Today I noticed a few posts popping up on blogs I like about doing a 2013 “Year in Review” and mapping out goals and New Year’s Resolutions for 2014. This is something I’ve usually done on my Birthday (Dec. 22nd) or Christmas, or closer to the new year. Setting and achieving goals has been a huge part of my life.
While I don’t feel “successful” or “liberated” yet, when I tell people that I don’t have a real job to go to, make all my money through my own businesses online, and travel to dozens of countries each year – or, that I’ve published a few books, displayed paintings in high-end galleries and am finishing my PhD at one of the world’s most reputable universities – there’s often a bit of uncomfortable silence as we both recognize the huge gulf between my life and theirs.
I’m not bragging – there are many things I do very poorly, but the reason I’m able to accomplish the tasks I set my sights on is because I ignore everything else. My health isn’t great. I don’t exercise much or eat very well. My social life is pretty lame. I spend way too much time on the computer and almost never ‘relax’ or ‘take it easy.’
Following your dreams and finding a way to make money without working for someone else is not all that easy. It’s not for everyone. You might want a more balanced, organized and comfortable lifestyle provided by a typical 9 to 5.
On the other hand, living your whole life on habits and the local pub and TV shows and 90% of the banal things you spend time doing, mostly because you’re “killing time” between one chore and the next, isn’t an ideal situation either.
There is only one goal worth pursuing
You can make small changes to improve your current lifestyle if you want to. Drink more water. Watch less TV. Learn a new language.
But those are all “bandaids”. You’re focusing on the things you can control to make up for all the things you can’t.
But what if you had total control.
What if you could buy a plane ticket to India or Japan, stay a few months without worrying about money, and come back whenever you wanted?
What if your time was truly your own, and you could decide every day, to challenge yourself with fresh and exciting, novel opportunities and experiences?
Unless you’re already rich and your money is working for you, you need to achieve some passive income.
And that means you have to MAKE SOMETHING.
And to get it done, you need to give up everything else.
Why you need passive income
For the past two years I’ve had more than enough work and get paid well for my time, but I’m still obligated to do the work client’s expect, which can leave me with very little free time to work on other things.
Just recently (end of 2013) I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on building products rather than services – which I can sell even while doing client work. Which means, although I spend some time and money building them, I’ve basically doubled my income. It’s like there are two of me now: I’m no longer limited by the amount of time I have available each day.
The amazing thing about passive income is, the more you make, the less you have to do – which leaves you more time to make more things and generate more passive income.
In other words, it’s really hard to get started, but then it gets easier and easier.
At the beginning of this year, I was making maybe $100 a month off book sales.
The list of goals I had set for myself at the beginning of 2013 didn’t even include making passive income: instead I was going to work really hard and save $20,000. I gave up that goal to build some pretty impressive things, like my DIY book covers package.
I also just put out a little book on book marketing that will raise my visibility and introduce new people to my site and the things I’m working on.
I’m probably at around $500/month passive income right now (although I’m spending it all testing out advertising options), but should be up to $1000/month passive income by mid-2014.
That takes away some of the pressure of having to work for a living, so if I need time off, or want to take on fewer clients, that’s a choice I can make.
I’m working on two bigger book projects now, and have some plans for some other author solutions (like an easy WordPress theme for authors) that I can start working on as well.
The more streams of income I have, the less I need to take on client work=the more time I can spend building even more stuff.
How you can start making passive income in 2014
If you’re a writer, making passive income is as simple as finishing a book, then another one, then three more… which depends on you being MUCH more productive and focused. Writing isn’t a hobby or a past-time. It isn’t a goal you need to map out on a pie chart you’ve divided into sections for a “balanced life” (travel, relationships, health, entertainment, etc…)
Your pie should have ONE section: “FINISH bestselling book.” That’s the only thing you have to do. So what if you gain some weight, or don’t keep up with your friends as much, or don’t have as much fun in 2014. Isn’t finishing your book and starting to make passive income worth it?
If you’re an artist, you need to think about ways to turn your art into passive income streams, like selling prints or iphone cases or scalable copies of some sort.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you just need an idea that helps people do something a little easier or solves a small problem for them.
Passive income is about the numbers – can you sell something for $10, to 1000 people? Can you sell something for $100 to 100 people? Which is easier? (It will depend on the product).
Getting rich is about finding a way to help as many people as possible, and you can’t do that very easily if you’re limited by time or scale. If I sell pies, for example, I can only make so many pies per day, I can only store so many, or ship so many before they go bad; and I have to buy ingredients for each pie. But I could easily publish a recipe book about how to make pies. Then I could make a training course, including some videos, about how to set up a bakery business and sell that as well. Then I could sell personalized coaching to other would-be pie makers. Not only would these things bring in extra money, but they’d make my own business more successful, so that I could raise the prices on my own pies.
Find something you know how to do that you can turn into a digital product (or a book, or software, or something else that can be sold and distributed without you having to do anything). Make it happen. Learn, and do it again and again.
You’ll have to start saying no
The reason many goals or resolutions don’t work is that you want the results, but not the process. You say you’ll diet but you don’t really want to… so you won’t do it, then you’ll feel bad about yourself. Stop making goals about things you feel you should do but don’t actually care about. Failing won’t help anybody.
Make goals about things you want desperately. Would you like to quit your job and never have to worry about money? If you want it bad enough, it will be easier to make it happen. Finishing a book or other products you can sell is simply a matter taking all the time you waste on other things, and focusing them all in a common direction.
Yes it makes you strange and antisocial. Yes you don’t ‘relax’ or ‘enjoy your weekends.’ You have to turn down invitations, and requests to help people out or collaborate on projects.
But you get better and better at it. You keep writing and painting and publishing and producing. You produce more than you consume.
And you wake up one day and realize money is going to keep coming in, and you don’t have to do anything anymore. Retirement doesn’t have to be what happens when you’ve worked for 40 years and saved a lot of money.
Retirement kicks in when your passive income is enough to sustain your needs – $1000 a month is enough for a very enjoyable life in some countries (and, once you’ve got it, you can spend all your time on more products to keep raising your income indefinitely).
What do you think? What other goals do you have for 2014?
I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.