So many of us yearn to do what we truly love in a way that will “impact” the world in meaningful ways. On the one hand these yearnings lead to a sense of determination and fulfillment. But on the one hand, the raised expectations often lead to feelings of helplessness and fear (of failure, among other fears).
In other words, we live in a very emotionally trying time.
With all that being said, here are some rules I try to live by as I make it through my day-to-day life as an entrepreneur who is more on the sensitive and questioning side of the spectrum:
1. Doing things for free ain’t so bad
I started Things to do in Jerusalem around two-and-a-half years ago just because I saw the need for a resource with info about the cool events happening in Jerusalem. I’ve been running it for free ever since, with no business plan in sight.
TTDIJ is not the only thing I do for free. I blog, speak and run an unofficial service whereby people send me private messages asking me questions about culture in Jerusalem and I do my best to answer them.
Truthfully, I often feel like I fall short for lack of resources (the main resource being my un-paid time) but I love giving these services to people in the best way I can.
So, why do things for free? Well, simply put, if you love it, you should be doing it, simply for the love of the thing itself. This gives you important experience and the ability to develop yourself professionally and the byproduct is that you are slowly marketing yourself as the go-to person for that thing you love. At the very least this means you’re doing what you love and opening the option of developing that love into a career.
2. Get out there
Another thing I try to do is get out there. You need to find what is best for you but for me it includes posting info about my professional life on Facebook and on my blog (apropos this post) and going to events that attract me (like the monthly Made in JLM happy hour). (I seldom meet people one-on-one for lack of time.)
I think it’s really important to approach your “networking” as just something nice you do, not something you’re doing in order to get things out of people. That way it can be enjoyable for you and the people you meet. And truthfully, by putting myself out there, I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of help from people with everything from emotional support to amazing gigs.
3. Give big decisions very serious thought
On the one hand it’s so important to keep doing things no matter what, but on the other hand it’s so important not to jump into things without giving them serious thought. Nati, my partner, and I, have decided against seemingly perfect opportunities after discussing them in depth. At the very least you should work hard to justify your business decisions using dry numbers in a spreadsheet, market research (and preferably experience) and serious contemplation about your ability to stand up against the (excruciatingly) hard work.
Of course you still might fail but at least you know that your decision is based on serious research and not just a “passion” or a gut feeling.
4. Everything is hard
Basically anything that’s worth anything takes some really, really hard work.
For some reason we live in a time when people grossly underestimate the amount of time, effort and thought that is required in almost anything. This fact causes so much frustration from under-charging to building up unrealistic expectations regarding deadlines and quality and quantity of work. It also means that people will almost never appreciate how much effort goes into your work.
For example, would you like to guess how long this blog post took me to write? Many hours plus way more thought.
I almost never work with people who say things like, “Just throw together a blog post…” because I know that our differing attitudes regarding the effort behind my work will almost definitely cause clashes between us.
5. Work on accepting who you are and what you’ve got
I’m pretty bad at this. I’m so used to focusing on my weaknesses and the walls in front of me, that I don’t often truly appreciate my talents, my hard work and the amazing things in my life. I’ve started playing with different exercises such as going into a meeting with the assumption that I am the best person for the job. It’s interesting and I need to continue working on this since it’ll make the whole process of building myself up way more enjoyable.
6. Surround yourself with good people
I don’t know about you but I can’t work with just anyone. To a large extent, I need my partner and colleagues to be aligned with me morally and goals-wise. We need to get along really well and respect and trust each other basically fully.
That means that it’s a long process finding people to work with which is why I think it’s important to always have your eyes open for those good matches.
7. Put one step in front of the other
Keep going. If you continue to feel connected to that thing you initially loved, keep going. And going. And going. Keep thinking, keep researching, keep learning, keep working, keep developing yourself, do stuff that goes to waste, “pivot” when necessary, take breaks, get back up, continue on. And on. And on. The painful thing is that we can’t know what is going to lead us where, we can only try to do what we believe in, continue growing, and wait and see where we end up.
8. Get your hopes up
When we used to say to my Bubby, “Don’t get your hopes up!” she’d say, “I hate when people say that to me. Of course I’m going to get my hopes up. What have I got, if not hope?”
So that’s my last tip for January 1, 2017: Get your hopes up. Let yourself get dragged into those projects that thrill you, that turn on your creative juices and make you lie in bed, sit on the toilet, take a shower and wash the dishes with your brain churning out ideas like a fiend. And dream and hope of what can be.
Wishing you all a happy, new, entrepreneurial year.