpower of the world - one person at a time.
Since day one, the journey that I have taken with Willpowered has been full of peaks and valleys. There have been some big successes and there have been some big failures. I can reflect on the last year and feel both proud and foolish at the same time.
It is important to embrace both the good and bad of the past year. As I have learned just as much - if not more - from the failures.
But learning doesn't mean anything without action. With each success and failure, I will take action to make sure that Willpowered emerges smarter, stronger, and closer to our ultimate goal in year 2.
I hope to see you along for the ride!
- Mischel, Walter, et al. "‘Willpower over the life span: decomposing self-regulation." Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (2010)
- Collins, J. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap--and others don't. New York, NY: HarperBusiness.
- Gailliot, M., Baumeister, R., DeWall, C., Maner, J., Plant, E., Tice, D., ... Schmeichel, B. (2007). Self-control Relies On Glucose As A Limited Energy Source: Willpower Is More Than A Metaphor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 325-336.