You want a nice car. You want a nice house. You want lots of money so you can do everything you want. I get it. But those things aren’t going to make you successful.
It’s like Jim Carey said: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
There are millions of people who have everything money can buy and they’re still miserable. Then there are those who have it all on less than a dollar per day. What’s the difference?
It’s not what you have; it’s what you give. Success is a giving thing, and I figured it out the hard way.
My giving story
From the first time I watched porn, I was hooked on take. No matter how much I had, I always wanted more. So I took. And when porn wasn’t enough I stole. And when stealing wasn’t enough I turned to drugs. And when that was too tame, I looked for relationships. Then I could take, take, take until there was nothing left.
But the taking made me feel empty. So I tried to fill myself with more: more videogames, more drugs, more girlfriends, more porn…but the hole only got bigger.
By 23, I burned through three live-in girlfriends, 10 menial jobs, 2,000 packs of cigarettes, and all of my friends. After all that taking, I was left with nothing—not even my health.
Fortunately my family took me in. With nothing but time to reflect, I realized that if I wanted more, I had to start giving more. But what did I have to give? I was a 23 year-old homebody who was crippled by anxiety, beaten down by depression, chronically ill, and filled with fear. Who could I possibly help?
It turned out to be more than I could imagine.
4 years later, I make a buck and up a word doing the work I love. I’ve gained my independence. I’ve struggled for a good life. But, more than anything, I’ve given more than I’ve received.
How I started giving
I always wanted to be a writer. Since all of my relationships were fiascos, I figured I could at least give advice on what not to do. I didn’t want anyone to experience the heartache and insanity that I had gone through.
When I wrote, it was to heal broken hearts, and to inspire people to think before they jumped into a relationship. That was the first time I ever felt purpose. And that purpose got me published.
It was only small audiences at first, but I got feedback from people who could relate. “Thank you,” they said. “I needed to hear that.” Those first bits of feedback confirmed that giving was rewarding, so I continued my writing journey. As I got better, I strived to help more people find happiness in their relationships.
Switching over to a life of giving wasn’t easy—I had been a thief and sex addict.
I stumbled over my selfishness for months and months, and there were times when I was sure I’d never be anything, that I didn’t have anything to give in the first place. But selfishness hadn’t worked out for me, so I had to try something different.
I knew if I kept focused, and if I gave more every day, I’d eventually have everything I wanted. Like independence. And wealth. And a life I could be proud of. I just had to keep at it.
What I gave up to give more
Part of my giving journey was cutting out selfish habits. Porn was one of the first things to go, then masturbation. None of those things inspired me to think outside of myself, or to be better than I was; they kept me locked into self-service, which was why I was a 23-year old still living with mom. I had to let ‘em go.
I also had to let go of my laziness and negative thinking. Rising above those habits was like freeing myself from a mental prison—I suddenly had more energy and more inspiration to create value. So I wrote more, and I wrote better.
Then I got more positive feedback from my audience. Then I was published on bigger sites. Then I felt more confident about who I was and what I was doing, and that confidence helped me take bigger risks, to expect more of myself, and to give more to more people. I started a positive feedback loop that took me higher ever day.
After my first giving year, I was a completely different person. I no longer felt drawn to people for what they could give me. For the first time in my life, I was pumped to share the good I was doing.
I gave, then created, then gave, and created, and I didn’t care what I got because I knew I was doing something useful, something that I loved, something I could be proud of. And that’s exactly when the money started coming in.
What I got by giving
I didn’t realize that in all of this giving I was receiving too. I earned discipline, confidence, commitment, patience, perseverance, responsibility, honesty, vulnerability, and everything I needed to succeed. And succeed I did.
All of my published work earned me full time writing jobs with major websites. I still lived with my parents, but I was able to save enough money in 4 months to move out on my own. And when I took the leap, I had faith to back me up. I knew God wouldn’t let me fail because I was giving everything I had to make life better for others.
But it wasn’t a cakewalk.
I scraped the bottom of the barrel for half a year and went through more hunger and uncertainty than I’d ever faced before. I ate more white rice than But when rent was due, I always had the money.
As I struggled to succeed, I had more value to share with people just like me who were trying to make it on their own. I wrote on an empty stomach more times than I can count, but my heart was full; I was giving everything I had.
After the first 6 months I finally made my break. I got published on Entrepreneur.com, which gave me access to a larger audience—more people to help. I gave that audience everything I had, and I wrote the best articles of my life. My performance didn’t go unnoticed.
Fitbit, the largest wellness company in the world, hired me as their wellness writer for a buck a word. A buck a word—that, if, and, the, but: that’s 5 bucks! Just the year before I was sleeping on my mom’s couch and arguing with my little sisters about who would pick up dog shit. Now I was writing for the best sites in the world and making more money than most writers do in their entire lives.
After more dollar-per-word contracts, and half a year of writing just for millennials like me, I decided to take my giving to the next level. I created a website where I could give every struggling millennial the directives they need to love life and be rich.
Giving has given me everything that I love: my career, my independence, my passion, my purpose. And the best part is, I’m not afraid to lose any of it. I know that the more I give, the more I receive, and the more I can serve. What could be better?
If you’re want more out of life, whether you’re at a dead end corporate job or living with your ‘rents, I want you to think about what you could give. What talents, experiences, and passions do you have that could make life better for others? What could you devote your life to in order to help more people? And what could you give up in order to give more?
Don’t sell yourself short.
I’m successful at 27, but 2 short years ago I was broke and hopeless, living on my mom’s couch, feeling like I had nothing to give. You always have something to give. You just have to believe that you’re the one to give it.
If you want to give more, do (or don’t do) these 5 things every day:
Journal—writing every detail of your day helps you discover what makes you valuable, and what detracts from your value. So get to know yourself with 15 minutes of nightly journaling. Self-knowledge is your gateway to giving.
Porn—give it up. Replace it with useful things like journaling, reading, meditating, exercising, and anything that gives you more discipline and self-control.
Relationships—give them up too. Focus on you, on giving yourself everything you need to give selflessly. Resume relationships when you’re rich from all the people you’ve helped. Then you’ll be able to love someone for who they are, not for the insecurities you’re trying to fill.
*Channel all your sexual desire into self-improvement. It worked for me. Not only did I not go crazy and start molesting chickens, I created a career that will handsomely support my family, when the time comes.
Plan—No matter how good your intentions are, nothing good gets done unless it’s scheduled. So plan everything. Plan your studying. Plan your working. Plan your exercise. Plan everything you want to do, and everything you don’t want to do, like wasting time on Facebook, email, TV, etc. Brainstorm what you’ll do tomorrow every night before you go to bed.
Affirmations—give yourself the things you need to step outside of yourself. Tell yourself how courageous, confident, valuable, useful, generous, capable, decisive, creative, bold, adventurous, loved, disciplined, patient, and awesome you are. You won’t believe these things until you get in the habit of telling them to yourself. Do affirmations three times a day.