March 10, 2023

If you want to make money, just do something amazing ten years ago


Compensation isn’t always a linear equation.

Oftentimes our payment for services rendered arrives indirectly, capriciously, through channels we never could have foreseen, and in currencies we weren’t expecting.

This financial tenet can be confusing or frustrating at times. Payments received either in the moment or down the road can seem like inadequate remuneration for the agonizing energy we put in.

The running joke in my writing career has always been, if you want to make money, just do something amazing ten years ago.

Too bad it’s not really a joke. Labors like art are notoriously unremunerative.

The good news is, we can still take the long view of compensation. And our relationship with earning money can be one of abundance, not scarcity. Here’s a collection of insights, practices and language that has been helpful for me in that regard.

First, don’t be religious about how you make your money. If there is a service you provide and people are willing to pay money for it, then my god, let them do it. Even if it’s not a skill that you typically view as an income stream or a revenue generator, see how it feels to be paid for it once. Maybe twice.

You might surprise yourself how much you enjoy it, how willing others are to compensate you for it, and how happy both parties are with the results. Sure, it may not be perfectly consistent with the professional brand that you worked so hard to establish, but identity is a malleable alloy.

Apple started out as a computer company, then became an entertainment company that also happen to make computers, and now they’re a mobile device company that also happens to makes computers and entertainment products.

Had they been religious about how they made their money, the digital world would be a very different place today. If you’re seeking abundance and prosperity, instead of targeting the market, let the market target you. Become a bullseye and welcome the arrows, because they might be tipped with gold.

My next observation about the topic of compensation is, the world often pays you back when you least expect it. And that’s a good thing, because it forces you to focus on the process of creating value, rather than being paid for it.

Yes, put the infrastructure in place to make paying for your work easy and fast. But obsessing over your bank balance isn’t the wisest use of your energy. What’s more meaningful is building trust in your abilities. Deciding that you’re the kind of person who consistently brings worthwhile things into the world that weren’t there before, everywhere you go.

The world will pay you back whenever it pays you back. For now, direct your energies on causing good things to happen without hope for repayment, and when the register finally rings, it will be a lovely surprise.

One final idea about compensation is the concept of gratitude. It’s something you notice about people with prosperity mindsets. They use thankfulness to teach their brains that the world is more abundant than they thought.

Every time they get paid in any form, they thank the dollar for its generosity, hope for more of its abundance, but don’t expect or demand more to come.

This practice has revolutionized my relationship with money. Whether I’m busking in the park for change, working my day job for a regular paycheck, selling books to my readers, or getting a birthday check from a relative, any time somebody crosses my palm with silver, there’s a moment of gratitude.

Money flows into my life from all directions. No amount is insignificant. My existence is a welcome present in the world that is valuable and worthy of remuneration.

You can take these ideas to the bank.

Don’t be religious about how you make your money.

Remember that the world often pays you back when you least expect it. And give thanks the moment it happens.

Is your relationship with earning money flowing in abundance or tapped in scarcity?