How can you keep creating, daily?
How do you keep going without burning out?
As the song goes, “the best things in life are free”.
What a nice thought!
But then, they followed that line with “but you can keep them for the birds and bees, I need money”, basically, ahem, umm… undoing the sentiment there in that first part.
But that pretty much sums it all up, wouldn’t you say?
The hippies emerged from the mud at Woodstock, collected themselves after one hell of a party, then became investment bankers to feed the beast. Because without money, no one can party for too long. C’est la vie.
Many of us have a love/hate relationship with money, and society tells us we should only have a love/love/more love/MOST LOVE relationship with money! Yay unfettered capitalism!
And yet 77% of US workers according to one study have felt burnt out recently. And this figure doesn’t even include COVID or the people who voluntarily put more work on their plate, for example, entrepreneurs, artists, and volunteers.
Maybe you consider yourself one of those.
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So how do you motivate yourself to “make” or do something every day with little to no reward?
I’ll simplify the question:
Why do anything?
Why put in any more effort than the absolute bare minimum required to maintain your life?
It’s a valid question.
As somebody much wiser than me once said: “You don’t need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Just take a look at my cousin! He’s broke don’t do shit!”
Many of the world’s all-time great philosophers were broke.
Socrates famously embraced poverty and refused to take money for much of what he did his whole life.
So if you made a conscious stand to exit the rat race, to forsake money and to eliminate all the busy work that goes along with striving towards greater impact or financial success, you would be in good historical company.
I don’t imagine the Buddha made too much money sitting under a tree finding enlightenment, do you?
One could easily argue that posting on social media all day, that building a new product, that creating a new book or a new screenplay or a new work of art is really just distracting you from living in the moment – from truly enjoying all that life has to offer.
And perhaps, the purpose of life is simply to enjoy it!
So many of life’s most wonderful things are free or cheap if you are in good health.
But aside from the basic need for this “money” thing that we all have, what if you have a regular job? What if you are doing ok? Should you strive for more than ok? Should you bother putting in the effort to get to the next level or just stay where you are?
Or maybe ya done BEEN striving, and you’re not seeing any results. Why not give up, go back to a life of relative ease and avoid all that stress?
I can tell you – these thoughts have crossed my mind repeatedly, as I remind myself that where I’m heading – to be a cherished humorist, writer, speaker, and thought leader might take 10 years or more, and quite truthfully “it” might never happen, whatever “it” is!
Even following all the right steps, success is by no means guaranteed in any endeavor.
And is it hard for me to put in so much work for a small following, watching people putting far less effort into what they’re doing and getting 500k followers on a new TikTok account while I struggle for years to break 1,000? Of course it is. Sometimes I get caught up in it too…
The odds of being anything special are overwhelmingly against us in a world of 8 billion.
Maybe you feel, deep down, that you have *something* unique that you can’t quite articulate. Maybe you feel you were meant for something more against all logic and reason. Maybe you believe in yourself more than your family does, or your closest friends do. And maybe there’s tension between your valuation of yourself and the lower valuation society seems to have placed upon you.
So why go on?
It’s hard to not get burned out waking up each day feeling like you are falling short of your goals – that you don’t matter.
Well, I want to reframe this for you today:
Being Famous Sucks
I’ve got news for you, by all accounts, being famous sucks. Just read Jim Carey’s new book, Memoirs & Misinformation, which I covered in another video.
Many of the world’s most cherished celebrities have killed themselves, morbid thought, and we hear more and more stories of doxxing (where someone reveals your personal information online) or swatting (where someone calls the police pretending to be you committing a crime in your house). Often people are targeted for their wealth. Lady Gaga’s DOG WALKER was just shot! What a world! There are very REAL potential consequences of being rich & famous that suck. Look at what happened to Dave Chapelle over the years, or Britney Spears.
And also – fame is a fickle mistress.
How many actors were once at the top of their game and can’t find work anymore? How many times have you wished Kathy Griffin would stop making specials? Someday people who once loved you could easily turn on you just as quickly.
Marcus Aurelius said: “People who are excited by posthumous fame forget that the people who remember them will soon die too. And those after them in turn. Until their memory, passed from one to another like a candle flame, gutters and goes out.”
So fame is fleeting. And a terrible goal. And possibly something that we should actively be *avoiding*, if anything.
And we should listen to famous people when they tell us that their happiness does not come from their success, just like Richard Branson, who said of happiness:
“It’s holding my new grandchildren’s tiny hands. It’s looking up at the stars and dreaming of seeing them up close one day. It’s listening to my family’s dinner-time debates. It’s the smile on a stranger’s face, the smell of rain, the ripple of a wave, the wind across the sand. It’s the first snowfall of winter, and the last storm of summer.”
In addition to a “to do” list, he argues we should cultivate a “to be” list.
BUT yet, am I advocating that you do nothing if you feel compelled, for whatever reason, to go that extra mile?
Conan O’Brien said that fame is just a consequence of making stuff. And with this, I wholeheartedly agree.
The real question is: what kind of person are you?
How about instead of focusing on what you’ve gotten, what you get, or what you might not get, why not focus on who you are?
What if you don’t create because you want the approval of random strangers or “to be famous”, but rather you create because you are a creator? Full stop.
What if you write jokes because you have a sense of humor? Or because you like to laugh?
What if you make music because you’re a musician? You speak because you’re a speaker? You write because you’re a writer?
You cook because you’re a chef or you build because you are a builder?
This reframes our lives in a different way that’s less focused on the results.
Creative people create. Or as Steve Jobs said someone crassly, “Real artists ship”. But I’m not going to dig too deeply into that particular one.
If we can focus on being the best version of ourselves instead of focusing on what we get out of life, we just might burn out more slowly. We just might get more done. We can choose to focus on our own mastery, nothing else.
So ask yourself? Are you the type of person for whom comfort is the main goal? If so, relax! Take it easy! No one is telling you to do otherwise. Enjoy the s*** out of that relaxation. Have fun, it’s your life!
Or are you the type of person who wants to see what they’re capable of? Who enjoys learning, building, and getting better?
Neither is right or wrong, but whatever choice you make, it should originate from within you, and not from the outside world.
If we can see each creation as a celebration of what we’re capable of and not a chore to be done, then we will all be on the right path.