Today’s daily stoic is actually a pretty interesting one for entrepreneurs, freelancers and digital nomads alike: clarify your intentions.
Let all your efforts be directed to something, let it keep that end in view. It’s not activity that disturbs people, but false conceptions of things that drive them mad.
—SENECA, ON TRANQUILITY OF MIND, 12.5”
I cannot recall how many times I’ve started projects without a clear purpose in mind. From musical projects to minimalist news readers. From iPhone games to task and customer management tools, and everything in-between.
Most of the time, they started as hobbies, or weekend projects, without a clear goal. Just for the fun of it. I had no commercial interest in mind when I worked on them.
It was fun, so I worked on them and learned a lot.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, I would not do the same if I was in my twenties again.
Making A Good Use Of Your Time
The reason is simple. When you are 20-something, learning and having fun is a goal in itself.
Instead of building all these projects without a clear intention, I think I should have decided to do something serious. Probably, focus in one of them to build a business.
Now, if this sounds greedy to you, probably you are in the same mindset I was in my twenties. I have always had an aversion to earning money. Indeed, I’ve always felt scared of charging people for something I have built.
I plan on talking about this fear of making a profit in a future post, as I think it’s a common problem for new freelancers or entrepreneurs.
Clarify Your Intentions
One of the most important habits in the book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People is precisely beginning everything with a clear goal in mind. If you haven’t yet, I recommend you to have a look at that book. It was written in the 90s, but everything written there is applicable today.
One of my all-time favorite books, and the one that inspired me to build Micropreneur Life, talks about this too. In “Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup“, when enumerating the biggest roadblocks to your success, the third reason, “Lack of Goals”, discusses precisely this.
The common idea here is: before starting a project where you will eventually spend a lot of time and effort, clearly specify your goals. Where do you want to go? What do you want to achieve?
These goals don’t necessarily need to be economic. You can start an NGO or a charity, you can create an open source project that will benefit thousands of people. However, if you don’t have a clear goal to make it grow and reach as much audience as possible, you will be spending your time in vain.
This might probably seem like a bold statement to my 20-something self. Nevertheless, it’s just a plain truth for me now.
Turning Your Passion Into A Business
The $100 Startup book brilliantly describes how the best way of starting a business is finding the convergence between what you love and what others need or care about.
Not everything that you are passionate about or skilled in is interesting to the rest of the world, and not everything is marketable. I can be very passionate about eating pizza, but no one is going to pay me to do it. Likewise, any individual person won’t be able to provide a solution to every problem or be interesting to everyone. But in the overlap between the two circles, where passion or skill meets usefulness, a microbusiness built on freedom and value can thrive.
If this still sounds greedy to you, think about two possibilities:
On one hand, you can spend 40 years working in a cubicle, on a job you hate, only to spend some time during the weekends on the things you are passionate about.
On the other hand, you can focus on one of those things you really love, and try to make something big out of it.
“Clarify your intentions”, the daily stoic for January the 4th, contains an important lesson for aspiring entrepreneurs and solopreneurs.
I have wasted a lot of time in my life working on projects without a clear goal in mind. As a result, they have turned out to be nothing more than weekend projects or hobbies. Even though they were fun and I learned a lot, I could have made better use of my time.
I hope this will inspire you to consider, before starting your next project, what you want to achieve, and if it’s worth your time.
Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts below! 🙂