On Being Weird

Everyone has their quirks. Their weird habits. Their weird interests.

Most tend to hide them, somewhat ashamed of admitting to themselves & others that they may be different.

My quirks:

  • I’ll have a bit of every type of food on my plate with each forkful
  •  I’ll count the number of letters in a sentence I just said (whether aloud or in my head) and keep dividing the sentence in half to form mini-sentences or words

What is the point? I’ve got no idea. I just do them. I also suspect everyone else has their own quirks. I’ve also come to the conclusion that there are two groups out there:

1. There are those that treat them as dirty little secrets

2. Those who just don’t give a shit.

The latter rightly think there are more important things to worry about than what others think of them eating pizza with a knife & fork.

Like those guys, just learn to embrace your quirks & stop worrying about the opinion of other people. As long as you’re not harming anyone else, more than mildly offending their opinion, then it’s just part of your nature.

You don’t need to tell everyone you meet about your keen interest in Yu-Gi-Oh, or that you still eat plain mayonnaise sandwiches now & again, just don’t worry about letting the cat out the bag.

Celebrate Your Weirdness

The weird habits themselves are not something to celebrate. The thing to celebrate is the individuality that they represent.

Your quirks are a sign that you don’t follow the crowd, that you’re not just faceless, lacking identity, in a mass of humanity.

That you are willing to stand up & do whatever you want to do, to act as you want to.

Also, do you really want to end up being called ‘that nice guy’? Nothing remarkable. Nothing special. Nothing really to say about you. Just ‘that nice guy’.

Nice = boring.

Don’t kid yourselves into thinking otherwise.

Embrace your weirdness & others will too. If you are fine with it, others will be too.

Your Weirdness Provides Strength

It’s a slippery slope if you start worrying too much what others think.

Where does it stop? Do you worry about every action? Everything you say? Constantly on edge in case you slip up?

If you start worrying too much, you’ll live a life racked by anxiety, because you can never please everyone. Someone, somewhere will judge you. Will call you weird. Will disagree.

Life is full of people. And people tend to disagree, to be irrational, to enjoy conflict. It’s a losing race to try & please everyone.

Embrace your weirdness & you’ll find that:

1) you will find it incredibly liberating to just do what you want

2) you’ll very quickly find you develop a thick skin to anything thrown your way.

 

In essence, you’ll start to not give a shit what people think. You’ll stop acting as you think society & those around you want you to. You’ll free yourself from the immense pressure to conform that society — and we — put on ourselves. You’ll start thinking as you want. Doing as you want.

It’s sounds like a small thing, right? Admitting you regularly dance around the house alone?

Once you feel the liberating sensation of not giving a shit, however, you’ll realise it’s not.

Choosing One Thing To Change

The biggest problem I find myself facing is choice.

We are so used to living in a society over-whelmed by choice that when it comes to choosing & prioritising what to work on, what to focus your life on, we lack the practice.

Buying toilet roll, for example, is not just buying toilet roll. Which supermarket are you going to go to? How much do you need? Which brand are you getting? Why? How does that 20% off promotion influence you? Soft?

Even the most insignificant decisions become big decisions. Not in importance, but in how much of your time & mental energy it demands.

To compound this, most choices we face are pretty easy to reverse, or the consequences of the choice don’t matter so much.

Buy the wrong chewing gum? Not the end of the world. Even bought the wrong TV? You can just take it back.

When it comes to allocating your time based on a specific choice, such as deciding on a certain career path, it’s not so easy.

 

We are fear-driven

However confidence & in-control we may seem, we all share the same nagging thoughts. The same doubts. The same fears.

What if it doesn’t work out? What will people think? What will I think of myself? But what if I end up doing this all my life? What if I can’t switch careers in future? What if the industry falls apart?

All of these negative thoughts exacerbate our poor decision-making. They influence which decision we should make, making those decisions less rational & more in our short-term interest.

 

You can never recover lost time.

Time is finite. You also only have a limited amount of it to allocate.

Therefore any decision that will determine how you spend a lot of your time is an important decision. Important decisions are scary decisions, because we can never know whether a decision is right or wrong. We realise we are never in control of all of the facts, so have to make an educated guess with what information we have.

 

Decision Debt.

Every time you allocate time to something, it means you are not dedicating it to something else.

By deciding to be a product designer, for example, you are deciding to not be an engineer, or a lawyer.

Big decisions around your career lead you down a specific path. The initial choice may seem small & simple, but the path it leads you on will become ever-more divergent.

 

Lack of information.

Choices tend to be made with pretty limited information. You decide what to study at university whilst still at school. You decide on a career path whilst still at university. You determine the course of your life in your early 20’s.

Should you really spend the rest of your life following the goals you set in your 20’s, when you really had no clue about the world?

 

No easy answers.

I find myself aware of the psychology of fear & decision-making, aware of my scattered thought processes around tough choices I need to make. I’ve read countless books & articles on all of this, yet I still struggle.

Decision-making for me is like a muscle. The more I practice, the better I get. But I’m also aware I’ll never be that good at it. I’ll be influence by my fears, whether rational or irrational. I’ll be aware of the gravity of some decisions both in the short- and long-term. This will make each decision hard. It makes each decision scary.

Rather than offering advice on how to prioritise & execute effectively, however, I think the most effective step is to just realise – & never accept – decisions by default.

Never take the path laid out in front of you. Never stay in that relationship just because you’re already in it. Or that career path just because you’re already 2 years in. Don’t take that job just because someone offered it to you.

“Don’t fail by default.” — Richard Paul Evans

Little lies we tell ourselves

We set ourselves arbitrary goals. We make blanket statements that will determine the direction of the next few years of our life. We try to simplify & end up making no sense.

Before starting my last job, I clearly remember saying that I would join for two years. I was very specific on the 2 years.

Once I had made that mental decision, I moved on. Didn’t think about it again for a while.

2 months in, whilst having an open, honest conversation with a colleague about whether I enjoyed the work & what my plans for life were, I re-stated my commitment to 2 years at the company.

“But what do you mean? That’s just a number…”

 

And it struck me that I had just decided, on a whim, to dedicate commit myself to an arbitrary number.

That arbitrary number had been set to simplify a complex goal, a goal of gaining enough experience in product development, in a growing start-up to then start my own company.

So 2 years seemed reasonable.

But it’s a bit silly really. What does ‘2 years’ really mean? I could spend 10 years a in a dead-end job & learn the same amount – if not more – running my own start-up for 3 months.

But it’s pretty hard to quantify ‘experience’. When have you learnt ‘enough’? What type of experiences are you having? What are you learning? What are you not learning? So we set an arbitrary, more easily quantifiable figure on it, like a time period.

‘I’ll start that business once I’ve got 2 years experience. Once I’ve saved €10,000. Once I’ve been promoted.’

 

When starting a new business, it’s simply impossible to ever have enough experience. To be ready. To have everything under control.

What you are attempting to do is inherently risky, uncertain & unsolved. You start a new business to solve a problem there may not even be a solution for.

The only way to get experience for that is by doing it. Just starting it & seeing where it takes you.

 

Somewhere within me I knew that my 2-year goal was just a lie for these very reasons. ‘Experience’ & an arbitrary time period were just excuses to mask the fact that I was apprehensions, nervous, scared.

I refused to openly admit to myself that I needed to start taking steps towards working out what my new business would look like. Because without any idea of what you want to do, it’s hard to know where to start.

But you have to just accept that you’ll never feel ready. You’ll never be ready. You can make all the excuses you want, but, at the end of the day, you’ve got to just start.

 

 

4 Reasons We Fear Commitment & How to Overcome Them

“But I don’t know what I want to do with my life…”

We are passive in life. We stumble into our first job because we throw up our hands, shrug our shoulders & think there’s nothing else we could possibly do. When we come up for air, & pause to reflect 30 years later, we are not quite able to remember why we started in the first place.

We look enviously at a friend or colleague who got out the rat race. We may even spend time looking into alternative career paths.

But we don’t commit. We never commit.

 

Which is a problem, as without commitment, we never really pursue those big, ambitious goals we should pursue in life. It leaves us paralysed, never taking action.

We tell ourselves as a society that we can be anything we want to be in life. This is just not true.

We tell ourselves we have all the time in the world, when the reality is that we will be lucky to have an impact in one area of society, maybe two if our work is exceptional.

Celebrity culture means we are always looking for the quick wins. The big breaks. The instant fame. The all-in-one modelling, music & acting careers. It makes us believe that commitment is not really a big deal – or necessary.

So we don’t commit. We remain perpetually scared of commitment. Petrified even. Because commitment means we trigger almost every type of fear we could possibly trigger.

 

5 types of fear:

  •  Extinction: The fear of no longer existing (a.k.a death), which gives birth to the fear of heights or flying.
  • Mutilation: The fear of losing any part of our bodies or being physically invaded or harmed (includes the fear of spiders and sharp objects).
  • Loss of Autonomy: The fear of being helpless because of physical or social restraints that are beyond our control. This includes the fear of closed spaces or even commitments that might make you feel like a prisoner.
  • Separation: The fear of rejection and being unwanted or unvalued by others, which can be especially damaging when you consider that we are social creatures that crave connectedness. This is usually the voice in your head that asks you, “What will people think?”
  • Ego-death: The fear of losing our established sense of self, having our confidence crushed, or questioning our own competence and understanding of who we are. This includes the fear of failure and shame.

Source: Practical Intelligence by Dr. Karl Albrecht

Ego-death

We fear the potential failure that comes with commitment. Whether it be a relationship or new venture, failure – & the inevitable mistakes that come with trying something new – will lead you to question your confidence, competence & self-worth.

 

Separation

Failure is still looked down upon & is, to some extent, seen as shameful. You fail once & you are a failure. As social animals, we fear how others perceive us & base our self-worth far too often on society’s opinion. “What will people think?” Becomes a question we internalise & constantly repeat to ourselves.

We shouldn’t celebrate failure for the sake of it. Somebody that fails at the same business idea 10 times becomes he’s unable to learn from his mistakes should not be praised.

We should, however, recognise that failure is inevitable at some point when you try something new & that society’s response to it is irrational & irrelevant.

 

Loss of autonomy

There is a sense that committing to something, whether a relationship or new company, closes off all your other options. You can feel trapped.

In a society built upon constant change & upgrade, always craving something new, it is no wonder this short-term mentality trickles into other aspects of our lives.

 

Extinction

Perhaps the most powerful & least tangible fear, however, is the fear of death.

This is because commitment to a goal, such as a specific career path or new company, forces us to confront our own mortality.

Commitment denotes “life’s work”, “dedicating your life to some specific cause or problem.

Therefore we shy away from commitment. We prefer to sit in life’s waiting room, thinking we have all the time in the world. We ignore the reality that we have but a brief moment to make an impact on it through dedicating ourselves to one goal.

Most of us can only hope to go after one specific thing in life. Maybe we’ll make an impact on it. Maybe not. Whatever the outcome, we should be proud of the fact that we tried to make an impact.

Polymaths exist, yes, but they very deliberately commit to a limited number of goals they can realistically achieve. Almost all have mastered one specific commitment first as well. Think Arnold Schwarznegger, Elon Musk, Tim Ferriss.

Commitment triggers all of these fears & therefore any commitment constitutes a big, scary decision. What do we do when something big & scary appears in our life? We tend to avoid dealing with it at all costs.

 

My Experience

I know from my own experience that these fears are very hard to identify & quantify.

Some are simple. When we closed the first company I started, BackTracker, there was a definite loss of confidence & self-worth, as well as a strong sense of social anxiety around failure.

However, things I tend to hide, that my father had a drinking problem, for example, are harder to put your finger on. Is not talking about it linked to ego-death, in that it questions my self-value? Or social anxiety? Or even a fear that I develop the same problem & achieve none of my ambitions in life?

 

 

Overcoming Commitment

All these fears are very common, if not ubiquitous. Therefore you shouldn’t become frustrated with yourself when you feel them seeping into your thoughts & actions. They are just a natural, human response.

However, you must also realise that they lead to poor decision-making. When you are fear-driven, you make bad choices & never commit to anything impactful, because everything impactful is risky.

So you end up committing to the default path. The easy path. Without even realising it, you commit yourself to a life of monotony, in a job you dislike, a relationship you are unhappy with & an expectation that life can only ever be just ‘fine’.

“Mostly, making good decisions involves beginning with a commitment to make a decision. That’s the hard part. Choosing the best possible path is only possible after you’ve established that you’ve got the guts and the commitment to make a decision.”
– Seth Godin

 

I could tell you the logical, rational solution to overcome your fear of commitment. But that doesn’t work. Your fears will prevent you from following the advice.

Rationally, you should explore a few different options first. Map the terrain, as it were. Spend time researching & dabbling. Then you should choose one path to follow & commit yourself 100% to that path. Never wavering. Never backing out.

This approach, based on Essentialism by Greg McKeown, is lauded by many top entrepreneurs & thought-leaders.

Yet most of you will still just shy away in fear & mask inaction with excuses. This is OK. It’s just a natural response.

 

Breaking commitment down

So, how to overcome your fear? Just stop talking about goals. Don’t talk about your ambition to start a new company. Don’t talk about how you want to find your dream job.

Instead, put systems in place that will make the achievement of that goal inevitable.

Say you want to start your own business. You don’t need to make grand statements & start your business plan on day 1. You’ll end up paralysed by inaction, terrified of the mountain you are about to start ascending.

Instead, put one small system in place that will get you there. Read for 30 minutes every morning on key aspects of entrepreneurialism & an industry you are interested in.

Test & reinforce that system over a couple of months.

Introduce another. Start journaling every morning for 5 minutes. Test & reinforce it. Develop that system, by writing a short article every morning. Then publishing a short article every morning.

I apply this to my own ambitions:

I want to run a business with 10-20 happy employees that pushes the boundaries of work culture, experimenting with new ideas & questioning social norms. I don’t worry about when or how that will happen. I don’t even worry about what the problem we solve will be. I just worry about process. That process is to set aside at least 1 hour of learning & writing every day. I know that by improving myself dramatically, it will inevitably happen at some point. It gives me a quiet, relentless confidence that I’ll get there.

Systems work because they provide you with the framework to become a radically more knowledgeable, experienced person. Carefully-cultivated knowledge & habit will breed confidence & momentum. That confidence & momentum will mean that the outcome of starting a business will just be an inevitable next step.

This is not to say that you cannot have goals. Just don’t worry about them, because goals tend to reduce your current happiness, reduce long-term success & can be outside of your control.

When you focus on systems, there’s nothing to fear. What are you committing to? Writing a few sentences every day? Reading a couple of articles? How hard is that?

What’s stopping you starting that first system today?

 

 

 

Fear & doing hard things

I look around me & see people just going through the motions. It is action by rote, rather than by creating something new.

In a new startup, employees spend more time worrying about their Twitter profile than hunting down that first customer.

In bigger companies, meetings are organised to discuss things they will never put into action.

In our personal lives, we create problems out of nothing to avoid this self-examination that inevitably creeps in when we have nothing to worry about. We worry about what the traffic or weather will be like, more than why we are even going there in the first place.

But do not think that I look down, detached from this world. I find myself also susceptible to just going through the motions, rather than spending the time – or having the will – to go after one or two high-impact tasks.

We at punchinteface are building our new company out of a need to create world-class culture. We do not except low-impact work & work for the sake of it, yet we are also learning how to best use our time & maximise our impact.

 

Chasing after 80/20

Pareto’s principal states that 80% of the input tends to yield 20% of the outcome, & 20% of the input tends to yield 80% of the outcome. It is a general rule of thumb that tends to exist in life, whether looking at the yield of vegetables, investment or human capital.

In short, one or two of the tasks you do tends to have a disproportionately large impact, with most being largely ineffective or a complete waste of time.

Tim Ferriss, a hugely successful entrepreneur & self-experimentation extraordinaire, therefore performs a weekly analysis to weed out the ineffective from the effective.

Despite having read about Pareto’s principle numerous times, however, I still find myself struggling to follow it’s lessons.

Firstly, it is inherently difficult to separate the important from the urgent. What’s right in front of you tends to get assigned a disproportionate amount of importance purely because it seems so urgent.

Yes, using techniques such as meditation or writing prioritised to-do lists helps, but there will always be some difficulty in objectively analysing the impact of what you are doing when you are in the inevitably messy, day-to-day of a new business.

Secondly, fear as a driver of action is really underestimated. We usually know exactly what we should do & which tasks will be highly impactful, but we become paralysed by fear.

We find excuses. We organise meetings to discuss it. We try to convince ourselves that actually setting up Twitter or organising our files is essential to the success of the company & nothing should get in the way of it.

We do anything to avoid the foregone conclusion, that one, hard thing that sits waiting for us to tackle.

It hit me yesterday that all of this has been true of myself this week.

I am building the audience for this very blog, but have avoided the hard truth of what I must do.

I have busied myself with SEO changes, organising articles & creating artwork, rather than just building an audience.

Because building an audience is scary. It’s hard. It’s unknown. Building an audience requires hundreds of hours of commenting on other authors, of analysing my own work, of filtering through endless feedback to keep pushing myself to improve.

So last night I forced change upon myself.

 

I wrote down the following questions:

What are the hard tasks I am avoiding? What would I do if I only had two hours to work each day?

 

Just this simple, rough approach to 80/20 analysis worked effectively. It also took under 1 minute.

When you ask yourself tough questions, you force tough answers on yourself.

Immediately the answer I had known all along came to mind: that I must only focus on creating value for an audience.

Writing articles relevant to that audience & commenting with insightful thoughts on other articles relevant to my audience. As simple as that. Write articles. Write comments.

Yes, there are important things to consider outside of that, such as monetisation, long-term content strategy, etc., but none of them matter if there is no audience.

Without the audience there is no business, no value, no motivation.

 

Taking Action

So I urge you to ask yourself difficult questions. To stop hiding behind the guise of busyness. To just go through the motions like everyone else. If you do that, you’ll never create something new, something impactful.

Right now, just write down the 5-10 tasks that are taking up most of your time. Which are creating impact? Which would you complete if you only had 2 hours per day? What will happen if you don’t complete the low-impact tasks?

Add a calendar event at the same time every week to spend 5 minutes doing this. Just 5 minutes. If you don’t add it to your calendar, you will forget. You’ll get caught up, busy like the rest of us, just performing things by rote rather than by deliberate action.

Remember that just going through the motions won’t get you anywhere. Facing your fear & going after that hard thing will.

 

 

 

Being busy: stop taking the easy way out

Differentiating Urgency & Importance

The frustrating reality of work is that most of what you do is a complete waste of time. Even entrepreneurs, who slog away putting in 14-hour days to their company, will inevitably waste the majority of their time.

This is because we tend to be terrible at prioritisation.

Something seemingly urgent will come up & we divert all of our resources to solve the problem, without stopping to think whether it is important in the first place. Or whether it’s even a problem at all.

The problem of conflating the urgent with the important is the greatest drain on productivity in the workplace.

In a corporate environment, the greater complexity of larger teams working together causes further damage to productivity.

There tends to be a lot of people all doing different things, with no clear idea of which direction they are meant to be going, all protecting their own little corner of the company, all trying to get ahead of each other.

A pervasive, manic busyness tends to seep into the culture, with everyone rushing around trying to push through some urgent, but unimportant, change to a product or frenetically working to get an irrelevant report completed.

It’s not inaccurate to say that most companies just about survive despite having a load of headless chickens charging about the place, revved up on caffeine & adrenaline.

As you can imagine, this is not conducive to the long-term interests of the business or the employees themselves.

 

Human Limitations

There is also a huge amount of evidence supporting the idea that our window for highly productive work is very much limited.

Companies tend to push their employees into working 8- to 12-hour days, but are you really productive during that time? How much productive, important work do you really think you get done?

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that humans have a limit of 3-4 hours a day of intensive, focused work before we burn out.

This is capped even lower if you aren’t sleeping 7-8 hours, eating well, exercising or resting properly outside of work hours.

How productive are you after only sleeping 3-4 hours? What about when you’re a bit hungover? Or you’re hungry?

For me personally, these factors are hugely impactful on my productivity. If I haven’t slept properly, the next day is going to be almost entirely a waste of time. Maybe I’ll get 1-2 good hours of work in if I have a strong coffee before starting. But usually, I may as well just take the day off & catch up on sleep.

One of the issues, however, is that some people are so used to living in a constantly, tired, semi-burnt out state that what they think is a good, highly productive day is usually nowhere near it.

They are so used to a constant feeling of tiredness & of a state of low-impact work that whenever they manage to squeeze in 20+ minutes of focused, immersive work, they see that as the maximum limit of human capability.

 

## Stop being busy
Start approaching your days differently.

If colleagues put demands on your time, push back. Question the importance of what they are asking you to do? Is it important? Or is it just urgent? Are they doing it just because their boss wants them to do? Or because they believe it has merit?

If you work for yourself, then focus on maximising the 3-4 hours you are productive. Break them up throughout the day, block it out as focus time in the mornings, cut out the faffing around that tends to clutter your day. Take the rest of the day off for learning, coffee with friends or others in your industry, or finally starting the language lessons you always wanted to do.

The hard part comes next, however.

Where before you had problems to solve & urgent issues to attend to, you will be left with a void.

You can no longer comfort yourself with the sense of purpose & progress that comes from always doing, from always working away at some problem.

When you limit your working hours, you suddenly find yourself with 12 hours a day that seems like a void.

The insulation of busyness is stripped away & you will find yourself asking hard questions. You will find yourself putting yourself through rigorous self-examination. You will start examining the direction & purpose of your business on a much deeper level. You will be able to entertain the creative, outlandish ideas you never had time or energy to think about.

You will strip away all the urgent, clutter of a busy life & finally be able to differentiate the urgent from the important, the low-impact from the high impact work.

Anxiety will come, inevitably. You will worry about whether you’re getting enough done. Whether you’re working on the right thing. Whether all the psychology is just bullshit.

But you must push through.

The gravity of this change will hit you. When you only have limited time to work, you approach things differently. You finally start asking the important questions.

Is this important? How can I estimate the impact of this task?
What will happen if it doesn’t get done?
How can I get it done as efficiently as possible?
Has someone done it before? Is there an easier way?

The work you do end up doing will be great work. Work with the fat stripped away, without the comfort of busyness & urgency clouding your judgement & allowing you to hide from the hard truths you must face.

 

 

 

I was fired without even a thank you note

Stage 1: Why?

I checked my inbox yesterday to find an email titled ‘Contract Termination’. I did a double-take. I read it, thought about it, a little bemused, read it again.

It surprised me because I thought this had been a one-way relationship of dissatisfaction so far. I thought I had managed to mask my disinterest & dislike well enough to keep doing a good enough job.

But then some decisions like this are not always ‘fair’. The problem is not the work, but my failure to submit to our autocracy. The small things, going against the culture that has been forced upon us, obviously became a problem.

The fact that it was a 9-5 for me, rather than a passion, meant I was out the door by 5.30pm. I wanted to spend as little time as possible in that toxic environment, true. But also, pressure to work long hours completely went against my belief in- & the science behind- peak productivity practices.

The fact that I didn’t participate in our monthly team events must also have been a problem. I knew this would be the case, but I refuse to acquiesce to something that does not strike at the root of the problem. We had a culture lacking empathy & genuine teamwork. A monthly fun evening out is a lazy attempt to just paste over the cracks.

The fact that I didn’t engage with our CEO. Rather than trying to get ahead, putting on a smile & charm & pretending everything was great, I refused. I wouldn’t say I looked hostile, but indifferent & disapproving would be pretty accurate descriptions.

The fact that I didn’t get behind “the vision” was clear. Despite not a single attempt to sell the vision – let alone present the vision – we were expected to throw on our company t-shirts & talk excitedly about the road ahead. Pretty hard to keep your motivation up when you can only see two inches in front of your face.

So I reasoned that it was probably fair to get rid of me. Whether I agree with the reasons or not is largely irrelevant.

 

Stage 2: Panic

“What am I gonna do about money? What do I tell my family? How do I even register as unemployed?! I don’t even speak German!”

Luckily this only lasted 5 minutes.

I had been building up to resignation for 2 months, so already had a detailed, day-by-day plan of what to do once I was finally out of work.

But irrationality, fear & panic are inevitable in these kind of situations. Once I had got the initial wave out of my system, I decided to do some fear-setting, a practice coined by Tim Ferriss for approaching problems rationally & quantifying your fears.

My fears:

“What about my CV? I only worked there for 4 months!”

Firstly, I am going into freelancing next, where all work is short-term. Therefore a perception that I seem to leave companies soon after joining is irrelevant. Secondly, I’m starting my own company in future. I don’t need a CV for that. I need a good story.

 

“What about my income?”

I have savings to cover my expenses for 6 months, my living costs are low in Berlin & I will be freelancing to generate income, which can be more lucrative than a contract role.

 

“How can I tell my friends & family I’ve been fired?”

My ego was its predictably irrational self in this case. I don’t think they would particularly care that much, first of all. I also think that training yourself to not give a shit about what others think is an essential skill to entrepreneurship & a happier life, as it tends to mean you do more of what you want to do, rather than what you think others want you to do.

 

“Maybe I’m just not that good at my work?”

The fact I found work relatively easily over the last year & a half, the fact my work was praised, even in this job, for the first few months, disproves this. I just lost interest & therefore motivation, so inevitably the quality of my work deteriorated.

 

“How do I navigate German bureaucracy?”

This one is a valid fear & one I will have to confront with all my strength (& limited German conversation skills).

 

Stage 3: A Wealth of Opportunity

This is my favourite stage. After realising my fears were largely irrational & unfounded, I decided to write down the opportunities that my firing now presented.

1) I will finally have the energy, time & focus to build up the long-term business, which has started with this blog. I’ll be able to develop the blog, a podcast, create in-depth content – maybe even a book – & eventually move towards providing online courses on entrepreneurship.

2) I will finally have the time to improve my German through an intensive language programme here in Berlin.

3) I finally have control over my time. I can experiment with productivity practices, try out new hobbies, read more & generally feel more free & happy with my life.

4) I can explore different business models over the next year & see which works. UX Design consultancy? Setting up a product development agency? Going into consultancy? Starting to specialise in organisational psychology?

5) I can escape the bleak German winter for a few months a year & work remotely again.

 

Stage 4: Selecting a plan & executing

Two days later, now that the irrational fears have faded & the giddy excitement of opportunity is slowly dissipating, it is time to put my plan into action.

On Monday, I’ll be signing myself up for an intensive German learning course until Christmas. As soon as that is sorted, I’ll execute my freelancing plan.

If you want to follow my journey, then sign up below for a weekly newsletter with my thoughts & learnings from the week.

If you want to help me on my journey, email me at henry@henrylatham.me to get access to my open-source business plans, where you can comment directly on what I am up to. Any help is appreciated!