Conquering Goal Buster #3: The Dabbler

Hi, it’s me, Charlotte. Thanks for joining me again.

Whew! We’ve gone through a lot this week. Hopefully by now you’ve refined your big goal, made it congruent, and determined that you’re fully committed to accomplishing it.

Today, we look at the final potential goal buster — being a dabbler instead of a master. (Full disclosure: more than anything else, this has been my success limiter. When I first heard the concept, I said “Yep, that’s me.”)

It’s a concept George Leonard discusses in his book Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment. He describes the “dabbler” as someone who gets very excited about something and jumps in enthusiastically. She works furiously and quickly has her first big success.

But then the challenge or plateau comes. The dabbler is easily discouraged. She sees another opportunity in a different direction and off she goes! She has another quick success, then loses interest when another success doesn’t come right away. It’s a never-ending cycle.

But the “master” knows that true, lasting success comes from staying the course. She pushes through the challenges to get to the next success, never wavering from her big goal.

Leonard explains the behavior that identifies the master, “ … you have to be willing to spend most of your time on a plateau, to keep practicing even when you seem to be getting nowhere.”

How many stories have we heard about successful book authors who were rejected by dozens of publishers before they had success? It’s no surprise the copywriters that have had the most success getting clients are the ones who identified one or two methods of prospecting and executed relentlessly.

Think of it like digging a well. Imagine you hire someone to dig a water well. You know you need a 150-foot-deep well to reach the water table. The contractor you hired shows up and digs a one-foot hole. He decides that maybe another place on your land is better and digs a one-foot hole there. Then another, and another. Pretty soon you have a field with 150 one-foot holes. And no water.

My guess is that you wouldn’t be very happy. Even though he moved the same amount of dirt as someone who dug one 150-foot hole, the results are drastically different.

When you look at your goal, there are probably multiple ways to achieve it. The temptation is to try and do all of them to increase your chances of success. But in reality, you kill all chance of success with your lack of focus.

Choosing the path of the master means you decide on a consistent course of action. You must have an intense focus on the plan you’ve identified.

Yes, there will be times you’ll have to make adjustments, but your overall direction never changes. If you’ve decided to be a B2B writer in the aerospace industry, stay committed to that path.

Do you have a clear plan of action to achieve your goal? If not, spend some time today evaluating and deciding on your path.

Do you want to be a direct-response copywriter, a content marketer, a resume writer, a book author, or some other type of writer? Each choice can lead you to success … if you commit to it.

Let me know your chosen path in the comments — and read what your fellow writers have chosen as theirs.

Then tomorrow, we’ll talk about the role having fun plays in achieving success.

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Published: January 29, 2015

20 Responses to “Conquering Goal Buster #3: The Dabbler”

  1. I haven't chosen a path yet. I enjoy and have experience in B2C as a blogger but I also like the idea of B2B.

    I'm about finished with Part 2 of the course and I'm anxious to begin.


  2. Great thoughts. I'm pasting them on my wall to remind me. You must have had me in mind as you wrote. I see lots of ways to do things and dig lots of shallow holes looking for the easy, no pain way to get gain. I feel fortified to refocus, then plunge ahead. Thank you!


  3. OH MY - this one was written for me!

    I enjoy writing, but haven't been able to decide what kind of writing excites me the most. From freelancing to travel writing to copy writing to case studies, each one seems irresistible! :-(

    I know I want to be a storyteller. So I need to figure out which genre of writing would then make me come alive!

    Thank you so much, Charlotte Kitto

    Guest (Kitto)

  4. Great articles,Charlotte. I've been at copywriting for about 2 years, have some clients, but so far I'm not really leading the horse. I decided to restudy Accelerated CW as direct response projects seem to resonate the most with me. I do not have a chosen field, but gravitate to alternative health, pets, fitness for seniors, and a few others. Your articles helped reinforce my decision to stick with one thing at least long enough to give it a fair chance.Thanks!

    Guest (Tina)

  5. My goal, although probably not the most profitable of the writing goals, is to be a speechwriter as well as an author of children's books, including the newest type of children's books where someone can read the story to their child, grandchild, etc. in their own voice. There are a lot of new delivery formats for children's books and this has always been a passion of mine, one in which I never endeavored to do many times over the year!


  6. I am interested in writing travel pieces as well as promotional pieces for non-profits and businesses. My goal is to master the basics, create a portfolio, do pro bono work and then sell my work as I become more proficient.

    Fletcher Todd

  7. Hello Charlotte, Thank you for the tip. The only problem I am encounting now is : mylanguage barrier.
    I want to write so much ,I have in my head so many things to say, but when I start to sit and write, I have to find the right English words.
    This definetely slow me down .Any suggestions?

    Guest (jennie)

  8. Hi Charlotte,

    Thanks for the great little series this week. I plan to specialize in B2B with a focus on case studies. Is it advisable to further specialize in an industry?

    Looking forward to our COS session tomorrow. :-)



    Lee Nourse

  9. I'll just comment that the picture of 150 1-foot holes instead of one 150-foot hole just hits the nail on the head!

    I tend to be a dabbler, too, and know that has to change. Thanks, Charlotte!

    Sharon Brodin

  10. This one definitely spoke to me. I haven't decided on a path yet. I am still working through the Accelerated copywriting course. This was great advice and a real eye opener. Puts things into perspective. Thanks!!

    Guest (Farrah)

  11. Thanks for the inspiring posts this week Charlotte. I've been a dabbler in the past and just came to that realization late last year when I was trying travel writing, broad-scope copywriting, fiction writing and ghostwriting. For the past month, I've been putting everything in place to focus on just writing case studies and white papers for environmental tech companies (although the other services are still available). Really appreciate the validation that I'm moving in the right direction!

    Wendy Strain

  12. Hi Charlotte,

    Great series this week.
    I would like to develop as a direct-response copywriter who knows how to write content in the B2B sports industry. Does this make sense?

    This article really helps you to sharpen your focus.

    Guest (Marcellus)

  13. Ha! Wow, this totally resonated with some areas I actually LIKE being a dabbler, since I'm looking for breadth, not depth, but in writing? Not so much.

    The dream's always been the same: I want to be a published novelist. That's where I know to "go deep" and not get distracted by shiny objects.

    For copywriting, it's harder. Still, this year I'm going deep with web writing, and focusing on travel and language learning. Here's to a great new year, with singleness of purpose!


  14. All articles have been so right-on this week, thank you! I've come to understand that I worked harder for other people when I worked for somebody/a company full time. I need to put that determination and focus toward myself now. Just starting the copy writing course today, exciting!

    Diane B

  15. Hi, Charlotte, Great post! I feel like a dabbler at the moment but keep reassuring myself that, in fact, I’m working toward “master.”

    I start to feel like a dabbler when I charge forward then hit a bump, bringing my progress to a halt.

    But for all the hiccups, I am moving forward. I have chosen my niche: to write for the food industry (my absolute love) with services including website and social media copy, email campaigns and blogs.

    Thank you for reassuring me I’m on the right track.

    Sharyn I

  16. Your article is great; in some ways it mirrors me. I have a background in journalism and public relations, with specialties in news writing and press releases. But, I am now retired.

    I am studying copy writing to make some money, while I write a book of memoirs and do ministry work. I had also thought of having my own communications company. A dabbler? Help out! Thanks.

    Guest (N O Thompson)

  17. Yes, I have been a "dabbler" too, searching for a new career I could be happy with. I have found it! Copywriting offers the challenges and rewards I have been searching for. I have committed to myself to finish the accelerated course by the end of July '15. I have not yet chosen a specific field until I can compare all the fields to my areas of expertise. Then I will choose a single field. The only obstacles I see are self-inflicted ones that can be eliminated. I am also intrigued by the potential large income that will help me to become debt-free, and give me a new-found freedom and peace of mind.


  18. Hello Charlotte- At this time, I am working on writing and building my website. And yes I tried to do this before. I fell short and even fell off the platform due to distractions, but this time, I am handling it better, and moving past the dabbling part. I am staying on course, and plan to see it through, come-what-may. Thanks, Julie D

    Guest (Julie D)

  19. A Book Author has always entertained my thoughts of expression. However, I have been exposed to many other interesting opportunities through your "AWAI" news letters. Master or dabbler is the question? Master is the way to go if you love to write and know your subjects. A game plan is a necessity in any major endeavor. Start up funds are the hard part for many in this economy. Non-the-less, I will stay the course for, it is what I want to do. Your article is right on.

    Guest (David)

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