I’ve tried different ways of making money, but I’ve never succeeded until I realized a very significant fact: money should come as a by-product of the actions that I truly enjoy instead of the other way around. In other words, I should decide what I enjoy and leverage that by adding value to others, who, in turn, will compensate me with pieces of paper called money. Money should be the means to an end, not the end in itself.
The reverse is chasing money just for the sake of chasing money, similar to how a donkey chases a carrot. Money, after all, is nothing more than just a piece of paper. It doesn’t mean much by itself. It also doesn’t mean much if you’re spending as much as you’re earning (or even more by borrowing on your credit cards). If you decide the whole point of your life is to chase these pieces of paper, then, do you think you’ll have a fulfilling life? Probably not.
The only certain outcome is that you might have more of these pieces of paper than someone else, such as a friend or a colleague. But then again, more is a relative term; there will be always someone else who’ll always have more than you, no matter how you much you work. But, in the process of chasing money, what have you really accomplished by swapping your time and energy for pieces of paper? Nothing — except swapping your time and energy for pieces of paper.
Your mission, should you accept it, is to structure your life so the act of earning money becomes a direct (or, likely, indirect) by-product of things the things you truly enjoy. The act of earning money must evolve from your personal economy. That means you should never try to compromise your lifestyle by exclusively focusing on stockpiling money. If you don’t enjoy doing something, there’s no reason to dedicate your life to it even if you’re promised shiny dollar bills or stock options.
Everything starts with your individual goals and desires. Start with deciding what kind of life you want to live. What’s important to you? What are your passions? What are your interests? What do you enjoy doing? Do you want to work for someone else 9-5 like a screw in the machine or do you want to venture and carve your own path (and wealth)?
I have one crucial criterion when it comes to having a balanced lifestyle: whatever I do it must be because it’s something I desire to do; it should naturally evolve from my ambitions.
Here’s what I like: writing, reading interesting books, traveling, spending time with quality women, and working with software. These are all the way that I can express myself. These represent my domain of knowledge and experience. These are all the way I can add value. These are my exports in my personal economy.
Let’s examine something I’m doing right this second: writing. I enjoy writing and have enjoyed it for a long time. My love for writing has allowed me to constantly write posts for this blog even though there’re no economic incentives. I don’t make a cent of this blog, but I keep doing it because I genuinely enjoy sharing my thoughts with my fans. Most blogs fail because people start them for the wrong reasons (and eventually realize that they don’t like writing at all). It certainly doesn’t make much sense to start a blog if you don’t enjoy writing.
Did I mention green pieces of paper, aka money, anywhere? Nope. But because we live in a capitalistic, not communistic, society, money is a way for someone to compensate someone else for adding value to their lives. To me, receiving money doesn’t excite me. What excites me is that whatever I’m doing is in some way, shape or form contributing to someone else’s economy. Money is proof of that. That’s important.
Carving your own path will unavoidably mean a change in your lifestyle. When I quit my 9-5 job, my income predictably nose-dived from a lavish six figure salary to zero. It happened literally overnight. Although I had savings, I was still alarmed as to how I will keep spending money without it being replenished by my employer.
The transition ended up being much smoother than I thought. One of the first things I did was carefully analyze and manage my expenses. I rented a cheap apartment in a working class neighborhood. I rarely bought new clothes. I stopped going out to fancy venues and started frequenting local bars. I stopped indulging in conspicuous consumption.
Ultimately, after trying my hand at various projects, I realized that with proper determination, one could make money doing pretty much anything. We live in a consumer society so people will buy what you’re selling if they find something helpful to whatever problem they’re having. That means if you can make something that someone else wants, you will be rewarded with it in various ways, most likely with pieces of paper called money.
The most important thing is to never make obtaining pieces of paper the priority and the ultimate goal. No piece of paper should be worth your hard-earned sweat and time. Instead, work your way from the other direction and let money find you. Decide what you enjoy doing. Decide where your interests lie. Decide what kind of value you can add to other people. Decide what kind of legacy you want to leave on the world. Then start doing that. Money, like a finely calibrated magnet that’s constantly chasing value, will find its way into your pockets one way or another.
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