Do you really need to make six figures?

Sarah recently posted some self-employment therapy — a place for those of us who work full-time for ourselves, and mostly by ourselves, to share the stuff we don’t usually talk about. Today I’d like to share my thoughts on the prompt that resonated with me the most right now:

How does it feel watching others have the success you’re still working toward?

Do you really need to make six figures? from elembee.com

In my time as a business owner, I’ve learned that the time I spend comparing myself to others is time I’m not spending moving my own work forward.

But sometimes, other people are impossible to ignore. These days, it seems like earning six figures has become the trendy thing for online entrepreneurs to do. I log on to Twitter and see five tweets about how I’m missing opportunities to earn six figures. Facebook tells me that with a click of a button, I can discover the secret to earning six figures through a groundbreaking (FREE!!) video training series, from someone who will eventually ask me to pay six figures for their ecourse (and who probably isn’t earning six figures either, let’s be honest).

Friends, let me tell you this: I’ve been in business for more than three years now, and I am not making six figures. In fact, I’m currently making less this year than I was at this time last year. And I would be lying to you if I said all the tweets and Facebook posts don’t make me wonder what I’m doing wrong and why I’m not there yet. It’s hard to have faith that your hard work will pay off when success seems to come so easily for others.

But that’s the thing: Success probably didn’t come easily for those people either. We only see part of the story. And we may not even be on the same path as they are. Maybe they have five failed businesses behind them. Maybe they’re working 12-hour days to keep up. People don’t share that part of the story, because it isn’t what buyers want to hear.

Sure, I’m not making six figures, but I’m happy with my income and lifestyle — and that’s what truly matters. It’s easy to feel like if you put in just a little more time and effort, you could get there sooner. But, speaking from experience, the more you tell yourself that, the more you miss out on having a life outside of your work. Money is great, and it’s absolutely exciting to make more of it. But we can’t forget that it’s also just as exciting to have the freedom to create the lifestyle we want to live, too.

Do you feel like the six figure crowd has become pretty noisy lately? How do you tune it out?

15 Comments

  1. THANK YOU for this post! I have been feeling guilty about wanting to have a life outside of work, and feel like I could always be pushing myself further than I am. I’m at a point where I’m beginning to realize how much I value having the time to go to yoga classes, and spend time with my family, and devote time to cooking healthy meals for myself. Which is why I’m finally quitting my 9-5, and will be focusing of getting the design work that will allow for these things. 🙂

    Posted 9.2.15
  2. Tyece wrote:

    Even though buyers don’t want to hear about entrepreneurs being in the trenches, real people absolutely do. I appreciate you for lifting the veil on things.

    Posted 9.2.15
  3. Kayli wrote:

    I love the open, honest post Lisa. Thanks for sharing this!

    It’s so true that we have no idea what goes on behind the scenes of anyone’s business, or how much they sacrifice to hit 6 figures. I saw a post recently where an entrepreneur admitted that she earned 6 figures in her first year of business, but she also invested 6 figures to make that happen. So you really just never know!

    The constant messages are hard to avoid, but being proud of where you are now and knowing that you’re working toward the life that YOU want is the best way to be.

    Posted 9.2.15
  4. Sarah wrote:

    So true!

    Thank you for raising this.

    Just like 10 000 steps has become some kind of magic number for our daily activity, six figures has become the online entrepreneur’s holy grail.

    Living in a third world country, my exchange rate means that it’s all relative, anyway…

    I appreciate the article!

    Posted 9.3.15
  5. Anna wrote:

    I absolutely agree with what you are saying here. Yes, I want to make money with my freelance business (and I need to, as I freelance full-time), but its also about building a life I want, on my terms and my schedule. Taking the time for a walk on a nice day or a long lunch with a friend can be just as important as billing a few more hours. I took some time and wrote down life/business goals for myself, and when I start to wonder why I am not making $100,000, I remind myself that it wasn’t my goal.

    Posted 9.6.15
  6. NaTasha wrote:

    Wow! What an awesome post! I can remember wanting to be a soloprenuer and getting discouraged from an article I read about someone making 6-figures in the industry that I was going into. I kept thinking, “Wow I’m not as good as she is. Maybe I should do something different. I don’t think I’m on my A-Game like she is. My content is not good enough.” Smh. So glad I woke up! lol No, I’m not making 6-figures, but I’m still successful! 😀 Success is totally what you make out of it. Whatever success means to you, we should celebrate it. I believe in celebrating in small victories. 🙂

    Posted 9.6.15
  7. Adia wrote:

    I’m so glad you wrote this– I have a blog post draft about this same topic as well. Social media has been full of “Success Stories” lately, and even though we all want more money, having a successful business is really harder than it looks. I have been thinking a lot about what my business plan really is and what success looks like to me. I really just want to get my student loans paid and be able to live a decently comfortable life. I’d also like to keep my 9-5 job, because I love it. I realized that I don’t have to follow any other path but mine.

    This was a really insightful post.

    Posted 9.6.15
    • Lori wrote:

      Aida, I love that you said you would like to keep your 9-5 job! It’s rare that I hear that nowadays – most people are working on their side business so that they can quit working for someone else and start working for themselves. I often think about quitting my day job so that I can fully pursue my side business, but I actually like both! And it’s nice to hear someone else say that as well!

      Posted 9.14.15
  8. Carolyn wrote:

    Thank you for this post. I completely agree with you!

    I do feel like the 6-figure crowd has become too noisy lately. I remind myself that a 6 figure income usually means no vacations, less family time, 10-16 hr workdays, and I want no part of that!

    Here is to making less than 100k AND still living comfortably AND still having a life!

    Posted 9.13.15
  9. Lori wrote:

    Oh yes! I see this type of message ALL THE TIME. It used to be really encouraging to me at first – when I was first getting started with launching my own business – but then I realized that the entrepreneurs who are actually making six-figures or more didn’t make that overnight, or within a year, or even within a few years. Like you said, many of them had one of more failed (or shall I say, monetarily unsuccessful) businesses before they hit on something that stuck and helped them to get to that six-figure goal line.

    It’s my mission to just run my own race and stay in my own lane. Being an entrepreneur is no joke! It’s takes an incredible amount energy, skill, passion, and most of all, time. I’ve decided that if I’m not making six-figures in the next month, year or even 10 years, then that’s okay. As long as I’m doing what I love and I’m able to live a life that I enjoy, then that’s really all that matters.

    Posted 9.14.15
  10. Shi wrote:

    Hey Lisa! I found your site through the Elle & Co.’s collaborative! Thank you for this post, I feel like I’ve been bombarded with messages to get 6 figures, but really, I just want to have a sustainable and healthy lifestyle to do what I love, serving the people I’m called to help. Thanks for this post!

    Posted 9.15.15
  11. Lizzie wrote:

    I could not agree more with this post! I can’t look left or right without seeing some entrepreneur telling me I should be earning so much more than I am. The thing is, I’m not quite sure where I want to take my business yet, so I’ve been experimenting and testing different techniques – not just to see what will make me the most money, but what gives me the best lifestyle and my clients/readers the best value.

    Posted 10.5.15
  12. Melissa wrote:

    Thanks!!! This makes me feel great. Right now my goal income is a small $20,000 (my current yearly income at my 9-5!). I’d be happy to achieve this! It’s nice to know I can define success on my own terms 🙂

    Posted 1.9.16

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