How to Go From “My Life/Job Sucks” To “My Very Existence is the Shit”

by Alexander Heyne · 11 comments

 

This post is written for those of you who are in a life that they cannot stand. Waking up is a chore.  Everything you do throughout the day feels like total bullshit.

Life feels meaningless. Everything you do feels like you’re just wasting time and burning the candle at both ends while getting closer to death. You know you have to change something. You can feel it. But you’re not sure what move to take.

Many of you also want to build a business to fund this freedom you keep dreaming of. But there’s a problem.

Almost everyone I meet that wants to start a business gets stuck on the same few things:

The first is usually: What kind of business do I start?

The second is usually resistance mixed with fear: ”I’m not so sure… this sounds really hard… this is going to be a long road.. but I’m not an expert.. ”(and a bunch of other BS objections and excuses).

There are other objections too, like:

  • Do I quit my job and start the business?
  • Do I start the business while working my job?
  • Do I quit my life and move abroad to build a business where it’s cheaper to live?
  • How much time am I going to need to invest? … And many other questions

Here’s a quick down-n-dirty guide to getting shit done and beating these objections up.

Making the Scary as Hell Leap

I’ve talked before about how I think fixing your work should be one of the first things you do if your life is totally in the shithole.

Work fills the vast majority of hours for most of us during the day — and it will also affect our mood and happiness immensely.

Also, having work that you control gives you the freedom to then make other lifestyle changes and still control your income.  Win. If you’re unhappy with where you live, you can move.

If you’re unhappy with your friend group and social life, and are tired of lame ass friends that aren’t going anywhere in life, you can change that.

Right about the same time I was trying to figure out how to explain this process to a friend, I stumbled upon a gem in Michael Ellsberg’s The Education of Millionaires. 

This is his four step process for transitioning from a miserable, shitty existence to work you enjoy, that is meaningful, and pays you well. It was a fantastic “A-ha!” moment for me to see this in such a simplified way.

Side Note: Don’t Quit Your Job and Go at it Full-Time 

I agree with these steps because I formerly quit my job and tried to start a business prematurely, and underestimated what the process entailed.

I didn’t realize that becoming a first-time entrepreneur meant a few things:

The process will take longer than you think. Account for that.  Don’t jump ship just yet — get all those failures under your belt while you are still working and have a safety net and a daily routine that will keep you sane.

The four steps (VERY over-simplified):

  1. Pay your bills, working any job (no matter how shitty or meaningless).
  2. Use your free time to test out various side hustles, hobbies, passions, etc. Find stuff that’s meaningful to you.
  3. Take as long as it takes to fail, find out what you enjoy (and what you hate), and build up a side income.
  4. Transition to full-time working on that project.

#1 Pay your bills, working any job (no matter how shitty or meaningless).

It makes your life infinitely more enjoyable and more stress free if you aren’t worrying about money in addition to starting a business. Also, most entrepreneurs I know had their financial shit together first before launching their own thing.

Quitting your job prematurely puts a lot of stress on yourself (unless you have a massive savings built up), and the process is going to take a lot longer than you think.

Also, keeping a predictable routine will keep you sane with the unpredictability of your side hustle at the start.

#2 Use your free time to test out various side hustles, hobbies, passions, etc. Find meaning.

Read my post on the 1 month test that will change your life (which will also help you find what you’re passionate about).

Also read this guide on on the 5 most useful tools for finding “your work” in life.

Spend time re-discovering what work you would be passionate about doing. But remember this: you often won’t know until you start doing it.

It took me 1.5 years of experimenting with stuff (Read: TESTING AND STARTING SHIT – here’s how to do thatto finally figure out what I liked doing, reading, and talking about.

Remember to test for demand, and then get paying clients as soon as possible. Don’t waste time on business cards or other bullshit.  They are procrastination tools.

#3 Take as long as it takes to fail, find out what you enjoy (and what you hate), and build up a side income.

This process can take a long time. It took me almost 2 years of testing and failures. Make sure to have fun with the process otherwise you’ll put too much stress on yourself being so serious.

I actually got really depressed during this point because I wanted success NOW, I wanted my own business, NOW, I wanted that little bit of money NOW so I could commit to it full-time.

My work that I once enjoyed and wanted to do suddenly became a “NEED TO.” Don’t turn “want to’s” into  ”need to’s”– you’ll get unhappy really quick.

Read more about my previous business failures here.

#4 Once your side hustle is making enough, jump ship and commit to it full-time.

When you feel like your side-hustle is making you enough money to comfortably commit to it full-time, make the jump.

The dollar amount is up to you. Some people living abroad or overseas can get by with $10k/year USD and that’s a good enough amount to jump ship with.

Other people might have consulting clients that are also bringing in income.  Some people still keep their dayjob when they build up a profitable side-hustle. Just use your own judgement and remember that the dollar amount will depend on how risk-averse you are.

I’m a sore loser. I hate sacrificing my cake. I want to have that shit and eat it.  So I chose (and choose) to work while working on my side hustle — I don’t want to evaporate a few years of my life for success down the road. I’d rather keep my 1 month vacation abroad every year, and work more hours while drinking my daily espresso.

Remember to have fun

Some people might feel like it’s a stupid reminder to “have fun” but sometimes it’s pretty easy to be hustling all day, feel exhausted at the end of the day, and think, “shit, I thought I was switching to my own gig so I could actually have FUN?!”

Remember why you’re doing this — for enjoyment, to create a life like you daydream about in your head, to have freedom to travel, for unlimited income potential, and for the sheer fact that you literally are creating a life that is fucking awesome.  That’s why you’re doing this. And that, if you ask me, is more than worth it.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

David Delp January 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I love this Alexander. Very practical concepts from someone who has abviously lived it. I’m in the middle of taking a risky leap, and a little worried it may be premature…. kinda.

One thing I’ve learned myself about Step #1 is that paying your bills is a lot easier when the bills are smaller. I think one of the best ways to give yourself a huge raise is to reduce your expenses. The minimalists offer their Need Want Like method http://www.theminimalists.com/want/ here which is a great exercise in awesome living.

Then, you can turn the proverbial phrase around and instead of all your time going to making money, with all the extra money, you buy yourself a lot of time for steps 2-4. Money = time.

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Shayna January 14, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Awesome, Alex. Another tip that I’d add is that, if possible, try to arrange it so that your “day job” and your “side hustle” are of different species, so to speak – or working fundamentally different parts of your brain.

If your internet business requires a lot of sit-down computer time, see if you can take on a physically active day job (being a waiter / babysitter / dog walker / landscaper).

If your side hustle has you isolated, make sure your day job is in a more social environment. On the other hand, if your side hustle involves a ton of cold-calling and connecting with people, then look for a day job that’s a bit quieter and working by yourself.

I think I probably wouldn’t enjoy the Espresso English side hustle as much if I was still teaching English offline – I’d have nouns and verbs on the brain all day. Instead, my day job involves other internet work on a completely different topic, so it gives my brain a chance to have a refreshing change of pace.

But like you said, Alex, any day job will do. People shouldn’t get too hung up on it, because after all you’ll likely only be doing it for 3 years max (and perhaps a lot shorter).

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Shayna January 14, 2013 at 6:13 pm

P.S. I want to print out your last paragraph in size 72 font and hang it on my wall. Gotta keep the long view in mind.

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Lauren January 17, 2013 at 2:02 pm

This is a great post! When you have an idea that you’re excited about, it’s easy to go overboard and drop everything to get started on it. Unfortunately, then you realize that making money is a necessity and maybe you got a little carried away. Damage control becomes necessary. Quickly jumping ship becomes even more tempting when you’re in a job you hate and are looking for any chance to get out.

When I was in my last job, I was miserable. Every other day I’d be like “OMG I’M QUITTING MY JOB AND WORKING FOR MYSELF!” and then I’d realize that that is just not realistic. Instead I left my job and found something that made the daily grind much more pleasant. Now that I’m in a job I enjoy, am earning a steady paycheck, and am still able to pursue my dream (freelance writing), I’m a lot happier. I also don’t have to have a panic attack when I check my bank account. Great points!

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Alexander Heyne January 19, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Thanks Lauren ! How are things going with your freelancing btw?

Haha yep I did the same thing. Got overly excited and dropped everything. Decisions made on emotions usually = bad haha.

You make a good point — I’m also still doing the daily grind until my own side-thing takes off a little more… having a slightly enjoyable (or at least not emotionally damaging job) makes all the difference for sure haha.

The absolute worst is what you describe.. I’m quitting NOW!!! When the emotion is that strong it’s definitely time to change haha.

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Mike January 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm

I’d add another step: 1.5: Get out of debt and save as much money as possible while you still have a job. That way you can take more risks when you do jump ship, plus have the money on hand to exploit opportunities when they manifest.

Thoughts?

Great post.

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Alexander Heyne January 19, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Mike, this is *REALLY* important I agree. I was fortunate enough that I had no debt after college, and I sometimes forget that the majority of people I talk to (especially my age) do have some kind of debt.

Agree x 1000 man, I and will gladly refer everyone to Ramit Sethi’s book: I will Teach You To be Rich: http://www.amazon.com/Will-Teach-You-To-Rich/dp/0761147489/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358647854&sr=8-1&keywords=i+will+teach+you+to+be+rich

The automated saving plan = gold. It’s how all my accounts are automated.

Thanks for bringing that up BTW Mike. How have you been?

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Pieter verboog April 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Trick question: What if you have a ton of debt en just a job is not enough? Get another job or force yourself into creating a side option as in a trade or a business just to survive and live another day or else go bankrupt?

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Alexander Heyne April 7, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Hey Pieter -

Based on your situation, I wouldn’t suggest just jumping ship. If I were in your shoes, I would keep your day job (and funnel as much money as possible into paying off the debt), while building a side thing (ideally that you LIKE), that can also help you pay off the debt.

If/when the day comes that you can transition to your side job full-time, then you have more flexibility and freedom, in addition to being able to continue paying off your debt.

It’s un-sexy I know, but taking care of debt should be a priority. Hope that helps !

- Alex

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Mr. Rob February 8, 2014 at 3:16 am

Hey Alex,

I really like your ideas, I am going to spend some time reflecting and acting on these points. Well put sir.

Rob

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Alexander Heyne February 13, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Cheers Rob!

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