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I’m Totally Holding Back

Have you ever worked out with weighted arm- or leg-bands?

That’s how I feel sometimes, but with life in general, not with working out in particular. And it’s intentional.

There are things I want to do, which I will do, but I’m holding back, for now. Biding my time. Waiting for the right moment.

Conventional unconventional thinking (what you’ll read on blogs and in inspirational books) says that I should drop everything and plow forward recklessly. Don’t think, feel. Don’t wait, jump.

I’ve given this same advice. In a lot of cases, and for a lot of people, it’s the best tip you can give. If you’re afraid to fail or try new things or scared of change, not giving your doubts a chance to catch up with your ambition is smart, and could very well change your life dramatically (and hopefully for the better).

But I’m not afraid to fail. I like trying new things. I thrive on change. For me what’s difficult is pacing myself. Regulating. Holding back.

And that’s what I’m doing right now. People ask me what I’m up to and I’ll list off a string of current projects and goals, but I’ve got more. A whole lot more, actually. Some that would be just for kicks and some that could be game-changers. I want to pursue them all, and with gusto.

And I intend to, just not right at this moment.

Life is short and you have to be ambitious if you want to fit everything into those hundred-or-so years. But if you keep your eyes tunnel-focused on that next goal, you won’t be able to enjoy the rewards of the last goal you reached, and the one before that. And the things you’re doing right now.

Life is just one victory horizon after another, and it’s important to slow down sometimes to enjoy the view.

Update: February 8, 2017

Victory Horizon would be a good band name.

I still feel this way about a lot of things, though not all are business concepts. I waited to learn to cook for ages because it never felt like the right time: I had other things I was focusing on, and I wanted to be able to throw myself into cooking when I finally got around to it.

That proved to be a good choice. Having cooked every meal for the last six months, I feel like I probably wouldn’t have grown in that department as quickly if I hadn’t forced myself to learn and iterate in this manner. I would have been sidetracked, for certain.

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Entrepreneurship as a Lifestyle

The conversation usually goes something like this:

“…so yeah, I spend a good deal of time working on these different projects, and when I’m not doing that, I’m out meeting people, and some of those people are potential business connections.”

“So what do you do with your free time?”

“I’ll usually get a bit more done on those projects. Maybe do a little writing.”

“In your free time? That’s the same as what do you while working.”

“Speaking of which, I’ve got this thing I have to do. Project-related. Bye.”

I have people tell me all the time that it’s not healthy to spend so much time working and thinking about work and talking about work and can’t I just relax on the work thing for a bit? Won’t I come join them in sitting around, watching TV?

The thing is that I really, truly, honestly enjoy what I do for a living, and that’s why I spend even stolen moments with these projects. I’m passionate about them, and I can’t imagine trying to make them successful if I wasn’t.

And that’s the real trick, isn’t it? A lot of people want to be in business for themselves, but the first thing that comes to mind is, ‘How can I make money?’ The better approach, I think, is to first wonder, ‘What do I love enough to happily spend my mornings, nights, and weekends doing?’ And then figure out a way to monetize that.

For me, it’s the joy of creating something out of nothing. It’s the thrill of creation and the risk inherent each time I move in on a new niche.

What do you love doing so much that you could happily work all day every day? What would allow you to choose entrepreneurship as a lifestyle?

Update: February 8, 2017

Still guilty of this. I would write every day, even if I wasn’t making a cent from it. Ditto for my podcast. That I can make a living from these things means I can focus more of my time and energy on them, not having to work another job to pay the bills, but having them as my full-time gig? It’s amazing. I love it. I don’t need or want a break from the work I do.

Blog

Horizon Therapy

I was walking home from an entrepreneurial event the other day when I stopped to look at downtown Reykjavík from my elevated position.

I leaned against a stone-and-mortar wall running the length of the sidewalk and ran my eyes over the beautiful colors of the buildings, the clouds contrasting with the lines of the architecture. I looked over at a bird that was crooning out a love song a few feet away before returning my gaze to the horizon.

The past several weeks have been intense and at some points stressful. The combination of learning a new city and building relationships within it while also learning the ropes of a new aspect of business isn’t easy. There’s no sense of security and everything, from relationships to financial status, seems more nebulous than usual.

Little flakes of ice began to flitter down from the sky, and the sunlight they seemed impervious to made them sparkle as they landed on my eyelashes and the back of my neck. The chill was invigorating and seemed to loosen something. Thoughts that had been weighing on me spilled to the forefront of my mind.

I’ve been speaking to investors and incubators, and the whole process seems so arcane to me.

I know how to run businesses, how to make money from nothing, but all the legalities, paperwork, regulations, and equity plans are things I’ve tended to avoid in the past. What if I make a misstep and pull my team down with me? Do I take some time back in the States after Iceland to make sure the foundation of the business is sound, and so that investors can meet me in person and see that I’m not an absentee-CEO?

There have been opportunities to work with other entrepreneurs and some companies here in Reykjavík. Should I break new ground and start officially working with locals when I’m in town, or stick with the more tax-friendly option of doing business online only and keeping any local work under-the-table or on a barter basis? How much do I want to learn about international tax law?

And how about the other opportunities that have been springing up? The import-export concepts? The side-businesses that I’ve put on hold in order to focus on Ebookling? Will they be able to scale on the Ebookling platform like I hope they will?

Am I following the right path? Am I spending enough time making sure that I’m philosophically fulfilled? Does any of it matter if we can’t define reality to begin with? What impact will quantum tech have on my day-to-day existence? Will I be able to buy a spaceship in my lifetime, and if so, how far will I legally be able to travel before breaking space-laws? Will the word ‘lifetime’ still have meaning by the time I’m 100? How much of what I know is fact and how much is so bias-laced as to be useless?

As each thought arrived, each melted away like the flecks of ice falling from the sky after a few seconds on my skin.

A calm came over me and I laughed like a crazy person; thankfully the street was empty in both directions. The only strange look I got was from the bird, who turned its head toward me, its rhythmic warbling interrupted, to flash me a look that seemed to say ‘All better now? Mind if I get back to singing?’

Yeah, it’s going to be good. Sing on.

Update: February 8, 2017

Ebookling was a very educational process for me. As much as I learned about the publishing industry, I probably learned as much or more about how I like to make money and what kinds of projects I prefer. It turns out that while I’ve been at the head of companies before, I don’t particularly enjoy it. I also don’t like the startup scene, especially what it looked like back then.

I’m glad I had that experience, but I’m also glad I’ve moved on to other things.