Why I do what I do

Tl;dr

Extreme Vacation Deals done!

I finished the Extreme Vacation Deals. 5ish weeks ago I didn’t know how to build a mobile app, and now it’s done for Android and iOS. Pretty awesome, even if I still have the database in Dropbox (can read about that here). We hooked up Slack so every time a customer “books” a property we get a notification and can complete the booking via email, PayPal, and manual processes. Most of my time last week went into building the landing page, designing the app logo, and tweaking the apps.

Tomorrow we submit to the App Store and Play Store! I’ll publish links to the apps once they’re approved, but for now, a little insight into why I am doing 4 Weeks to Launch.

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When I was 5 years old, I went through a phase where I would reply, “why and how?” to just about everything. Yeah, I was a fun kid. What fascinated me was how you can endlessly drill down with these questions, and down, and down. To this day I still get into the “why” mindset every few months and question everything. Why 4 Weeks to Launch? What keeps me going, even when sometimes I feel like I’m failing? Why blog; why publicly? Why care about passive income?

As much fun as it is to build multiple products, I know that I could build a higher quality product by focusing on one idea for a longer period of time. I also spend a lot of time updating 4 Weeks to Launch, further taking away from my product quality. And in truth, I don’t even like blogging. So why do all of this?

Why: 4 Weeks to Launch

Doing something difficult is rewarding. That deep sense of satisfaction from using willpower to accomplish a hard goal is the best feeling I know. The feeling of meaningful action.

I build a new product every 4 weeks because it’s hard. It’s hard to build something in a limited amount of time, with limited resources. But by doing so, it forces me to grow and to solve problems in new ways. This growth is crucial to all of us. Struggling, failing, and achieving are powerful experiences, and sometimes even scary. That’s why some leave their dreams on shelves; pretty things to look at but not to touch let alone fulfill.

Why: Blog

I blog to hold myself accountable. Publicly posting about my failures, progress, or lack of progress keeps me on task. Where I am sometimes weak in follow through, I delegate to a system that forces me to keep going, i.e. blogging. I feel guilty when I don’t work; not the nicest of motivators but it sure as hell works. I’ve made a public promise and despite no monetary progress so far, I want to keep that promise alive.

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Why: Passive income

Passive income is more than just money to me, it’s a milestone. Money is a means to wealth. Whether wealth is time with your kids or travelling the world, money can (typically) get you there. However why care about passive income since my personal definition of success/wealth is building products?

In a hyphenated word, self-mastery. Passive income to me means that I’ve beaten the system. To the world, our society, and to my mind, that means escaping the 9 to 5 rat race. Not trading time for money. That is meaningful to me. To have power over time. And it’s meaningful because I chose to give it meaning.

Self-mastery has been a personal goal for 10 years. It’s why I blog, why I build startups, why I focus on passive income. I want to beat the system and to have no master other than myself.

Everyone has his/her own purpose in life, but it’s up to you to decide what it’s going to be. Someone else’s purpose isn’t yours, just as much as your experiences aren’t others’. That extends to all the advice from parents and gurus and therapists. It’s what you put meaning into that defines you; what matters to you, is what matters.

I chose to work hard to get closer to my ideal self and self-mastery. This means building products. This means 4 Weeks to Launch…at least for now!

If you’re looking for inspiration:

Question: What are you working towards, and why? Let me know by email, reply/comment, or phone.

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The $10,000,000 Question

Note: This week’s post is on a different topic than 4 Weeks to Launch. The mobile app is coming along slowly and I’m trying to figure out what to do with it. 4WTL is an ongoing series about building passive income across multiple startups — a new startup every 4 weeks. Read the first post on 4 Weeks to Launch to get started, or subscribe for weekly updates.

Most of the people I know are dissatisfied with their lives. We live in the best age, but all we do is want more. What we crave is more meaning (depth), but what we end up getting is more stuff (breadth).

In short career so far I’ve gone from eating Saltines while living on a leaky, heatless boat in winter to pursuing my dreams on a daily basis. Nothing is easy and straightforward. Some days I’m just as miserable as when I was starting out. Here’s are a few ways I stay aligned and make sure each decision takes me closer to my mountain.

How to find passion something better than what you’re currently doing

I dropped out of college because it was boring as shit. I wasn’t learning much, and all the wrong stuff. After high school the idea of more school didn’t interest me, but it’s what I was “supposed to” do. Isn’t every middle class kid supposed to go to college? But I knew that dropping out would be enough. I needed a dramatic change–something that would force me to grow. So what did I do? I moved to the Philippines. That seemed pretty dramatic.

It’s scary to make a big change. You never know what’s going to happen and your mind tends to thinks of the worst possible outcomes. For instance I thought I would be sold into white slavery by my Filipino host who I met through a mutual mutual mutual friend. The reality? He’s now one of my best friends, and I was in his sister’s wedding in February. The point is the unknown is terrifying. But moving somewhere isolated let me listen to myself. I was able to find “the thing” that I wanted to do–programming. I didn’t know if it was my life’s work, but hey, it was more interesting than college. I took the plunge and started teaching myself to code.

The $10,000,000 question

My favorite question to ask people is:

“What would you do if got $10,000,000 today?

Most people laugh after I say this so I ask again–if you had $10,000,000, after tax money, what would you do?

I often get the same responses; travel, invest, or both. That’s cool bro, that’s my answer too. What then?

The beauty of this question is you can always drill down. There is a theme to this list as you refine it: buy stuff, donate, give gifts, travel. All that takes about 6 months. So what happens then?

This is where people get stuck. It’s a big scary question that we never address. If I never had to think about money again, what would I do with my time over the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years? Years. That’s a lot of free time for playing video games and travelling. You’re going to want to do something more, but what is it?

Just do f***ing it

Ok, so now you know exactly what you want to do! Just kidding. The goal of this question is to find something that you want to do more than what you’re currently doing. And then do it. It doesn’t have to be your life mission, just something better. People often have very simple, achievable goals and don’t realize it. Spend time with your kids, fishing, or getting involved in your community.

If you’re trading your time for money to have more time to play with your kids, why not just spend more time with your kids? Achieving your goals isn’t that hard when you actually know what you’re working towards. Retirement is the golden period of our lives where we have complete time freedom, but we rarely plan what we’ll do with the time once we have it.

Some of your dreams you can’t do yet. That’s ok too. Once defined, make decisions to get you closer. If you want to spend 6 months volunteering in Bali, start with 3 weeks off and try Bali out. Or somewhere closer. All this “some day” shit is just that–shit. If you know what you want, go get it. If money’s the blocker don’t spend on things you don’t need! I guarantee you if you’re motivated enough you can save money by eating Ramen noodles and PB&J for a month. No, not ideal or fun, but we’re talking your life goals here. It’s worth the sacrifice.

Measure each decision against where you want to be. Seeing how your actions bring forward or push back your goals can be a powerful motivator. Don’t focus on perfection; focus on progress.

If you’re looking for some Monday inspiration, watch Shia LaBeouf scream a lot. Just do it inspiration.

How to refine your passion

You change, your goals change. As you progress you may find that your goals are less inspiring. Or you need to level up your goals as you level up. Improve your goals as you grow. I wanted to be a programmer and now building products and ideas is more interesting than coding. I still have lots of fun building MVPs but wouldn’t be happy only writing code for the rest of my life.

A good way to envision your goal is as a distant mountain. As you get walk towards it, you might notice it’s more to the left or right. As long as you make decisions that get you closer to the mountain you’re doing well. Just don’t go further away from it.

I picked this concept up in a commencement speech by the amazing writer Neil Gaiman (video). Continue to refine your goals, actions, and commitment and every step you take will get you closer to your mountain.
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