The Lessons of Steve Pavlina #2: 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job
Millions of people a year follow the 32,000th most popular website on the Internet, StevePavlina.com. You can count me in with those statistics, for I am a consistent reader and devotee. Me and the millions have seen Steve Pavlina grow from a software developer to a self-made millionaire and personal development guru. He has posed many proactive ideas to his readers and he happens to be the impetus behind my creation of this website. The article that planted the seed is one of his most popular, entitled “10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job."
Amy and I have read this article many times over and we haven’t been able to shake the main highlights from our heads. This has been especially true as we’ve trudged to our jobs day in and day out.
Steve Pavlina talks about the ridiculous nature of only being paid for the time you work. He believes that we have been socially conditioned to think that this is one of the only ways to gain income. He asks the reader to imagine how much better it would be to make money 24/7 with a more passive form of income.
He trashes the notion that you can only get experience with a job, he spurns the lifelong domestication that employment brings on, and the inbred social life that the employed often fall into. He breaks down the difference between how much you earn and how much you actually get paid. He talks about how employers disguise the amount of money actually taken out of your paycheck, since your gainful leaders pay taxes on you that don’t even show up on your statements. Steve Pavlina believes that some paychecks would be triple the amount if it wasn’t for all of the stated and unstated deductions.
He decries the need to beg in order to get a raise, the losses of freedom you receive due to your workplace’s code of conduct manual, and the inability to avoid your idiot boss (a.k.a. “evil bovine master). Steve Pavlina sees having a job as way riskier than being self-employed. Multiple streams of income trump having one method that can be cut off with the two words, “You’re fired!" Perhaps worst of all is that having a job causes you to be a coward. You are afraid of accidentally insulting your boss or coworkers, doing a project incorrectly, and even wearing the wrong clothing. This cowardice cannot help but impact the other areas of your life.
After Amy and I read this article, we immediately wanted to quit our jobs in a blaze of glory. Here’s the thing though: this is very far from a one day process. As much as I love Steve Pavlina, he doesn’t mention until later his problems with bankruptcy or how long it took him to grow his software business (at least five years). Pavlina didn’t find or develop his bread and butter business until over a decade into his self-employment. Lastly, he didn’t switch over to this dream job of personal development blogging until he already had a six-figure business running like clockwork.
Now, I’m not telling you these pieces of information to turn you off of Steve Pavlina. The guy’s site is my homepage after all :). And I definitely don’t want to discourage you from quitting your job. I still believe that I will personally experience more freedom when I reach the complete status of self-employed and I think that many creative people would feel the same way. I simply want you to realize that there may be many small steps along the way that you must take depending on your situation.
Currently, one of my main pursuits is the attempt to bridge the gap between where I am and a very wonderful and independent life of self-employment. Since we don’t all make six figures (especially not me [as of this post :)]). We need to take some action to make the transition as smooth as possible. It will take a little bit longer to reach this goal taking smaller steps, but it beats living on the streets several months after rapidly quitting and setting up a business on a whim.
I will detail my own list of ten. These will be ten potential steps you can take to get yourself closer to self-employment if you have any of the following problems/situations:
You are poor
You are in debt
You are living in an expensive location
You are under contract
You live an extravagant lifestyle that only your high-paying job can support (oh, if only all of us could be in that situation :))
Even if you aren’t looking to leave your job, I recommend taking these steps to supplement your life with additional income and to prepare you in case a recession, a life event, or a drastic change comes knocking at your door.
1. Sure up your financial situation.
When I began looking for more 24/7 sources of income, I was in a lot of debt. Not too much has changed since then, but I set in motion a few alterations that have made the whole thing a little more manageable.
I ensured that all of my revolving credit card debt was on the best possible card (a.k.a. the one with the lowest interest). I did some fancy maneuvering to get most of it onto an introductory 0% APR card, and then moved it to another 0% card after that promo expired. Credit cards are very tricky and the weight of them can become particularly cumbersome if you forget to make a payment here or there.
Most important, however, is the need to understand where your debt is and what it means. I spoke to a friend around this time who had all of her debt on her highest interest card. She was simply paying the monthly minimums and in turn she received the greatest percentage of interest possible. Do you know what your debt is and how high your interest is on every card? If not, make an appointment with your banker and try to read a book on the subject if you’re stumped. The banks and credit card companies tend to prey on ignorance as opposed to forgiving it.
Are you able to tell me how much money you make after taxes each month? How about telling someone your expenses, including rent, utilities, food and credit card payments? In order to assess your current financial standing you must know the answer to those two questions. Look at your recent pay stubs and estimate how much you spend by going over your expenses on a sheet of paper. There are some websites that can help this process such as mint.com. Even simply knowing what is going on in your financial life can help you indentify opportunities for improvement. Cancelling cable and unplugging the computers overnight were my considerations at the time. Every little bit helps.
2. Improve your health
Starting a business puts a lot of pressure on you to be “available" at all times. If you are not what folks would call “in shape" and you don’t eat well, now is a good time to take on those pursuits. By focusing on your health right now, you will save yourself precious time during the growth of your self-improvement that might otherwise be lost to illness, feeling lethargic, and having bad food induced “slow-brain" syndrome.
You don’t have to do anything drastic (although in some cases that may be what the doctor ordered), but you should try to incorporate a few more living foods into your diet first and foremost. Some examples are fruits, vegetables, and raw nuts. You could also stand to add a bit of more activity: walking, playing a sport, or jumping rope will do quite nicely.
3. Create more time for yourself
How are you supposed to come up with a new path for your life if you don’t have any time to think about it? Many people have their lives set up in a continuous circle. They get up and go to work. After work they either go to rehearsal or a sports practice and then they go out to a bar. Lastly, they return home and go to sleep. And those are just the single people! Imagine the ones who are married with kids!!
Begin freeing up some time for yourself. Get up a little earlier or go to bed a little later. Take longer lunches or go to a café for half an hour after work. If you’ve done three straight shows, take a few months off. The time you create here will be used to start building your business. Without it, your hopes of passive income will remain a pipe dream.
4. Do some research
One of the first uses of your new free time will be to get a greater understanding of your possibilities. You need to research any avenue of passive or non-hourly income that intrigues you. For example, I was not as interested in investing as I was in blogging. Thusly, I began to use my free time to research blogging and the potential income I could earn from it. I looked at success stories, failures, and wild and wacky claims. Steve Pavlina recommended
Site Build It!
and so I ended up probing that option thoroughly before selecting it.
You need to research many different options. This will help you copiously with the next step.
5. Come up with ideas
Now is the time for thinking. Grab some paper or a blank Word Processor document and begin getting some words down. They may be ideas about new forms of income. You may come up with a way to make something you’re already doing more efficient. You should write down every thought that comes to mind. Even the simplest or the weirdest idea may lead to something bigger and better.
Try to do a little bit of brainstorming every day during your recently acquired free time. Your first idea may be amazing, but you should come up with as many as possible over the course of a couple of weeks. As Edison proved with the light bulb, the best idea may come very far down the road. Be patient. Even if you haven’t figured out the life-changing idea yet, think of the fact that you are starting to take your life into your own hands.
6. Try some ideas
Your brilliant brainstorms will do absolutely nothing for you without a couple of crash tests. Begin working through the ideas mentally. You will probably hit road blocks on all of them at some point. That is perfectly normal. Life is about pushing through these stoppages, so if you find any blocks in your idea it doesn’t mean the idea is unworkable.
Take a stab or two at the beginning steps of a plan. Put up an ad or two; see what kind of interest is out there. While, it is perfectly viable to start running with one or more ideas at this point, I suggest inserting a couple more steps in there to ensure that your best idea ends up with a solid foundation.
7. Pick one to go for 100%
As I said, you can completely go for more than one plan at once. It might just be a little easier to stick with one while you’re just starting out in the anti-employment club. One idea may detract from another idea or you may not be able to devote the necessary time to one because of another. Play it safe and go with one.
Remember, just because you’ve whittled your list down to one does not mean that you will discard the other ones. The average person changes careers five times in his life. Keep the other ideas around to make a change if the time is right. Another freedom of self-employment is that if you want to try something else, the only thing standing in your way is you. Not your boss and not your corporate dictum.
8. Spread the word
Tell the encouraging people in your life about the idea you are about to embark upon. If you don’t have friends or family like that then get some! This is no time to be brought down by your negative, cowardly associates.
Spreading the word to the positive people in your life accomplishes two things. Firstly, your smarter friends will usually be able to see your idea’s value and they’ll praise you for your boldness. The encouragement they shower upon you will work wonders when you reach a rough patch or if you’re ever feeling suddenly hesitant. Secondly, your friends may have ideas or contacts for you that’ll help you realize your goal more fully. You’ll get by with a little help from your friends (sorry, I just couldn’t help myself :)).
9. Create opportunities
Now that we’re getting closer and closer to the implementation of your jobless life, you need to start putting yourself in good position to succeed. Are there any people you’ve heard of who could help you in your business or perhaps who even need your business? Introduce yourself to these people. Can you think of a product that would go well with yours? Begin forming a relationship with the businesses that provide that product in your area. The contacts that you make now may pay dividends later, but it’s not all about the money.
Every business must keep in mind the community it is serving. Whether it’s the neighborhood, the Internet, or the city of Chicago: know who you’re helping. By creating relationships with people or businesses in that community, you will show the others in that group that you care about more than yourself. Not a bad image to project :).
10. Take one action step toward your idea
You’ve worked all these theories and hypothetical situations through your mind and now it’s time to take action! The first step is of course the hardest, because it will make it all real. Form an LLC, register a domain name, or set up your PayPal. Take one step forward. When you look back on it, you’ll be happy that you did.
All of this can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but I hope that it will be a little more practical for you than simply quitting your job right away. Do not forget Steve Pavlina’s ten reasons. They will serve as your inspiration to take on these ten steps. As I continue on in my journey I will alert you to any pitfalls that I encounter. Happy future self-employment!