Ask yourself this, does what you do on a daily basis make you happy? Do you love what you do?
If your answer is no then what steps, if any, are you going to take to remedy this situation?
Do you still want to be doing the things you are doing today in 20 years time? If you don’t have a plan for where you want to go, guess what, you will probably still be doing what you are doing today.
Telling people to “do what you love” is something that is easy to say but in reality can be challenging to implement. It could very easily be considered to be a throwaway comment – something that someone says without thinking – nevertheless, it was Steve Jobs’s key piece of advice to Stanford College students back in 2005.
Does this mean you should quit the 9 to 5 grind that is enabling you to pay your rent and start selling your paintings door to door…no it doesn’t.
As the deceased Silicon Valley CEO succinctly states in his viral speech … work its going to take up a large part of your life – don’t waste it doing something that is meaningless to you as you will regret it.
Taking Small Steps
No reasonable person would ever tell you to quit your work, give it all up and start doing something you love. In fact you are more likely to receive resistance from those who are close to you when you start pursuing a new career or starting a business.
Giving everything up tomorrow is not a good strategy.
What is a good strategy is to look at LifeHack.com’s founder, Leon Ho, who at the age of 22 felt stuck in his software engineer role at Red Hat. At such a young age, you could hardly say that Ho had been in the business world long enough to become tired and fed up of the 9 to 5 lifestyle, as he was obviously well on his way to having an outstanding career as a developer. However, it was his desire to improve not only his vast technical skills but also his weaknesses, what he considered “soft skills”.
You will have probably encountered this in your own experience with technically gifted people…they usually lack people skills and self-awareness. Their introverted nature and inability to communicate effectively are telltale characteristics that they stay in their comfort zone of solving abstract technical problems.
This could have been the story of the college graduate’s life had he not been willing to put himself out of his comfort zone. He was open-minded enough to confront his weakness head on and address them – even if it meant a hit to his ego.
He started reading self-help books and psychology books to the point where he became so obsessed it was his primary pastime. While others went out to party he would read self-improvement books. The ones that he attributes to having the biggest impact on him was “Getting Things Done” by David Allen and “Time Power” by Brian Tracy.
Inspired by the authors, the now 25-year-old built a website from scratch to tell the world what he had been learning. He wasn’t aiming to monetize, nor getting views through “clickbaity” type headlines – he wanted to build a real audience with valuable information on how to maximize their potential.
LifeHack was Born
The entrepreneur bought the Lifehack domain and got to work.
As with many startups, the beginning was the hardest.
Remember, this was back in 2005, the days before WordPress and where the internet had a suite of office management tools you could use at your disposal. It was hard work to setup never mind maintain.
After working his day-to-day job, the software engineer set his side business up in the evenings and on weekends, publishing as much content as he could. He had no free time as it was all dedicated to building the site that was paying him nothing and maintaining the code.
How long would it take for you to quit if you didn’t see any results from your early endeavors? Would you keep giving up your spare time and missing important family events when no one is really listening to you? These are questions you should ask yourself before you start as it can be a lonely place to be.
At this stage the key really is what Steve Jobs kept telling us – do what you love. The former Red Hat manager kept posting his content even though no one was really reading because it was his passion and he had found a labor of love rather than a grind.
With social media marketing platforms still years away, Leon had to get creative as to how he was going to market his ever-expanding website. He did so via the most tried and tested medium of … email.
No matter how many new and innovative ways to communicate crop up in today’s internet world, it never fails to amaze, that emails still retain their position as one of the most effective ways to get noticed.
TIP: If you are building a business – start an email list.
After about 12 weeks of sending out emails and posting new and engaging content, LifeHack had over 1,000 subscribers – a remarkable feat for an individual to do at the time, especially given the fact at this time it was a side hustle and he was maintaining all of the site’s infrastructure.
The list kept growing and within the year, LifeHack had an email list of 50,000 subs and was comfortably hitting 750,000 views per month.
It was at this point that the tech entrepreneur quit his job and essentially doubled down on his startup project to see how far it could go.
What happened next was nothing short of incredible. In the following five years the company expanded – employing over 25 people to manage site’s content which was itself achieving more than 10 million viewers every month.
To date the site has published over 30,000 articles and is now worth millions of dollars.
The overall lesson from Ho’s story is that great things can be achieved if you take the small steps necessary to get you there. What helps makes those small steps and the whole journey a lot easier is having a genuine interest and passion for what you are doing.
Keep grinding and keep enjoying what you do and you will achieve spectacular results.