Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Embracing Your Strengths

Photo Credit: Amir Jina
Photo Credit: Amir Jina

During the 33 years of my life, I’ve started more ideas than I can even remember. My first business venture started when I was ten years old. My buddy Ahijah and I began drawing our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics and sold them for a quarter.

Copyright infringement FTW.

Since then, I’ve had more ideas die and go nowhere than I’ve had successes. Many more. Over time, I began realizing what leads to a big part of failure: not embracing pre-existing strengths.

There was a point in my life when I was building websites as a part of a business my buddies and I started up. We got a couple clients, but I was way in over my head because I was learning as we went along. Eventually, I couldn’t fulfill requests and, unsurprisingly, the business died. This trend repeated itself numerous times until I finally broke out of it recently. Why was I trying to learn how to do things myself instead of partnering with people who could compensate for my weaker areas? Why was I even pursuing ideas that didn’t take advantage of my talents?

Every self-earner should be keenly aware of their skills and how to apply them to a money making idea. Sure, enjoyment should go into it as well, but skill is essential. Otherwise, you could easily lose momentum because you’ll eventually reach some hurdle that, for one reason or another, feels too daunting to overcome.

Embrace your strengths and exploit your skill set. If you want the challenge of learning and creating something new, good on you. I’ll worry about that later when I’m more established. For now, I’m just going to continue doing what I do best.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Is Being a Self-Earner Right for You? All You Need Is One Rule

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Is Being a Self-Earner Right for You? All You Need Is One Rule

Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond
Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond

Good morning, potential self-earners! Let’s talk motivation, shall we?

I already spoke about the power of persistence, but that was more in reference to maintaining momentum when you already have something going. But how about folks that have yet to start on their journey? Is this right for you? If so, what’s your motivation?

Here’s the thing with being a self-earner: the road is tough. Trust me on this one. It’s not all pots of gold and sunshine as some would have you believe. It takes hard work and dedication, especially in the beginning. Therefore, there is only one rule in determining whether or not this life is right for you.

If there are other things in your life that are more important and require as much or more time than being a self-earner, don’t bother.

I’m being serious here.

I mean, you can do it, but it will be that much harder to actually make any progress. Passion has to be your motivation. Without that, this becomes a less secure version of a job. Do you really want that? If this is your passion, there’s a much greater chance of success, enjoyment, and peace of mind.

Sounds awesome, right?

Don’t buy into the hype where people try to sell you on the dream of making millions by just quitting your job and following their secret tips. Sure, some are legit, but many of them are just self-earners on their own hustle. As for you, my best advice is for you to weigh your options and if things feel right, just dive into the pool. Throw caution to the wind and chase that dream like you never have before.

Would you be okay being a half-assed parent? Probably and hopefully not. You’d do the best job possible, even if you make mistakes along the way. This is no different.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: The Art of Letting Go

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: The Art of Letting Go

Photo Credit: Keith Rowley
Photo Credit: Keith Rowley

Earlier this year, I was working on a project with my buddies Pat and Jen. Shortly thereafter, I was laid off from my job and my priorities changed. I couldn’t drop money on a developer to build an app. I had to forge my own path to some extent. As a result, Pat and I got into the first and only argument I can ever recall, and it was all due to failing to complete our idea. As we argued and debated (for hours), I began to realize we were both suffering from an inability to let go.

This post is about to journey deep into zen territory, so if you have an extreme distaste for the subject matter, it would probably be best for you to move on to another topic. For the rest of you, here is what I learned…

We’re all doing our best to make it through this life. The problem is, sometimes no matter how much much effort we put forth, our best simply isn’t enough. And that’s fine, even when it feels like it isn’t. Even when other people tell you it isn’t.

Trust me, it’s fine

As a self-earner, all one can do is try to put themselves in the best position for success and have a contingency plan for avoiding rock bottom. Other than that, even the biggest control freak has no grip on his/her fate. All you have are odds and luck (or lack thereof).

This is reality. This is also why many people opt for the safe route. You know, the one taught by society and forged by forefathers.

And foremothers.

Why isn’t that a real word?

Because sexism! Amirite?

Ehem, I digress.

If you’re going to be in the self-earning game while maintaining your general happiness and sanity, learn how to let go. Let go of high expectations. Let go of fear. Let go of negativity.Let go of ideas/projects/businesses that are not working and cannot be fixed.

Stop thinking and just be smart. As with everything in life, the stakes are only as high as we believe they are. Have some fun for Pete’s sake. If you end up clinging to all of these things, you’ll never reach your potential because you’re constantly restraining yourself.

Forget that noise.

Freeing my mind in this sense has not only helped me stay motivated while traveling this arduous road, but it has helped changed my perspective in all aspects of life. This is all a game to me – a puzzle in need of solving. It’s a challenge and I’m going to crack it or die trying. Either way, the experience is well worth it.

Maybe the same can work for you.

Peace out, party people (I so didn’t know this was the name of a Mariah Carey song until I looked up a video for this link. Please don’t judge me, although I would totally judge you if the shoe was on the other foot. Double standards FTW!).

Previously: Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Mainstream versus Niche – 7 Reasons why Less is More

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: The Power of Persistence (and the Things that Inhibit It)

Photo Credit: David Melchor Diaz
Photo Credit: David Melchor Diaz

The previous lesson I wrote focused on execution. This time around, I’m going to start with something more obvious: persistence is key to ensuring the completion of any project.

Duh.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the purpose of these posts isn’t to to feed you some blurbs of what should be done. This is to expose why you and I don’t do these things and why they impact potential for success.

So we know being persistent is important to being a self-earner. Then what prevents persistence?

  1. Confidence – Have you ever felt like a fraud or an impostor? Have you at any point felt as though you were not truly prepared or worthy of a certain job or task? Maybe you felt as if you were one slip up away from being exposed.Face it; you’re just not good enough.Don’t feel ashamed to admit you’ve felt any of this. It’s called Impostor Syndrome and many people experience it at least once in their life. Don’t address this by simply telling yourself you’re awesome…

    Although it feels really satisfying. You should totally try it sometime.

    …Increase your odds of success by focusing on ideas that cater to your strengths. Try this tactic for one of your first ideas. It’ll lessen the chances of you giving up while you simultaneously gain more confidence in your general ability to execute ideas.Also, remember you’re not alone here. Many people go through this and they succeed just fine. Are you going to let them (or me) outdo you? Why? Don’t you want this? Who cares if you’re not “good enough?”

    Why am I asking these questions for you? You don’t need to have confidence to the point of hubris, but just remember those thoughts are just thoughts and not reality. But if you keep painting with that same brush of gloom and doom, you’re sure to lack faith in your abilities.

  2. Failure – This can fall into the confidence category, but pessimism has a ton to do with an inability to push past failure as well.Boo hoo.Failure happens! Anyone who says they’ve never failed is either deluded or they’ve had an exceedingly easy life. The thing is, some people push past failure while others don’t Are you the former or latter?There was a time in my youth when I found it difficult to approach women. I had a couple instances where I crashed and burned hard so I stopped trying as much. Instead of learning from my mistakes (and realizing I can’t guarantee success, just maximize my chances) I slowly became less persistent. Guess what. That didn’t get me any closer to finding Ms. Right either. In fact, I noticed I was getting increasingly frustrated with myself because I thought about what I could be doing instead of just doing it. Thankfully I smartened up and learned from those past failures.

    How badly do you want this? Bad enough to learn from a failure instead of giving up? If failure is too much for you to bear, continue with your 9-5 job. FAILURE WILL HAPPEN AS A SELF-EARNER. There’s no two ways about it. Learn from them and make your failures manageable.Or give up. There’s no shame in that. If there is, it’s only because you know what you could be doing something instead of just doing it.

  3. Monotony – Some people thrive on routine. I am, in no way, one of those people. I get bored extremely easily…Thanks, ADD….and I tend to only be consistent with work that I truly enjoy. As such, I do a few things to break up the monotony.

    Create a Game: This is somewhat cliche, but it totally works for me. I’ll assign points to certain tasks to see how many I can accumulate by the end of the day. I may also compete with another person I know who is doing similar work. Whoa, healthy competition? What a novel idea!

    Schedule Undesirable Work: If you know you only have to do the tasks you don’t like during a certain time, it can help to make them more bearable. However, monotony sets in much more quickly on rote tasks that are performed often. Schedule it out. If you have the means, outsource it so you don’t have to deal with it at all.Regularly Try Something New: Do it! Firstly, you never know when you might discover a new passion. Secondly, new things are awesome! Bi-weekly should be enough, but if you have severe attention span issues like I do, once a week will do the job just fine.

    Work with People Whenever Possible: Monotony sets in much more quickly when you’re working alone. If you have the option to collaborate and cooperate, do so. Not only will it help to keep things fresh, but it will also give more opportunities to share ideas and thoughts.

  4. You – How well do you know yourself? More importantly, how honest are you with yourself? If “100 percent” isn’t your answer to both of those questions, you risk your chances of seeing an idea/project through to the end. Are you lazy? Do you learn best from lecture or hand-on experience? Do you actually want to become a self-earner or does it feel like a pipe dream? Ensure your knowledge of self and don’t fall into self-delusion. I personally listen to some very open people in my life who aren’t afraid to be totally honest with me. Their perspectives help to build my own.

    In any case, learning why I do things was an essential part of maximizing my potential. Hell, I feel as if I’m still learning new things to this very day.

I hope some of this is helpful to anyone reading this. Give these a shot if they make sense; they certainly helped me. But for now…

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Lessons from a New Self-Earner: 10 Steps for the Improvement of Project Execution

I’m a Failure

photo (6)

I’m a failure.

It’s true. I’ve had failed business ideas. I’ve failed at being a vegan (several times).

bacon

Damn you, bacon.

Hell, I can barely play baseball. Mostly because I swing at just about everything.

But sometimes I fail at failing too. Many of us just call that success.

Tomato, to-mah-toe.

Many great minds have spoken about the necessity of failure and I don’t disagree. I care less about success and more about trying. Trying at least means you’re doing something.

So I’m going to challenge you to something today: draw a picture of a cat. Do it even if you suck at drawing. You may fail at drawing a cat well, but hey, you gave it a shot.

At least the internet will have one more cat picture to add to its vast collection.

Peace out, party people.