I recently had a reader email about limiting beliefs when working for yourself that I wanted to tackle in long-form as a blog post. I think it’ll be good to open up my answer to readers of the blog, rather than just keeping it as an email response to one reader.
I want to make money but I want it to be easy
Here’s the reader email:
I have this ideal of things being easy and me making money and i have time to just live and relax about money not being an issue.
What I’m curious about is why I seem to make it so hard for myself to get things done and just be successful.
My first thought: Because maybe that’s the way it should be?
I don’t know any successful person who didn’t work their ass off.
I used to consult with top YouTubers and Instagrammers. And I constantly read the comments…with blurbs like “Man, I wish I could create videos like you and make all that money. That shit is easy money!”
Even though it may be a 3-minute video that looks like it could’ve been made in less than an hour…there was a lot of work behind the scenes in brainstorming, planning, location scouting, shooting, editing, etc etc etc.
So instead of thinking there’s something wrong with you, maybe it’s your expectations of what it takes to be successful that’s flawed.
Maybe the amount of work you’re doing isn’t enough. Maybe you actually need to do 3 times more than you’re currently doing. And maybe you should be feeling like you’re being overworked for the next 6 months before you even see the fruits of your labor.
Because here’s the ugly truth.
If you’re not willing to grind 15 hours a day in the early stages of your video business, with the likelihood of failure, then I humbly suggest you get a job.
The struggle of working for yourself
I am intimately familiar with this exact struggle as I had to overcome it myself.
For years I thought I was going to build a simple business and spend my days chilling out and drinking beer on an island. 😆
I just want you to open your mind right up front to the idea that your current philosophy about how this is going to happen is complete and utter nonsense.
That may sting a little, but you know it is nonsense because of your lack of results and your current inner struggle surrounding working for yourself.
If you do not change your philosophy, you will spend more years and not have anything good to show for it. You will continue to feel exactly as you do now and wonder why some people make it and you cannot.
Then, you will be much older and it will be more and more difficult to force yourself to make the sacrifices and take the risks needed to get where you want to be.
As you get older, it will become more and more scary to hang it all on the line and do what it takes to make it happen.
Then, one day you will have had enough of this life of failing and disappointment and you will begin to say things like “I didn’t have the right connections” or “the system is rigged” and you will die bitter about the fact that you didn’t live up to your ambitions.
What comes first — A or B
This is serious business. I assume that is not the life path you would like to take.
I saw it play out in my uncle. I was following in the same footsteps until one day I realized what was happening and decided I will not experience the same disappointment with life.
So, you need to make a decision. What is more important?
I want to introduce you to the concept of A vs. B. This is something I’m going to come back to often in this article.
A. Living a fulfilling and meaningful life where you accomplish your ambitions, regardless of the amount of work required.
B. Your idea that you can create systems and hire people to make all of this fairly simple.
You must give up one of these and choose the other. They cannot coexist. You simply must decide what it’s going to be.
Choice A is the one I finally made after years and years of failing and disappointment.
Choosing that you will give up the idea of taking the easy road and will climb the mountain of success, no matter what, is a big hurdle. It is always very simple to fall back into complacency and ruin everything you have built.
As I made more and more money, I fell back into the mindset of option B several times and everything started falling apart.
You simply must make a lifetime commitment to option A and try your hardest never to look back.
There is a twisted secret in all of this that I will tell later. It is a grand joke that is being played on you.
Working For Yourself — A vs B Dynamics
Here is another thing about this A/B choice of philosophy. A is hard. Damn hard.
If you didn’t grow up believing in A, it can be an excruciatingly difficult path to force yourself onto. I didn’t grow up with the work ethic of A. So I had to work extra hard to groove out that path in my mind.
We have all known people who grew up with a great work ethic. It was formed at the beginning so it is etched into the hard drive from day one. It seems easy for them but it was just training that happened from the beginning.
If that work ethic isn’t etched in from the beginning, you have to force yourself to do it. All of us who chose to believe option B have the double hard task of doing the work and at the same time forming the long-term work ethic habits.
So, getting from B to A is a monumental task of difficulty. The path of A is full of guts and blood and mud until you can get to a certain level of strong work ethic habits.
As difficult as A is, here is another secret: B is much harder if you try to start there. A always, always, always comes before B.
It may seem, when working for yourself, that option B would be easier, but it is not. Because B is the path to failure. And success is much, much, much easier than failure.
Success is the good life. Failure is poverty. Failure is sickness. No matter how difficult a path A may seem, the path to failure is much worse in terms of mental and physical pain.
People complain about how hard it is to get to the gym, but I promise you heart disease is much more difficult than keeping your heart in shape.
A ruined back is much more difficult than keeping it strong.
Being fat with a bad knee is much more difficult than eating good food and taking care of yourself.
COPD or cancer are much more difficult than quitting smoking.
Is working for yourself hard or easy?
This decision is another brick in the wall that keeps you from succeeding.
You believe work is hard and not very fun. So, you think you want to build a business that avoids as much work as possible.
As long as you hold the belief that work is hard, you will never, ever be able to accomplish what you want.
So change it. Work is easy. Work is fun. Accomplishing things has nothing to do with buying stuff or how much money.
The joy of accomplishment actually comes from the reward of getting lots of things accomplished! Work is the source of joy! The result is not the source of joy, the work is the source of joy.
If you could magically teleport to the top of Mt. Everest, there would be no accomplishment in actually doing what it takes to get there. Everyone could go look around and it wouldn’t seem that much different than many other high mountains. Or even shopping malls!
Standing on the top of Everest is absolutely meaningless if you can just teleport there. It is the difficulty of the climb that gives meaning to standing on top of Everest.
The work is the reward. And until you begin to see work as a fun and exciting challenge, you will never be able to beat that challenge and feel the rush of achievement.
Work is easier than lazy. 100% of the time.
Working hard is easier than seeking shortcuts. Seeking shortcuts is the most difficult path you could take.
So how do you make this happen?
Conflict. The crash of your work vs. the walls in your mind.
That is the answer.
Every time we try to do something, we are playing inside of the mental rules we have in our minds about how that thing should be done. Some rules are good and useful, some are not and must be overcome.
You have ideas that are keeping you from success. This is 100% true because 10 years is long enough to get rich 10 times if you are playing by the right rules.
The only way to overcome faulty rules is by first realizing they are faulty. You do this by smashing into them over and over.
Once you realize they are incorrect, you smash into that wall with great force of will until you knock it down.
This will lead to a great leap forward for you.
After you knock down this wall of an incorrect belief which was keeping you constrained, you will discover that you are now contained within another wall of an incorrect and limiting belief.
You beat this one the same way you beat the last one. You smash into it repeatedly until you realize it is wrong and then you break it down with great force of will.
Along your path to climb Everest, there are many such walls of incorrect beliefs and perceptions that are trying to keep you from getting there.
In your search for a shortcut, you are continually going in circles rather than just breaking through and getting there.
You are only breaking down your walls very slowly, one at a time.
Speed and repetition
The answer is speed and repetition.
Once you actually start working hard, you can gain some speed and momentum and keep smashing through the walls faster.
Hard and fast work will smash you up against the next wall more often. Therefore, you will discover that belief is incorrect in just a few weeks rather than a few years.
This part of my metaphor could use more development, but hopefully you can see what I am trying to communicate.
The amount of work you do will determine how many times per day you smash up against these incorrect beliefs about how success happens.
- Working little = it takes a year to figure out your philosophy was wrong in some area.
- Working a lot = it takes a month to figure out your philosophy was wrong in some area.
- Working your ass off = it takes a week to figure out your philosophy was wrong in some area.
There are a lot of walls to smash on the road to success. There are many mental barriers to overcome along the path.
The path to the top of Everest is full of obstacles and the dead bodies of those who were not able to overcome them.
Your decision to choose philosophy A instead of philosophy B will allow you to gain momentum and break through the mental barriers much faster and much more often, thereby getting closer to your destination in a much shorter time.
For another metaphor: imagine an ancient castle under attack by an outside army. They have 100 men with a battering ram hitting the door.
If they slam the ram into the door once per hour, it will take a long time to break through. If they swing it once per minute, they will get in much faster.
You can see that by taking the easy way and relaxing between swings, they will never get inside. It is much faster and easier to make the hit as hard and fast as possible.
So, you simply must work harder. Your current philosophy is wrong. You must stop looking for an easy business. It doesn’t exist. Not for you at least.
That is the great secret joke I mentioned earlier.
Option B will work. Just not for you. Not until you break down enough walls.
You have the right idea about how it will feel at the top. You are just not in any place to do it.
It is the carrot dangling on a string and is just outside your reach. You have the ambition, you just do not yet have the talent, and so you will continue to fail as long as you pursue option B.
The systems and the good life are for people who have the correct philosophy about work. But you do not so no matter how hard you try, your systems will fail you.
They will fail you because they will be built on incorrect assumptions and low-level work.
Imagine seeing the astronaut in space and thinking you want to be there too. So, you start building a slingshot to get yourself there.
But a slingshot will never work. You need to build a rocket.
But you don’t know about that so you keep trying to build better and better slingshots and all that happens is you throw yourself through the air and experience a painful crash into the dirt.
Option B is floating around in space. That is for astronauts. You are not yet there.
Option A is for slingshot builders. That is you. You are where you are. If you only build one failed slingshot per year, you will never learn enough to build the rocket and fly into space. You simply must fail faster.
You simply must work harder. You simply must banish the notion of easy.
You must decide. Is spending time with your girlfriend more important than the work you must do? Is your entertainment and relaxing time more important than learning to build your rocket?
Only you can decide this.
But one thing is abundantly clear: your philosophy is all wrong and is closing you in. Your philosophy is full of walls on the path to Everest.
You need to be breaking down those walls of incorrect assumptions and that is damn hard work.
Your idea of building an easy business is killing you. Easy comes later.
Forget the systems. Find a way to add value to others and do it as much as possible. Do it manually.
Stopping to build systems (shortcuts) is ruining your efforts. Only build a system after you have something that is proven to work.
This is all in your head. You are doing it wrong. You are trying for B when A must come first.
I hope you found this post on working for yourself and some of the pitfalls helpful. Please take the time to share this post using the share buttons below. And also feel free to drop a comment in the comment section just below this post.