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“How do you stick with it?”
Whenever I tell friends and family about our children’s novel, the non-profit app, or the blog, one of the questions we get asked the most is how the heck do we stick with these projects? Generally, they have no problem starting projects, but finishing them is the hard part.
One friend wanted to lose 30 pounds and joined an expensive gym.
Another wanted to start his own online business.
A third wanted to publish a novel, like us.
The first friend quit after just 2 months. Apparently, lifting weights and running on a treadmill wasn’t for him. The second one lasted 6 months. He went as far as putting together an online website, advertising his services, but when no clients showed up, he called it quits. The third one lasted a year. She wrote one manuscript, before abandoning it halfway through to start a completely different story. When she finished that story, she queried it to a handful of literary agents, only to get zero requests, so she quit.
It took us 7 years to get published, 9 years to reach financial independence, over 2 years to code and release the app, and we’ve been writing the blog for 1.5 years and counting…
When it comes to passion projects, we’re in it for the long haul. This makes our friends think we have super-human discipline and herculean levels of motivation.
But that’s not true. Hell, if that were true I wouldn’t be spending our days floating in a Hungarian spa or lounging on a beach in Thailand. Sometimes I don’t even bother putting on pants and end up chilling in my AirBnb all day (like today).
We are not exceptional. We’re normal people, just like our friends. The only difference is our approach.
Why You Can’t Stick To Things
It all boils down this simple concept:
“Willing versus Able.”
The Y-axis is “willingness” or motivation—basically whether the person is “willing” to change. The more motivated they are, the higher the dot moves up the vertical axis.
The X-axis is “ableness” or confidence—basically how confident they are in achieving the goal. The higher their confidence, the more the dot moves to the right.
Once you’ve find out how motivated and confident they are, you find out where those points intersect, and this determines how likely you are to actually get shit done.
And no, I’m NOT making this up. It comes from an actual psychology book that therapists use to help patients quit smoking.
For example, someone who’s lost a relative to lung cancer might be extremely motivated to change, thus earning them a solid 9 on the “willingness” scale.
BUT, given that they’ve been a smoker for the past 30 years, have tried to quit at least 20 times, and would step over their own mother for a cigarette, they might only score a 2 on the “ableness” scale. They aren’t confident they can kick the habit.
Their chart looks like this:
If you multiply the 2 numbers from the X and Y axis, you get what I like to call “the readiness score”. In this case, their RS is 9 * 2 = 18. Which is quite low since a perfect score is 10*10 = 100 and this isn’t even halfway there.
On the other hand, someone who doesn’t believe smoking causes lung cancer and thinks smoking “looks sexy” will be very low, a 2 on the “willingness scale”.
That being said, they haven’t been smoking very long, and have sometimes gone long periods without smoking. They are quite confident they can quit, a 9 on the “able” scale, but they continue smoking because they believe it doesn’t affect their health.
This person’s chart looks like this:
Even though they have completely different reasons for why they won’t quit, their readiness score is the same—18.
Once we realized this, it actually explained why some of our past projects never took off.
When We Face-Planted
Waaay back in 2008 we tried to launch a website called “Swap-It.” It was basically a “swap meet” site where people can trade their stuff without using money. That project lasted all of 4 months because a) I hated coding and b) back then web dev tools were sucky. It took way too much time and effort to make a flashy-looking site. I also wasn’t confident that idea was novel enough and quickly lost the motivation to keep going. On the “Willing versus Able Chart”, this project was scored a crappy 4*3 = 12.
Two Nerds. One Dream.
We also tried to launch a blog for writers, “Two Nerds One Dream”, documenting our publishing journey in 2011. Not only did we blog infrequently (we were too busy writing the novel), we didn’t have the authority to teach people about writing since we weren’t published ourselves. That project quickly died a dignified but well-deserved death eight months later. All was not lost, because we did meet quite a few fellow writers along the way, but when we pulled the plug on that sucker, it had a pathetic 500 total page views in 8 months…and most of that was probably just ourselves testing the site and reviewing posts. The google adsense revenue from this project? 11 whole cents.
The readiness score for this project? 8 on the motivation scale, 3 on the confidence scale, giving us 8*3= 24, slightly better than the “Swap It” project, which is why we actually launched the damned thing. But because our confidence was low, we couldn’t keep up the momentum and it didn’t take off.
Now, let’s look at how the chart looks for the projects we DID finish:
When We Succeeded
Little Miss Evil:
On this project, we scored a 10 for motivation/willingness and an 8 for confidence/ableness. We were super motivated to write the book (since it’s my childhood dream) and by this time we already had 3 failed manuscripts under our belt and a group of helpful, supportive writing partners. That’s why our confidence was super-charged up to a 8 (it wasn’t a 10 since there were other factors outside our control, like market timing, and whether parents would let their kids read a book about super-villains, etc) . So overall our RS was a solid 10*8 = 80! Triple our score for “Two Nerds One Dream” and 7 times our score for “Swap it”. No wonder we ended up getting published.
We knew that one of the reasons “Swap it” failed was because it didn’t have any marketing power behind it, which caused us to lose confidence. However, when we made the non-profit app, we had the force of an entire non-profit organization behind us, so we knew they had the marketing power to push this thing. Also, since we started coding the app in 2015, the tools were MILES ahead of the tools we had in 2008. This meant that with little effort we could “prettify” the app without having to do everything from scratch. This pushed our confidence to 8 and our motivation to 9 (since we felt strongly about the underlying cause), giving us an overall RS of 9*8= 72—six times higher than our score for “Swap-It.”
Becoming Financially Independent:
Even though we had tried countless online business ideas (There were so many ideas we tried that never panned out), and no matter how promising they sounded at first, and how hard we work at them, they all fizzled out.
The main reason was that there were too many factors outside our control and this caused our confidence to plummet.
Becoming FI was different. FI was a mathematically proven, pragmatic process that we could measure and move towards in a systematic way. Which is why so many of our business ideas failed, but FI was a success. It wasn’t easy by any means, but it was simple and unlike most of the other projects we tried, a lot of the pieces were under our control. We knew it was doable, we knew we could do it, and my stressful, soul-sucking job motivated me like crazy.
So on the motivation scale we were a 10 and on the confidence scale, we were a 9, giving us a 10*9= 90, the highest RS out of ALL our projects. We made a plan, tracked our progress, and got to our goal within 9 years, just as we predicted.
And because we became FI, all our dreams came true.
Which brings us to this blog.
The Truth About the Millennial Revolution
We built Millennial Revolution, not to make money, but to tell the truth. The truth about investing, the truth about retiring, the truth about what happens when you escape the rat race to live life on your own terms.
One of the things you may have noticed about me, if you’ve been reading this blog, is how much I hate bullshit. My hatred for bullshit far exceeds my hatred for overpriced housing, and that’s saying a lot. So what does a straight-shooter do when they discover a magical red pill and break out of the Matrix? Shout about it from the rooftops of course!
But for those who are listening, the question then becomes, how “willing and able” are you to reach FI?
Because on the scales of “willing” and “able,” the “willing” part is easy. If you’re reading this blog, you’re already motivated. And besides, who doesn’t want more freedom and more money?
But confidence? That’s another story.
We know first hand how frustrating and confusing the investing world is. Wall Street and Bay Street designed it to be confusing on purpose, so you’ll hand over all your money for them to “manage,” which is shorthand for pillage and steal.
That’s why whenever we get an email from someone saying “should I use this robo-advisor” or “should I invest with this guy?” my answer is always: Never hand over control of your money to someone else because you don’t understand what you’re doing. Read the Millennial Revolution Investment Workshop, increase your investment knowledge, become confident in what you’re doing, and only THEN decide who you should trust with your portfolio.
So many people email us saying “I am SO confused about money, I don’t know where to start!” But just as many people email us saying “I used to be clueless, but I read your blog and it explained things in a way I actually understand. I think I get it now.”
Those are the most rewarding emails to read, because that’s basically what we’re trying to do with this weird little blog of ours. If we can help a few people become confident about their money, inspire another few people to live life on their own terms, and taunt a few haters for shits and giggles, then Mission Accomplished.
So let’s hear from you. How confident are you about your money? What’s your Readiness Score? And what can we do to help?