Jan 2021 | A very calm mind 💧

This was my first month being self employed.

I honestly did not know what to expect. Would I become a different person? Be stressed all day long? And work all day?

Or would I become lazy? And crumble under the pressure of having zero constraints?

Well. Spoiler alert. None of that happened.

The biggest change is that I'm calmer and have more energy. I've kept the same structure as before, but now I have eight more hours in every single day. For myself. Cyberleads. And anything else.

For that reason, I've been incredibly consistent.

I've been writing every day. Reading. Working on Cyberleads. Working out. I even started podcasting and Italian lessons.

I designed and wrote about my new lifestyle. You can find it in the "Long Essays" column. It's called "Plans for 2021".

So, a lot of introspection. A lot of planning. And a very calm mind. Too calm, in fact. It was troubling me at first.

"What the fuck, man. How are you calmer, when you're far more at risk? Are you going to fuck this up?"

Well, I thought about it. A lot. And, eventually, I think I found why this is happening.

It will sound obvious. But, first of all, I don't receive a massive amount of data from my day job anymore.

I don't have meetings. "1-1"s. Performance reviews. Or tasks.

It's like someone just turned off a loud TV that was blasting noise in the background. Suddenly, the room is dead quiet.

Secondly, having more time means that everything now seems slower. And calmer.

The small things make the difference. Being able to take your time to get out of bed in the morning. Cook something nice and healthy. Sit down and write. Go for a long walk and think. Read. Exercise. Work on yourself. Or even start new hobbies.

Thirdly, I have more energy. But one thing I've noticed is that I still don't have to work all day on Cyberleads.

The first few weeks I was working all day, every day. But, ironically, my days resembled working at my day job, too much.

My quality of life did not improve. At all. If anything, it declined. I was still working like a slave all day. And now I had even started to despise working on Cyberleads.

When I worked till late, the next day I would drag my feet to my laptop.

When I took the afternoon off, the next morning I would run to my laptop like a child runs to open it's Christmas presents.

Actually, I don't get much done in the afternoon, anyway. After 4-5 hours of concentrated work in the morning, my performance dips significantly. At that point on, it's diminishing returns.

It's hard to balance. And it's super counter intuitive.

But taking it slow, day by day, and not feeling like I'm being chased, feels liberating. It feels like the freedom I've been dreaming about for so many years.

So, even though I'm more at risk, I actually feel calmer. My days are slower. I have less noise in my head. And my mind is sharper.

Maybe taking it slow is wrong. But that's the beauty of working for yourself. There are no rules.

However, there is stress in that, too. Being your own boss is not all rainbows and butterflies.

But there's a huge misconception here that I want to talk about. All my life I was told that "working for yourself" VS "working for a company" is a trade off between money, freedom and stress.

If you work for yourself, you make money, you have freedom but you have stress. If you work for someone else, you don't make that much money, you don't have freedom but you have zero stress.

Bullshit! That's not true. At all. Working for a company is also stressful. But in a different way. It's hard to explain, but I'll try my best.

• When you work for a company, your stress is stable and chronic. Sprint after sprint. Deliverable after deliverable. Same hours every day. Running on the hamster wheel. You don't care about the company. But you want to keep your word and don't want to let your team down. That stresses you out.

Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. Decade after decade. This type of stress leaves you feeling exhausted.

• When your work for yourself, your stress is acute and fluctuates. Sometimes you are super stressed. Other times, you sleep like a baby. Sometimes, you work all day and all night on a new feature you have envisioned. Other times, you work one hour per day.

In the end, this type of stress makes you feel alive. And in my opinion, more alert and smarter.

Reminds my of my favorite Paul Graham essay. It's called "You Weren't Meant To Have A Boss". I've read it many times. And I still read it from time to time.

He draws a beautiful parallel between people working for themselves and wild animals.

He says that wild lions feel, move and look 10x more alive than lions in zoos. Almost like a different species. They are alert. Smart. Calculated. Their hostile environment keeps them thinking, moving and adapting.

On the other hand, lions in zoos sit around all day. With a cow's gaze. Their mouths half open. Drooling. Just waiting to be fed. They don't have to do much to survive.

I believe to a certain degree, it's the same with humans.

Stressors in our environment make us more alert, and smarter. The unpredictability of business also. Competition. Distribution. Innovation. Laws. The psychology of the market. At the end of the day, the hostile environment of the market makes us feel alive.

And that's how I feel right now. Even though I'm stressed, I feel sharp. Alert. Alive. And free.


@alexwestco

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