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I recently read an article on BudgetsAreSexy called “the Triad of Hustling”. To summarize, the Triad of Hustling is something J.Money came up with when he was on the verge of burning out. With too many projects to choose from and limited hours in the day, he decided that he was going to evaluate projects based on these 3 criteria:
If the project didn’t take up too much time, made lots of money, and was fun, he would work on it. Otherwise, forget it.
What I like about this criterion is that it let’s you find the most optimized projects. And as an Optimizer, this was right up my alley.
But when I looked at these criteria and applied them to my own passion projects, I quickly realized something I wasn’t expecting. Projects I’ve worked on the past, even though they were fun at the beginning and the end, were aggressively NOT fun in the middle. This made me realize that instead of focusing on whether something is fun, it’s often more useful to focus on whether that project is IMPORTANT.
What do I mean by important? I mean it should provide value to someone other than yourself.
Because if you only rely on fun, you’ll get one heck of a surprise when a few months into your passion project or side gig, not only has the initial excitement worn off, you have so many problems popping up you have no idea how to whack them all. Suddenly all those fantasies of your next Pulitzer-winning novel, Grammy-winning song, or 100K/month revenue generating business go up in smoke.
This is why fun isn’t reliable when deciding on passion projects. Because fun FADES over time. As soon as the first obstacle blocks your path, your momentum stops and it’s no longer fun.
For example, if you’re trying to write a blog, it’s fun in the beginning, but once you’ve written enough words but no one is reading it, it no longer becomes fun.
Coding an app is exciting too. In the beginning. You’re designing the functionality, figuring out the flow, coding it and thinking about how you’re going to make a buttload of money. But once you start running into bugs and it’s crashing so hard you want to tear your hair out, it’s no longer fun.
Things are only fun in the beginning when everything’s easy, there are no stakes, and you haven’t run into any problems. But once you encounter that first obstacle, POOF. The fun vanishes.
So instead of asking yourself “is it fun?”, ask yourself “is it important?”
Because when you provide value to someone else, you can get through the not-so-fun parts to finish it. And once what you’re doing becomes valuable enough to receive positive feedback and/or monetary rewards, you know it’s IMPORTANT.
Find projects where you can answer “yes” to the question “does anyone actually NEED this?”
This is why sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are so useful. You can test your product’s importance before you even build it. If it’s important enough for people to pay for it, you’ll be able to raise the amount you need to get started. If it isn’t, there’s no point.
Take a look at JLCollin’s book “The Simple Path to Wealth” for example.
Despite 3 long years of writing, re-writing, editing, having to pass through the gauntlet of multiple editors and beta readers and so much tedious hard work that most sane people would’ve given up or gone insane, JLCollins pushed through it all. Why? Not because it was fun, that’s for sure. But because his editor constantly reminded him, over and over again, how IMPORTANT this book was. So even though some parts of writing the book wasn’t fun, he still finished it because it was IMPORTANT. JLCollins didn’t enjoy writing but he enjoyed “having written” and now we all get to enjoy the fruits of his labour.
My friend, Ted, on the other hand, has been dabbling in various side gigs for years without anything to show for it. From book writing, to blogging, to guitar playing, to building apps, to creating an online business, he would work on the project for a few weeks, excitedly babble about how much fun it was in the beginning, run into his first big obstacle, come to a screeching stop, throw up his hands and give up.
This is why everyone starts off all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed because it’s so fun and obstacle-free. But the middle, that’s when things get hard, and many people give up. Expectations get dashed, the bubble pops, and the fun’s over.
But for people who realize the importance of their projects (eg, if it’s towards a cause they feel strongly about, a book that they know will help people, a business that fullfills a need), they can push past the obstacles, even when it’s no longer fun.
Of all the projects and side gigs I’ve ever worked on, the ones where I had the guts to push through all the hard parts are always the one that added value to the world in some way. The ones where I did it just to make money, because someone else was doing it, or because I thought it was fun, were all short-lived.
Now, this isn’t to say you should NEVER give up on a project (as I mention in this previous post, the trick is to figure out WHEN to quit), but too often people give up WAY TOO EARLY.
But if they were to push through the hard parts, the parts where they got hit with a shit storm of problems, they would find that the fun times actually comes roaring back. They’ll realize that once you fix the problems and get past the hard parts (and this could take anywhere from months to years), they’ve developed the skills and mastery they need to see this thing to the end, it becomes fun again.
Especially when you see the impact the project makes, it validates the importance of this project, and keeps you going.
But if the project isn’t IMPORTANT enough for them to push through the obstacles, they’ll never get there.
This is not only true for side gigs and passion projects, it’s also true for the journey to FI.
The reason why we call it a journey is because you will encounter obstacles along the way (frenemies trying to derail you because they don’t want you to get ahead of them, unexpected emergency costs, or a job loss, etc), or times in which the finish line seems a million miles away, you feel so exhausted all you want to do is give up.
At this point, stop and ask yourself, even if it’s no longer fun, is it IMPORTANT? And
why is it important?
And if your answer looks something like this:
- Because I want to spend all the time in the world with the people I love
- Because I want to be able to be able to financially stand on my two feet and never rely on a company or someone else to support me
- Because I want to live a life with no regrets, follow my dreams, and show my kids they can do the same
- Because I want to free up a position I no longer need and use my free time to help others
- Because I want to be better at my job by having enough money so I can take risks and not worry about being fired
Then you know you’re doing it because it’s IMPORTANT, not because it’s FUN. Keep reminding yourself the IMPORTANCE of becoming FI and it’ll help you push through all those obstacles. It’ll keep you going, even during the points in the journey when it’s no longer fun.
And you once you get to the point where it becomes fun again, you’ll be grateful that you push through all the hard parts.
What do you think? Is your FI Journey important? Why?
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