There will only be a handful of people reading this who haven’t heard of The 4-Hour Workweek. For many of us it is the dream — while the title of the book is not to be taken literally, the concept of running a successful online business in just a few hours per week is exciting.
I know it is for me. Upon re-reading The 4-Hour Workweek while on vacation in Turkey back in July, I came home with big ideas to revolutionize my online business. I publicly stated that I expected to be making “far more money” within the next three to six months. It has been nearly three months since I made that statement.
What I didn’t fully appreciate at the time was that I was getting caught up in the idea of working less rather than earning more. I was adopting a mindset of laziness rather than dynamism. My inaction over the past three months has taken its toll and this income report is evidence of that.
We all need a wake up call every now and then. I got mine this month.
What Happened in September?
September was a month in which I achieved my goal of doing very little work.
I have got to a point now where I could feasibly work perhaps 5-10 hours per week and make a living. I write a post a week for Leaving Work Behind and also need to handle editing and administration for my writing business. Any work beyond that could be classed as “business development” rather than “business maintenance”.
So there I was, living the dream. But little did I know that working few hours is not exactly a dream. When you’re in the moment it’s great. I had freedom and flexibility to work as I pleased. In the short term it was awesome, but it hasn’t taken me long to understand that living in such a way is ultimately unfulfilling.
As human beings we have a predisposition to work. While there certainly are many people out there who will quite happily go through life achieving nothing, most of us want to feel like we are doing something. Not just existing, but growing through our actions.
I haven’t been growing in September. I have merely been existing. I have languished in a state of inaction, all the while thinking that doing so was what I wanted. But it isn’t. I know that now.
I got some things done in September, but to draw attention to them would be to hide the fact that I did not do nearly as much as I should have done. It would detract from the most valuable lesson that I have learned in some time: there is no such thing as a free ride.
While getting yourself into a position where you can work flexibly is a noble goal, doing so with the intention of doing as little work as possible is not. Ultimately I want to build a legacy — a tangible thing that I can point towards as a result of all my hard work. That requires hard work. I have not been working hard, and boy has it shown.
Monthly Income Report — September 2013
- Freelance writing:
- Income: $5,307.53
- Expenditure: $1,845.48
- Profit: $3,462.06
- Income: $56.58
- Expenditure: $55.04
- Profit: -$1.54
- Affiliate Marketing (Leaving Work Behind):
- Information Products:
- Income: $1,299
- Expenditure: $172.67
- Profit: $1,126.33
- Income: $28.61
- Expenditure: $0
- Profit: $28.61
Total profit for September 2013: $4,529.12
There you have it folks — my worst month since December 2012. And I deserve it. My propensity for inaction over the past several weeks has led to this.
A True Disaster?
In reality, the situation is far better than the numbers look, but am loathe to detract from the lesson to be learned here. However, it only seems sensible to point out mitigating elements of my earnings this month.
First of all we have my biggest affiliate earner: Westhost. I started to get rather concerned by 20th September because I had made zero sales. Given that I have typically averaged approximately 8-10 sales per month, it seemed like something was up.
There was. Due to some issue with link cloaking, I was registering no sales. I removed the link cloaking on 20th September and racked up six sales in just ten days. I should have earned much more from Westhost this month.
Secondly we have some exceptional expenditure — a not inconsiderable $1,000. This was the cost of a 99designs competition for the new Leaving Work Behind design. The competition went very well, I am absolutely delighted with the outcome and I can’t wait to unveil the new Leaving Work Behind. However, it hasn’t come without its cost, hence the four-figure bill.
If I hadn’t had the issue with my Westhost sales and hadn’t put down $1,000 on a new design for LWB, my net income for the month probably would have been something like $6,500. While that wouldn’t have broken the bank when compared to other recent months, it would have been a far healthier picture.
But like I said, I don’t want that to detract from the main lesson to be learned here: when it comes to Leaving Work Behind, your main goal shouldn’t be to work as little as possible. While working fewer hours can certainly be one of your goals (that should be considered alongside other goals which may conflict with it), to make it a driving force in your plans is to sabotage your chances of creating a legacy.
With the advent of a new month I feel like I have a fresh perspective on what I want. It’s not working an hour a day. It’s creating something of true worth and helping as many people as I can.
It is fitting that I wrote a huge post on motivation last week. Although I have been motivated over the past few months, I have been motivated to do the wrong thing. I have been motivated to work as little as possible, when in reality that is not what I truly want.
I made the point in the aforementioned post that leaving work behind is ultimately about pursuing happiness. It is clear to me now that barely doing any work does not necessarily make me happy. Sure — not working 60 hour weeks and having flexibility in my working hours are both big motivators for me, but working an hour a day is not.
Upon reflection my strongest current motivators are as follows (in no particular order):
- Financial security
- Flexibility of working hours
- Doing work that I love
- Earning enough to visit my sister and her kids in Texas more often
- Moving to a nicer location and a nicer house
- Helping people
I know that my quality of life will be improved drastically by achieving the above goals. I know that the hard work will be worth it – especially if it is work that I love. These motivators have re-framed my actions over the coming months and I hope that they will galvanize me into a great deal of action.
2013 will be gone before long. While I would consider the year to date a success, I know that I could have achieved so much more. The only value in regret is what it can teach you about your future actions, which is why I will use my regret over past inaction to fuel future action.
What’s in Store for October?
I’ve got a lot of projects on the horizon — projects that have been ongoing for many months. All of them have the potential to build the LWB brand and make money, yet I have not executed on any of them. That will change in October.
I’ve already mentioned the LWB redesign and in last month’s income report I mentioned the ambitious re-launch of my guide to freelance blogging. While I don’t know what will go down in October yet, I do know that I will be working my ass off to bring both those projects to fruition as soon as possible.
I’ve got three months to make 2013 a huge year and give me huge momentum going into 2014. I don’t intend to disappoint.
Photo Credit: JDR