Today is my birthday – and I’m trying to be productive.
Slowly my life is taking shape but it’s just that… *slowly* it’s taking shape.
I want to run. To get to the end. To set myself up with a steady stream of cash so that my family and the people I care about will be protected after I’m gone.
And I don’t mean physically gone. My mind is shifting more and more every day. My thoughts are slowing down.. Most of the time I’m disassociated. I feel myself acting and saying things automatically.
That’s where I stand on the day before my 23rd birthday. Sitting in a library in NYC and writing words into a laptop.
I’ve been running Following the Rules now for two years. Two YEARS. And I’ve built a small audience – my list is 1200 but only the same 30 people read and open the emails with any regularity.
I just came from watching a movie about Jimi Hendrix. He was a great guy, a guitarist. He also beat the shit out of his women. Often. He was nuts. But he was also amazing at guitar. His skills made people ignore or look past his flaws….. If only most of us were so lucky.
There are very few people in life that can get by on genius or good ideas alone. Usually to get ahead you also have to get people to like you.
I’ve gone down that road before – trying to get people to like me. Last time I tried it I ended up with a family. People I thought cared about me — a girlfriend, a bunch of kids to play with, people to eat with in the morning, and it was great. Then I left and they forgot about me.
Gone for two months and the whole world fell apart. Makes you wonder what was going on.
There are people that have always stood by me. A few that are encouraging, see that I’m doing my best, that I’m trying, or maybe they don’t care about that at all. All I know is they care about ME — they want me to succeed, and the harder I work at the closer we are.
I want to be that support system for other people. It doesn’t make sense that I have people behind me, supporting me, liking me.. it doesn’t make sense that you’re even reading this, but you are. I see you, I have analytics.
And I’m here for you.
Reach out, say hi, let’s get drinks, I’ll support you. At least I hope I will. There’s really no way to tell….
I feel like I’m constantly on the edge of a cliff. Like I’m running full speed toward a goal that I know I want, watching it get closer and closer automatically. And I’m happy, but crazy too.
I’ve gotten to the point where all I know how to do is work. It’s a difficult job with a lot of grunt elements, but I do them, I get better at them, and I don’t do much else.
I’m not going slow, but the success is also not immediate.
One of my friends was looking at big named bloggers and business coaches. He called them “famous,” said he felt envious of all they have. ENVIOUS. I told him to use that envy to inspire himself to make THEM envious.
I don’t believe in envy at all.
I believe more in looking at the people — someone like Ramit Sethi for instance. I’ve only met him a couple times, and only have his blog to go on so I’m mostly guessing here, but this guy has everything the “entrepreneur” crowd wants: money, throngs of readers, the ability to go on cool adventures whenever he wants, but they don’t see what’s under the surface.
Maybe he’s lonely, maybe he feels trapped in a bubble, like he always has to be “on” because his new friends only know him as Ramit Sethi the successful blogger, and his old friends don’t know that area enough to respect it. So he has to hide.. all the time.
His readers expect one thing from him, his family expects another, he has his own expectations and pressures too. So what is there to be envious of?
Everybody is in there own spot. You can make a goal and run full speed at it, but you lose things along the way.
For instance, I’ve given up the chance at a comfortable life at least 5 times in the last YEAR… Potential freelance clients approaching who I turn down because I feel loyal to my current job, offers from recruiters to pay 2x my salary for doing the same job at a shittier (or maybe better?) company, and even chances at free housing in other states… each one was the chance at a different life, yet I turned down every opportunity that doesn’t fit into my goal of becoming CEO of a company, of building something that’ll support my friends and family while we all grow together and deliver value.
You can’t have it all.
I know miserable people where I want to be. I know miserable people where I’ve been. Thinking back, I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone who was really happy, content is usually where they cap out…. and that’s all I want for myself.
So on my 23rd birthday I want to leave this message to my future self: it’s working out so far. Keep moving forward, you’ve got this. Go have kids and put down roots – I’m working hard now to allow you to do that.
And if I’m dead in five years and never get to experience the joy that comes at the end of this road? Hey, that’s life… not all stories have happy endings.
But at 23, right now in this moment, I’m as content as I’ve ever been. I’m working for an awesome company, for a great group of people who teach me that anything is possible, no matter how crazy I feel on the inside, as long as I can keep it together run front of clients.. and it’s a great lesson.
Keep it up, Alex… keep it up.
-Alex Berman, Age 23