The trap

July 11, 2020

I quit my job on 10th January, 2019.

It’s been exactly 548 days since I’ve been operating outside the system.

In those 548 days, I've built the life I dreamt about. Working on my own schedule, doing things I love and cutting off things that don't make me happy or things I don't derive satisfaction out of.

I have never been more satisfied in my life.

Sankalp and I started with a shared goal that we would not chase money, but rather we would chase inputs that help us learn new skills, grow as individuals, become better at building businesses.

The thought process being - if we focus on the inputs and do them really well, the outcome is a lagging factor that will inevitably follow.

During the early days, we would talk about how we would never spend a day trying to make more money if we were as rich as Jeff Bezos.

We aren’t as rich as Jeff Bezos, but we are doing decently in our lives.

And yet these days, we both find our ideas and thoughts about the future consumed by monetary objectives. The exact trap we discussed and planned to avoid, we found ourselves to have slipped into it.

Don’t get me wrong, making money or wanting to make money isn’t bad.

But if your thoughts and actions are derivative of an outcome you are chasing, a monetary outcome, then you’re opening yourselves up to misery like we have been experiencing off late.

548 days ago, we would evaluate a business idea because it would be fun to build, interesting to experiment and learn from, and possibly earn us sustenance income of $3k MRR ($1.5k each).

Now when we evaluate a business idea, it goes straight into competitive landscape, monetisation potential, how quickly we can build it, how fast can it grow to $1mn in ARR.

Nothing wrong with it objectively. But personally I hate it.

It’s not what gives me happiness. It’s what gives me anxiety.

I’m 26.

I can be a millionaire at 30, at 35, at 40. Or perhaps I never become one, and that’s okay.

Why am I in a hurry?

All I will have with me to remember and to share with others if and when I do reach that milestone, is the journey.

The journey is greater than the destination.

Somewhere along the journey, we traded our bottom up approach for a top down approach.

Bottom up

  • What will be interesting to do and solves a genuine problem
  • What will be a learning experience for us to improve ourselves
  • What will pay our bills so we can keep on doing it perpetually
  • What will give us most happiness and satisfaction

Top down

  • How big is this market
  • How many competitors and how to beat them
  • How to capture x% of the market and grow to $y mn ARR in z months

Bottom up focused on the things that gave me happiness and satisfaction.

Top down probably leads to better monetary outcomes in the short term.

Bottom up allows me to focus on the right inputs, with the comfort of knowing that if the inputs are correct and done properly, the eventual outcome is an inevitability.

Top down gives me anxiety and constantly makes me feel like I’m in a race and I’m falling behind.

I’m going back to my roots, to the bottom up approach that brought me this far in the first place.

Life is more about the experiences, the learning, happiness and satisfaction, than about reaching an arbitrary monetary goal.

I’m dodging the trap.

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