Keep Ramming Your Head Against The Wall and The Wall Will Crumble


This is a guest post from Tanja Hoagland at

I’ve got two questions for you:

1) What ridiculously extraordinary thing do you want to do?

2) Why aren’t you doing it right now?

I suppose I’m an under-achiever because my first ridiculously extraordinary goal in life was basic. I didn’t want to work for someone else. You read that right. My goal wasn’t to be self-employed. It wasn’t to build a huge business empire. I just didn’t want to get up and clock in at nine on Monday morning.

Slacker of the year award? Heh. Not a chance in hell. I had never moved my way up past the bottom of the totem pole. We’re talking cashier jobs, stocking jobs, and the height of my glory, a newsletter design job making eleven bucks an hour. And let me tell you, people at the bottom of the totem pole work just as hard as those at the top. They’re just working hard for other people instead of themselves. It was difficult to create something successful out of my life with no real equity, no possibilities of real equity and the most dreaded fact of all, squeezing in “real work time” after a full 40 hours every week.

Evidently I wasn’t alone in my dissatisfaction with the working world. A poll from Gallup shows that less than 50% of people are satisfied with their work. Less than 50%! That’s a lot of unhappiness rolling around. But hey, I had my ridiculously extraordinary goal in hand and I was gonna succeed at it.

I’m nothing if not persistent. I kept ramming my head against that wall. I knew I could say good-bye to the world of bosses. I knew that my previous attempts at businesses had failed. I knew that meant it was time for a new approach. With that persistence in hand what was my second magic ingredient? I believed I could do it.

What you believe you can achieve. It sounds like a cheesy motivation poster hanging on a wall. But wait, did you know there’s really something to that? Yeah. Researcher Harold Stevenson from the University of Michigan found that student’s beliefs about their chances of achievement affected their ability to achieve. Jennifer Mangels appeared in the Oxford Journal with similar research results, that belief about success influences the outcome.

With these two magic ingredients you can make anything happen. It’s a serious mojo combination. What does belief and perseverance look like in action? I’ll use myself as the example.

1) Create a vision for what you want. (Having my own business and being my own boss.)

2) Look at the costs of achieving that goal. (Spending my spare time working my butt off to make it happen.)

3) Decide if those costs are worth it. (They were.)

4) Researching the hell out of how to meet your goal. (Researching successful business models. Investing in training programs. Studying people who have done it.)

5) Creating a never-ending amount of belief and perseverance. (Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat.)

In a previous post Karol said, “Throwing away your TV and working from 6pm – 10pm every day and all day on weekends is an attempt at an idea.” I’d say Karol is steering us in the right direction with that.

I found an online website building system and worked on my goal every day and on weekends for a couple years. I committed myself to its reality and took the action steps I needed to make it happen. I’m not telling you what that online website system was because that system doesn’t really matter. What matters is I got up off my butt and I made a decision.

I gave myself serious consequences for failure. I was over thirty with a nice pile of failed business ventures under my belt. I made the decision that if this program didn’t work I was going to give up completely on my ridiculously extraordinary dream of not having a boss. I’d buckle in, settle down and work my way up some ladder somewhere. That led me to the most important decision of my life.

I made the decision that this program was damn well going to work for me.

I put the fire under my butt and told myself this program HAD to work. I kept clocking in, doing the 9 to 5. Then in my spare time, and I mean every waking spare moment I had, I worked on my goal. Even when my results were pathetic I kept going. Let’s digress into what pathetic means for a moment. I mean 5 cents a day pathetic for months. I mean an insanely grand $5 a month after a full year of busting butt. I kept typing out pages. I kept learning from my mistakes. I kept studying the big dogs. I kept moving forward. Even when that wall didn’t budge after two years, I kept ramming my head against the wall. I kept ramming and ramming and ramming until I did it.

You wondering what happened? Fast forward three years and my first site is now at 60,000 + visits a month with just under 20,000 of them being repeat visitors. My honey and I are both self employed with our online business. It’s ridiculously extraordinary and now we’ve got to up the ante and come up with some bigger dreams.

What’s it gonna take for you? What does it take to achieve something ridiculously extraordinary?

Thomas Buxton is a smart guy you might not know (he just happened to abolish slavery in the British Empire back in 1833). He said, “With Ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance all things are attainable.” He knew how to succeed.

You gotta have belief and perseverance. A solid goal and some serious research help a lot. But if you really want something you gotta believe it in the marrow of your bones. And then there’s a little something called getting your ass in gear that has to happen in the middle of the equation. That’s called perseverance. Belief and perseverance. Some “git up and go”. Some bam. Keep ramming your head against the wall and the wall will crumble.

Now this is where I’m supposed to tell you that I’m now making a million dollars a month and if you sign up now you can too. Let’s scratch all that, because the reason I wrote this has nothing to do with what my goal was. The reason I wrote this was to light the fire under your butt and get you moving towards whatever the heck it is you absolutely freakin’ want to be doing, what your soul is begging you to be doing. It might be climbing Mount Everest, it might growing rare orchids, it might be having a baby. It’s your goal, not mine. So back to you. Let’s answer those questions again with a new perspective:

1) What ridiculously extraordinary thing do you want to do?

2) Why aren’t you doing it right now?

Tanja Hoagland is a minimalist, entrepreneur, and author who speaks out on her blog Minimalist Packrat.


  1. Wonderful to see you here, Tanja! I need your motivation right now. My goals got put on hold then reassessed, so it’s time to get my butt in gear this month. I read something the other day that asked, “How many hours a week do entrepreneurs work? Answer: All of them!”

    • The little dips in forward movement aren’t a big deal for me (life happens), it’s making sure to consistently keep moving in the same direction. But if you’re doing a major reassessment then that’s a much bigger deal!

      How many hours? In the beginning for me I would have answered all of them, but now I have the luxury of going at a nice, comfortable pace. You can do it Elle, just keep going forward!

  2. Tanja, great article. So what is your salve of choice for the broken and bloody head that has not yet broken through the wall? (I enjoy chocolate cake, but I’m curious to hear what heals your bumps and bruises.)
    Thanks for the great advice!

    • Hey Adam, Nice to see you here! Here’s my capsule advice for a broken and bloody head. You keep going! If needed, you stop and reassess and then move forward again.

      This will make you feel better. Between Patrick and I we tried all of these things before hitting on the “right thing” for us and we started back in the 1990’s. Talk about a broken and bloody head! Multi-level marketing (first attempt at business in the early 90’s), ebay (used goods), a health consultation business (first time), wholesale vending, health consultation business (second time), ebay (new goods, big mistake, got into tons of debt with this one), energy healing sessions, website #1, health consultation business (third time), website #2, making and selling jewelry retail, making and selling jewelry wholesale, website #3 (for selling jewelry), vending at metaphysical events (one of our most profitable side businesses), product demos for health companies, a crystal singing bowl cd/sound healing concerts/lecturing and workshops, writing a novel, and website #4.

      See where that list ended? Website #4. We stumbled across a method that a friend shared with us and we just kept going with it. This is what we had to do: Refuse to give up, spend a little money (hosting fees were much higher than standard), do tremendous amounts of research, and pick ourselves up after our multiple mistakes. We also had to make some short-term sacrifices. Some of our side business attempts did make a handsome amount of money but we gave everything up (besides the 40 hour jobs) to focus on the one website. That focus paid off in the end.

      Adam, here’s my advice. Don’t scatter your energies, decide if what you’re doing is EXACTLY the method you want to be using, and if it is, do insane levels of research, as many action steps as you possibly can and keep ramming your head against the wall! You can do it. You’re blog is great!

      • Tanja,
        Wow, what a great reply. Thanks for sharing all of that, I am amazed at the tenacity you and your husband have. The last two years in the online world have been quite an education for our family, although we haven’t tried as many things as you have. I really appreciate you taking the time to give such a great answer to my semi-facetious question, and your encouragement means a lot to me. Thank you.

    • Glad you enjoyed it Anthea. In the long run persistence is delightful. In the short term it can feel like a sacrifice at times, but trust me, it’s worth it!

  3. “never-ending amount of belief and perseverance”

    This applies GREATLY to what is most important in my life.

    If your motive is off then nothing works.

    Keep seeking Truth everyone!
    Endure to the end!

    • Hi Vee, Good to see you here! It’s like the silly mantra in that movie The Secret, “If you believe you will receive”. My take is this, “If you believe, and you work your ass off, do tremendous research to ensure you’re working your ass off in the right direction, and keep pushing forward beyond the moment you think you’ve failed, THEN you will receive!”

  4. (Karol, I forgot to delete my “branding” from my last post, sorry!)

    Hey Tanja, Happy Birthday!
    Fucking fabulous post btw! I can tell that you are just on fire lately and it’s really awesome! I am feeling really excited right now. Like Elle, I am in a reassessment phase. On my business that is, not my goal. That hasn’t changed.

    1) What ridiculously extraordinary thing do you want to do?
    I want to own a location independent business that changes the world in a positive way.

    2) Why aren’t you doing it right now?
    I keep fearing and doubting my great idea and not moving forward with it.

    Well duh, now I know! ;)

    • Marianney,

      Your great idea is a gem! Starfish baby, starfish.

      Reassessing is powerful. We’ve reassessed so many times it’s ridiculous. We’ve started ideas then stopped quickly realizing they weren’t a good fit for us. But we persevered on the ideas that we knew in our hearts could work. Starfish Project is a gem and it CAN work for you. It has that special Marianney magic to push it forward. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, you’ve got a really big group of people who are really fired up about it. Reassess, come up with your solid action plan, then get to work girl!

  5. Tanja,
    Freakin’ awesome post, Karol chose wisely ;) Great motivation, I’m sure will be timely for many; in fact I’m emailing this to my hubby, he’ll love it, and a few friends who need your particular kick in the butt! Love it!

    • Hi Gena,

      Glad you enjoyed it! I was so excited when Karol picked me for one of his guest post slots (thanks Karol!) and it was really fun to share this story. It was a long time in the making. I remember reading many, many other people’s stories on how they’d finally achieved a big goal and getting serious inspiration from them. Sometimes that’s the motivation a person needs, knowing that someone else reached out and grabbed their dreams. Loved your recent post on dream builders by the way! It rocked girl.

  6. Tanja, this is awesome, I quit blogging a few months ago when I was discouraged that I was not getting the response I wanted. What a wake-up call to action to keep pushing forward. Thank you for this post, I am re-entering the game with a self titled website and I no longer care about the same thing I used to…1 subscriber is fine with me as long as they are interested in what im writing. I am sure I will find my audience as long as I keep at it and after reading your post I am energized.

    Thank you,
    And awesome job getting on Karols site

    • Well hey there Justin! I haven’t seen you around in months.

      You know what’s funny, you had at least an audience of one with your old blog, brain changing. I kept looking for you to throw up a new post for quite a while before I stopped coming around. Interests do change and going with your own name for the blog leaves it nice and open what you write about. It can evolve with you as your interests change. I’ll be checking out your new work and seeing what you’re up to! My advice is this time stick with it. :)

      • Yes haha I remember you posting wanting to see the video of my day planner on fire. On your advice I did video it the video kinda sux but I am currently updating and moving some of my old posts to new site and I am planning on updating the planner fire. We will see you around on the blogosphere.


  7. *Hey Karol – Like Marianne, I forgot to delete my branding from the comment I left yesterday. Sorry!*

    This is fantastic Tanja! I’m so impressed with your Website project. I’ve told you before that I ran across that site long before I ever met you. Then I discovered that you were the mastermind behind the entire operation! Small world, eh?

    I’ve been beating my head against a brick wall on and off for several years. I’ve stepped back, reassessed my plan, and now I’m beating that wall again. Eventually it HAS to crumble. I have a pretty hard head. ;)

    Thank you for making me dig deeper and inspiring me to persevere.

    • Hey Jenny,

      I think it’s awesome you ran across the website and then much later ran across my blog, especially since I’ve slacked completely and haven’t put a link from the website to the blog! The accountant at my chiropractor office randomly ran across my blog the other day. I was pretty excited about that.

      It WILL crumble and when it does you’ll be on fire! Look at what you’ve done in just a matter of months already. You’ve got the mojo and it’s coming together for you fast Jenny! And having a hard head does help. :)

  8. I freakin LOVE this blog!! This post is darn inspiring, even to those already inspired. I think most everyone would not work at a job given the chance to be home, working on their own terms, with their own rhythm, with their own families. But the difference between you and the rest of us is the perseverance. So many times, if something isn’t perfect or gives us a fast return, we give up. It’s easier to give up, let someone else bring in the business and just show up for a “guaranteed” paycheck. But if you want anything, you gotta work for it. Olympic gold medalists started out as little kids in a gym. Best-selling authors had to take handwriting classes. I think we forget that and use the excuse that we don’t have enough time/money/intelligence/education. Or whatever.

    The time to start is now. I just quit my job, and I know most of my friends and family think I’m nuts. I have two babies. Of course, it’s scary. But I have the opportunity now. And I won’t give up.

    Thanks for letting us know that we are not alone. We are not crazy or lazy for wanting more with our time than just giving it to someone who cares nothing about it. Thanks for the motivation.

    May you have even more success.

  9. Hi Erlinda, I freakin LOVE this blog too! Karol kicks ass in so many ways. I come here whenever I need some inspiration.

    You can do it and you are NOT lazy. It’s a tougher spot for you with 2 kids and deciding to make the plunge of going jobless before the income is backing you up, but people can do it that way. (I’m assuming you’ve got a small cushion of savings). You’ve just got to work harder, smarter and faster than you’ve ever done before.

    We wanted it to be instantaneous and it sure as hell wasn’t. We thought within 1 year we’d be there, but we weren’t even close. But if you keep heading in the same direction you WILL make it happen. We are living proof, the slowest turtles on the road managed to make it happen! We watched as other people using the same system as us outpaced us and became successful much quicker. We used that as motivation to keep going. I really believe that in a majority of instances people quit right before they’re on the verge of a breakthrough. Keep going girl. You can do it! And just so you know, I STILL get flack from extended family telling me I need the security of a “real” job. Don’t listen to them. If you’re situation supports it, just keep plowing ahead as fast as you can.

  10. Great guest post! Isn’t it wonderful to visit a favorite blog and come away excited and inspired?! Maybe that’s why it’s a favorite blog! Thanks!

    I’ve been lucky in my life to have jobs I loved. I’m getting ready to retire now and I’m looking forward to the next ridiculously extraordinary stage.

    • Glad you enjoyed my guest post Galen! Lucky you always having jobs you’ve loved. Any secrets you want to share on that or has it been your attitude that created such a positive work experience?

  11. Alittle confused at you saying you’re not telling us what the online website building system is but you share an image of your traffic clearly indicating you use SBI. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding.

    I’ve had a great deal of internal debate with myself on whether or not to go the traditional webhost/wordpress route or pay to use SBI and gain access to all of their resources. I’ve been leaning heavily toward doing it myself with a blog/ebook and a bluehost account but every now and then I read a successful case study from a SBI user and get second thoughts.

    • Hi Justin,

      I was respecting Karol by not making any overt mention of the system I used, but yes the initials of the program do appear in the screenshot :)

      Since you asked I’ll share my experience. Maybe it will help you decide. I had several websites before that program. None of them ever got any traffic (well extremely minimal traffic anyways). I do believe going with SBI was a great choice for me and Patrick. We learned so much about keywords that the education was well worth the admission price. Their forums are also a gem. Whenever I started to doubt our chances I could go into the forums and read from people who were struggling like me and also from people who’d succeeded in turning their sites into their full-time careers. It was a daily inspiration boost.

      On the flip side, now that we’ve been with that program for over three years and had success with it we were ready to move on. We still use sbi for hosting those old sites (the site transfers are not seamless to a self-hosting account) but I’m doing wordpress for my newest creations. I feel that the sbi learning was invaluable but I’ve stopped following the methodology of sbi. It is focused on keyword research and keyword placement to the point of being an exact science. It stilted my abilities as a writer and at times felt more like writing for search engines instead of for humans. The designs and functionality are also very limiting and it felt like using a 1980’s template. I now prefer to write freely from the muse instead of following those search engine tactics.

      So my advice. If you’re starting out and really, really want to succeed, do sbi for at least one website. You’ll learn a thousand times more than it costs just from all of the tutorials and forums you’ll have access to. Then once you’ve got your internet legs under you, you can decide what kind of long term approach you want to make. I personally love wordpress. I love the plug-ins available, the ease of communication between visitors and site owner, and the modern looking templates available. I’ve also found that using wordpress and not following any seo at all I’m still building a lot of monthly visitors through word of mouth. The growth of minimalist packrat (a 6 month old wordpress blog) has been much faster than the growth any of our sbi websites experienced.

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