The 7 to 2
I recently made some time to sit down and watch the interview that Chase Jarvis did with Ramit Sethi a few years back about business advice for creatives.
In it, Ramit suggests that the two top excuses he hears people use for not being able to start their own businesses or side projects is because they don't have the time to do so or they don't have the ideas to execute on.
I paused and really thought about that comment for a while. It all sounded very familiar to me. I've heard similar sentiments from folks asking how to get started with selling products online or how to get going in the freelance world.
It's just that those words don't sit well with me. If you don't have time to do something, what you're really saying is that it isn't a priority for you. If you don't have an idea of what to work on, you're probably looking for inspiration in the wrong place.
It reminded me of being assigned to a group project way back in high school and always being the one who ended up doing all of the work. It's not that everyone else in my group didn't care about the project – they instead had a tendency to prioritize track meets, skateboarding, or going to the movies, and had someone else there who felt that the project was important enough to receive their full attention.
Or, the project idea that they came up with was trite, overdone, and not worthy of a favorable grade. It only would take a little extra unconventional thought to find something that works.
The Comfortable Mind
I get it. Sometimes I love sitting in my underwear, turning on GTA5 and seeing how much air I can get off of the ramp I found while driving in my Suburban. I think it's healthy for your brain to go through periods of non-productivity. It's normal to relax the creative muscle. But, just as James Altucher mentions in Choose Yourself, if you relax too long, it will atrophy, just as if you stopped doing those bench presses for a month.
You need to exercise your mind to get good at coming up with ideas. And you probably need to prioritize better in order to understand why you thought you didn't have time to do any of this beforehand.
What are you doing with your free time?
What kinds of things can you do to help inspire ideas?
Who can you talk to today?
What movie or presentation can you watch to learn something that you didn't know yesterday?
Where can you go to get a new outlook and different perspective on your ideas?
Where do you find your ideas flowing most freely?
Where is it easiest to tap into your creative energy?
I love hearing from unsure folks about small and somewhat risky decisions to branch out and try something new. On the other hand, I get bummed when I hear people wish they had the courage, the idea, or the time to do something that they wanted.
How you spend your 7pm to 2am has a direct effect on how you spend your 9am to 5pm.
Record something. Code something. Paint something. Sell something, build something, do something. Give yourself the time to draw up some new ideas and start acting on them. You'll be glad you did.
Everyone is an entrepreneur. The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur are the ability to fail, to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on them, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move onto the next adventure.