“You don’t have to be a fucking genius to make any of this work!”
You aren’t tired and cranky today because you haven’t had your coffee yet.
You don’t hate your job today because it’s boring.
You aren’t frustrated right now because you’re stuck in traffic and someone’s mad at you and you’re going to be late.
You are unhappy because you outsource it. You leave it up to what you put in your body, what happens at work, and what the rest of the world does.
You outsource it because you’re convinced it can’t all be up to you. You think there’s no chance you could have that kind of power. Or maybe you just don’t want to.
Keep your happiness in house. Today you can accept, remove, or change everything. You used to outsource it to those other things every day. But not today.
Do you think you deserve to make more money?
If so, how much do you deserve to make?
A lot of people want to measure money by how hard they work. If they put in more time and effort, they should get more money. When that doesn’t happen, they get frustrated. They complain that their employers don’t care enough about them to give them what they deserve.
It’s so easy to complain about not getting enough if you never measure how much you actually deserve.
Employers determine how much money you make by how much money your work makes. You need to take responsibility for measuring it.
If you don’t, you will never be able to prove that you deserve to make more. Much more importantly, it’s the only way you can prove to yourself that you’re creating value. You’ll never be able to put a value on how strong your relationships are with your coworkers, but you can put a value on the work you get paid to do.
Measuring how much money your work makes is hard. Your employer could measure it for you, but they’ll do it only if things aren’t going well. That’s the only time they have an incentive to evaluate and cut salary costs. But if things are breaking even or going well, the employer has no upside to measuring it. It’s all up to you.
You can get started measuring how much money your work makes by:
Depending on what your measurements show, you’ll know whether you’ve earned the right to ask for a raise, or if you’ve been riding other people’s coattails the whole time.
Most people won’t measure how much money their work makes because they’re scared to see how little it is. Don’t avoid the facts. Face them. You’ll never get what you want until you can be honest with yourself about how good you are at helping other people get what they want.
Most men make the error of thinking that one day it will be done. They think, “If I can work enough, then one day I could rest.” Or, “I’m only doing this now so that one day I can do what I really want with my life.”
The masculine error is to think that eventually things will be different in some fundamental way. They won’t. It never ends. As long as life continues, the creative challenge is to tussle, play, and make love with the present moment while giving your unique gift.
It’s never going to be over, so stop waiting for the good stuff.
I like being in control, but I don’t take control of being happy.
I like being on a mission. It’s fun planning ahead, having a past and a future in a place, and keeping a small circle of good people around you. There’s a clear view of what I need to do next and what the point of all of it is.
But when something bad happens, I let go. I call it bad luck. I blame someone else for being selfish. I chalk it up to being a nerdy introvert. I let other things and other people make me feel awkward and sad and angry. I figure that there’s nothing I can do about it until another thing makes me feel good again.
I like being in control, but I don’t take control of being happy.
Admitting that is hard. I spent more than 20 years teaching myself that being happy was something that happened to you. I obsessed over details, reacted to what other people did, and hoped that happy would happen to me. I did it to protect myself from how scared I was to take full responsibility for being happy.
Taking that responsibility is terrifying because you lose the chance to hide. You know that you just want to be happy before you die, and everyone around you can tell how happy you really are. It’s the one thing everyone is pretty good at seeing how much of it you have. You can’t hide behind a book, a promotion, a new jacket or a windshield anymore.
Pretending like you can’t control how happy you are is so much easier than that. You could focus on your to-do list and have fun checking things off. You could do what you’re told with people you know. You could throw up your hands and cry with them when all your work didn’t get you what you wanted.
But if you choose to take control of being happy, other things don’t determine it; they become choices. You choose to accept, remove, or change everything in your life. You won’t be able to control exactly what will happen to you, but you can always control how you respond.
No matter what happens, you will choose to feel the way you want to feel before you die. Nothing will control you. Nothing will hurt you. You alone are responsible, and you are invincible.
“You’re not a very good beginner.”
My mom said that to me a couple months ago. It scared the shit out of me because I knew she was right.
I’ve never been a good beginner. I’ve always thought about it like a test. I’d prepare myself to test out this big exciting new thing and hope that good things would suddenly happen to me when I did. That’s how I’d know if I was onto something. If good things happened, I’d keep doing it. If they didn’t, I’d get embarrassed and stop doing it. It’s black or white. Pass or fail. Conditional and clear and safe.
Thinking about it like a test made me awful at beginning anything important. I was so bad at getting to know new people in college that my best friends still make fun of me for “not existing” for most of our freshman year. They had to pull me out of my room and make me hang out with them. Thank God they did. When nothing really good happened after meeting them in awkward freshmen activities, I just gave up. I figured I had to find other people one day that I immediately really liked (if that’s even possible) before I could have great new friends.
The same thing happened when I moved out to Palo Alto after graduating. I almost got fired from my first job because I couldn’t deal with screwing up. I did the same thing when we were starting StartupDigest. When I tried anything and got it wrong, I would just shut down. I only let myself trust what other people had told me I was good at since I was really young, which was limited basically to average copywriting.
I sucked at beginning anything that would help me grow up and make me happier for the long term, and I blamed it on everyone else. I told myself that I had just met the wrong people or tried the wrong things, but I was wrong. I was the problem. And that’s scared the shit out of me.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t think of beginning something like it’s test. You can’t just throw yourself into new thing after new thing and just hope you get a sign one day that you should keep doing one of them.
Beginning is a process, and it takes a lot of practice to figure out what really works for you. You can’t control the outcome of what you begin, but you can control the process to make sure that, no matter what, it makes you happier.
Here are a few steps that have helped me start to become a better beginner:
Write down why you’re going to try it. I keep this in Evernote so when I get stuck and angry and wonder why the hell I’m doing this, the answer is right there.
Make the first step as small and as easy as possible. For example, if you want to start a blog or to start building a prototype, just open the software you need to use to do it. You can even tell yourself you’re just going to open it and not do anything else. A tiny step like this will make it a lot easier for you to get to step 2. And 3. And so on.
Do it every day. I like trying to do it around the same time too. This just helps make doing the new thing even easier, and it compounds over time.
Be on your own team. Catch yourself hating on you when you screw up. It’s pointless.
Measure your progress. You have to try different units of measure and time to see what works for you. If you want to start a blog, maybe it’s 3 posts per week. If you’re trying to build software, maybe it’s talking to 2 potential customers per day. You won’t be right the first time, but you’ll figure it out. You won’t feel good about doing something new until you can tell you’re getting somewhere.
Challenge yourself. This does *not* mean work harder. If you’re not in the mood to do it, don’t make yourself do it. When you do want to do it, cut to the core of what you’re really trying to do, why you care about it, and how it can be better.
Stop reading news. Professional writers get paid to tell you what you want to hear so you’ll keep coming back. You want to hear a packaged story that someone finally found the right person and tried the right thing and suddenly they are happy and fulfilled and successful and perfect. Anyone who has ever made those headlines will tell you that’s not how it really happened.
Beginning is a process, not a test. You control the process and decide how easy it is, how long it lasts, and how fun it will be. You can call it life in permanent beta. The more you practice being a good beginner, the better you will be at making the things that will make you happier for the rest of your life.