Get Your Stuff Together. This is a guide for millennial misfits. A guide for any misfit really.
I am not here to tell you how to make money online. There are countless guides out there, written by more qualified authors. I’ve even written countless blog posts about it. Making money online shouldn’t start with research about making money online. Teachers who show you how to make money online are likely hiding behind numerous business failures. Most may have never made any money.
I have over twelve failed online and offline businesses under my belt (just a side note). Some have become profitable.
Instead I’m going to give you a poignant action guide to navigate life. Because if you’re like me, you’re young, lost, lazy, you don’t know which way to go and you’re a stereotypical millennial who checks off all of those traits. I wanted to write something that I couldn’t find. A quick guide that feels like a wake-up call. Plus there’s no better feeling than the opportunity to help lost people when you yourself are lost.
In no chronological order whatsoever, here is a bit of a background about me. I used to be in corporate marketing. I loved the creative parts of my job. I disliked the structure of the 9-to-5 and bosses. I left that world voluntarily.
I always had the entrepreneurial bug. In my late teens I started a textbook reselling business. I was selling books out of my backpack next to the bookstore. It helped pay for a semester of school, but it felt really sketchy. I stopped doing it.
It’s one of twelve ideas that I’ve experimented with since. I am scrappy when it comes to entrepreneurship. I’m quick to start things and quicker to close them down if I don’t get my way. INTJ personality trait tendencies 🙂
I’ve written and illustrated 50 children’s books. Then I realized I don’t 100% like hanging out with kids and probably wouldn’t do well with this long-term. There are better children’s writers out there. Plus the idea of going to schools hovering with screaming kids just doesn’t sound like the best feeling in the world right now.
I’ll table this as a hobby.
I’m getting into some stream of consciousness writing now. If you think as much as I do, your mind might be swirling with thoughts and questions. What should I do with my life? Where am I going? One minute I’m doing a YouTube channel with funny videos for grown-ups, the next I’m narrating books for kids.
I have all these things I want to try, all written out on spreadsheets within spreadsheets, but where do I start? Ah yes, the ruminating mind.
Figuring this out is exactly why a guide should be made. This might be more for me than it is for you though.
I know. I’m extremely narcissistic.
Life coaches (and I’ve visited several of these) will say you need to take a good hard look at yourself and figure stuff out for the next five years of your life. You will need to strategize and strategize. You will need to set sail in one direction.
For someone like me, one direction is not an option. Sorry Harry Styles.
It might not be for you either.
So how do we get your stuff together?
Let’s look at some simple scenarios that might fit your situation.
Scenario #1: The Rock-Bottomers.
Let’s assume you are at rock-bottom right now. Cool, this makes things easier, because you only have one option: make money by any means necessary.
Let’s also assume you are unemployable and have no references to recommend you. Supercool. It’s even simpler then.
Go on Craigslist and answer calls for help. Someone needs a social media person? You probably know a thing or two. Go on the employer’s profiles and see what suggestions you can give. Don’t tell me you’ve never used Facebook before – chances are you’re an expert at something like this.
This is what I did, and within a week I had a client, coaching them about Facebook and business.
As an experiment, I tried this rock-bottom approach in an industry I knew nothing about: law.
I sat down and reached out to just ten lawyers on the Craigslist services page. Five of them responded back. 50% response rate? I’ll take that conversion all day long. All year long.
And I put in less than an hour of effort. All I did was give 3-5 helpful suggestions to each lawyer. I checked out their website and offered actionable suggestions for improvement, without any expectation of a job.
I bet you can look at a website and tell someone what needs fixing.
One lawyer was interested in hiring me for website services, having no clue who I was.
Helping others just works.
Stop thinking about getting the job. Start thinking how you can help others.
Making money is actually about not making money. It’s about giving as much as possible to become trusted. Then people will insist on paying you anything.
Try the lawyer experiment if you are at rock-bottom. There really are no excuses. You can do this today, even if you are homeless. Head to the local library, hop on a computer and reach out to ten lawyers. Or accountants. Or dentists. It doesn’t really matter. Just focus on being helpful to these people.
No one cares if you don’t have a job or track record. They care if you can help them solve a problem. Become a problem-solver. The more problems you solve, the more you will be rewarded. The logic can’t get any more simple than that.
Scenario #2: The Cruisers.
If you are like me and you’re doing just fine, getting by, that’s a worse feeling than rock-bottom. That’s called cruising. Yuck.
You are just comfortable enough that the fireplace hasn’t exploded under your bum. You can cruise along and not really put in the effort. You can be lazy without immediate consequence. Rock-bottomers don’t have that luxury. The fireplace already exploded on them, and now they’re busy, determined to put out the fires.
The Cruisers have to work harder to escape the inevitable disasters that await them. The natural gas is leaking into their place, the vision is cloudy and they can’t see where they’re going. When the explosion does happen, there won’t be anything left to put out.
The Cruiser needs to strategize, but quickly and resolutely. No dancing around, breathing in the natural gases. They have three areas to resolve, and it’s three areas I look at every day:
Let’s go through an assessment of all three. Grab a blank sheet of paper and make three columns with the above areas labeled at the top, i.e., column 1 is passion, column 2 is competency…you catch my drift.
Do you care about something? Great, write it down. Keep writing out the things you are passionate about right now. Fill that column with scribbles. I know this sounds lovey-dovey and very life-coach oriented, but it’s the start of where you can get your stuff together. I’m just sharing with you a simple exercise that helps me when I’m lost (which happens often).
What are your skills? What do you have knowledge in? Write these down in the next column. Brag about your intelligence here, don’t be bashful.
What problems does the world have? What problems do you see around you? What does the world want and value? This is looking at external demands and seeing what stands out to you. Fill out that third column.
Now let’s circle 1-3 lines from each column. Circle what stands out to you. Circle what gets you excited.
If you’re lucky, you will have a trend across all three columns. Or you might have two matches. At the very least, you should find two connections to work with. If you can get three, this is what you should consider working on.
Here is an example that I wrote out for you:
Where am I credible/competent?
Lonely kids (I was lonely, still am)
Millennials (I’m going through the struggle)
Men (I’m transforming myself)
Businesses (started and worked in them)
Authors/creators (I created a lot of works)
Hoarders (I’m a minimalist)
Obese people (I’m active, skinny)
Be flexible with how you write it out. What matters is the end-result. Find the activity where passion, competency and market align. Get focused on it. This is the activity that will help you get your stuff together.
That is the activity you can eventually monetize and go full throttle towards. Cruising can’t last forever, and it’s time to be proactive. Work towards something that is meaningful. Become responsible for it.
Heaven vs. Hell.
Although I am not religious, acknowledging what Heaven looks like compared to Hell will help you work towards that meaningful thing. Psychology professor Jordan Peterson has encouraged his clients to map this out as an exercise.
As an example, I jotted down some of my thoughts here:
You are aimless.
You are single and lonely.
You eat junk food daily.
You half-ass everything.
Your children’s books aren’t amazing.
You do boring comedy.
You are addicted to checking social media.
You are suicidal.
You lead an average life.
You have a single aim and do it well.
You have an amazing girlfriend + wife to be.
You eat well often.
You do your absolute best.
You create masterpieces.
You’re excited by your pursuits.
You lead an inspirational life.
…You can do a mind map if you are a more visual person as well.
This exercise gives you something to run away from (Hell) and something to run towards (Heaven).
Are you starting to get your stuff together? Great. Let’s go to the next activity.
I am an extreme minimalist. I like to get rid of stuff daily. This keeps me organized. What can you cleanse from your life to free up your mind?
Some of the examples in the Hell column can be helpful to start. If you can capture quick wins by removing some of those things from your life, start there.
Eliminate the excess. That includes a digital cleanse. Maybe you need to get away from negative comments on social media. Deactivate notifications from there. I deleted my Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Quora accounts. I just didn’t see the need to be on all of these platforms.
One day I made a simple checklist of what I wanted to delete and went for it. Here was my simple list:
…The x means I deleted it. The feeling is so amazing once you do. (—) means I’m waiting for the item to be deleted. “Blank” means I’m on the fence. Facebook is a tough one because I need to connect with some friends and colleagues there, so I started with removing myself from all Facebook Groups. Any reduction will feel good for you, big or small.
What else can you reduce? Maybe it’s junk food or oversleeping. Reflect on your bad habits to figure this out.
Look at your calendar next. You can’t get your stuff together if your calendar is full of trivial activities. Start cutting things out of the schedule to reduce your stress and anxiety.
Use that free time to be more creative. Chances are, you will need to be if you’re trying to put your life in order.
What else can you cleanse? Bad relationships? Bad jobs? Bad people? Be strict about who you let in to your life.
The Cleanse is my favorite part. It’s so refreshing to enjoy time and space, stress-free. With that being said, it’s time to design an outlook that we can be proud of, with meaningful goals.
You now have some momentum and it’s time to set goals. Not the five-year stuff. We’re talking the next six months, maximum. Month-to-month works too. What do you want to achieve? Set SMART goals and stick to them (you know, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely).
You only need 1-3 goals to keep you on track. Don’t feel obligated to add more goals. Warren Buffett only focuses on five goals at a time. Any more and you begin to lose focus.
I don’t want to get into goal-setting too much because it’s so critical that you should already know this is important for your life. Write your goals down and get after them, as Navy SEAL Jocko Willink always says.
Don’t label your venture. Don’t plan like it’s a 20-year process. Learn from trying. Experiment and fail often. You will eventually succeed.
I see many people who register for a business, set up their website, spend thousands on design and beauty, only to close down shop months later (I was one of these people). Getting your stuff together is about execution, not overplanning. You need momentum, not inertia. Don’t spend money until money comes in. Money comes in from experimentation and execution.
Are you ready to tackle your stuff? Are you ready to put your life in order? It’s scary. It’s not going to be perfect. But you will feel better for sitting down and trying. Otherwise you will cruise to disaster. You will stay a disaster.
That has a negative effect on all of the people around you. Don’t be that negative effect. Get your stuff together.