Stop Trying To Do Everything By Yourself

Solopreneuring can be a beautiful thing.

Instagram depicts the blissed-out lifestyles of the indie creative. Hipsters able to live their dream of selling handmade whatnots while vandwelling in the Ozarks. Shiny and successful location-independent podcasters who send out fresh doses of inspiration while beach-hopping around the world. Youtube stars who have discovered “the trick.”

The online business model can be very nimble. People are finding ways to monetize all sorts of things. They can produce value without much investment or a team of employees.

Independence has a cost

The actual investment in terms of dollars can be minimal. The time and energy requirements can be huge.

A couple of filter-heavy photos a week can paint a drastically different picture from what the actual grind can look like.

Hours spent staring at a screen in a noisy wifi cafe in Bangkok waiting for your laundry to finish. Hoping beyond hope that those bites on your skin are not from bedbugs.

When just starting out, most people do everything by themselves. Basically any movement towards earnings or recognition comes as a positive. Often, the long-term picture isn’t so clear. After all, who knows what might be possible? The playing field is changing every hour.

Fight to stay fueled by your purpose

Many indies hope to get big and successful and one day so profitable that they can eventually outsource the parts of the job that they don’t want to do.

They might even strive to outsource themselves. To live the life of entirely passive income.

But then what?

I don’t know about you, but I think that bottomless mai tais would get boring pretty fast.

Maybe you would say, oh, but then I could do what I really want.

Well… money opens some doors, but it isn’t going to give life meaning.

Is it possible for you to work now in such a way that you feel a clear sense of meaning and depth and purpose?

Even though it’s your party, don’t miss out on the rewards of collaboration.

People can get weirdly possessive of their projects. Partly from taking ownership of something important to them and partly as a defense mechanism to cover up their insecurities about it.

Allow others to feel however they feel about your project. Some people will love it. Some won’t. Despite how successful it might become, you can also be assured that some people will think your cookbook idea is boring.

When your actions stem from your true depths you will be able to do whatever it takes to succeed and you will feel all the more vital and alive for your efforts.

Don’t always fly solo

Amidst all the hard work of being a solopreneur, it can be hard to muscle through it alone. It can be hard to keep at it until it becomes profitable, whatever your plans after that point.

Writing a series of books or starting a business is probably going to require you to be alone a lot. It’s probably going to mean you will need to do some pretty unheroic-looking drudgery.

So switch it up. These things can be a huge help:

  • Periodically reassess where you are spending your energy.
  • Do what you’re best at. If someone else wants to help, see what can happen by exploring that.
  • Be a part of a team.
  • Get a accountability group. A mentor.
  • Let yourself be seen amidst the struggle.
  • Actually be emotionally open and interested in finding collaborators and synergistic relationships.

When you can really focus on what you do best, the rest can follow.

So many times, the other apparently important activities really aren’t even necessary. Spend your best efforts on what matters the most.

You have a sense for what you really want to manifest, but that part of you speaks in a still small voice.

The things that it believes you are capable of can be terrifying.

What if when you open up to the rest of the world, that deep and sensitive vulnerable part of you gets squashed and ridiculed? The fears and neurotic anxieties and all the other stuff are going to be really loud — the neurotic habits of thinking will try and seduce you, talk you down, appeal to your sense of reason. Give up! Staying small is totally OK.

Except it isn’t.

The game of subtraction

Make room in your life to receive help from other real human beings. Be open to the magical possibility that there are people out there who want to love and support you. See what you can do to invite that. So often, it’s there, but we aren’t able to receive what people want to give.

I look back at a sci fi series that I had been struggling on for a couple of years and I wonder: why didn’t anyone tell me that book idea sucked?

OK, I’m being harsh. Specifically, I wish someone had been able to point to what was working best and asked me questions to clarify why I had made some of the choices I was making. The book remains fixable, but I wasted a lot of time with it. Outside perspective could have made short work of that.

Because it could have saved me a lot of pain and wasted effort, I wish I had invited more helpful feedback.

People often ask their readers to “be harsh,” but that’s not necessarily any more accurate than people giving a polite appraisal.

Instead, ask questions that invite better feedback, like “I’m really enjoying writing this, but I have a sense that there’s something a little confusing or off about it. Maybe in terms of pacing/the main character/etc. I would really appreciate it if you could tell me what you notice about it. I know there’s something, but I just can’t quite see it. It could save me a lot of time if you could give me your sense of things.”

Opening up to other people helps you stay accountable so you can finish your goals. It also helps you have perspective. Being too up-close with a project can lead to major myopia and tunnel vision.

When in doubt, switch it up

Some tips:

  • do physical things
  • catch up with an old friend — in person
  • go for a hike
  • go swimming
  • take a road trip
  • camp!
  • clutter clear – make more energetic room in your life by letting go of anything that isn’t truly useful and doesn’t make you feel good
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