Increasingly, I find myself going against the grain of conventional wisdom when it comes to business tactics, marketing, and the like.
It’s not that I think these things don’t work — I know from experience that they often do — it’s more that I simply don’t care to do them. Changing my blog headlines for more clicks, optimizing my book covers for better ‘conversion’ metrics, or starting entire businesses just to make money are efforts that don’t do it for me anymore. They don’t give me the satisfaction of a job well done; a creation well crafted.
This is a shift I’m seeing in more people every day, actually, and it’s heartening for several reasons.
The first is that it generally hearkens the availability of better products and services. When you’re spending less time and energy and resources on figuring out how to sell, you’re generally spending more on what you’re selling, resulting in better offerings. A drastic simplification of the sales process can mean a lot more time spent on what you’re building.
The second is that folks who approach business this way tend to be happier, overall. When it comes to work and lifestyle satisfaction, nothing beats the feeling of doing work you believe in, and exactly how you envisioned it. You may bend based on ideas and feedback from your audience, but you aren’t beholden to anyone. You aren’t loading up your writing with keywords or catchphrases, because you aren’t traffic-focused. You’re focused on doing good work.
Finally, I love seeing this kind of progression because I know why I’ve shifted in this direction: to focus more on quality in my work, and in my life. Rather than allowing conventions and gimmickry to determine my output, I do things because I want to. I start projects for fun, and write books because they’re the kinds of books I like to read.
This is, in most cases, the kind of work situation people aspire to ‘someday,’ and often that day never comes. Your work stays ‘work’ forever, and never becomes something that you can’t not do. Something that you wake up looking forward to every morning.
Consider what you’re putting aside, the types of things you want to be doing, and how you might do them today. Can you incorporate these things into your schedule now by pushing aside some other activities? Could you live on less for a while, and build up your capacity to earn over time by doing work you believe in?
Focus on the sale can help put products in hands and money in your pocket, but it’s unlikely to ever make you as happy as a passionate effort honestly produced. The results of which are made available to those who will appreciate them.
Take stock of your priorities and calibrate your life accordingly. You’ve got a finite number of years to play with: you might as well do great work for the duration.
Update: April 15, 2017
This is still a key component of how I operate today, and how I choose which projects to take on next. It requires passing on certain opportunities, but you typically end up sleeping a lot better and a lot more excited to do the work you do, rather than feeling a sense of dread about having to do it.