Growing up poor, I used to think that money would solve all my problems or that money really is the root of all evil. Little did I know the real truth.
The only way to move ahead in life is to make decisions. I mean real solid decisions like: “I am no longer a smoker”, “I am breaking up with her/him”, “I am a vegan”, “I am quitting my job”, “I am starting a company”, “I am working out 3 times per week”, “I no longer want to associate with that person”, “I am saving $100 every month”. With decisions like this, you get ahead in life. The trick during this time is that life sends us “chicken or the egg / catch 22” problems. We say things like; I will work out when I have time, I would be a vegan but I love eating cheese, I would quit smoking but I’ve always been a smoker. So we try to “motivate” ourselves, and change our habits.
Money, in particular, is a great excuse. We often say: I would travel if I had more money. I would quit my job and start a company if I had money. This is very easy for us, and extremely convenient. Without absolutely any effort – we have a way out, with practically anything! I don’t have money, therefore I chose to __________. Problem solved! Here’s a parenting example of how not having money is making it extremely EASY for us. If you have a child, and the child wants something, but you can not afford it, case closed. Daddy, I want this. We don’t have money, case closed. Majority of people (including me, wrongly) thinks that this is a harder way to live and very, very difficult on people. But it’s actually easier that way!
Imagine if you have a ton of money, and your child (like any other) wants ice cream every 5 minutes. You cannot say to them “we don’t have money, case closed”, now what? I know this sounds like first world problem but think about it. This is a harder problem to solve. You need to be a higher level person in order to solve this situation. You have to communicate, deal with guilt, evaluate your options, plan ahead, care about deeper things. You don’t have a one-solution-fits-all.
It is the same with choosing a career. People choose lousy jobs and carers so that they don’t have to think about what they REALLY want to work on and contribute. It is extremely easy to say: “I would paint if I had money, but since I don’t, I have this lousy job that pays the bills”. We should all start somewhere, but after a while, you need to get with the program. If you are lucky, you will spend 40 years, 8 hours per day working. Do you really want to work on something that’s meaningless to you? Something that you don’t love, or at least you are passionate about? But here’s the million dollar question, do you REALLY know what it is that you love? Even I am not sure I do.
There’s a big debate on how people shouldn’t really work on something they are passionate about. For example, some people are passionate about eating chocolate on a sofa, but that doesn’t pay well. That is true, but maybe there’s a solution to that. Sure, you could start a website about chocolate, but then again, chocolate is not the healthiest thing you can eat. So who knows what would happen after 40 years of eating chocolate every day. And then again, some would say, better to live 10 years of your best life, than 100 years of awfull life. What do you think?
Let’s move on to our third station, which is productivity. So, first was money, the second was a life calling, and third is productivity or efficiency. How many times in your life have you heard or said: “I don’t have time”? It easily fits the sentence I mentioned earlier: “I don’t have time, therefore I chose to__________”. It is the easiest joker card you can use. And you can use it over and over again. I think some people are plainly scared of delegating work, tasks and focusing because then they would have to deal with their thoughts and make serious decisions. So they opt for the “I am too busy” option. Isn’t it easier to spend a few hours per day in your inbox just responding to other people’s requests? Off-course, this is about prioritization. But how you set priorities depends on your decisions, and your decisions are based on your “why” or as I call it, “your rock“. The one thing you chose to leave your mark on.
I am telling you, once I started eliminating tasks, automate processes, delegate work I had so much time on my hands I got so bored I even found time for some childhood hobbies. Here’s a big conclusion. Having more money, more time and working on something you really care about isn’t easier, it’s harder! I think that most people don’t really know what to do with their lives, but they enjoy the fantasy or a possibility of that fantasy. Remember how Agent Smith in the movie Matrix said: “Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that as a species that human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. So the perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from.” You can hate Smith all you want, but it seems to me Smith has a point. After all, according to this guy, Smith is The One, not Neo. How do we break that and live our dream?
Let’s switch the tables. Having a lot of money is great, until everybody you know and don’t know ask you to give them money or judge you only by the size of your checkbook. Working on your dream is great until you are disappointed by your business partner, lack of market acceptance. Having a lot of time is great until you are bored out of your mind not sure what to do with your life. No wonder so many people are not rich, doing work they don’t like without any free time. So what is the solution, is there a way out?
I don’t know, but here’s the route we can take. I just remembered a book I read. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k by Mark Manson. The author explains how he had a vision of himself becoming a rock star. He would picture himself creating euphoria on the stage with his guitar. One problem, he hated practicing playing the guitar, driving around in a van with his first band, and what have you. In other words, he hated the process of becoming this rock star, but, as we’ve heard Smith say, his perfect world was a dream that his primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Another author writing on a similar topic (James Clear) mentions this same dilemma and proposes a solution just like Mark Manson. You need to fall in love with the process, and the results will follow.
This was said so many times, that I can’t find the original author of the quote. It sounds so nice, but what does it mean? I’ll risk being all weird and oversimplistic, it means you have to love your life, yourself, enjoy what you are doing and you will reach the gates of Valhalla. Are you convinced? Probably not.
You could also interpret this as self-confidence and believe in yourself. In case you don’t like that one, you could use the good old “Act as if”. Keep doing what you are doing, and act as you are already there! I think your best bet here is to know your powers. Sun Tzu said that if you know yourself, you will win all your battles.
Know yourself, and you will win all your battles.
— Sun Tzu
I think that knowing yourself is perhaps the most important thing because you can dream all you can about becoming an NBA basketball player, but if you are 170 cm, (5 feet and 6.9291 inches), it’s practically impossible. So you have to know your strengths and your weaknesses. But then again, who am I to predict your chances of success. Just recently I was listening to an old Niche Pursuits podcast episode, that was published back in August 2014. Dre Baldwin is not a basketball player you’ve heard of, BUT he is making thousands of dollars just off of his Youtube channel. Also, he is making money with his book, by modeling, and as a basketball player. This was 2014, so I would imagine his income is much higher now, but he is also no longer a professional basketball player. What I am trying to say is that even if you don’t end up in the NBA, you could still end up pretty well if :
- Find the thing you love doing, your mission, your calling (easier said than done)
- Find a way to monetize your: talent, passion
- Never give up (also easier said than done)
Thinking about Dre Baldwin, I can’t shake off the feeling of importance for a definite chief aim. As mentioned in Napoleon Hill’s Law of Success (warning, this book has almost 600 pages, and may change your life) a vast majority of people doesn’t have a definite chief aim in life. It goes without saying, that they also don’t have a plan of achieving it, nor help from a Master Mind (another thing mentioned in the same book). Fun fact, check out Bruce Lee’s definite chief aim! Where is yours? Did you know that almost all successful people have it?
So where does that leave us? What do you want to do with your life? How do you want to create value? Which problem do you want to help solve? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where can you become a world champion? Will you turn your rock into a beautiful statue? Please do, and share it with everybody in the comment section. Sometimes it’s easier to learn what you don’t want to do. If that’s the case with you, start with that. List the things you don’t want to do and then try doing some things that aren’t on the list. Let me know how it goes.