We Can Do Better
Recently, I had lunch with a friend and we were talking about goals, future projects, and business philosophies. He said something that shook me to my core:
“I really envy such-and-such business person. They’ve grown a multi-million dollar business, they don’t work weekends, and they take a month off in the summer.”
(I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that was the gist.)
At first I thought, Yeah, that’s good. Maybe that’s what you’re thinking, too.
But then, all I could think about was that we should strive for better.
Let me explain…
Society has told us that we have these things called work weeks and weekends. We’re supposed to believe that Monday through Friday we work, and then Saturday and Sunday we don’t work. Most entrepreneurs, and probably even most 9-5ers, know this is rarely the case. Not only do most people work every day of the week, but working more is also now a badge of honor. Then there’s the entire conversation about trying to make more money. (We’ll get to that in a minute.)
I believe we can do better.
What is everyone working for? What is the goal at the end of the majority of people’s work paths? Some idea of retirement, right? Having a bank account full of money? The ability to no longer feel the pressure to work, and instead have plenty of time to do whatever the heck we want (travel, etc.)? So why in the world do we continue to buy into a system of spending over 2/3 of our lives working toward that goal, only to enjoy the fruits of our labor in the last 1/3 of our lives?
Work and money don’t have to be a means to an end. They can be part of the bigger, more enjoyable picture in life. But it’s hard to find work you love doing.
Just three years ago, a Gallup poll found that 70% of Americans hate their jobs. 70% of us are rolling out of bed in the morning and loathing the rest of our day, every day. Why? Why is this an acceptable thing we’ve allowed ourselves to cope with? We live in such an amazing time with so many unbelievable opportunities at our literal fingertips (hello, Internet!). Why do we think it’s normal and okay that we should have to sacrifice our lives for a paycheck?
*Don’t get me wrong here. I understand that there are many countries and people who don’t have the same freedoms I/we do. I think you know what I’m getting at here.
Mo Money, Mo Problems
It’s a dream of many to have millions of dollars. But what people fail to understand about being millionaires are all the problems and stresses that go along with that title.
You might be shaking your head at me right now. You might be thinking to yourself, Jason, it would be different if I made millions!
I’ve been there. And while I haven’t made millions (with an “s” on the end), I did run a business that generated over $1,200,000 in revenue. And you know what? The first year was the absolute best part of that journey. How much revenue did the business have in the first year? $84,000.
In that first year, I was insanely happy. I had full control of all my daily choices. I sprung out of bed every single day, excited to start my work.
But as soon as more money started to flow in, everything else grew with it: number of employees, number of clients, number of expenses, and 100x the stress.
I got to a breaking point, and I finally walked away from that business (IWearYourShirt). I knew I could do better, so I did.
It might take you three years (or more)
Closing up one business doesn’t mean I transitioned immediately and seamlessly into another, fully formed one. If you follow me at all, you know how many things I’ve done since IWearYourShirt.
I went from running a business completely funded by client services to trying to build a product-based business. I created my first online course in 2013. I co-created a piece of software in 2014. I wrote my first book in 2014. Essentially, I just kept trying different projects until I found a groove and rhythm in this new way of doing business.
As of 2016, I’m nearly three years removed from IWearYourShirt, and I’ve never been happier in my life. It didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen in six months. It didn’t happen with one project.
But today, I make 90% of my income from the products I create and sell to my email list(s). The other 10% comes from podcast sponsorships, public speaking, and a few other odds and ends (YouTube ad revenue, book sales, etc). Some weeks, I work 80 hours, and others, I work 10. Regardless of the hours I work, I enjoy every project I spend time on, and that’s the most important thing to me.
One of the biggest things that’s continued to bring me success is consistency. This has shown up for me in multiple formats:
- Consistently writing for the Action Army (which started with 400 subscribers)
- Consistently helping entrepreneurs and business owners who contact me for advice
- Consistently creating new projects and trying to do things differently
- Consistently sticking with my unique voice and embracing my individuality
- Consistently believing that I have value to add to the world
It hasn’t been easy to completely transform the way I make money, but I’ve made sacrifices in my life and invested countless hours to put myself in the position I’m in right now. I’m no longer saving all my free time and money for retirement.
Doesn’t investing three years in work you enjoy sound better than 30 years that you hate?
Don’t work for the weekend. Work for your lifestyle.
Slaving away at a job (or your own business) five days of a week so you can enjoy 1 1/2 days off is not a dream in my mind. That’s a system that’s been built that we’ve allowed to dictate our lives. And who built the system? We did. All these constraints were created by people no smarter than us, and if those systems don’t work for us, it’s our responsibility to create our own. There’s no reason we can’t.
“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.” – Steve Jobs
For as long as I can remember, the idea of having only two days per week to enjoy the spoils of my work made no sense to me. Why can’t we enjoy every damn day of the week and treat all 365 days of the year like our weekends?
We can do better.
I’m not trying to paint some unrealistic picture of a life where you lay on a beach, sipping a pina colada out of a coconut while a bronzed cabana boy brings you whatever your heart desires. I’m talking about building a foundation for yourself. A foundation might take years, but it can result in saving decades of your life from the stranglehold of corporate America (or “The American Dream”).
This isn’t an article with a miracle fix at the end that costs you only 12 easy payments of X. No, this is real talk. It takes hard work to earn the ability to enjoy your business and create a great lifestyle. It takes sacrificing your time and energy to build something that will provide you and your audience/customers value.
If your dream is to run a multi-million dollar company where you get weekends and one month off per year, more power to you.
My dream isn’t that, nor is it to sit on a beach all day doing nothing. My dream is the life I’m living right now. The one I’ve built for myself with dedication, sacrifice, and the clarity that comes with having made a bunch of mistakes.