Seth Godin’s book “The Dip” nicely ties up a muddle of ideas surrounding the cult of persistence.
I use the word cult deliberately, because the idea of keeping on without stopping is often used by people who should long ago have given in. Persistence without introspection or review or even some outside criticism is just dumb plugging along. Think donkey walking in circles. Or those religious self-harmers.
The trade-off for persistence is balance. If we persist in an enterprise (with no clear and/or expected results) then something else must suffer. Money, time, relationships and our sanity can all go south when our dream spills outside the limits of reasonableness. Actually, that is the applicable skill we should apply here: that of keeping our persistence in the face of failure within limits.
Because failure is the problem, or at least we think it is. But failure is a kind of road sign to success, but success in a (perhaps slightly) different direction. Ignoring continued failure in the belief that just doing things again and again will eventually turn up the result we seek…well, there are words for that. None of them flattering.
Fail. Fail often. Then try something different. Or return with a new set of boundaries. The failure is not in the failing: the failure is in not starting again.
Playing the long game is a tricky proposition, because by definition we are unable to accumulate much experience doing so. If, say, in a lifetime, you have three or four long-term goals requiring your application over years, you might have only one successful example.
Much easier to stick with the short-term stuff, right?
Easier, but probably less satisfying.
The key to a big, bold, life-changing goal is knowing when to quit. Actually, knowing when to quit might be an all-around under-rated skill for lots of life’s turning points. Quitting is about seeing the entirety of a goal, and whether you can have it turn out vaguely in the way you’d imagined. Emphasis there is on the “you”.
Persistence is more about acknowledging the headwinds and hurdles that exist at the moment, and applying your skill and confidence to overcome them. The caveat must be that you have the personal ability and will to get where you want to go.
Both quitting and persistence require constant reassessment. Circumstances change. You change. The value or imperative of your aims can change. Change can be as simple as waking up one day and noting a better use of your time and energy is out there.
And there is also that gut thing. Somewhere deep inside, if you can filter out the noise, is a voice telling you the right answer. Discover a way to hear that clearly, and you’ll always know how to proceed.
A setting straight of the record: Passive Income is rarely passive. You have to work for it. I was thinking of this after yesterday’s post, pondering just how “passive” one is when you’re saving or being entrepreneurial. Not very. So.
My definition of Passive Income is money you receive not directly related to the hourly or daily work you applied to create that income. When you have a paid job, you work hourly, or daily or yearly for your wages or salary. You will receive the money for a specific duty or activity, a narrow range of clearly defined functions. Even if you are a CEO of a company, you are still expected to complete recognized, agreed-upon tasks. If you don’t do them, you’re fired.
Passive Income is about creating the assets that create the money. Those assets might be dividend-paying stocks you own, or you devise an app, or it might be a work of art – music, a book, video – for which people pay you. You’re putting stuff into the better side of your balance sheet in the anticipation that money will find its way to them, and so to you.
Clearly there’s nothing passive about any of this. When you are in the process of writing a book there is no cheque waiting at the end of the month. But you might find a royalty cheque in your mailbox for each of the subsequent thirty years. At that point it’s passive; not when you’re plugging away day after day. It’s income displacement to the future, if you like.
There’s the difference. Passive Income might even mean MORE work than you’d otherwise apply to a job. But you are working towards dependence on your own accumulated assets, not the largesse of an employer.
And the big, underplayed upside is that there is no way you can be fired. Yay.
Here’s a link to an article I think worth reading. It’s about a man of 35 who reached his savings goal…and is underwhelmed.
Mr Saver/Investor achieved a nice round number milestone, in that he has one million dollars worth of liquid assets. According to his story, he did this with restraint and application. Firstly, he reduced his expenses. Next he saved and invested. And the third (and not explicitly stated) leg of that tripod is that he didn’t give up. Call that persistence.
+ restraint, in that he spent on only what he needed, not always what he wanted
+ application, as evidenced by his being in the stock market at a great time
+ persistence because compounding requires time
The one mistake I note is the link he makes between happiness and money. What do you think?
I just became a millionaire…