Money is a rotten compass.
We spend so much of our lives focusing on money, trying to get more out of the economy to take home for ourselves. But why? What is the point?
What if you had this whole thing backwards? What if you started with what you like and then moved forward from there?
I know this money dilemma well. I chased work I didn’t like for years to earn money that didn’t make me feel good. It was a hamster wheel of existence. I finally found something by accident that I liked: writing.
The thing is everybody was doing it. WordPress blogs were like dimes — everybody had one. By accident, I wrote as much as possible. I’d come home from work and write. I’d reach the weekend and write. I’d feel emotional or upset or break up with yet another woman…..and write.
My goal didn’t contain money. I was completely numb to this fact. People kept telling me my writing was bad…and it was. I kept writing, though, because I liked it. It was fun to slap my thoughts down on a page and edit them for the few people who could find me hiding in the corner of the internet all alone with a candle.
Pretty soon, writing allowed me to do more than enjoy it. It paid a few bills. Then half the bills. Then all the bills. Then more than the bills. Now, there is enough money to be made from writing and the endless income sources that exist that I could never work again. I never understood this weird situation.
I’d forgot about money and didn’t ever think to imagine what could happen.
Then the writer and speaker, Allan Watts, posed the question in a lecture. What would happen if you forgot about money and did work you liked?
Here’s what Allan can teach you about changing your focus away from money.
“If you like it, you’ll become a master of it”
You can’t master work you hate. That’s why traditional work you do for a salary that you may not enjoy will never make you rich. Mastery is too hard when money is the focus.
Thoughts of money burn a hole in the possibilities found in your imagination.
You have to like the work you do to reach mastery. Start with work you like, not what pays the best or will make you a quick buck.
“If you focus on money you’ll spend your life doing things you don’t like doing.”
That’s how most people live. It’s known as the rat race. Money is like cheese for a rat. You end up chasing it and you don’t know why. Before you know it you’ve been caught in a rat trap and swallowed poison that smelt like cheese.
“Better to have a short life doing what you like doing”
Work you hate makes the days long.
I love writing and can do it for hours and hours. Time seems to stand still. Eight hours can feel like thirty minutes when I’m writing. Knowing I get to share my random thoughts with the world is deeply rewarding.
Your experience of time changes when you do work you like.
Enjoy what you’re doing to live a good life, not a long life chained to a desk job that makes you want to scream.
“What do I desire?”
In other words, what sort of work do you want to do?
Be bold. Say it out loud. Scream your desires into an empty closet. Whatever you desire you can have. If you desire it and work at it long enough, you can attach money to that desire.
The work you like doing is a magnet for money. The challenge is the magnet doesn’t start attracting anything until you’re ready. You won’t know when that is. All you can do is do the work, for now. It’s an easy strategy when you think about it. Doing work you like is not that hard. Start doing that work now. Do it for free. Do it on the side. Do it at lunch. Just do it.
“Somebody is interested in everything”
This was a huge a-ha moment from Allan Watts. People decide not to do work that some of us might consider strange because they think there is no market for it. There are billions of people on the planet and only a few of them need to like your work.
My girlfriend calculated yesterday that a writer we follow on Substack only needs 800 subscribers to earn a full-time living.
Can you not find 800 people out of billions who will get enough value from your work to pay your bills? Of course you can. Somebody is interested in your work. Show up for long enough to find them.
Whenever I’ve tried to follow money, it has lied to me. It’s burned my value to the ground and forced me to be unconsciously selfish. Selfishness blocks money. Selfishness ruins your life.
What would happen if you forgot about money? Here’s what happened to me:
- I did the work with zero attachment
- I found a meaning for my life
- I respected strangers on the internet
- I beat mental illness
- I found the woman I love
- I changed my life
- I beat fears like public speaking
- I unlocked a level of vulnerability I didn’t know I had to help complete strangers who are just like me
- I attracted more money into my life than ever seemed possible
Allan Watts was right: If you forget about money you will reach a level of mastery in something you never knew was possible.
The meaning you derive from that work will far surpass your wildest dreams. You’ll end up changing the world in some small way.
The work you like doing has value. Don’t worry about turning that value into money with dead people’s faces on it for now. Just do the work and fall in love with it. What happens after that is the stuff dreams are made of and history books are written about. You’re good enough to do the work you like.