If you don’t mind, I’d like to do some math here. Let’s say that you’re thirty years old.
That means that you’ve already lived 262,974 hours.
By the end of this blog post you will have 411,993 hours left until you’re dead.
On average, you will spend a third of your life sleeping. If you are thirty now, you will only have 274,662 hours left to be awake and alive and living.
I assume that you’ll also be pooping and showering and things of that nature, so for the sake of argument, let’s just round this number down to an even 250,000 hours of good life.
From now until the end of your existence, you have 250,000 waking hours. I know this doesn’t sound like we have a shortage in time, but just think that you’ve already spent more hours on this earth than you have left to really live.
You will spend most of this time working or doing something related to work. Whether it’s doing work, talking about work, traveling for work, thinking about work, commuting for work, buying clothes for work, buying supplies for work, planning for work, etc.
If you had to spend the majority of the rest of your waking hours doing one thing, would it be something you absolutely hate to do?
Question withdrawn. Don’t answer that.
Why in the world would you not make the effort to spend the majority of the rest of your life doing something you love?
By the way, you are now at least 30 seconds more dead than you were before you got here. Time’s-a-tickin’.
Why is so it important?
It’s a Matter of Life or Death
When you graduate college, or high school, or graduate school, looking for a job is not just one of your choices, it’s mandatory.
Not finding a job after college is a social and physical death sentence. How will you eat? How will you pay back those student loans. What will everyone think?
Creating a job for yourself isn’t even given any thought because it’s literally unthinkable. That is because the risk is believed to be too great. Working for a large company means security, safety, and a lifelong guarantee of health benefits for yourself and your family.
Working for a large company used to mean that, yes. I think that, to our parents, that may have been a reality. Today, for us, it’s naive and dangerous to think that finding a job in a corporation will keep us safe.
That means that everyone who sacrificed their dreams and passions to secure a job in a corporation in hopes of locking down lifetime security are just living on borrowed time.
They’re skating on thin ice covered by two feet of beautiful white snow. They can’t tell that just under their feet is a platform made up of just one quarter of an inch of ice and, underneath that, miles of freezing water. That platform can crack at any moment. They probably will never see it coming.
You will never see it coming.
And when you find yourself treading water and freezing to death you won’t be able to figure out what to do next because your entire life was tied up in a cause that abandoned you. The life you built doesn’t exist anymore and you have to start from square one.
This is why doing work that you love is so important. Because even if you decide to take the chance and walk on thin ice, when it breaks you will know what to do because you’ve identified what drove you to walk on that ice in the first place. It wasn’t security. It wasn’t safety. It was passion.
You knew it wasn’t secure and it wasn’t safe. so you tied yourself to a rock on the surface just in case your investment fell through. If it does, you can use that rope to get back to the surface and use another medium to fulfill your passion.
It is possible to find a job that you can deal with for the majority of your life and not suffer any major trauma. It’s also possible to find a job that you love and you stick with for your whole life because all of your passion is wrapped up in your daily work.
The point is to do it by choice. I’m not saying that in order to do work you love you have to work for yourself. I’m saying that you have to be fully aware that no matter where you work, you’re not safe. So you might as well find something that you love early rather than later. This way your path is always clear, and when the ice breaks, you won’t drown.
Winners and Losers in the Game of Life
Remember that horrible feeling of waking up to a screaming alarm telling you to get your butt out of bed so that you can get to work or school on time? Do you remember that amazing feeling of realizing that it was Saturday? You told that alarm where it could put its whining and went straight back to bed.
On average, you experience more of the first feeling than the second feeling. Which is why the second feeling is so incredibly awesome.
What if you could have the second feeling more than the first feeling? Then the first feeling wouldn’t be so bad because it would be so rare.
It’s possible you know. I do it every day.
Every day I wake up with more energy than I ever did when I had to do work that I didn’t love. I’m happier, my relationships are healthier, I’m healthier, my overall quality of life is better.
I have less to complain about. I have more love for life than I ever thought possible.
It’s important because living is more than just being alive.
The people who succeed at being more than just ‘alive’ are the people who’ve found a deeply rooted passion or love for something. No, not someone. Something. The someone plays a different role.
They are the people who have found something that drives them so hard that they can and will endure months or even years of uncertainty, loneliness, and financial scares.
They never give up. They may slow down, but they never stop. These are the people who are really alive. They aren’t coasting through life or waiting to be called for a job interview. They are actively creating their own future.
Maybe they are working as a file organizer for the assistant of the President of a company that they are in love with and want to be a part of. Maybe they do that for years and slowly move up to fill roles they are passionate about.
Maybe they are working as unknown writers and artists and mathematicians in their bedrooms, putting their name out as much as possible and creating a community of other writers and artists and mathematicians in order to create a movement.
Maybe they are bloggers trying to start a revolution in the world.
It doesn’t matter who they are and what they do. You know them when you hear them talk about their work.
If you’re not one of them, you know them because inside you envy them for that extra energy and life in their eyes that you don’t have.
If you’re not one of them, you know them because they make the world a more colorful place full of human beings that have come alive in ways that just being conscious could ever be mistaken for.
If you’re not one of them, you know them because they inspire you, or they inspire people that you know.
If you’re not one of them, you may wonder why it’s such a big deal and how work can be anything more than a way to put food on the table.It’s a big deal, because the difference between someone who is doing work that they love, and someone who is doing work they hate, is the difference between someone who is in a coma, and someone who is walking along the Great Wall of China.
If you are one of them, you know why doing work that you love is so important. You know, because if it was taken away from you, you’d only be half alive.
Whether you are one of them or not, you know them because they are the one’s winning at life.
That’s why it’s so important. Because it’s the difference between coming in second or third, or winning at life.
If it’s so great, then why isn’t everyone doing it?
We’ve been separating work and play since we were children. The stuff that you ‘had’ to do, the stuff that you never wanted to do was work, and the stuff that you wanted to do was playing or ‘free time’.
This is why subjects such as Art, Theater, and Music aren’t considered ‘real’ majors. No one goes to college to major in 15th Century French Poetry because of all of the wonderful job opportunities.
They did it because they loved it.
Everyone around us pretended like they loved their job.
We get lectures in 2nd grade from parents about what they do at their job and how awesome it is.
When was the last time you heard of a parent walking into a grade school class and looking all of the wide-eyed children in the face and saying “Work will suck your soul dry and leave you cynical, clinically depressed, and forever in denial about your condition. But don’t let that get you down! It must be done so get to it!”
The intersection of the above two points led people to believe that if you are having fun, you aren’t working.
Boss sees you laughing? You must be watching distasteful comics.
You walk around smiling? You’re getting it on with a co-worker in the conference room.
You come to work early? You’ve got your eye on a promotion and a raise.
You do more than required? You’re sucking up.
None of these behaviors are attributed to work, but they are what I do every day.
Why is it that work, by definition, has to be unpleasant?
When I tell people that I love what I do, they can’t seem to fathom that I spend all of my time doing something that I like. They wait anxiously for me to tell them about some part of the job that sucks; sometimes by pushing and prodding and asking leading questions to get me to fess-up and tell the truth about all of the horrible things that I must have to do.
Only when I confirm that there are periods of unpleasantness do they calm down. They sigh in relief and think ‘everyone has to suffer for work.’ What they refuse to think (what they blank out) is that they don’t want it to be possible. They don’t want to find out that it’s possible to do work that you love, because then it means that they’ve wasted their whole life.
This worries me.
I’m worried about my fellow humans.
I’m worried that they think that work is something that they have to do and not something that they want to do.
I’m worried that when they find something they only kind of dislike they think they’ve hit the jackpot.
I’m worried that most people will spend the majority of their entire life doing something they hate.
This worries me because the longer it goes on, the harder it’s going to be for me to convince people that work is not something you do out of necessity, it’s something you do because you need to do productive work as a human to have self esteem.
You do it because you want to live, and idleness is the opposite of life.
You do it because producing makes you proud to be you.
You continue to get better at it because it gives you a sense of efficacy and self-worth.
You try harder every day because it makes you happy to leave behind a legacy worth working for.
You push through the hard days because you know that, in the end, you will have created something to be admired. Admired by you and by others.
Gaining prestige is exactly like doing something out of character to gain popularity in high school. It’s dangerous to your health – both physically and mentally – it’s artificial, it doesn’t last, and it’s detrimental to your self-esteem.
When you seek to gain prestige, you are looking to gain admiration from society, which has inflated the importance of specific titles or types of work.
I’m not saying that these professions aren’t important. I’m asking why you think that becoming a doctor is more important than becoming a dog trainer?
Most people would automatically say that the doctor is more important without even thinking about what kind of doctor they are, or asking if they are even a good doctor.
My point is that doing something just because you want others to look up to you, and not because you like it, is a surefire way to end up an insecure and unhappy human being.
Don’t become a doctor if you hate medicine.
Don’t become a lawyer if you hate to read.
Don’t become an engineer if you hate math.
Don’t become a novelist if you’re not interested in telling stories.
If your goal is to become prestigious, then you need to live your own personal legend. You don’t need to fight for a title, award, or recognition from people you’ve never met, whose lives are insignificant to you and who don’t really care about you anyway.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not think that money is the root of all evil.
I think that money is the root of all good when its earned honestly by doing good work that you love which just ends up contributing to the overall well being of the universe. I think that people who do great work should be so rich that they could never spend all of their money no matter how hard they tried.
On the other hand, people who will do anything for money are on a path to self-destruction.
The importance given to money is so great that even loved ones will encourage you to do something you don’t really like so that you can have a financially secure future. This is supposed to translate into ‘safe’ but it doesn’t. It translates into ‘late onset reality check.‘
How to Find it
Ok so that’s all great but how do you find this elusive ‘work you love’?
How to find work you love
The first thing I tell people when they ask this question is to look at the verb in the sentence ‘how to find work you love.’
In case you’re rusty on your grammar, the verb is ‘find’ and it’s a verb for a reason.
It requires action.
You literally have to go out and find it. You have to actively look for it like you would look for a lost dog.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
- What comes easily to you? What are things that you do that you don’t have to force yourself to do? Don’t limit yourself to things that you think ‘make sense’ for work. If you like getting shitfaced drunk, then write it. I’m not making any promises about the business opportunities in shitfaced drunkenness, but I’m not writing it off either.
- What are you good at? What have people told you that you’re good at? What comes effortlessly to you?
- What do you read about? Whether it be books, magazines, the internet, sidewalk chalk? What topics do you find fascinating? Are there times when you can’t flick past the History Channel? Does Shark Week on the Discovery Channel make you go all warm and fuzzy inside? Write it all down.
- What pisses you off? What topic could I bring up that would get your panties in a ruffle? Is it abortion? Is it government, taxes, beached whales, peeing in swimming pools, people talking on the phone in libraries?
- What is a major problem in today’s world that, if solved, would make you happier than the Cookie Monster at the arrival of Girls Scouts at his door? Maybe it’s homelessness, hunger, lack of drinking water, or the fact that there aren’t enough people in the USA that know how to parallel park.
- Look around your house. Tell me the one thing that you would consider murdering me for if I took it away from you. Is it your MacBook? Maybe it’s your 1980′s overalls or your collection of exercise pole dancing videos.
After you are done fleshing out the answers to these questions (and don’t forget not to hold back!) sift through your answers and see if you find any potential business ideas or already existing jobs.
Try combining them. For example, say that you really love the Apple brand, you’re pissed that they don’t have a 17″ MacBook Air, and you’re a bad ass programmer. Sounds like a job opportunity there. That’s obvious of course but you get the point.
You might not find anything. You may have to just start trying things.
For example, if you really love fashion, but you know you’re not cut out to be a model, then try designing clothes, even if you think you have no skill at it at all. Maybe all it takes is a few months of drawing lessons on YouTube to bring out your inner designer. You may not know that you love it until you really try it.
Answer the questions I listed out a second time. Once you start to broaden your knowledge of what is possible in the world and what you know, the answers above will change. They won’t remain the same. This is an iterative process. It goes something like this:
- Answer questions.
- Pick something and pursue it will all of your heart and soul.
- Test the waters. How do you feel about it? Lukewarm? Drop it or, if it’s making money already somehow, keep doing it on the side.
- Look at your answers to the questions. Has anything changed?
- If not, pick something else and repeat 1-3.
- Once you find something you love, see if it’s a viable business. It could be something you can start yourself, or perhaps it’s a job that already exists.
- If it’s not, think about what you can modify/change/remove so that you can monetize it. If it’s impossible to monetize, and you’ve really given it your all, start the process over again.
Here is a summary of the process:
Notice that in the diagram I imply that there is nothing that can’t become a viable business as long as you put in the work. I imply this because I believe I’m speaking to reasonable and rational people.
It is obvious that no one is going to pay you to get shitfaced drunk. No matter how you spin it, it’s probably not going to work. What might work, however, is becoming a club promoter/DJ/bartender or whatever job that allows you to be drunk a lot.
Please note that I think this is a terrible idea and I’m not condoning it. I’m only trying to make an extreme point. If your passion is to get wasted every day, you have problems and I suggest that you seek professional help.
You may not even find anything on your second try. It doesn’t matter. Keep looking. It’s there. It exists. I promise you, that unless you are a corpse there is something that you are passionate about.
For the time being, try to keep the ideas of prestige and money out of the equation. Just don’t think about the potential to monetize. If you really love it that much, you’ll find a way. Even if that means adding something to the business to make it monetizable.
If you find something that excites you at first and you find that it has great market potential, but after a while you begin to lose interest, then you need to drop that thing like a hot potato! Don’t go into the light! Drop it and start over. Or keep doing it but also keep looking for your passion. Don’t settle just because it looks like it will make money.
How to Find Out if Your Passion Can Be Monetized
Unless you can find a job that you’re passionate about, monetization is the deal breaker when it comes to pursing one of your ideas.
I’m going to refer you to some of my favorite resources on this subject. I’ll write about this topic in future posts, but I don’t want you to wait that long. I want you to act now. Plus, I’ll mostly talk about how to make money blogging, and you may have other ideas. After sifting through all of the knowledge that I’ve gathered over the years, I’ve picked these resources as the best to follow if you want actionable, reliable, and practical results.
(Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission if you buy the book. I only recommend things that I highly recommend, but you don’t have to buy them through my links. You can go and search for them on Amazon.)
This book was only recently published this book, but it’s one of the most important business books I’ve ever read.
The $100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau, takes you from knowing nothing about business, to making a living on your own, regardless of your skills, how much money you have, or how old you are.
He makes business something that anyone can do if they really wanted to. He takes away all thoughts of venture capitalists, ties, huge investments, and MBA’s and instead focuses on teaching you how you can use what you have today to create a life for yourself.
The book doesn’t leave room for excuses. Although Chris isn’t all about giving tough love, you’ll be hard pressed to find a reason why your situation is different. He interviewed thousands of everyday people just like you and me. All of them are making a living doing what they love.
If you want something that will show you the way to making a living off of your passion, step by step, then you need to buy, borrow, or beg for this book right now.
Pamela Slim’s book, Escape From Cubical Nation, has had the most influence over me and my career.
It’s a bit more dense than Chris’s book, but it’s also chock full of information, resources, and exercises for your business and your personal life.
Chris’s book is perfect for someone who’s pretty much decided that they are ready to take the next step.
Pam’s book is perfect for someone who’s on the fence.
She spends a lot of time talking you through the psychology of why you feel miserable at your job, why you don’t want to leave, and how to make the move from being an employee to being self-employed.
Her section on entrepreneurship is very real and down to earth. Possibly a little more conservative than Chris, but not in a bad way. The $100 Startup talks mostly about businesses that you can start for very cheap (hence the $100 part), while Pam covers the spectrum.
I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s the book that gave me the courage to quit my first job, and it’s taken me through years of entrepreneurial battles.
This book has gotten a lot of criticism over the years, and I understand why, but this is why I love this book:
- Tim doesn’t see barriers. He doesn’t find them important. He makes things absolutely simple and his confidence is contagious.
- The book is structured so that you are learning how to build a business by using passive income techniques & automation while also learning to get out of your comfort zone and live a little.
- There are a lot of great ideas in this book that aren’t developed that thoroughly in Chris’ or Pam’s books. For example he talks a lot more about negotiating flex-time with your boss, outsourcing your work overseas, and Lifestyle design.
Tim’s book is perfect for the person who wants to learn about lifestyle design and a completely different way of living. This is the book that got passive income and online business on my radar.
A word of caution about this book. The point is to get you to think about how you can run a business and manage your life differently. There are some exaggerations so you have to be careful to pick out the real useful stuff and not pay attention to the ‘four hour work week’ promise.
If you need something to get you motivated to get up and get moving, look no further.
I listened to Crush It and decided that I no longer needed to listen to anymore motivational speeches. Gary Vaynerchuk is enough.
This book is about working your face off for your dream. It’s about hustle and determination and energy.
It’s also about how to do business in the world we live in today. Gary covers a lot of social media topics and novel ways to spread your message.
This book is perfect for anyone who needs a kick in the ass. Gary doesn’t want to hear your excuses about how your passion is different. He was born in Belarus and is the product of the real American Dream. Don’t even think about complaining because you just don’t know if you can live without your soy latte’s.
Making It to the End
I can’t believe you made it this far. This has to be the longest blog post in history.
This post is the first in a series of seven that will cover every single one of the Laws for Living a Life on Your Terms.
It’s not enough for me to just tell you to do work that you love without giving you a really good reason why you should. I needed to give you something concrete, actionable, and inspiring. I wanted to give you the information and resources you need to actually do it.
Living a life on your own terms is not possible if you do not take control of the one thing that you will be spending the most of your time on.
To take control means to take action and make a choice. You have a choice to either work really hard and do what you love, or take it easy and float through life like a fat man in a raft on the lazy river. Tweet This
You are not a victim of circumstance and you are not a helpless bystander in your life. You have no master and you are not at the mercy of your instincts like a common dog. Tweet This
You are a person.
You are a human being with potential and intellect and the wonderful ability to use your mind to make choices.
You have the right to live the kind of life that will leave you proud and peaceful in your deathbed. Tweet This
Now it’s up to you to make the decision.