I'm catching up on a recorded small bets cohort session I missed. At roughly 1hr 18min in, people say... I have a job and I want to transition back to independence. In this case, two of them have been freelancers, moved to full-time employment and now want to get back to freedom but are emotionally exhausted at the end of the day and they have a family and responsibilities competing with their time.
There's a lot to unpack there, but I get the sense principles and theories are not enough for them. Are there tactics? Is there a plan? There is so rarely a plan... is there a daily practice? Abstracted approaches? I've friends to have felt this way. I feel this way. What are we to do?
Off the cuff, picking up on the idea - where to start... it's an expression of feeling lost. Thing is, if you are truly lost, the chances of any "plan" being the one you need are so very slim. You're lost. You don't know what you need, or how to evaluate potential answers. It's indeterministic, I think.
We probably need to start by feeling less lost. For that, a search algorithm might be useful.
Here's the theory
If you can conceptually create a series of random, tiny experiments that evenly approximate the direction of your goals and interests, going through them enables learning from the experiences and more rapidly creates some sense of the next actions to take, the methods of success that you can use, and detractors that need changing.
In short, run lots of tiny tests and look for patterns. You'll feel less lost.
(Aside: Utilizing short form courses may help augment your efforts, but be careful here. I know from experience that when I am seeking education to solve a problem rather than joy I can be putting off what I know I need to do... take action and study the results.)
Run the tests, and take inventory of the bad and the good by identifying what held you back in many dimensions, emotional, partner support, discipline, commitments, scoping of the project size, motivation. Identify what went well in many dimensions. Identify the missing things. Community, people to bounce ideas off of. Daily rituals, etc.
These should be lessons you are confident will persist as violin buskering and selling gourmet jerky are very different. Any consistent issues or strengths are yours and your pervasive environment's. Tweeting for a month and then making youtube videos for 3 both involve creating and communication, but are different in production and effort, so something will shake loose that is valuable.
(note : I did a version of this for a year. I called it "Do it. Or kill it." I have been in the flow of a second version of this for about 4 months. More at the bottom)
This is, to some extent, the useful part of what's embedded in the idea of do what makes you happy. Perhaps better expressed as - You're busy. You don't have energy for things you dislike. You're exhausted at the end of the day, it's going to take something you are very passionate about to hide from your family and work on this other thing.
This could be venned with vectors by asking yourself... what do I need less of? Is there something I hate so much is motivates me to escape in addition to attracting the things I love?
Venning that with dosage - frequency thinking from the above video what am I finding about the intensity and frequency that is helpful or harmful?
In vector thinking I frequently put ideas in different quadrants, basically grouping them into categories and putting them in space where closer means more quickly achievable and more predictable and further away is much more vaguely defined and unpredictable. Monte Carlo distribution would be experiments evenly distributed in those quadrants. It's the quickest way to cover many dimensions of the question(s) you want answered - what do I do, and how - but are so much more complex when evaluated.
An example from my life
I know I want more income on the side. I am willing to code for a while, but ultimately I don't want to do it too much (dose to high) so I want to diversify. I enjoy teaching and miss art, and have learned to enjoy operations and business stuff.
So, the big, broad strokes we turn into big categories - teaching, making stuff, programing, businesses. Lots of people venn diagram those. That's fine. For this exercise they live in different quadrants in space. I live in the middle, at (0,0)
[TODO: upload image]
Over a few weeks and conversations with friends and looking out in the world to see people I admired I'd like to be more like I had this big whiteboard of ideas of jobs, tasks, and examples in each direction. (recreation below)
[TODO: upload image]
For teaching, you see junior college, video courses, tutoring, mentoring, and essays.
For businesses I came up with SAAS, brick n morter, and consultant. They were too broad, so I put more effort in and came up with closer, seemingly easier ones - vending machines, carwash, laundromat, etc.
For coding I came up with microSAAS and didn't know what it meant at the time but had heard it, and buying a SAAS... notice that it's very close to the business quadrant.
Again, closer theoretically means it's quicker and easier.
The next step was to try to define my evenly distributed set of tests. It turns out to be difficult to do when thinking in measurable goals. At least emotionally for me. Buying a business is huge and foreign. Making a table feels good, but where's the business part of it?
Thinking in vectors, I tried to create experiments as thrusts of effort towards a direction. Effort, not results. An hour a day. An action a week. Not a full fledged product. Not dollars. Not subscribers. For businesses I started learning the barebones of each business type. I called vending machine suppliers to scope things out. Three weeks later I engaged with a business broker to learn about the basics of buying a business. We had a follow up.
For teaching I started a blog called itsjesseyo. Check it out some time.
For making stuff I started talking to friends that art for a living. I asked other friends if they had anything they wanted made.
I learned a lot quickly.
First, I learned I needed to be engaged with people more. Not just passively listening. I joined the small bets community and a writing cohort. I check the discord and engage and few times a week. People are always doing inspiring things, and there are even people in my area to meetup with.
Being at lest casually involved with people of similar problems and goals is highly inspiring. My goal at this point is to one day create solutions for "my people". Things come up every day that I think "someone" should solve. I could solve them.
I learned buying a vending machine location might be a better fit for me than starting one.
I started a sticker club with an artist friend of mine. It's not art exactly, but I do design, and make videos, and made a nice fancy package for them. In this, I learned any act of physical creation fuels me, and working with artists is something I needed more of.
I took a welding class and am finishing up a steal rocket stove I intend to sell. I have a small list of books that I know there's an audience for I am qualified to write.
I have a solid round two, three and four. I am solidly in a productive feedback loop.
I learned, for me, I have to do 2 weeks on hard and two weeks off completely. I personally start to suffer at work when I get more engaged in things I truly love, which I cannot let slip. In my weeks off I still engage in the communities, and I rest, counting down to the next sprint.
As I move in the direction of each of these things I am starting to see the opportunities that can only be seen when in proximity to the domain, and that can only be taken advantage of when you're in the flow.
Trying to guess what's possible in a new venture is a lot like trying to measure the experience of swimming by testing the water with your toe. It's almost always more accurate, quicker, and more pleasant to dive right in and experience it.
Did you think I was going to chose one thing in this? Find THE thing? I expected to as well. I didn't. I may not have to choose for a while.
I basically turn the volume up on one and down on the other based on effort needed, energy, and timing. Meanwhile, I am building a portfolio of bets, and learning to move fairly consistently in directions that fulfill me. The dollar-cost averaging of life. Steady, towards growth.
In summary, if you're just starting out, and you feel a bit lost, you can try borrowing someone else's plan. My advice is throw spaghetti at the wall and study why some things stuck and some didn't. Repeat as needed.