In my last post on The Internet Marketing Lifestyle, I shared some of the more positive points about "living the laptop lifestyle" and having a successful business online - as well as what it takes to achieve that: WORK. 🙂
Brace yourself, because I'm going to share some BIG negatives and reveal some highly personal details...
I promised to talk about "the flip side" of it all too. Which is what I'll share with you today...
Because it's not ALL margaritas on the beach. 🙂
In the most perfect timing, I'm writing this to you on Labor Day weekend. This holiday came about because people wanted to work less and earn more, and they fought hard to make it happen - and to put a day on the calendar every year to take OFF work and celebrate this achievement...
Labor Day has also become the official marker for "the end of summer" and so it's a great time to shift with the season, and consider your career and business goals.
Those who fought hard for improvements were dealing with horrific, exhausting work conditions. They were pulling ridiculously long hours in less than ideal environments, including very little fresh air and very few breaks - and all for extremely low pay.
They paved the way for us all to enjoy better working conditions, better workplace environments, and a better lifestyle.
Wait! Does that sound familiar?!
You may feel that way when starting a business. I know I did - I sacrificed A LOT of typical lifestyle comforts to get my own business off the ground. But all in the name of creating a better career, and a better life. To achieve more freedom, work less hours, enjoy more flexibility, earn more money, and to be able to take time off to celebrate my success - anytime I please.
Starting a business is not for the weak minded or faint of heart. It's a struggle. It's a challenge...
It takes WORK and sacrifice.
The reward is not in the "success" or the achievement of the end goal.
The reward is in the PROCESS... it's in the journey along the way.
Imagine climbing the highest mountain. Ultimately you want to conquer that mountain and stand at the top in total victory!! But the only way to get there is a grueling climb, during which you gain strength and confidence.
Consider all the things you learn along the way, the achievements with each challenge you overcome, and how rewarding the victory is because of the things you achieved in the process. You arrive at the top stronger, more confident, smarter - and proud, with a strong sense of accomplishment. Sure it took a lot of time, effort, energy and maybe even a few tears and injuries along the way.
Now imagine for a second that you take a helicopter to the top of that same mountain instead. There you stand, without hunger or a single scratch on you, no sore muscles, not a single drop of sweat and no time wasted. But do you FEEL the victory?! No. Are you any more confident than you were before, or stronger in any way? No.
As you stand there beside the muddy scraped-up sweaty man that just climbed that same mountain, watching him gasp for breath while his face lights up with total elation, you realize... you missed the whole damn point.
Success happens way before you reach "the top". It's in exercising those muscles, nursing those injuries, overcoming the obstacles, achieving the mini-goals, and ultimately changing inside and out through the process.
Don't wish for the helicopter, or wish to win the lottery.
You'll miss out on everything that even defines success at all.
You'll cheat yourself out of true victory.
The Ideal Lifestyle -vs- The Perfect Life
I'm still climbing my mountain.
Actually, I'm climbing a new mountain now.
Something interesting happened to me a few years ago. I reached what I thought was the biggest achievement. It turns out, in the process of growing and changing... you realize there are bigger mountains, higher priorities, even more ambitious goals.
Actually, you just realize you're capable of more than you initially realized.
Because you BECOME more capable through that process.
It was a little less dramatic than climbing a mountain. There was no backpack, no blood, no sweat, no callouses on my hands. I just woke up one day and realized I was living the life I had always wanted.
There was also no real feeling of victory either. Not right away, at least. It was actually quite an unsettling experience. As I stood there, realizing I had become my "dream self", I said... Now what?! I felt sort of floored - and very lost.
Yes, lost. As in walking around in circles wondering what in the world to do with myself if I wasn't constantly working toward this specific goal anymore. Who am I if I'm not struggling? Who am I if I'm not working towards X goal. What do I do with myself or with my time... now? Those were the questions I asked myself...
Next came complacency. Well, first I got comfortable being comfortable (not struggling, pushing, or always being in "goal mode"). And that felt GREAT.
I enjoyed that for awhile - enjoyed the lifestyle and the successful business I had worked so hard to create for myself. But slowly, over time, complacency set in.
Complacency is EVIL.
I no longer had to push myself, I worked fewer hours, I enjoyed the money I had made and stashed away, I did less "money work" and more "free work" - because I could. The thing is... comfortable is nice, and sure - you should enjoy it for awhile, but life won't let you STAY comfortable for long.
What I should have done? Set another goal. Climb another mountain...
I'm glad I had those comfortable years though, to just STOP and ENJOY my children and my life. A lot of priceless memories were made, and countless hours spent investing in the things that really matter to me.
Yes, I'm glad I had that time - because what came next was UGLY. Life laughed in my face, as if to say: "YOU are not allowed to get too comfortable."
Totally out of the blue, literally in just a few short months, I got hit HARD. There was a huge tax bill, I was relentlessly hacked which sucked up tens of thousands of my income and cost ~10k to ultimately fix, my dog died, I got horribly sick (which lasted well over a year, and resulted in emergency surgery), I had a heartbreaking family incident, and it just went on and on. In hindsight, it's almost comical. Almost.
All of a sudden money was going out faster than it was coming in, and I was way too sick to deal with it. Things started going downhill FAST.
Fortunately... I have the resources and skills to recover from practically anything. Not because I'm smarter, and not because I'm lucky, but because I had invested so many years getting to that point in my business.
While I do have that "dream lifestyle" of making money in my sleep, or while I'm having margaritas on the beach, my life is not "perfect".
Far from it, actually... -source
That brief period, a few short years, was the first time in my entire life I had ever felt any real sense of security. I've lived one of those crazy lives where the bottom is always falling out. I was used to it. I thrived under challenges. I practically defined myself by my ability to overcome them ("The Queen of Adversity"). It's not a bad skill to have, really... because that's how I recovered when I got hit again.
Comfortable was nice, though. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way not to trust it. You shouldn't either. I can't tell you the number of times people have come to me for help when the bottom fell out on them. It always does, eventually. It's not a matter of IF, but WHEN. And you never know when that will be, so the smart thing is to always be prepared. The smart move is to invest in your security and "comfort"... while you're comfortable. Hard to do, I know - complacency is an evil thing. It's hard to push yourself HARD... when you're not "hungry".
Fear is a good motivator. Get some.
Shit happens - you better be prepared for it.
On the flip side... during the worst of times, you could still say "I had it made". Again, only because I worked HARD to make it so. Every single time the bottom fell out on me, I still had so many points of gratitude. I was grateful for the resources to pull through, grateful for the foundation I'd built that allowed me to bounce back from practically anything. Truthfully, I say that with a tiny bit of trepidation, not knowing how life will mock me next - and if I'm REALLY prepared for it.
This is why I push myself so hard. This is what motivates me. This is why I wake up every single day and do a money task, big or small, no matter how much money I have in the bank, no matter if I'm sitting beach-side on vacation.
I also take necessary downtime, and plenty of it. I ENJOY my life. I schedule in TIME to enjoy my life, even. I find this a necessary part of motivation and creative inspiration. So it's not all "working around the clock". It's about finding a balance.
Balance. Is it a myth? Maybe...
I think you have to define "balance" - and what it means to you, specifically.
I'm living a life I truly love. I get to enjoy a lot of fun things most people only dream of doing. I have it made, and I damn well know it. That's not to brag, not by any means, because I busted my ass to make it so.
I also work harder than almost anyone I know.
There's some balance for you. 😛 lol.
I push myself. HARD. Not just in business, but in all areas of life. There are five main areas, by the way. I discovered that a few years ago when I did a "happiness test" - yes, there is such a thing, lol - which I failed miserably (ack!).
Financial security (LIFE security) had been such a big issue for me for so long, that it's pretty much ALL I focused on for most of my life. I missed out on the other three major life areas that needed my attention. And not just because I was broke, hungry and afraid - but also because my lifestyle as a single parent with no extended family didn't afford me the time or luxury of tending to other things.
For most years, I had to raise my kids and feed us all - and that was my primary focus. I have no regrets there. I've raised two amazing children, who are now happy healthy independent young adults now. 🙂
Back to balance...
Everyone wants to achieve Life Balance. Does that really exist? I'm not sure. It's one of those weird, intangible words - like "happiness". Does happiness exist? Sure. I've experienced it. Happy moments, at least. In between laundry, email, errands, paying taxes, etc, etc, etc.
I personally think you should ditch words like "balance" and "happiness" and instead shoot for an overall sense of well-being. That requires an interest and active hand in five areas of your life: career, financial, social, physical, community.
Branching out into the three areas of "well being" where I was seriously lacking has made a BIG difference in my life - and in my "happiness".
I still don't get comfortable.
I learned my lesson on that. The hard way. 😛
I've had people say to me, "I wish I had your drive." I always think to myself: I wouldn't wish the reasons for my drive on anyone. LOL.
But if you really want the same level of drive and motivation that I enjoy... quit your job, give away everything you own, do without and go hungry.
Let it get so bad that you wonder how in the world you're going to feed your children, even. THEN you will find your drive. THEN you will work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, doing whatever it takes just to be able to rest easy for a few short hours.
It doesn't have to be that dramatic. I'm not hungry anymore. And when I use that word, I mean it in the most literal sense - as in, I once lost 23 pounds in 7 short weeks because I couldn't afford to feed myself and my children too.
Guess who got to eat? Right.
Anyway, I'm not her anymore. I changed my life. I changed myself. I changed my circumstances - because I was sick and tired of things being OUT of my control.
Yet I still have that same drive. Why? Because there are things I want to DO with my life. Things besides just surviving. Things I want BAD ENOUGH to still get up every single day, no matter what day it is, no matter how I feel, and push forward.
I get stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated. I get behind on things (A LOT of things). I get sick, have bad luck, bad things happen to me, life feels unfair. I have doubts, insecurities and bad days. I feel unsure a lot. I'm human. We ALL feel those things or deal with those things. It's normal.
Someone said to me recently, "you do it all so well. You seem to always have new creative ideas that work." For everything you see that is well done, or that works, you can assume (correctly) that there are at least at many things that aren't - or don't.
I keep going anyway.
If there's one thing I've learned in all of this...
It's the simple fact that the destination, or the end goal, doesn't really matter. I thought that was what life was all about: to achieve the lifestyle I wanted.
It turns out, that isn't what life is about at all. It's about achieving the goal. The journey, the process, is as much fun as the end result! Actually, from my own personal experience, the journey and process is the best part of it all. Because if you're not DOING, what are you... doing?! "Nothing" isn't much fun. Right?
If you really want something out of life, get out there and make it happen. Just do stuff. Don't let your dreams of an ideal lifestyle get in the way of actually LIVING your life - full on. Right now. Wake up, work on it, and FEEL GOOD that you did.
Don't waste your time focusing on a future you're not willing to work toward... today.
There's one other thing I've learned along the way, with this whole "internet business" thing. And that's this: There are no standards. There are no rules. There are no guidelines or blueprints, even - not that don't change year to year, anyway.
So don't worry about learning everything or knowing everything, because you can't. It's not possible. Get your feet wet and your hands dirty and just "wing it" with trial & error. The worst thing you an do is NOTHING. So just do stuff. Every day. Every week.
If things aren't happening, MAKE them happen. Whatever it takes.
I wish I could tell you there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
It turns out... riding the rainbow was the best part of it all.
I stand here before you scarred, stronger, forever changed, smiling... and ready to "hop back on the rainbow" and tackle my next mountain.
"Adhering to a daily schedule that is led by your vision and run by your priorities is the surest path to personal freedom." – Mark Ford