Step 1. Live off of your parents for as long as possible.
Step 2. Get a job that you don’t like that pays you almost nothing. Party when you aren’t working.
Step 3. Find a way to make lots of money doing something that you still don’t really like. Resent your boss for never seeing past the bottom line. Eat lots of bagels to fill the existential void, augmenting occasionally with happy hour cocktails, a tawdry office affair, religion, spirituality, romantic comedies, and/or prescription meds. Kick the dog for chewing up the carpet. Realize that you are just ‘acting out’ because you aren’t happy at work. Apologize and buy the dog a knitted Christmas sweater.
Step 4. Have an early mid-life crisis. Read many embarrassing self-help books. Attend jargon-heavy seminars on weekends. Discover your life’s one true calling–that thing that you always wanted to do, but believed was out of reach or totally unprofitable.
Step 5. Keep your day job while pursuing your calling. Start strong, but lose enthusiasm over time. Move forward in fits and starts. Grow increasingly frustrated and resentful at ‘the universe’ (god, life, money, your parents, baby Jesus, spouse, children, etc.) for being unsupportive towards your dreams. Reach your emotional breaking point again.
Step 6. Say “F*ck it!”. Throw caution to the wind and just do it (write the book, start the company, etc.) despite all rational objections.
Step 7. Work 80-hour weeks. Start smoking again. Eat cookies. Gain 20lbs. Get your first customer or client. Work for free, or charge far too little because 1) you are desperate, 2) you don’t really believe in your own value, and 3) you feel guilty making money doing something that you like so much you’d actually do it for free.
Step 8. Discover with outrage that people with half your talent are charging 10 times more for truly shoddy work. Decide to charge people just as much even though you are terrified that they’ll laugh in your face. Boldly announce your new pricing. Have your deepest fears confirmed through a few bumbling and awkward conversations in which you reveal yourself to be a naive lightweight in front of big potential clients who stop returning your calls. Run after the dog to kick it…Stop. Kick yourself.
Step 9. Realize with a shock that you aren’t the first person in the world ever to start a business in your chosen field. Start reading business books to fill in the gaps and learn from the mistakes of others. Have a series of embarrassing ‘aha!’ moments where you finally understand why your old boss was so stressed out….Eventually, choose a safe ‘market based’ pricing approach to make enough money to get by while establishing your reputation in your field. Close a few deals. Do great work. Buy your dog a new sweater.
Step 10. With the full-blown panic beginning to finally subside, and some new ‘proof of concept’ stories under your belt, start to challenge your own inner limitations around money. Leave your comfort zone by asking more and more for each project. Become surprised that each time you up the ante, the market responds. Figure out eventually that “there is no spoon” when it comes to money…YOU are the one who determines your market value. Buyers respond to your own subconscious belief in your own value. You can have as much money as you want, as long as you truly believe that you are worthy. Raise your standards and drop a few old annoying clients. Stop smoking. Start exercising again. Lose 20 lbs. Forgive your parents–they meant well.
Step 11. As your finances grow, let your head grow with it. Get a bit “mad with power” from your success. Burn a few big leads. Panic….Then stop. Take a deep breath. Pull back again, remembering to keep your head and heart in balance. Gain strategic clarity around the long-term contribution you hope to make to world–your legacy. Stop forcing things. Trust the mysterious natural ebb-and-flow of your personal and professional development, with money as just one growth indicator. Decide that you’ve suffered enough scarcity thinking for one lifetime and finally “paid your dues.” Think of yourself as an old seasoned pro in your field, with time to burn (even when the facts of the situation suggest otherwise). Then relax, stretch your legs, and take on a few pro bono clients to prove to yourself that there’s more to life than money. Send “thank you” cards to all those insightful folks who had the vision to see your value and hire you back in the early days when you were still a naive bonehead.
Step 12. Coast along for awhile until you recognize that you have gained 10 lbs and are becoming complacent. Buy a new ‘idea journal’ and put it next to those other 8 mostly unused idea journals on your office bookshelf. Engage your subconscious mind to help you search for the next BIG VISION that will catapult your business to the stratosphere. Search and search until you become overwhelmed with client work and give up. Then, on a plane flight to Austin, discover it at the moment you least expect it… Have a really freaky religious experience when it dawns upon you that every single step along the path was necessary to bring you to this moment of profound epiphany! Realize with full and unabashed knowing that you are the only person in the entire universe with the exact set of skills to make this BIG VISION happen. Let your own personal identity melt into your transcendent vision. Become overwhelmed with gratitude that life could be so great. Annoy your friends by trying to help them “see the light” with unsolicited life and career advice.
Step 13. Repeat Steps 7 through 12 for each major quantum shift upward on this unending path of personal and spiritual development that we call business, accepting the ups-and-downs with grace and humility as an important part of the natural growth process. (Smoking optional.)*
[*For a much simpler and less bumpy path to total freedom read "The Voice Code: Master Your Inner Game" ]
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