What Do You Want To Work On FOREVER?
Reader Al asked a question about niche sites. I’ll address those fully on Saturday.
His reply is quite interesting though and it’s something a lot of people I speak to face:
Let’s pull his comment apart though because there are some good issues:
- Picking something that can achieve your life goals (Important)
- Working on the best way to get you there (Ecommerce, a career, etc.)
- Doing stuff you don’t care about
- Finding something you’re passionate about for years
- Should you concentrate on the Big 3?
- What to hang your hat on when you’re not sure
These are all questions and thoughts that a lot of folks will have. I’ll answer them in this article and you can herald me as the Millennial Guru™.
Let’s talk about the fix for each of these things.
(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.
Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)
How To Pick Something That Achieves Your Wider Goals For Life
Too many people fall afoul of the weird “Do what you love!” meme. They think that they should try being a starving artist because they like painting.
Here’s a reality check: Your first consideration for picking a career is whether it’ll give you a life you’re comfortable with. Bonus points for if that lifestyle you envision is a long-term one.
I sound like a boring old man, but if you want kids and a roof over your head that you actually own, then those considerations aren’t something you can say, “I’m going travelling for five years to find myself, then I’ll work it out!” to.
Well, you can take that approach, but it’s not the best long term play.
I don’t know what your long-term goals are, but I do know the best way to get to them.
Always think about the skills you acquire and the ways in which they can make you more valuable.
Taking the skills first approach is the best way. Concentrate on skills that multiply the value of other people or businesses.
I concentrated on copywriting and online business stuff because it’s a growth market and the skills I pick up are valuable to everyone involved in that market.
If you can master PPC advertising, you increase everyone’s income. In turn, they’ll pay whatever they have to because it’s a positive investment.
The actual skill doesn’t matter. The point is you look for skills which add value. I know plenty of people who’ve started in manual trades who have that same power. They have one skill, be it carpentry or bricklaying, but that skill can be used in a variety of contexts to make people richer.
Some of those people now own multiple real estate properties they have revamped and are now profitable.
You build one skill. Then you say, “What adds value to the skill I have?”
Think not about any given job or idea. Think about it in the wider context of skill. You learn how to build a website. Even if that website makes £0, you’ve got the skill. Next time, you try building an e-commerce store. You know how to build a website, but now you want to learn Facebook Ads.
Then you have two skills that are valuable on their own. Together, they’re worth more.
This could be bricklaying and plumbing. Or writing advert jingles and teaching piano.
You build multiple skills which feed into each other.
This can be something you enjoy – like art – but unlike “sacrificing yourself for art’s sake” you’re building a skill set which will pay your rent.
At twenty this is boring. At fifty it’ll bring you more joy than you can imagine.
To summarise this section: Think about the lifestyle you’ll need, and work out the skills that you can gain to get you there.
The Best Way To Get You There
Let’s say you’ve done the above and you want a certain lifestyle and are interested in a certain field.
We’ll also assume it’s online business related because it probably is if you’re on this site.
That said… I’m not going to be one of those guys who says, “Working for someone else is evil! Live your dream life! Go be a travel blogger and forget the 9-5 peasants!”
In a lot of cases, people would be better off getting jobs. For instance, if you want to be a high-flying investment banker, you’re not going to blag your way into that career by writing a blog and living in digital-nomadsville. You need to go and intern, get work, get connections and work your way up.
But let’s say you are into the decentralised internet business thing.
What should you do?
You can have a website… build niche websites or become an authority. Maybe start an ecommerce store or a digital agency.
This question is largely moot but also dependent on a ton of things:
- What is your temperament and personality?
- General skills you’ve been building?
- Risk tolerance?
- Time/social/other commitments?
- Wider goals?
These things all influence the vehicle you choose.
For instance, you might be an introverted, overly analytical twenty-five year old, single software engineer who has plenty of money but only a couple of hours a week to work on a business in your spare time.
You’ll have vastly different requirements to the 40 year old stay-at-home mum who has plenty of free time but really needs to get a second income to support her husband, who hates being alone and staring at a computer screen for hours a day.
The vehicle doesn’t matter as much as how the vehicle relates to the skills you have.
Doing Stuff You Don’t Care About
There are two facets to this part:
- Picking something at odds with your overall personality as a career choice is stupid
- You’re going to have to do stuff you don’t like
Let’s take one of our examples above. The introvert software engineer.
For the first point; picking a career/business they’ll hate.
Our software guy might realise that being an Instagram influencer is a great way to make money. He sees bimbos and action-men looking guys just posting photos and thinks, “That’s the easy life and I’m a smart guy who knows the internet… that’s for me!”
That doesn’t play to any of his strengths, he won’t succeed and he’ll be miserable.
It’d be more lucrative for him to take his software engineering skills, start offering some Software-as-a-Service app and retain his introversion whilst making money.
On the latter point though – he might get fed up. After all, running a software business isn’t glamourous and he hates answering customer support emails.
Suck it up.
Any business will have stuff you don’t want to do. It’s the same with a dream career or anything other than being born with a silver spoon.
You run your own restaurant, sometimes you have to clean the toilets or scrub the floors. You run a super-successful YouTube channel and you have to deal with trolls.
Whatever the business, there are drawbacks and you must be prepared for them. Whatever you choose, there’ll be days where you struggle. The struggle is all part of it.
Find Something You’re Passionate About For Years
The struggle is all part of it, so the bigger picture has to be something you align with.
How do you find that out?
Simple answer… you don’t.
People who know what they want to do early in life and who have that same singular passion carry them through the decades are very rare. Most people don’t know what they want to do. Moreover, people’s passions change.
If you’re a 25 year old guy, you probably care about hot girls, fast cars and having big muscles.
If you’re a twenty year old girl, you probably care about shoes, unicorns and making sure everything is as happy as a Care Bears episode.
With either of those things, you aren’t going to listen to anyone saying, “You’ll change” but you probably will.
You might think that Brazilian JiuJitsu is the best thing in life or that saving pandas from extinction is where you want to hang your hat.
You might be bored of that theme in ten years or have moved on to something else.
Your passions will change. Your outlooks and priorities will change.
So what do you find passion in that will translate over the course of years?
The best thing I can suggest is:
Think about your personality and your core elements and ideals. Think about the permanent things you care about most- in most cases, that’ll be your family, your reputation and your agency in the world.
This is all you have to do. Each project you take on increases your agency, makes things better for your family or otherwise helps you out.
If that’s learning BJJ now, it doesn’t matter if in five years’ time it’s something else. Your mission is a better life for you and those around you. The meta-project is important but obvious.
Should You Concentrate On The Big 3?
The big three in business are health, wealth and relationships.
A lot of advice tends to say, “Concentrate on the big three because that’s where the money is!”
The money is in those big three. Sort of.
All the money in the world isn’t going to make the slightest difference if you think, “Right… I’m going to concentrate on the big three by making a fitness blog! Or, “I want a career in dating advice… so here’s my Pick-Up guide!”
The big three are powerful motivators that you can use in any business.
In most cases, you’d be better off selling stationary to eight-figure businesses than you would an online “Be a brilliant blogger” course. Both are in the wealth category, one fills a need and has an unlimited supply of customers with money.
In most cases, you’d be better off selling yoga pants to fitness girls rather than be the next Instagram bodybuilding sensation.
And in most cases, you’re better off selling custom rose pendants to boyfriends as last minute Valentine’s gifts than you would be writing a pick-up guide.
Look at your skills, build a business around those skills and then use the Big 3 (and all the other parts of social needs and wants) to influence your marketing direction.
What To Do If You Have No Clue?
What should you do if all of this has hurt your brain and you’re still no closer to knowing what to do with your life?
Build the skills. Build a little burner website that just journals what you’re learning and why. Forget about brand, forget about having a specific them and forget about being an internet sensation.
See what happens when you try one thing. See what happens when you try another.
Go on forums and ask people what they think of your projects and how you can learn more stuff.
Because you’ve let go of the “need to be a success right away” idea, it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes or you have a weird blog that talks about random stuff.
“How I learned to play Stairway To Heaven on the Oboe” can follow “Why You Should Probably Use Charcoal Toothpaste” can follow “How I made $150 flipping Magic: The Gathering cards on Ebay.”
Do these experiments because something will eventually click, and even if it doesn’t, you’re building skills.
If you find a good product, see if you can be an affiliate. Try and get some sales. Then learn email marketing by setting up an email list.
Let the world know how it goes.
If it turns out you really love experimenting with outdoor stuff and you can write endlessly about fishing equipment, then you’ve got something. If you realise that a specific product is really terrible and you can design a better one, you’ve got something else.
You won’t know until you experiment, and once you experiment, you’ll probably find better ideas than anyone can give you anyway, because nobody knows what’ll make you happy quite like you do.