“Your life is so much more exciting than mine,” he said after our weekly coffee meet-up. My friend Brad caught me up about the boring corporate functions that are sucking up his life. Then I shared my latest exploits: getting paid $800 an hour to write Fitbit articles, writing to change the future of my city—stuff like that.
“I’ll just live vicariously through you for a while,” Brad sighed.
I laughed. But after we parted, I felt like crying for the guy. He’s bright, college-educated, lives well; he could do anything he wanted. But he’s stuck at a dead-end corporate job and jealous of a 27 year-old college dropout who lived with his parents just the year before.
How I’ve made an exciting life
I’ve struggled and starved to get where I am, sure, and I’m just starting to break through. But the freedom I’ve earned is the envy of professionals who earn 10x what I do. I write for whomever I want. I choose my topics. I name my price. I set my schedule. And I go to work without a shirt—pants are optional.
I’m free. But the freedom comes at a cost.
I’m more disciplined than the Navy-effing-SEALS. I have to be. If I don’t refine my craft and separate myself from the billion other writers on the planet, I don’t have food on my table, and I don’t get to have fun. I’ve been there.
If I decide not to show up to work, I don’t have sick leave or compensation packages. I have to work hard enough and consistent enough to compensate for the securities of a cushy corporate job. But I wouldn’t trade the lifestyle for anything.
I spend my days doing nothing but what I want (I’ve learned to want things that are good for me). I get to take care of my body and pencil in fun things that inspire my best work, like volleyball and hiking in the mountains. Better than anything, I get to set my own milestones: which site I get published on, how much I earn, the number of people my work reaches, and exactly how that work inspires people to live better.
My life is custom made.
It’s not for the faint of heart. The excitement is exciting when it’s exciting, and then it’s insecurity. And waiting. And wondering what the hell you got yourself into, and where your next meal will come from. And then the results come, and people say, “Hey, you live an exciting life. I wish I had that.”
Spectators don’t see all the gritty details of life in the arena, and if they did, maybe they’d look away. Or maybe they’d say, “I can do that. I’m going to live my own damn life if it kills me.”
That’s what I did.
Most people reject the idea as fantasy. But here’s a reality check: how many people are laid off every day from their supposedly secure jobs? How many people get fucked out of the retirements they slaved decades for and counted on like the next sunrise?
The corporate fantasy is crushed again and again, every single day, for individuals and families all around the world—even in your city. And when that dream ends, people realize they wasted half of their waking hours doing stuff they hated for someone they didn’t care about while real life passed them by.
That’s why I’m glad I suffered for the life I actually want to live. I ate a 15 lb. bag of CostCo rice for 3 months; salt and pepper seemed like a luxury. I sprouted a gray hair on my right temple when I prayed for miracles to pay my rent. (Discipline and consistent action make miracles an everyday occurence.)
On my path of entrepreneurship, I was starved and stressed until I figured out the lessons I needed to live the life I want. And when I reached the other side, I came out fit to fight. I came out a success.
Now if a good client dries up, I’ve got 5 others in the bag. I create my own security by knowing what I need and working my butt off until those needs are met. Then I work some more. But I don’t mind it, because I’m in love with what I do.
I’d go through every ounce of pain twice again to be free.
And I get perks. I command respect from my friends when I inspire them to do something beautiful with their lives. I go to bed knowing that my work not only paid the bills, but also made a difference to the people I want to help. And since my entire career is a gigantic DIY project, there is always some improvement I can make that will make life better for me, for the people I serve, and for my friends and family.
But the biggest benefit is that I get paid to do things I’d gladly do for free. A cashier asked me why I had such a big smile today, and that’s what I told her. “I get paid to do what I love.”
When will you? When will you start your adventure? When will you start living your own life?
I recommend living life now. There’s never a convenient time to do anything, and you’ll never have all the information you think you need to decide. Figure out what you can, then go for it. Back yourself up with some life-changing success rituals. Surround yourself with positive and inspiring people. Be consistent.