Pick Your Treadmill Speed

I rarely run, but I can walk 10,000 steps every day. I can’t launch a new product every month or publish a book every quarter, but I can write a Quora answer, Medium post, or short blog every day. Steady consistency over time is easy for me. Ergo, walking is a great speed for me on the treadmill.

“The treadmill,” as Youtuber Marques Brownlee describes the job of being a creator, consists of two parts: For one, you’ll have to make the art you want to make. In the beginning, that’s easy. There’s nothing to distract you from it.

But the more success you find, the more to-dos will start attaching themselves, like velcro, to the work. Suddenly, you need to write invoices. You need to do accounting. You need to manage sponsorship requests, deal with platform politics, and maybe hire an editor.

That’s the second part of the treadmill: everything that’s not the work but that, as you grow into your career, becomes part of the job. That, too, is asking you to keep going at a certain speed — and in both cases, you must find the setting that works for you.

“I can’t review all three [new] phones at once,” Marques says. “I’m only one person. So I’ve got to pick one. I can’t dive in and try to satisfy the algorithm every single time. I just can’t. So I am trying to pick the right speed on the treadmill.”

Someone else could have posted 300 videos in year one and grow their channel twice as fast, perhaps. Me? I could post one video per week for three years. So that’s what I did, and that worked okay too.

When you see people running around your neighborhood, you’ll notice everyone is going at a different speed. At work, especially in the world of creating, full throttle can look like the only option — but it’s not.

Don’t burn yourself out trying to sprint when you’re a walker, and don’t go slow and steady if intensity is your thing. Pick the right speed on the treadmill, and keep going forever.