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NOTABLE! 22 Years Old: First Exit & Mini-Retirement. Lessons from a 5+ Year Journey

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UnrealCreative

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Title says it all — I have exited my first business and am in mini-retirement. I say “Mini-Retirement” as this won’t make me filthy rich, but it HAS provided me substantial financial breathing room for the next best opportunity.

Admittedly, I was a poor fit for that business. Thankfully not all is lost as I’ve gained significant experience from engaging in commerce these past few years. It's also amazing to see that, yes — it IS POSSIBLE to build something from nothing, and exit a few years later with a nice chunk of cash.

Which brings me to this post.

I’ve seen some “success” as a young dude, but there’s others my age much more successful than me. There’s a lot for me to learn still. If anything this sale means not much more than hitting the reset button on life. I’m not a hotshot and have no reason for you believing I am; I wasn't even planning on posting about this for a long time.

That said, I have a moral obligation to share these lessons because there are a LOT of young guys on the forum trying to make life work, who are receiving an appalling amount of misguided advice. As a guy who’s seen some early success, I believe I’ll lend some accurate perspective by posting the biggest lessons from this 5+ year journey.

I’m not posting this for you to be impressed with me. My story isn’t important, YOURS is — if this helps just ONE person who can relate, than taking the time to write this was well worth it.

I’m not too inclined to speak on the business or sale for the most part (Here’s the insider’s thread for that) — There isn’t anything I could say here that hasn’t been stated before, and I’d rather speak to the lessons from the trenches. Not just about success, but how to make life work in the grand scheme of things.

I’d like to lend a special thanks to these guys:
@Andy Black @Fox @Ronak @Vigilante @AgainstAllOdds @Kung Fu Steve @lowtek @Scot @G_Alexander @TheTruth @Davidla @ZCP @snowbank @biophase @jimmeboy @Water @Duane @Borregoed @eliquid @Get Right @V8Bill @JasonR @Greg R @Gary @Powderhound @csalvato @EvanOkanagan @Ravens_Shadow @Envision @LightHouse and many others I could be forgetting.

Also to my Fastlane Brothers in the Puerto Rico Hustle House @Tom.V and @RayAndré who watched massive change unfold over the past 9 months...

...and most importantly, @MJ DeMarco for kickstarting this crazy adventure for so many of us.

You’ve all been along for the ride and have helped one way or the other, whether through 1-1 conversations or simply contributions to the forum, which I collectively owe a huge debt to.

Sincerely, thank you.

I have much more to add, so watch this space over the next few days…
 

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MJ DeMarco

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Awesome news and congrats! Looking forward to hearing the story!
 

Bearcorp

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Fantastic stuff @UnrealCreative! Just read your insiders thread, what a journey. Congratulations and good luck with the next venture!
 

Raoul Duke

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Title says it all — I have exited my first business and am in mini-retirement. I say “Mini-Retirement” as this won’t make me filthy rich, but it HAS provided me substantial financial breathing room for the next best opportunity.

Admittedly, I was a poor fit for that business. Thankfully not all is lost as I’ve gained significant experience from engaging in commerce these past few years. It's also amazing to see that, yes — it IS POSSIBLE to build something from nothing, and exit a few years later with a nice chunk of cash.

Which brings me to this post.

I’ve seen some “success” as a young dude, but there’s others my age much more successful than me. There’s a lot for me to learn still. If anything this sale means not much more than hitting the reset button on life. I’m not a hotshot and have no reason for you believing I am; I wasn't even planning on posting about this for a long time.

That said, I have a moral obligation to share these lessons because there are a LOT of young guys on the forum trying to make life work, who are receiving an appalling amount of misguided advice. As a guy who’s seen some early success, I believe I’ll lend some accurate perspective by posting the biggest lessons from this 5+ year journey.

I’m not posting this for you to be impressed with me. My story isn’t important, YOURS is — if this helps just ONE person who can relate, than taking the time to write this was well worth it.

I’m not too inclined to speak on the business or sale for the most part (Here’s the insider’s thread for that) — There isn’t anything I could say here that hasn’t been stated before, and I’d rather speak to the lessons from the trenches. Not just about success, but how to make life work in the grand scheme of things.

I’d like to lend a special thanks to these guys:
@Andy Black @Fox @Ronak @Vigilante @AgainstAllOdds @Kung Fu Steve @lowtek @Scot @G_Alexander @TheTruth @Davidla @ZCP @snowbank @biophase @jimmeboy @Water @Duane @Borregoed @eliquid @Get Right @V8Bill @JasonR @Greg R @Gary @Powderhound @csalvato @EvanOkanagan @Ravens_Shadow @Envision @LightHouse and many others I could be forgetting.

Also to my Fastlane Brothers in the Puerto Rico Hustle House @Tom.V and @RayAndré who watched massive change unfold over the past 9 months...

...and most importantly, @MJ DeMarco for kickstarting this crazy adventure for so many of us.

You’ve all been along for the ride and have helped one way or the other, whether through 1-1 conversations or simply contributions to the forum, which I collectively owe a huge debt to.

Sincerely, thank you.

I have much more to add, so watch this space over the next few days…

 

SuzanneSB

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Title says it all — I have exited my first business and am in mini-retirement. I say “Mini-Retirement” as this won’t make me filthy rich, but it HAS provided me substantial financial breathing room for the next best opportunity.

Admittedly, I was a poor fit for that business. Thankfully not all is lost as I’ve gained significant experience from engaging in commerce these past few years. It's also amazing to see that, yes — it IS POSSIBLE to build something from nothing, and exit a few years later with a nice chunk of cash.

Which brings me to this post.

I’ve seen some “success” as a young dude, but there’s others my age much more successful than me. There’s a lot for me to learn still. If anything this sale means not much more than hitting the reset button on life. I’m not a hotshot and have no reason for you believing I am; I wasn't even planning on posting about this for a long time.

That said, I have a moral obligation to share these lessons because there are a LOT of young guys on the forum trying to make life work, who are receiving an appalling amount of misguided advice. As a guy who’s seen some early success, I believe I’ll lend some accurate perspective by posting the biggest lessons from this 5+ year journey.

I’m not posting this for you to be impressed with me. My story isn’t important, YOURS is — if this helps just ONE person who can relate, than taking the time to write this was well worth it.

I’m not too inclined to speak on the business or sale for the most part (Here’s the insider’s thread for that) — There isn’t anything I could say here that hasn’t been stated before, and I’d rather speak to the lessons from the trenches. Not just about success, but how to make life work in the grand scheme of things.

I’d like to lend a special thanks to these guys:
@Andy Black @Fox @Ronak @Vigilante @AgainstAllOdds @Kung Fu Steve @lowtek @Scot @G_Alexander @TheTruth @Davidla @ZCP @snowbank @biophase @jimmeboy @Water @Duane @Borregoed @eliquid @Get Right @V8Bill @JasonR @Greg R @Gary @Powderhound @csalvato @EvanOkanagan @Ravens_Shadow @Envision @LightHouse and many others I could be forgetting.

Also to my Fastlane Brothers in the Puerto Rico Hustle House @Tom.V and @RayAndré who watched massive change unfold over the past 9 months...

...and most importantly, @MJ DeMarco for kickstarting this crazy adventure for so many of us.

You’ve all been along for the ride and have helped one way or the other, whether through 1-1 conversations or simply contributions to the forum, which I collectively owe a huge debt to.

Sincerely, thank you.

I have much more to add, so watch this space over the next few days…
wow! that's such great news to hear :)
 

ZCP

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Mindset and those you spend time with matter most!
Proud of you!
 

SamRussell

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Congrats... and looking forwards to the story!
 

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elusive97

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That's amazing, congrats!
 

MoreValue

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How did you end up becoming self-aware 5 years ago? Wish I had more awareness younger. At that time I was real insecure.
 

Scot

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Really proud of you man. Its incredible to see the progress you made from the first time we met in Tampa to exiting only a short few years later.

Can't wait to see what you do next.
 

Tom.V

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After seeing the last 9 months of progress, personal development, maturity, and just plain growth first hand, I personally can't wait to hear the first person reflections and insight you have to share with us.

It's the first giant step on the journey my friend. Many more to come in your future I am certain.
 
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UnrealCreative

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Thanks everyone for reaching out! : )
I promise there's more to come writing just takes a LONG time.
So here's the story. Let's start with the start...

How The Heck Did We Get Here?

1997-2009 —
My childhood was normal by just about anyone’s standards, but I just didn’t fit in. I was very shy, but also deeply curious and introspective.

This lended itself to me seeing straight through the script’s BS since youth — you could tell the adults around me were sold a bill of goods and generally unhappy.

When I couldn’t get a straight answer about why things were the way they were (WHY do we go to School, Get a Job, etc.), it was deeply unsettling and only led to more questions.

2010 — Later on (Similar to MJ and the Ice Cream Lambo story): I met an entrepreneur early on who had an abnormal abundance of free time. We initially connected through our mutual interest in music production, but his freedom was even more intriguing.

It was baffling that he didn’t have a 9-5 like everyone else. He woke up when he wanted, fell asleep when he wanted, and did whatever he wanted. He wasn’t a lazy man, but he only directed his work ethic on the things he cared about most — his music.

I simply asked him “What do you do?”

His answer planted the seed:

“Dunno. I rent out 12 houses and own a web design company.”

Immediately hooked.

Whatever it took, I was going to get THAT freedom.

2013 — As time passes while in high school, I find the men’s blog Bold & Determined by accident. This leads me to the world of Self-Improvement by proxy; 4HWW, 7 Habits, and others were some of those first books that opened my eyes to an entirely new world of possibility.

This expanded perspective came with a price. The Millionaire Fastlane especially confirmed a lot of my own observations about society. There was little more I wanted than to be free of the predestined path that laid ahead — I hated every second of being confined to a classroom and it became even harder to relate to those around me.

Entrepreneurship was going to be my ticket out of that existential dread.

My entire senior year composed of nothing but reading entrepreneurship books and barely passing classes, which carried itself into my first semester of college.

2016 — There was little learned from college that I didn’t know already from voracious reading. I burned the boats, dropping out and working for the earlier entrepreneur’s web design company part-time. This was a good launching pad for learning customer service and web design, which became fundamental skills in the coming years.

This doesn’t take away the fact that it was an extremely stressful time, as parental pressure wore on me mentally. So, I moved out to gain headspace. Living at home with a “real job” meant failure to me. I was dead-set on being an entrepreneur, and was perfectly fine with being money poor/time rich in order to pursue it. I was very broke for a long time (seriously, making like $800/month), but extremely hungry and felt more free than ever.

2017 — Keep in mind that in all this time, there were small wins here and there. But I lived in my head and couldn’t focus. There just wasn’t a way to translate what I knew into the real world yet — which is to say I was a totally broke, action-faking wantrepreneur with nothing to show for “all my hard work.”

Thankfully, I was blessed with a cascade of events that helped focused my attention.

Lost the Job.

Went TOTALLY broke.

Couldn’t pay rent, got evicted.

Lost long-term Girlfriend.

Within a week.

...Could you imagine what I was thinking?

I'll be back. Taking a break.
 

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UnrealCreative

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How did you end up becoming self-aware 5 years ago? Wish I had more awareness younger. At that time I was real insecure.
On one hand you can say it was perception. Seeing people live by an unconscious existence of “Do what you’re told and follow the script” was deeply unsettling since youth.

But if there’s one major thing that made all the difference, it was this…

A: Meeting this man with money and free time.

B: Deciding I WANT THAT and asking HOW CAN I GET IT.

C: Never entertaining the thought of any other options.

I’m a firm believer that you either want it or you don’t. You’ll get it or you won’t — and if you’ve been around here long enough and STILL don’t have it, then you didn't want it bad enough to figure it out.
 
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UnrealCreative

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Before moving on, there were a few lessons learned up to this point that were absolutely vital in this chapter. But as a disclaimer…

A Word of Advice on Advice
I’ve attributed my “success” up to this point by my curiosity, and a deep need to understand how the world works so I can make life work — This includes translating what I know into real results.

When you’re starting off, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of consuming guru content and hanging on their every word as gospel — yet never seeking the answer within yourself and taking action.

Here’s the reality: Most people aren’t worth listening to, because their words are a projection of their experiences and values. It’s for this reason you must take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt.

First, who are they to think they know about your present circumstances, personality, and dreams with enough clarity to give you the answers to your problems? They don’t.

Most people dish out advice because they want to feel important. In the case of internet gurus, they personally profit by doing so. There are few people I’ve found who genuinely, selflessly want to see you succeed…but when you find those people, hold them close. They’re as rare as they come.

If you don’t follow other’s advice, Who do you listen to?
Asking yourself questions is how you make life work.

Most of the answers you seek is when you ask yourself…
1 — What do I want? More importantly, WHY do I want it?
2 — What’s in the way of getting what I want?
3 — What systematic steps do I need to take to get what I want, based on my current knowledge?

When you ask these questions and come to your own conclusions, you run zero risk of being misguided by other’s influence.

Then you start. Are you getting results you’re happy with? Great! If not, change your approach. You may have to change your approach multiple times. On the other hand there’s something to be said about committing to a plan, but committing to an ineffective plan is stupidity.

In the process of adjusting your path, you may ask…

4 — If I don’t know how to get there, what books or resources are available to clarify my path?
5 — If I’m still lost, who do I know is an example of success that I can ask questions from?

You need to make sure it’s from a source or person who has zero interest ensuring you see them as an authority. If they offer their advice in any form and there’s a method for them to monetize your trust, sorry. They can’t be trusted with offering entirely unbiased advice.

My mantra is "I don't ever claim to have the answers, but I'll ask you a lot of questions." It's this approach that often helps myself and others make decisions in their own time. I never claim to know someone well enough to point them in the right direction; YOU point yourself in the right direction.

“Mentors” are overrated, seek data points from a large set of people instead. Being curious and seeking out what makes one person a success versus another, and adopting the best qualities of everyone you run into can help clarify your path — Just don’t get trapped in their funnel.
 
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UnrealCreative

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With the "advice" stuff out of the way, time for some hindsight lessons up to this point in the story.

I've seen a handful of posts from people my age freaking out about Parents and College
(i.e. "I'm worried parents will disown me/I'll be homeless without a degree")

These are undoubtably things you'll have to deal with if you're <25 with entrepreneurial dreams.
So If you're young, read carefully.

Parents
Look, your parents love you. They want to see you do well and hate to see you hurt. But problems arise when getting older as these are diametrically opposing forces; growing up necessitates taking risks, getting hurt and growing as a person in the process.

It’s for this reason that I don’t believe you should expect encouragement for your entrepreneurial dreams from parents who are attempting to minimize the hurt to their children. That’s fine — You will eventually unlearn approval-seeking behavior, and this is the first step.

Taking the risk of moving out before I was 100% ready was absolutely critical as it gave me headspace and to build the future I wanted. The worst that can happen is you run out of money and either move back in or crash on friend’s couches. You have to do it eventually anyway, why not now?

College
There’s no need to overcomplicate this. Does college get you closer to your goals? If so, do it. If not, don’t. College is not the end-all-be-all to success, and neither is skipping out on it. Only YOU can decide if College is necessary for your goals.

I personally didn’t go for a few reasons. First, I’d only go if it were purely my choice and not from outside pressure. Second, it didn’t align with my goals and I likely would have experienced diminishing returns by not engaging in the market sooner.

That said it was a personal choice and shouldn’t stop you from going if you want. The upside was I got an education that paid ME $xxx,xxx’s over the last few years, rather than paying for an education. On the other hand there were undoubtably experiences I missed from age 18-22 by working all the time.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Marked NOTABLE as the reflections have started to roll in! Thanks @UnrealCreative -- BTW did you get my email back to you in response to your Summit speaking offer?
 
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UnrealCreative

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@UnrealCreative Question:

You ever gonna answer yo damn phone or call me back? :rofl:
Pick up YOUR phone! :happy:
or listen to your damn voicemails lmfao

Marked NOTABLE as the reflections have started to roll in! Thanks @UnrealCreative -- BTW did you get my email back to you in response to your Summit speaking offer?
Got the email and are discussing potential talking points. Will get back to you ASAP.
 
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UnrealCreative

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So, back to the story.

2017 — Keep in mind that in all this time, there were small wins here and there. But I lived in my head and couldn’t focus. There just wasn’t a way to translate what I knew into the real world yet — which is to say I was a totally broke, action-faking wantrepreneur with nothing to show for “all my hard work.”

Thankfully, I was blessed with a cascade of events that helped focused my attention.

Lost the Job.

Went TOTALLY broke.

Couldn’t pay rent, got evicted.

Lost long-term Girlfriend.

Within a week.

...Could you imagine what I was thinking?
2017 (cont’d) — This was an amazingly humbling moment. A little background: I’ve gotten pretty good at graphic design and web-based projects, developing a small portfolio over the past few years as new skills were acquired — With an empty bank account and crushing depression, I HAD to make something happen, otherwise, who knows...It was one of my darkest moments.

There were no more excuses, every second counted — got my first clients in a matter of days. It was a nice confidence boost to make something happen in such short of time, but of course it wasn’t enough to subsist on.

That, and I was very much alone on this path and needed to model after more examples of success. There just wasn’t anyone I could relate to in my small town in the Deep South. Being hungry wasn’t enough, I needed allies.

So, you know what you do after literally your darkest chapter of your life?

You convince a friend to drive you down 8 hours to the closest metro (Tampa, FL) for a meetup dinner with @Vigilante @Scot @Ronak and @Duane obviously. Beyond only being able to pay for an appetizer and making a public embarrassment out of my buddy, I don’t remember the meet much. But we all got to learn a bit more about each other and we all stayed in touch in some capacity.

Now, once we got home…Honestly if it weren’t for the parents, I’d be homeless. For some reason they must’ve seen I wasn’t giving up, and let me stay for a bit in order to get my shit together. It was for this first year that I committed to ONE project until it saw fruition and worked INSANELY HARD to support myself with the client work I’ve gained and make improvements to my mental health.

2018 — I had gained much more confidence after the first year of supporting myself as a freelancer, but was still alone. I had always wanted to make a pilgrimage to a Fastlane Summit in Phoenix (which I wrote about in this thread). It was an absolutely eye-opening experience of what’s possible, and the relationships that started from that conference were priceless — Many of which continue to shape me today. If you want to change your life, go.

After coming home, I (predictably) became restless in my environment and decided to make the move down to Tampa for a change of pace. It’s not a bad place, but wasn’t a huge fan of being in a bigger city and couldn’t really take the time to enjoy it much. I was working nonstop (only had part-time contractors) and grew extremely homesick, deciding to eventually move back home after a short 3 month stint.

Going back home this time wasn’t so bad — The Tampa move was mainly needed to prove I could support myself again after losing everything a year ago and to experience something new. I rented a family property, in a secluded woods area at market rate. Continued to work on the business in a very productive environment, paying out to them while supporting myself and saving some money on the side. This was a pretty happy chapter. Everything was chugging along nicely and enjoyed the time back with the people I cared about.

Then one day in October, some rain was heading toward us from the Gulf of Mexico.

That rain turned into a Tropical Storm.

Then a mild Hurricane.

Then this.

F***

Now what?
 
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Visionary96

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really enjoying your story so far mate! I am going to make it my mission to come to the 2021 summit, would be an incredible experience.

Looking forward to more!
 
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UnrealCreative

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So, there’s a couple of common themes and lessons here. First…

WTF is Business, Anyway?
In the end business is just a financial strategy — A method of generating income where the entrepreneur has more control over the variables that determine his financial well-being than if it were to come from the traditional route of employment.

Business isn't an end-all be-all. I have accepted that someone can still become happy, healthy and wealthy from other routes. If you look up the fatFIRE community on reddit, you'll see that business only becomes a topic of interest when people with traditionally high-paying careers hit an income ceiling and can't go beyond without changing vehicles.

With added maturity and hindsight, I’d be happy to work for someone else given the right opportunity and personal autonomy as a stepping stone to something bigger — But back in those days I’d rather die than work for someone else because 1) I was hungry and 2) I attached 100% of my worth as a person to my business.

Attaching your personal worth as a human being to your success or failure is a very dangerous position to be in. On one hand that ego can make you work very hard but is utterly soul-crushing when things don’t work out.

I was very extreme in my approach to everything back then — Now I’ll still ride a wave of inspiration every once in a while, but I’m a bit more balanced and approach things not as a do-or-die martyr now. This is very important to your mental health and personal productivity.

So, If you want to get in to business I’d recommend you…

Get a Life First
Entrepreneurship is hard. Don’t make this any harder than it has to be by sacrificing your current joy. Business is ONE aspect of your entire life, and shouldn’t ever be your all-consuming focus for longer than necessary. Sure, there are times where you’ll have to sacrifice sleep, friends, or your health to an extent. But ONLY in the beginning stages when you’re getting it all started. At some point you’ve got to live a bit — to live in a way that serves as a reminder why you work so hard.

It’s also not the answer to all your problems. There’s some things more money won’t fix, and there are situations where you may have more money but not a life you’re happy with.

You’ll be in a better position with more money obviously, but you'll also be less disappointed as an entrepreneur if you understand what you’re sacrificing and can accept that before jumping in, and how it’ll affect the rest of your life. It’s for this reason that I’m content with having a business that doesn’t necessarily provide massive wealth, but allows free time for me to explore my endless interests outside of business.

The “Hustle 24/7/365” culture that is so pervasive in entrepreneur circles isn’t healthy or sustainable long term, or anything worth aspiring to in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, making money and building something is fun. But in the grand scheme of things I work to live, not live to work.

So, how do you get a life?

Understand yourself deeply, and the path becomes clear
If you don’t know what you really want, who you really are, and develop a deeper understanding of how the world works, it will be extremely difficult to direct your thinking in a productive direction and make life work.

It was Sun Tzu that said “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Both are incredibly important. Understanding yourself and the world around you comes from engaging with it; sometimes from poor judgement and retroactively learning from it.

Everything around you (Culture, Peers, Parents, Social Media, even this Forum) will try to tell you who you are, what you want, and how you should live. It’s a projection of their values onto you. Without knowing what’s most important to you and connecting to a larger “why” for your existence, you will never know whether you’re listening to your own voice or someone else’s.

It’s for this reason why I’d recommend taking a lot of time digging into this.

Put yourself in an environment where you can thrive
So, if you’d still like to be in business, let’s talk about entrepreneurial loneliness. There are two factors we need to consider to mitigate its effects — Culture and People.

1) Culture.

I grew up in the Deep South where the people aren’t my favorite and examples of success were virtually non-existent. I was very resentful for a long time, but only because I inherently did not fit into that culture.

The problem with this thinking is you don’t choose where you live, so it’s your sole responsibility to find a culture where you can thrive. Sometimes that’s changing neighborhoods, driving a few hundred miles away or flying a few thousand miles away. Getting a taste of different places will help you understand where you can thrive. If I recognized moving was a necessity sooner, I would’ve traded my time in resentment for time actively seeking a way out faster.

2) People.

Entrepreneurship is only lonely because it dominates your thinking most of the time, and you won’t have anyone to relate to unless you actively seek them out. Online is fine, but preferably moving to an entrepreneurial city or even starting a hustle house is ideal.

More to come…
 

Visionary96

Contributor
Oct 23, 2018
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Torquay
Entrepreneurship is only lonely because it dominates your thinking most of the time, and you won’t have anyone to relate to unless you actively seek them out. Online is fine, but preferably moving to an entrepreneurial city or even starting a hustle house is ideal.
This is so spot on. I live in a small town in England currently with my parents and I have just spent 4 months recently in Melbourne and wow the difference in culture and people who you can align your goals with is so empowering. I've come back and cannot wait to go back. Environment is so crucial to everything. I am not so much depressed now I'm back but I have noticed myself complaining and venting over small insignificant things so much more.

Great stuff mate!
 

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