For the first few years after I quit my job I was making less than a cleaning lady.
I never even checked my bank account so I didn't even notice.
I was just focusing on doing my thing. I was focusing on writing. On figuring out how to get better at writing.
So one year when I did my taxes and added all the numbers it turned out that I made less than $2000 that year. I was surprised. To say the least...
And when I understood what was really going on, when I realized that I sucked at writing and would never be able to make a living self publishing books and writing stuff online, I realized that I was in big trouble. I realized that I will probably never be able to make a living as a writer.
I was just not good enough. Not good enough to compete with the best of the best out there. Sure, it's not about competition and you should only compete with yourself and all of this blah blah stuff. But when you do something and aren't able to make a living with it when you try to make a living doing it, then it just means that you either suck at it or that you suck at all the other involved micro skills. And I sucked at both...
So I had to figure out something else. I had to find other ways to make a living. Even though I built up a safety net the years before I quit my job, I didn't have enough cash in the bank to keep doing it for the next couple of years. My bank account was showing less and less money every day (after I started checking it more regularly).
I realized I had to change things. That what I was doing wasn't working. I had to do other things. I had to spread my risk. And diversify. I had to find other ways. I had to find other ways to be able to keep creating.
So I started all sorts of small affiliate deal websites. I think I did more than ten of those. And they all tanked. I started subscription and membership websites. I shutdown all of them. Because none of them were really working. I kept writing. On my blog. And books.
I don't even remember how many different things I tried. And none of them was working. And I was close to giving up many times. More than I'd like to admit in public. I thought that I'd just call it a day, get a “real” job, live a quiet life, settle down somewhere where no one would ever be able to find me and just disappear.
Disappear from all of the worries. From all of the struggle. And all of the pain of having to start all over again every few months. Disappear from this unstable life. Disappear so no one I knew could ever find me. Or laugh at me. And make fun of me.
But for some reason I didn't. For some reason I'm still around. And doing my thing. Here are a few things that helped me to keep pushing. That still help me to keep going...
The only thing that helps me to keep going is gratitude. I know this sounds like some sort of spiritual self help kind of stuff. And maybe it is. Maybe it really is. But it helps me to keep going. And I don't really care what it is, as long as it keeps working.
So every single day I try to list all the the things I'm grateful for. The people I talked to. The conversations I had. The food I was able to afford and eat. The time I was able to spend doing something for my health. Yes, I'm even grateful for the coffee I drank.
And I take a minute or two to list these things every single day. I know it sounds cheesy. And it is cheesy. But that's just what I do. And it helps me to see the things I have. Instead of seeing all the things I don't have.
Its easy to forget all of the things we have when we constantly focus on the things we don't have...
# DONE LISTS
I always feel like I didn't do enough. Every single day. I feel like I never get anything done. I always underestimate the amount of time the things I do will really take. And because I constantly do things that I've never done before, I never really know how long it'll take.
I constantly underestimate the time something will take and I always overestimate my ability of dealing with uncertainty. With things I've never done before. I also constantly overestimate my ability of being able to adjust.
So at the end of the day I'm always frustrated because I had so many things that I wanted to do. And I usually never even get to finish one thing.
And even though I know that this is the nature of doing things you're not really familiar with it's kind of frustrating.
So instead of focusing on the things you didn't get done, why not focus on the things you got done? Why not get rid of a to do list and replace it with a done list?
For the past one and a half years I lived out of a backpack with about 10 things or so in it. I have three outfits. And I stay pretty much wherever I want to. I stayed in South East Asia last year and st of this year.
I'm not saying this to brag about it. Because everything has its advantages and disadvantages. And everybody has something else that makes him or her happy. But what I realized is that the only way for me to ever be happy or satisfied is to know that I have enough.
That I have more than enough. That I have access to more water than I will ever be able to drink in my entire life. That I have access to more food than I will ever be able to eat. I have enough. Of everything. And this helps me to get up again every single time when I feel down. Knowing that I have enough. Knowing that I'm fortunate enough to have enough.
In case you're wondering whether you already have enough, you probably already have enough. Because when you don't have enough, you'll know it. And feel it. Every single day.
Here's the thing...
99% of the things we buy with the money we make, we use it for meaningless and useless things that force us to go back to climbing the ladder. Pushing us farther and farther away from freedom. Pushing us away from the freedom of doing more of the things that make us happy. Freedom of spending more time with the people we love.
It's just like they say...
We work jobs we don't like, to make money we don't need, to be able to buy things we don't really want, to impress people we don't really like...
Now don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying you shouldn't try to make money. Quite the opposite. You should try to make as much as you can. And diversify. And spread your risk. And save as much as you can. And invest in yourself. And buy yourself some time and freedom with that money.
To learn new skills. To build up diversify your income streams and your risk. To be free. To be able to do more of the things you really want to do.
Will it be easy?
Of course not.
If it was easy everybody will do it.
But the truth is that almost no one does it.
Because it's hard to invest in yourself. Because the payoff is so far away in the future that we see it as unreachable. We see it as a useless investment. Because the payoff might never come. It's also hard to invest in yourself because there are so many other temptations out there.
But there really is no better investment than investing in yourself. And in your freedom. And the first step is to realize that you might already have enough. That you're already enough...
"I stopped giving a shit a long time ago!"
I worked, lived and traveled all over the world with a carry-on backpack with just 3 outfits in it.
I stopped worrying about what other people think of me.
It was one of the best decision I've ever made...
At one point I decided to I write a book about what I've learned about myself and the world around me.
And today you can get a free copy of that book.
Click here to claim your copy now (it's free, for now)...
# DON'T COMPARE
While I was busy trying to get better at writing and finding alternatives to being able to pay the bills independently from anyone hiring me, all of my friends from university were buying more and more stuff.
They were going out for fancy dinners. Some of them even started buying fancy cars. Expensive watches that would cover an entire year of my expenses. Apartments. Houses. And on and on and on. While I was sitting at home at my mom's place trying to figure out how I could make all of this work out.
Here's the thing...
If you're playing the long game you just can't compare what you have right now with what others have right now. It just doesn't work.
My goal always was in always will be to be free. To be able to live and work wherever I want to. Without having to rely on one single stream of income. Without having to work for the man. Without having to work for clients.
Again, I'm a bit paranoid. And I don't want to base my entire life on just one single person who can either make or break me in a matter of hours.
Its just too big of a gamble for me. So I'm playing the long game. I'm willing to sacrifice short term gains and maybe even short term happiness for long term happiness.
But the problem is that there's no guarantee that it will ever work.
No matter how much work you put in.
No matter how much you hustle. And grind.
No matter how smart you are.
There's no guarantee.
There's no guarantee for anything in life.
The only thing that's guaranteed is that when you compare yourself to others you'll always feel miserable.
Because there will always people who will have it better than you.
There will always be people who have more than you.
Who seem to be happier than you....
# HELP OTHERS
The only thing that kept me pushing all of these years was that I sometimes felt that what I was doing had an impact. That some of the stuff I put out there helped other people. No matter how big or small that impact was.
And I think that's what being human is all about. To lift each other up every once in a while. To help each other every once in a while. To inspire each other. To motivate each other. To push each other to tap into our potential.
And it doesn't really matter how you help people. Whether you do charity work. Write stuff online. Create uplifting videos. Or gift people your time. Or teach them skills. It doesn't matter.
I strongly believe that this one one of the best ways to feel rich. No matter how much or how little you have. Helping other people is one of the best ways to live a rich life even though you might not have a lot of money. Even though you might feel like a failure.
Being able to help other people, no matter how big or small is such an amazing feeling. Sometimes I wonder who benefits more from this. The people receiving the help or the the people providing help. But at the end of the day it doesn't really matter. What matters is that its a win win for everybody. Just like they say...
The more things you do, the more skills you'll acquire. No matter if you fail at your thing or succeed. And the more skills you acquire, the more independent you'll become.
If you do everything yourself, if you learn a lot of different skills, at one point you'll be completely independent from pretty much everybody else out there.
Sure, you won't ever reach the level of a professional or an expert. Ever. But it's going to be enough to get things off the ground. And once they're big enough you can go ahead and hire experts to work with you.
And being able to build something out of nothing will be one of the most important skills moving forward. No matter what the future will bring...
If you're not strong, if you feel weak mentally, physically, financially or spirituality you'll never be able to help anyone. And I hate to admit it but these days money plays a huge role. And it influences everything else.
If you're constantly worried about not being able to pay for your necessities, if you're not able to sleep well at night because you don't know how to pay next month's rent, then you won't be able to help anyone.
You've gotta help yourself first to be able to help anybody else. Only the strongest version of yourself will be able to have an impact. Only the strongest version of yourself will be able to go through all the ups and downs.
Financial stability is the first thing you have to work on. If you don't get that right you won't be able to afford proper food. You'll also not be able to get enough sleep because you'll constantly be worried about things. And Then nothing will ever work out.
I feel like one of the most important skills in the 21st century is flexibility. It's one of the most important things to be able to keep getting back up again when you've been punched in your face.
Flexibility in being able to adapt to your circumstances. Flexibility in where you live. Flexibility in what jobs you do. Flexibility in who to get along with. Flexibility in pretty much everything.
Again, the world is changing fast. And no one is able to predict anything. And the only way to survive is to be able to adapt. To get back up again no matter where you wake up. To be flexible. In every area of life.
And in those past four years have taught me anything, then I realized that being able to adapt is absolutely necessary. At least for me. And right now I'm able to adapt to pretty much everything. I can live in $100 apartments in Bangkok without aircon just like I can live in $3000 apartments in New York. And I did both. Luckily I didn't have to pay for the second one...
For me it doesn't really make any difference. Ok, maybe it does make a difference. It's pretty hard to work in the summer heat of Bangkok without aircon. But then again, I also shot my first online course there with no aircon and made thousands of dollars with it.
Here's the thing...
Once you realize how little you really need, then you'll also start to realize that pretty much everything is possible. That even your worst case scenario might not be that bad after all.
If I'd be totally broke tomorrow, I'd just book a one way flight to Thailand, decrease my expenses to a minimum and start all over from scratch. Using the skills and things I've learned having done and failed at so many different things.
And that's something not a lot of people see. No matter if you succeed or fail. You'll have learned new skills that'll help you to build something out of nothing over and over again.
Sure, not everybody can do that. Not everybody can go ahead and sell all of his or her stuff. If you have a family you can't do that. But then again, maybe you can do it. If you never try, you'll never know...
# GETTING BETTER
The better you get at something, the better you'll feel about yourself. And the more confident you'll be. And there really is no better feeling than seeing how you improve. How you go from “I suck at it” to “I'm actually not that bad at it”. And the more diversified your skillset, the more things you've built, the more things you've created rom scratch, the more independent you'll get. The more things you'll be able to start. And maybe one day one of these things will work...
I'm a big fan of diversification. And having worked on so many different things enabled me to build a life that's completely independent from people who could crush me from one day to the next. Sure, I'm not immune against everything. You can't be. No one can be.
We live in uncertain times. In times where the thing you're doing right now might not be needed anymore tomorrow. Nothing is really safe anymore. Things that are now safe are safe until they aren't.
And I feel that the only way to take all of this uncertainty out of life is diversification. To diversify your risk. Your income streams. Your skills. And your entire life. To get used to learning new things. To get used to adapting to new circumstances. To get used to the flexibility that's expected...
And that's the ultimate guide to being rich when you feel like a failure....