Sometimes we forget that the main focus of self-development is NOT to read books on a regular basis, or simply reflect on the actions you took because that’s what self-dev people do. Or make sure you develop strategic relationships over time. Those activities are just the “means to an end”. What we truly want from self-development is to actually be in a better situation than we previously were. To have and to live a better life. So we go through various processes (which fall under the umbrella of self-development) to ensure that we turn ourselves into people that actually can realize those goals that we want to accomplish.
That said, the time you put into doing these processes that help you grow is the most productive time you have. This is an important time. It is a resource.
How you use all of your time is something you need to pay very close attention to.
Your time is valuable enough to help someone else accomplish their goals… and is crucial in helping you attain your own goals.
One of the things I have forced myself to do each time I evaluate an opportunity to pursue some goal or establish some relationship… is to analyze how much this will add or subtract from the important time I need to work on meeting my own goals.
For instance, I have had people present very interesting ideas to me individually and also to the business I run. I have taken on some of those opportunities but I generally have passed on most.
The reason is simple. You may come across a lot of interesting and possibly lucrative opportunities in your lifetime. But not all of them will align with the type of life you want to construct for yourself. They won’t always align with where you want to end up.
Material wealth and fame may seem like the nicest things to work your entire life for. I mean, you can make the argument that once you have all the money you could ever need, then you could begin to take care of your other needs.
But this argument quickly falls apart when you take into account certain situations. Suppose, like me, you are a software developer. You become the lead design+developer of one of the most successful apps of all time. The money will be good… but the amount of work needed to handle that popularity, in terms of making sure that what you build is stable and keeps users happy… is unimaginable.
Beginners in my industry sometimes have no clue just how taxing that can be. And is it really worth it? To have so much money and so much work to do and so much stuff to manage?
Well, you could make the argument that once you do get all the money you ever wanted, you could simply hire other people to take over.
Such a statement could only be made by one who has no idea what that even means. Someone who is yet to experience that very outcome. I mean, how do you just hand over such a massively successful thing to just anyone? Those invested can’t easily allow you to do that. Also, what is the assumption made… that all those codes… think and code the same way?
I could rant about this all day.
So you make another argument. You say, “But isn’t that a good problem to have? Isn’t that better than the alternative of not working on a massive project and hardly getting paid?”
Maybe. But who should determine that? Who should say that this problem is “right” for this person to have?
To me… that question can only be answered by the one who dedicated their time to get to the skill level they are in. Because if it were not for that effort… that discussion wouldn’t even matter.
Secondly, how vague must are your life goals be… to only prioritize material wealth? Are your time and sanity not important to you? Aren’t there other things worth hustling hard for other than material wealth? Because, just like the example I gave, money won’t buy everything. Especially not a lot of “non-material” things.
Third… if there is anything that the current information age has taught us… is that there are more ways of finding success in life… than anyone could have previously imagined. Especially the fact that there are multiple avenues of wealth in a single industry.
Your time should be used in helping you get to what you connect to most. What you want to do. What you want to have. And who you want to be.
And if you can’t figure that out now. It is within your best interest… to spend YOUR TIME trying to figure that out.
Your life does not have to be a blueprint or script that is a carbon copy of someone else’s. You don’t have to pay attention to what is the trend in the most popular success magazine. People are out here living successful lives that no one could have imagined just a decade ago.
Success stories in areas and industries people claimed were a waste of time and lives.
Every time you were told to turn off that video game because you were playing for 2 hours on a weekend… someone else on the other side of the globe was getting better at that game. That person eventually went on to be an e-sports athlete… earning more money than what most of your closest friends earn today.
That person who didn’t graduate with “flying colors” on their Culinary Arts degree started a youtube channel where she earns so much in ad revenue making all sorts of personalized dishes in their home kitchen.
I’m very careful about associating with people that feel the need to tell me the best use of my time with the skills I worked on my own to develop.
Because frankly, most people who hardly spend time trying to improve on a skill… can’t reasonably expect to understand the depth of that skill or industry.
A great example is in video games. Most people who haven’t worked in the industry or worked on developing a game themselves may think that the only way to make it in this industry is to work for companies that publish some of the most well-known titles like Call of Duty.
But they have no idea how much success (and yes, I mean in terms of money) the creator of flappy bird got.
One of the best tools you can ever have to help you make progress towards your goals… is knowledge, skill, and experience.
Specifically knowledge about that thing you want to pursue. The industry. The people who win and lose in it. The ins and outs of that thing you want to attain. All the news about what is about to happen. All the history of what occurred in the past.
Skill… the ability to create, design, or whatever it is that people do in that specific industry of yours. Not just talk… unless you can really sell or market… etc. It is important to be able to earn through skill on your own. Just in case you have to. Just in case whatever joint collaboration or employment situation you are in… ends up not working for you.
Finally experience. You should be able to predict outcomes based on what you or other people are thinking of doing. If you have seen something before, it is vital in helping you not waste time. Because knowing what to do, will help you focus on activities that get you what you need faster. Knowing what NOT to do will help you not make mistakes that could cost you more time, money, or associations.
The only way you can gain knowledge, skill, and experience is through spending time building them. It may not always result in an immediate reward but the cost is usually only your time.
One last thing I want you to understand about folks that only “dribble on the surface” when it comes to ideas or opportunities.
Usually, they are at a beginner level. Maybe 0, or 1 or 10.
Most people who want to begin pursuits they have never pursued before, can never reasonably expect themselves to have a full understanding of that pursuit.
Compare that to a person that has been in a particular industry (whether through employment or hobby) for many years. Actively working and discovering more about their industry.
That person is no beginner.
That person tends to have a wealth of knowledge of what works or doesn’t as a whole… even if they themselves have never had the interest to pursue much more in that industry.
Ambition is what drives people to pursue more.
Not mere intelligence or skill.
The desire to go after more… is what matters. The desire to become more is what matters.
So suppose the level of ambition of both the beginner and the seasoned expert were the same.
Would that race be fair if they decided to compete with each other, starting with the same set of resources?
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