I wanted to write you a letter today and I don’t want to make it about me. But the first part of it is. I have to talk to you.
I’m sitting at my riad in Marrakech, overlooking an ornate pool three stories below and sipping mint water. It’s hot out here in the desert, but there’s a cool night breeze that makes it just the right temperature to sit and outside and think.
And all I can hear myself say is, “How did I get here?”
When I was a kid, I used to stay up late at night writing in my journal and it always felt right. I always knew I was supposed to be a writer. It felt like part of my DNA and it was the only time I felt able to fully express myself.
But then I grew up. And it got harder and harder to see myself doing it as a job.
Because everybody said that writers can’t make a good living.
Because my mom, my dad, my grandparents, aunts and uncles all have “regular” jobs. And God love ’em. But for a while, I stopped believing that I was talented enough, or different enough, or special enough to be an exception to the rule.
When I graduated college in 2009 (wow) I was handed a diploma with thousands of other students, to a stadium full of cheering parents who hoped that a little piece of paper would mean we would be safe. I have to admit, I wished the same.
I just wanted security.
I wanted to know everything was going to be ok — and that drive to keep myself fed meant that I’d probably have to sacrifice what I really wanted for what I needed.
So writing faded to the background.
If you know my story or have read my book, you know that I worked at a bunch of average jobs right out of college. They kept the lights on. But inside, I was fading fast.
What if this lasts forever?
I mean, yes, I knew that I could go back to school and get more experience. And yes, I could have gotten a job with a better “career track.” I would probably have been a good attorney, like my grandmother. And lord knows she would have loved that. I’m sure I could have been a good manager at some big company. I’m smart enough. I can perform in interviews.
But I didn’t want to do any of that. And that’s the issue I kept running up against again and again.
Over and over again, I was told that I’d have to do things I didn’t want to do to “make it” as an adult in society. There was no mention of having the chance to do what I really wanted. From the limited perspective of a 22 year old, adulthood and careers just seemed like one big compromise, with me coming out on the losing end.
I’m a human being on this planet with just as much to offer as anybody else. I’m driven and intelligent.
But I was stuck.
And all I wanted to do was write.
Now, fast forward to 2017 and somehow, and I’ve made the leap. I get paid to write. I have a bestselling book out in stores across the world and I get the distinct pleasure of talking to you every day.
This isn’t a “rags to riches” story. It’s not even a riches story. I’m doing well, but I’m not wealthy (yet). I’m only 29. But finally, I get to do what I want and that’s worth an infinite amount of money to me.
I’m guessing there’s something that you’d like to do with your life that’s worth more to you than any number in your bank account.
Yes, everybody needs to eat. And we all like nice things. But think past that.
Money is about security. You want to feel safe.
But once you feel safe, what will you do? The bills are paid. You have all of what you need and most of what you want. What’s next? You’re not just going to sit there, refreshing your bank balance, are you?
There’s more to this life than money, and if you want to really enjoy your time here on the planet, you’re going to have to figure out what “more” means to you.
At this point in the letter, I’ve had a few glasses of Spanish red wine — and If you were sitting in the chair next to me, this is probably where I’d launch into a tirade about how money isn’t real. About how it’s just a construct that doesn’t have any real value. But that’s not helpful when you’re still anxious about not having enough of it. It certainly feels very real, doesn’t it?
So here’s what I propose: go get your money.
Not because it’s the most important thing. But because it’s necessary for you to have enough mental security to take a step back and figure out what you really want to spend the rest of your life doing.
Maybe, like me, you want to write. That’d be cool.
Or perhaps you want to play an instrument or spend your life hiking mountains. Sounds adventurous.
Maybe you just want to spend your time learning to code, or learning new languages, or learning how to cook.
My girlfriend is a pole dancer (not a stripper, ahem) and she loves it. Maybe you just want to devote your life to a hobby.
None of these things are “jobs,” per say. They are ways to spend your time.
This is the goal. To spend your time how you’d like. Because as far as we know, you only get one shot at this life.
I wish there was a linear track that I could lay out for you that would tell you exactly how to get from where you are to where you want to be in X amount of days. I really do. I wish that I could soothe all your fears and tell you I knew exactly what I was doing when I decided to quit my jobs and just go for it. I wish I could guarantee you that whatever new idea you try is going to be successful, or make you money.
Unfortunately, I don’t have those answers.
What I can tell you is this: it takes heart. And it takes the willingness to do work that matters, even when lots of people encourage you to do work that doesn’t matter just to “get by” in adulthood.
It takes a belief, even a tiny one, that something different can happen for you — even if every single person in your family or friend circle tells you that following the rules is the only way to make it.
Doing meaningful work is hard. It’s hard because there’s no curriculum to tell you what’s coming next, and there’s no rubrick to tell you how well you’re doing at first.
It’s hard because you have to put yourself out there. There are no guarantees that it will work.
But here’s the thing: contrary to what you may have been told, doing meaningful work is the only thing that’s going to help you cross the chasm.
It’s the only way.
I don’t know everything, but I can tell you that devoting myself to work I cared about was the very beginning of everything changing for me. I learned how to get good at a few skills that I enjoyed, then I learned how to help other people with those skills and get paid.
Although not every day since then has been easy, overall, it’s all been up since then.You don’t luck into doing work that you love. You must intend to do it.
And that’s what every member of my Freelance Domination workshop has in common — the intent to do meaningful, creative work.
Freelance Domination is a transformational, collaborative workshop that uses videos, group discussion, reading assignments and more to teach you how to develop valuable skills, find paying clients and build a remarkable business in the New Economy.
Registration is limited to just 150 students per enrollment period. The summer semester is open for registration now and closes July 30th.
This is not an online course. This is preparation for the real world.
FLD, as it’s lovingly referred to, is not a cure-all. Enrolling will not guarantee that you immediately make enough money to quit your job, if that’s your goal.
It’s an opportunity to level up. It’s the opportunity that I wished I would have had 8 years ago.
FLD will help you to find skills you’d like to develop, but it won’t teach the skills themselves.
For instance, If you want to learn content writing, or graphic design, or another skill, this workshop will teach you where to go to start honing those skills — then it’ll show you how to become a master at selling your craft.
If you’re brand new to the idea of starting a business and unsure of what skills you want to master, or what type of business you’d like to start, the workshop will assist with that as well.
Included in the program:
- More than 40 video tutorials + Q&A
- Access to private weekly group discussion
- Sample proposals, project agreements, contracts & other documents to jumpstart your work
- Access on mobile and web
But most of the learning won’t happen watching the videos or reviewing the material.
It will happen in the conversations you have with your peers. It will be through the continuous challenge of applying what you’re learning in real time, then getting feedback from a group of people who care.
You’ll learn how to:
- Identify your uniquely valuable skills and develop them into a freelance business
- Spot opportunities in the market and create products and services that stand out
- Create the type of business you want by choosing the right clients
- Market your services honestly and develop deep trust with your clients
- Negotiate effectively and charge what you’re worth
Will Freelance Domination teach you how to make money? Absolutely.
More importantly, though, you’ll learn how to take smart risks, execute your ideas and get feedback when it counts. You’re not just building a business. You’re building a life.
You can take this workshop before, after or during the process of learning new skills.
I’m the most biased person you’ll ask, obviously — but I can tell you that this program is incredible and not one to be missed. It changes lives. Period.
The workshop is in its third year and has helped over 2,000 real humans make the leap. Over the next few days, interspersed with my regular material, I’ll share some of their stories with you.
I know that the program isn’t right for everyone — and I’m ok with that. I prefer that, actually. I’ve spent years trying to convince people to leap and what I’ve realized is that messages resonate the strongest with people who are already prepared to make a change.
So if you’re one of those people, I want to give you a chance. A chance to have something different happen for you. A chance to take control of your own narrative and decide the story that you’re going to tell people about your life.
I have no doubt that whatever decision you make, ultimately, you’ll be fine.
But if we only get one shot at this crazy life, is “fine” enough?
Only you can answer that, my friend.
Registration closes for this semester closes July 30th.