There are a whole lot of hours in the day, it’s just that most people don’t have access to a good number of them.
Those hours are bought and paid for by whomever is writing you that paycheck.
It should be no surprise, then, that when you have those hours back you can get a whole lot done.
It’s been years since I’ve worked for somebody else, and in that time I’ve been more productive than ever. I’ve found a healthy balance between my personal life and work, and I spend the vast majority of my time doing exactly what I want, when I want.
You can’t pay for that. I don’t even know who you would pay if you wanted to. It’s something you have to earn, and I never lose sight of this fact.
There does seem to be this idea that being a successful entrepreneur is all about freeing up time to hula hoop and hang around the apartment naked (there is some of that, but not every moment of every day, and usually not at the same time), but for me, that simply isn’t the case.
Some people do subscribe to the 4 Hour Workweek ideal of working just as much as necessary so that you can spend the rest of your time sipping margaritas and lounging on the beach in a hammock slung between two palm trees, but I would get sooooo bored.
That lifestyle isn’t for me (though I do indulge in it some of the time, it would drive me crazy to do so all the time), but I do still make full use of the freedom my entrepreneurial activities afford me.
I get my kicks by thinking up crazy business ideas and seeing if they work in the real world, not just in my head. When I can mix them in with an extreme lifestyle experiment, even better.
A perfect example of this is my t-shirt store. I’ve designed shirts for clothing companies in the past and always enjoyed it, though I didn’t have final say over how they would edit my graphics, and the pay was just so-so. I liked the work itself, but not the guidelines surrounding it.
But what if I started up my own shop, had no overhead to pay and designed a new shirt every day for a year?
What if I killed the guidelines?
It would be fun, interesting, and potentially a solid business model (you can do worse than to build 365 new overhead-free assets in a year).
So I did it. Why? Because I could. I have the time and like to have fun.
I also have the time to run a paid mailing list/forum for unabashed intellectuals who want an excuse to engage in stimulating conversation every week. It was something I wanted for myself, so I started it up to see if others wanted the same.
They did and we’re having a blast. If I were working, I likely wouldn’t have had the time to even consider setting up something like this, much less keep it going week-to-week.
Ditto for ebookling, an e-shop and resource site dedicated to turning independent authors into entrepreneurs and making a wider variety of high-quality products available for readers.
Ditto ditto for Flashpack, a review site where I and other long-term travelers talk about the products and services that make what we do possible.
Ditto ditto ditto for How We Date, a blog that covers topics related to non-traditional dating, from long-distance relationships to polyamory.
Are these projects necessary for me to make a living? No.
Are they helping me enjoy life? Yes.
I’m having a ball.
Reclaiming your time gives you the ability to do whatever you want with your life. If you crave the beach, hit the sand every damn day. If your ambitions lay elsewhere, don’t be afraid to buck the location independence trend and spend your newfound time away from work, working.
The worst thing you could do is extract yourself from a system of rigid expectations and throw yourself into another.
Update: February 1, 2017
There are a lot of now-defunct projects listed in this post. More complete explanations for most of them have been pulled from the blog, as they’re mostly dead-links and outdated information, today, but they were fun projects while they lasted, and led me to where I am now.
I actually forgot about Most Interesting People in the Room, which was a closed forum that folks paid to access each month, in which we could discuss really big, deep topics in-depth. The idea was to extract ourselves from the surface-level info, for which there was a preponderance in other forums and across the blogosphere, and see what we could learn from each other. That concept later led to a project called Exiles, which was a paid newsletter that did pretty well, but which I eventually stopped after three years. Some of what I learned from those experiences I’m putting into practice today, with my podcast.
We’ll see what I learn from this, and what happens as a result.