Determining Your ‘Last Straw’ & What To Do About It
Note: This is going to be a pretty long post. Please read it when you have the time to absorb it and internalize the things I’ve said in a way that helps you best.
It’s funny, this internet thing. According to Ritu Bhasin she’s been working online in some form or another since 1996, and to say, “she’s seen it all,” is an understatement for me most of the time.
I’ve learned that while the internet can be an amazing place to express yourself, meet people, build a career, profit from a hobby, learn how to stop self sabotage and self sabotaging behaviour and get yourself addicted to certain things like facebook games or social media sites… after nearly 20 years, I’m becoming one of those people who begins to loathe what they love.
I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t bothering me.
My pants would likely catch fire if I told you there was never a time where I wanted to just shut down everything, move to some artsy-touristy town, and try to make a living by opening up a bakery/coffeehouse/shop that sold my art and that of others. Without using the internet at all.
I think the things that are bugging me the most lately are when I see people being out and out mean to complete strangers, people who are out there convincing others that they should fork over their life savings to learn how to make more money, and all those stupid, effing “viral” sites.
A contradiction, I’m sure you’re thinking, since here’s me, a creative business coach that offers one-on-one and group coaching on how to build your creative business up to be something you can make a real living from. Online. And I charge people for that.
But there’s a deep-seated purpose to what I’m doing here, and I really want to share it with you because I feel like with all the bull-puckey going on out there, I need to keep it as real as I possibly can.
I’m NOT someone out to make a bajillion dollars a year so I can take fancy vacations and buy my daughter more clothes/toys/junk than she needs. I’m not someone who wants to drive the most expensive SUV on the market (or even the mid-range expensive ones). I have a 2004 PT Cruiser that I absolutely adore, and will drive until she decides it’s time to die forever.
I’m NOT someone who wants to convince people that if they give me $4000, I’ll have all the answers as to how they can multiply it times ten in 30 days. In fact, I happen to know for absolute certain that anything anyone promises that remotely sounds like that is complete and utter lies. And if you’ve fallen into the trap someone’s set like that, I’m really, really sorry for you.
No, I’m a mom of a toddler whom I’d give anything to spend more time with.
I’ve got an amazing man with a heart of gold and a broken back. We’ve got bills to pay, like everyone else, and I’m the only one who can do it right now.
I want to help people be comfortable selling themselves and their art online. I’ve had SO many heart-wrenching conversations, with women especially, where they’re afraid to upset their fans, or worse… afraid to fail. It’s painful to hear, and I’m on a mission to make it feel safer and better and be happier for them.
I don’t need a huge house (or even multiple ones). I don’t even want that! Too much work, really. Same with extra cars, clothes, toys, and so on.
I would like to be able to give more money to charities I love to support when I can. To spend more time volunteering, helping, and giving back. Teaching my daughter how important that kind of stuff really is.
These are the reasons I do what I do. The real purpose behind my passions. I’m over all the people who are over-charging for services or coaching. I’m over all the sites that focus on making fun of people. I’m over the jerks on social media sites that hide behind their internet wall and say things they’d never dare to say to someone’s face.
I just want to help people and have enough time and money to do the things I mentioned up there. That’s the purpose behind doing what I do for a living.
Determining Your ‘Last Straw’
I can honestly say that I’ve never truly enjoyed working for others. I was always one of those kids that wanted the payout before doing the work. I remember my parents telling me that whenever they tried to get me to do something by promising me a reward, I was always trying to convince them that if they let me have/do the reward, I’d then do the work. I know, it sounds absolutely ludicrous as an adult, but as a kid, it made perfect sense to me.
But this whole paycheck-paycheck thing, with someone else having 100% control over whether or not I got one, has always driven me mad. Sure, when I was working jobs I loved, like as a zookeeper and when I was working for Neopets and ProBlogger… it wasn’t so bad. I loved getting up in the morning and going to work and clocking in, or sitting at my desk and jumping into what was going on.
However there have been way too many times where the thought of even getting online to work gave me a migraine. Times when I really didn’t want to finish a project because my heart wasn’t in it, even if the money was good. Times where the person I was working for was a completely selfish jerk, and I really just wanted to crawl in a hole and die every single time my phone would ring or a Skype message would pop up. But I did it all, simply because I needed the money.
And then I got so sick and tired of it, I stopped.
I totally threw caution to the wind and decided that it was over. No more doing work that didn’t make my heart sing AND pay the bills. I’d had my last straw (or several of them), and made the conscious decision to do whatever it took to work to live, not live to work.
I’m completely, thoroughly, madly in love with what I’m doing now.
I’m doing everything in my power to keep doing things the way I am, because it not only fulfills my passion, but my purpose.
But the truth is, not everyone has the same tolerance (or lack thereof). I know people who get up and go to the most ridiculously boring jobs, because they have to pay their bills. They deal with interoffice politics because… they have to pay their bills. They loathe every single face they have to see every day, but they do it because they have to pay their bills.
Yes, needing money is most people’s second-to-last straw. It’s the thing that keeps them hating their work. It’s not the boring job, the politics, or the faces that put them over the edge. It’s their fear of not being able to pay their bills that prevents them from stepping near the edge in the first place.
I’ve lived that fear. I’ve even been in situations where I needed to rely on public assistance. I’ve currently got 3 mouths to feed on one income. Is every single month a cake-walk? Nope. Are there times I stress more than others, because I can associate signs with history to prove to myself that it’s gonna be a bad month? Yep.
What To Do About It?
The difference between me and those people who haven’t found their last straw yet is that I leapt. I know that if I really, really need money, I can go pick up a gig and be able to earn some. It may not be what I love doing, but it’s something. I’ve stopped looking at working for someone else (be it a single project or an ongoing thing) as a dead-end, and began to view it as an option. A last resort. I KNOW that I can make a living doing what I love and with purpose. I’ve done it, and I continue to do it. And I know that everyone can. It’s just a matter of them finding their last straw and making that jump.
If there’s nothing else I can ever teach anyone I come across, I want to teach people to have courage. This life we live is so short. So limited. I know that when you’re 70 years old, everything feels like it was so long ago, and that you’d spend a huge amount of time on this planet. I know that when you’re in your 20’s you feel like you’ve got your whole life ahead of you and nothing can break you. I know that when you’re a parent to small children, it feels like each day lasts a second and before you know it, they’re talking in complete sentences and you just want them to go back to being that teeny tiny person that couldn’t even hold their own bottle. As much as you couldn’t wait for them to be able to hold their own bottle when they couldn’t yet do it.
Life is not meant for us to trudge through. Life is meant to be lived with as much joy and excitement and eager anticipation we can muster. Yes, there are super low times. For some people, it seems more often than not at times. But you know how we get through them? By embracing all the joy and excitement and eager anticipation for the good times that we can think of. It takes courage to let go of what you know and try something new. It takes planning, too, of course. But boy howdy does it ever take courage.
But that’s what life’s about, for me, and what I hope you’ll discover for yourself. I want you to step so close to the edge of that cliff that your toes hang over and then…