It’s weird. I have this hypothetical scenario in my head. I know it’s hypothetical because it involves Doc Brown from Back to the Future.
I imagine going back in time six months, to the end of March of this year. And the future me eschews all of the warnings about interacting with past selves, lest I cause a temporal paradox or become my own grandfather or something, and instead goes right up to the past me and says:
“Six months from now, you won’t be doing any of the work you’re doing now. Your job as you know it will cease to exist. Your professional image and brand as you know it will cease to exist. You will no longer be billing any of the clients you work with now — that same group that, never wavering, you have steadily and reliably billed over $6000 per month and who you have come to rely upon.
“Instead, six months forward, you’ll be working for and with all new people, in a totally different business, doing work totally differently, and moving very quickly in a totally different direction.”
And past me would be like, “What new business are you talking about?”
And future me would be like, “Oh, it doesn’t exist yet. You build it now, and six months forward it’ll be all you do and will replace your current income.”
And the past me would wave a dismissive hand and be like, “Get the fuck outta here.”
Because, you see, this scenario is what a normal person in a normal situation would call, “Quitting your job.” I was an independent contractor from the beginning, so I don’t really have a job to quit. But 100% client turnover is basically the same thing. Out with the old, in with the new.
So this is my “I’m quitting my job” post.
So hey, boss, shove it. Except that the boss is me, so there shall be no shoving — of it, or of anything else.
What has transpired this year has all been very strange, looking back now.
See, ever since my wife had our son, she’s really only worked kind of on and off. For five years now, I have, for all intents and purposes, been the sole (or at least primary, by a long shot) breadwinner for this household. I have never had a steady paycheck from an employer, so each month I’ve had to scrape to make it all happen. I must bill those clients, collectively, right around $6000. I don’t do that, we suffer. And all the while, I’ve also been fighting the real estate monster. I had to borrow some here and there, but I basically relied on steady work from that client base to keep this family afloat.
And today, all of those old stalwart clients are gone. As of next month, I will bill none of them. It’s actually scary to think about.
It was around six months ago that I finally cracked the figurative seal on the copy of Online Business School that I’d gotten for Christmas (ALMOST as much fun as a video game or new Transformers) and started this thing I’m doing now.
At the time, my motivations for starting a new venture were fear and desperation. I was tired of the real estate sinkhole and wanted in the worst way to get out. I figured that my only viable solution was to earn a supplementary income. So I started listening to OBS and got in touch with Naomi and started doing my thing, and doing it hard.
And get this.
Six months later, I still don’t have a supplementary income. But… oh thank Jesus… I do have an income.
See? See how that all fell into place, how it all worked out? This is why fear is good. Without the fear, I don’t start a new business. Without the business, I’m earning right around $0.00 today. And $0.00 doesn’t go as far as it used to, let me tell you.
Let me get all cosmic on you. Ready?
DISCLAIMER: If you’re into rock-solid Johnny and don’t want to watch me get all woo-woo on you, you should click over to the Can I Have a Go? video now. If you stay, you agree to sit cross-legged and barefoot on a hemp throw rug with me while drinking tea and smoking from a seven-foot hookah.
Dude. Things really do happen for a reason.
Dude. Things really do work out for the best in the end, if you keep the faith.
I’ve spent a lot of the last 12 months afraid, worried, sometimes nearly panicked. In the middle of something like that, it is nearly impossible to convince yourself that this is all part of a process that will ultimately serve you. When the property tax bills come due and you owe $5000 that you don’t have, it’s not easy. When you have to suck up your pride and borrow money, it’s not easy. When you look forward and can’t possibly imagine how you’ll ever get out short of letting the whole house of cards collapse on you, it’s not easy.
But you have to do it. You have to hang tough, just like NKOTB told you back in the 80s. And what must happen will happen.
See, eventually you start to see through the smoke and mirrors. There’s only so many times that a terrible situation can crop up and yet ends up working out before it starts to feel like that boy who cried “Wolf!” It starts to feel like a bunch of empty threats, put there to either steer you in one direction or to see if you’ll flinch.
Life gives you a little kick in the nuts the first time and you panic. But then it works out all right.
The next time it happens, you panic. But again, it works out all right.
The next time you freak out some, but it’s less severe. And it works out all right again.
I’ve had like two hundred of those. And now when I get them I’m like, “Hey, dumbass! Maybe this one will work out all right.”
And I find myself thinking of that speech that Morpheus gives in the second Matrix movie. The one where he’s all shirtless with his bald head and has like USB ports all over his body and screams all loud and shit and is like, “I stand before you unafraid because after two hundred years, I remember what matters most: WE ARE STILL HERE!”
I’m totally like Morpheus. Planet overrun by sentient machines, two hundred years of underground oppression, shirtless and covered with data ports. But after two hundred tenants who won’t pay their rent and two hundred late client payments and two hundred bogus $400 citations from the city for not mowing grass that was actually mowed, I AM STILL HERE!
It doesn’t matter what has happened to you in the past. The ups, the down, the setbacks. YOU ARE STILL HERE!
If you’ve been beaten up and spit out, I’m betting that even if you think you’ve been hit hard, not many of you are near death, without family or friends, or living in a box. No, YOU ARE STILL HERE!
It’s amazing to me, what life will throw at you. And it’s amazing, if you can step back and look at it from above, what intricate and perfect design it all has. The best things in my life would not exist without the worst things in my life. Everything has had a lesson. Everything has served a purpose, has steered me in a sometimes-hard-but-ultimately-correct direction. And no matter how beat up I have felt, I am still standing. I am still here.
So keep that faith. What a difference six months makes.