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What’s your worst Desert Moment and where are you in the process?

Anything related to matters of the mind


Bronze Contributor
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Speedway Pass
Aug 16, 2012
Los Alamitos
Disclaimer: The following post is not intended as a request for critique, a cry for help or an invitation for any type of advice. The intention of spilling my desert moment timeline was to give a model so that others could see my example of how I got to this point, and with the goal of hearing others' stories and creating a thread where people suffering through that situation could actually find some of the shared stories helpful, even if it was just to not feel so isolated and alone. There aren't any threads covering this topic and I felt it would be useful to the community if something like this existed on here.

I want to create a post for anyone stuck in the desert phase, like me.

My process history:

  • Part of 2 MLMS–World Financial Group & So Cal Group (selling Quill office supplies) 2010 & 2011
    • Learned not to fall for MLMs anymore
  • 1st business–Errand Runner USA (2012)
    • Learned about passive business vs. self-employed and did not assess or adjust
    • Read The Millionaire Fastlane
    • Today Shipt, DoorDash, Instacart, and other companies are fulfilling that business need
    • 1st Desert Moment lasted about 3 months
  • BuyFurnitureUSA
    • Money chasing; buying furniture to resale online
  • Finding Needs
    • Tried filming interviews to find needs.
  • Operation Web Design (2013)
    • Learned more about sales and marketing.
    • Bought a Commissions Only Sales Recruitment book and was personally helped by the author; this completely changed my partner’s and my business mindset. For example, from this point on we understand and look for alternative vs. sequence mindsets.
  • ChazzLive (2014)
    • Followed a Ptolemy money-chaser leader
    • 2nd Desert Moment lasted about 6–12 months
  • Pool Service USA (2015-2016)
    • Worked for free to help research how to become a franchise. I was blamed for a $20,000 hiring mistake. I did not hire the 3rd party company but was blamed since I was the researcher. I thought working for free wouldn’t put me in jeopardy. I was wrong.
  • Pool Service 123 (2017–2019)
    • Ran a pool service company with fiance. We were always fighting and this almost destroyed our business partnership (not our personal but our business relationship).
    • We made all the mistakes a brand new person in business would make. What just happened?
    • Hired 1st employee–it was a disaster.
    • Sold business at half price to escape the self-employed life and to save our sanity.
    • 3rd Desert Moment currently

I was able to get out of my first 2 desert mindsets by self-reflecting, reading, and giving myself time. However, this third desert is really tough. I am struggling to get out of this mindset. I believe the 3rd one is strongly due to my environment and following other people in business. This 3rd desert comes and goes; one week I will be fine and the next week I might have a breakdown. Depending on the level breakdown, there are suicidal thoughts–not actions, thoughts only. This is the stuff no one talks about.

My fiance and I are living in a 5th wheel horse trailer in front of his parents house (tiny for 2 people). It is illegal to sleep in a trailer in front of a house; our neighbors know that but have yet to call the police. My fiance’s dad is extremely controlling, territorial and sexist so I try to avoid him at all costs. I am constantly fearful in this living situation; fearful of being caught living in a trailer, afraid of running into his dad getting lectured, and worried of never escaping the rat race. Basically, we do not live in an environment where anyone is cheering for us to succeed. Everyone (and I mean everyone) wants us to give up and fail. We have been successfully failing for roughly 10 years. There is no support for running a business unless we run a self-employed business like his dad.

It is really hard not to compare yourself to the other people living in this upper-middle class neighborhood. Majority of the neighborhood includes boomers and Gen X along with the lucky millennials whose parents helped them get a house. I try to remind myself the residents are sacrificing living in the Rat Race. They are making sacrifices like me; however, you can see their sacrifices, you cannot see mine. My fiance and I have nothing to show for our sacrificed time. We look like losers in society compared to other people; we are closer to homelessness and living out of an office again than renting or owning our own home. We have freedom to work on business but we are sacrificing a lot for this freedom. Our monthly bills are roughly $2,000 every month; our bills would be $300/month if we didn’t max out our credit cards to invest in business (Pool Service 123) or pull out money to invest in cryptocurrencies.

From 2020 till January 2022, the cryptocurrency market became my boss (I didn’t realize this until after reading MJ’s new book). Kraken is the exchange we use which had a major flash crash February 22nd, 2021. Our account had $220,000 and showed $8,000 that morning. We were in a margin trade and Kraken liquidated us. Within 5-10 minutes there was a flash crash and then the market went back to normal. Jesse Powell (co-founder and CEO of Kraken) claimed everyone did a bad trade; it was our fault for making a bad trade. I filled out a government form to complain about the situation and they replied cryptocurrency is not regulated therefore they couldn’t do anything. Wow. This is when I learned the government doesn’t give a shit about you. Kraken doesn’t give a shit about you. No one cares. We lawyered up and accepted Kraken’s refund; we got roughly $70,000 back and about $45,000 in KFEEs (which we will never fully use). Check and mate–well played Kraken.

Know what some of our family members and friends said when we lost all this money due to a “poor” trade which would be considered illegal to the US government on a stock market? You should have taken the money and run when it was $100,000; that’s your fault. Nice. My fiance’s dad was one of those people.

My partner and I put our life savings into the cryptocurrency market. This was our hard earned money from previous jobs, credit loans, and the pool service business we sold. Why did we sacrifice all that time and headache just to lose it to 1 trade? Welcome, my 3rd desert experience.

If I die tomorrow, was this worth it? Why did I put myself through all this mental torture and struggle? I should have enjoyed the time I had and lived in the rat race. Make enough money to spend on trips and enjoy life. Life is torturous right now. No one wants to be me, except someone on their deathbed. That is the emotional part of my brain. Logically, what are the chances I will die tomorrow, next month, next year, 10 years? Am I willing to stop what I’m doing and get a minimum wage job? I’ve never been a salary rat. Those salary jobs are very competitive to get when the other rats are willing to perform for them; go to school to get a business degree, speak a different language, know a great deal about the company before your first interview, set up interviews for 10-20 companies, polish your resume for each applied position so it stands out, volunteer your free precious time to get experience for the career title you want, etc . . . Basically twist yourself into a pretzel so you can hopefully find a company willing to take a risk on you. Why do that when I can create a job for myself through business? People will twist and turn themselves into pretzels for me and I just need to find the need.

However, I am also getting older. The time clock is ticking to have kids. My fiance and I have held off on having kids to focus on business. We are now getting closer to our late 30s; the trailer we live in is not a good place to raise a kid. MJ states 1 kid costs roughly $15,000 every year. We barely make $15,000 every year. Somehow all the other poor people out there are having kids. How are they doing it?

MJ’s books confirm what I have experienced so far on this wonderful yet horrific journey. I have experienced about 85-90% of the theories in The Great Rat-Race Escape. But, there’s still 10-15% I have not experienced. What if I don’t understand those theories until I actually experience them? It’s one thing to read them and acknowledge the theory; however, it’s a completely different story when you are personally experiencing the theories. Will I be able to recognize when to assess then adjust? What if I misinterpret what the market says? What if I adjust and it doesn’t make a difference in the outcome? What if this, what if that . . . etc . . . My logical side–Whoa, slow down there. Just take it 1 problem at a time. Remember? There’s no need to tackle problem #99 until the 1st problem is solved.

There is a constant tug-a-war of emotion vs. logic going on in my head. Most of the time the logic wins, but sometimes the logical side is defeated when it looks like everyone is living a better life. It is hard to be thankful for taking the red pill when you see a family playing in their front yard, watching a movie on their giant TV in the living room, having good smelling food in a kitchen they can cook in, etc . . . It’s the little things in life that can be the most satisfying. They don’t seem to have any worries or concerns. Time is not passing them by; they are enjoying the moment now. Logically, I know this isn’t true. However, I don’t see this when I go on my routine walks with my fiance. That is what makes it hard. The self-doubt, fearful living environment, and postponing our lives for business becomes questionable. What am I doing?

What is more frustrating is being stuck. Every time I try to get a job or get hired I have a F*ck This Event moment; every single frickin time. I am trapped in this imbalance of not being able to be a rat nor am I successful. I have been an Unplugged Unscriptee for the past 10 years, constantly struggling to move up to A Fastlane Unscriptee. I am one of the characters on “Squid Game” in the first episode playing Red Light Green Light. You know the outcome if you quit or give up. You have no choice but to crawl forward; it seriously feels like a crawl too.

You read on the forum about people firing their bosses and thriving in the event stages. There is hardly any talk when someone is in the desert stage. The process is discussed the most on the forum, as it should be; the event is the next most commonly discussed. Shouldn’t the 2nd major subject be desert moments? We all have them. Let’s be real. You haven’t truly experienced the struggle or successfully jumped to Liberated Unscriptee if you haven’t experienced a desert moment. Most of us aren’t that lucky. So again, why is the desert hardly discussed? Isn’t the desert stage part of the process? It’s really important to talk about. We focus on the glory instead of the sacrifice which can isolate the rest of us who are going through the struggle now. Just like I compare myself to the rats in the neighborhood, I can’t help but compare myself to the people having these awesome events. Did they ever go through the desert? Is it just me going through this tough time? It can’t be. Why would this be a topic in MJ’s book if no one else is going through the desert? Anyone else in the desert currently? It’s already extremely isolating out there in the rat race world; it’s not fun to feel isolated in the place where you are supposed to fit in.

Let’s change that. What’s your worst Desert Moment and where are you in the process?
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MJ DeMarco

I followed the science; all I found was money.
Staff member
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Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2007
Your story is somewhat tragic. However, under no circumstances would I have 90% of my liquid net worth tied up into one investment, especially held by an unregulated "boutique" type of firm. The worse could happen and it did. I touched upon this in Unscripted (book 1) under the "too big to fail" rule. Learn from that experience so it never happens again.

That said, the fact that you accumulated a 1/4 MILLION dollars tells me you know how to execute, you just haven't followed through while avoiding critical DARE destroying decisions.

Right now my focus would be on to getting out from under the scrutinous eye of your fiance's parents. That might entail getting a job to pay rent for you or your husband, while the other works the escape plan.

we got roughly $70,000 back

Where did the $70K go? That is plenty to rent an apartment and get moving onto something else.

What’s your worst Desert Moment and where are you in the process?

A lot of people are struggling, it's just never a great time to be going public with it.

My worst time in the desert was back in Chicago when I thought it would be great to spend my weekends at the flea market selling various odds and ends. After wasting my Saturday and Sunday, I end up making about $2 an hour. A few hours flipping burgers at McDonalds would have paid more. This venture, however, was more of my attempt at NOT getting a foundational job to pay the baseline bills.


Legendary Contributor
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Mar 15, 2018
My partner and I put our life savings into the cryptocurrency market. This was our hard earned money from previous jobs, credit loans, and the pool service business we sold. Why did we sacrifice all that time and headache just to lose it to 1 trade? Welcome, my 3rd desert experience.

You got greedy. You saw Crypro as your escape path without providing any value to anyone. Your business provided value and was sold for a valuable sum of money.

I’m so sorry to hear what you have been through and where you are today. I imagine the pain from your words and it’s tragic. The mistakes you made were in spite of having access to brain trust of this forum. You should have had better decisions and some financial freedom by now. It is tragic you are where you are.

But you are also here! You are still standing and now have big scars. You’ve likely learned massive lessons from life and will serve you well in the future.

What are your plans for the next 3 months? 1 year? 5 years?

How can we all (on this forum) help you get past this and into the next and successful part of your life?

My moment
Back in 2007 I borrowed money and invested in stock market. I was so good, I knew I couldn’t miss and was on my way to retirement! So I borrowed even more. And chose venture markets, then 2008 happened. I had negative net worth.
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Simon Angel

Platinum Contributor
Speedway Pass
Apr 24, 2016
You sound very bitter and disappointed by life and that's understandable. I can relate as I too experienced those mixed feelings of ambition, desire, desperation, newfound hope, depression, and apathy. Alongside other mental health issues.

I didn't live in a trailer with my fiance but I did lay in hospitals for years due to ill health, with next to no hope of ever going back to normal, while everyone else seemed to prosper through sheer luck.

I also lived with just my mother and we were always in debt and on the verge of hunger.

After a while, I got through all of that, but only after I accepted my situation and began looking forward to the future rather than dreading it.

Now, your ego will probably rebel against this but my suggestion to you would be to start from scratch. Offer a specialized skill. Then, after you've got some stability, delegate and scale.

You're still in your prime so now is the time to act. Take care of your wife, stop giving a F*ck about everyone else's approval and opinion, and get that financial freedom you've been dreaming of.

And finally, maybe you should knock up your wife. I know this sounds like a terrible idea but it looks like you're a driven person and knowing that your wife is carrying your child you will stop thinking about your failures and feeling sorry for yourself, and focus completely on making sure your kid will have a great and precious childhood.

Disclaimer: I don't have kids and my girlfriend isn't pregnant at the moment. However, Glenn Stearns was a dyslexic 14-year old high school dropout when his first child, Charlene, was born. He claims this gave him purpose. And the guy now lives on a huge boat with said child and the rest of his family.

You might want to watch season 1 of Undercover Billionaire if you're interested in learning more about Glenn Stearns and how he operates (he started from scratch in a small town with the goal of getting a 1M business evaluation in 90 days). I found it quite educational, and the methods and principles shown extremely practical.
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Gold Contributor
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Apr 12, 2012
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Bronze Contributor
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Nov 27, 2014
Midwest, USA
If you can run your next business from your camper, you could move to a state or national park. Some offer a discount on extended stays (eg. 30 days). You can also be a camp host and work the campground to get out of there with no cost. It would provide some freedom, low cost, and independence from family.

My in-laws often find people who love living the camper nomad lifestyle just going campground to campground or possibly gig to gig following work. These include 6 figure workers who deal with computer communications, electric line repair, storm repair (eg. roof repair after tornadoes hit an area and there aren't enough workers), or the trade show circuit. It beats living in front of the future in-laws house. Again, it means that you will have to come up with something you can do from a more remote location.

If you want to stay in town, you sound like you have skills. Many jobs pay better than $15k per year now. Our pond dealer was paying $17/hr (34k/yr if full time) for college kids to scoop fish out of tanks and put pond plants in bags for customers. Even being a bartender or waiting tables in the right area at an expensive place with the right clients can pull >$300-400 day especially if you're working Th-Sat. Find an expensive restaurant or a craft beer bar that does parties and has expensive beer. That leaves the daytime for your business. But you can be creative in your own way.

I'm going through my own desert of desertion. Rebounding after a very large monetary loss. My fault for trusting a family member and not putting safeguards in place. Never again. Several very valuable lessons though. I won't go further into this.

For me, I just look at it like a test. I've tested the market or a situation and either it worked or it didn't. If it works, do more of the same. If it doesn't, then don't do that again.

Work hard to not view yourself negatively especially if you're thinking of suicide. Get some help if you need it.

For me, negative thought really doesn't help promote getting anything done. Critiquing the experience and acting is something different than being negative. It doesn't help get ideas and it doesn't help execution to be negative. Being cold and calculated about the experience and the plusses and minuses does help (for me at least). Being blindly positive can be stupid and destructive. But you still have to see something positive about what you are doing and bringing to the table to keep running with it. If you can't see that you're actually doing something, then negative thoughts can easily sneak in. I think it's critical to say, I'm accomplishing something and then go work on doing more accomplishing. You'll feel even more like you've accomplished something. There's an old saying that an idle mind is the work of the devil. I think that's true when it comes to accomplishing things in business too.

Personally, I don't understand using poorly covered margin on a speculative instrument. I understand debt for business or real estate. To me, it should be a cold calculation seeking to minimize risk. For example, most of my life has been spent doing computer things. Programming and other pursuits, either freelance or contract, or IT mgmt. If I had to take a loan on computer equipment to start a business of a given size, I know what the return is and I can figure out if that will get repaid or how much it will cost each month. The same for real estate if you can quantify and adjust for risk. That real estate will have a value. Risk can be adjusted for lower rent if need be.


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Sep 12, 2021
I think those of us starting out dip in out of the desert constantly and will do until we we recognise the desert so well we can navigate it.

I Started various action faking businesses and schemes over the last 8 years and when the desert came around, I just gave up.

I’ve found myself in the desert plenty this last 2 years.

Before covid hit the uk properly in January 2020, I was working a full time job (remotely) for a company in London. At this point my partner and I wanted to give the “rat race” a go because we saw people working and commuting to the city kind of enjoying themselves going out and having a good time (at least the pictures they posted on Instagram showed that).

After a few months in this rat race lifestyle of being pushed to work from 8am-9pm with a never ending stream of work that bled into my weekends but only being paid for 9am-6pm mom-fri, my mental health began to deteriorate massively.

(The desert)

What followed was suicidal thoughts for weeks/ months. I’d read the usual self help books we’ve all read and that kind of kept me afloat but I still wanted to do myself in.

In the end, I decided that if I was contemplating suicide, I could really just take myself out of that miserable job which was about to be made worse by covid and just try something else.

Anything had to be better than what I was dealing with mentally at the time.

I’ve always hated working for someone so i knew going to another workplace weren’t an option, which led me to get signed off by my doctor for 2 months .

I just needed to free up mental space to think, so after a month, I decided that I was going to quit and this made me feel weak at the time.

(an oasis )
But all of a sudden, opportunity stepped in.

My workplace said they’d pay me for a full month even though I wasn’t going to work it. Which is useful cause I didn’t really have savings
(my opportunity and abit of luck)

I was staying at my girls mums place, so I took the money and budgeted 3 months rent, food and main bills

I deleted every other bill that I didn’t need to maximise what I had.

My girl also quit her job at the same time because - F*ck the rat race.

Got a job as a takeaway delivery driver, and set a goal to make £100 a week, then £200 and so on. Eventually went self employed as a Amazon driver and got myself to £500-600 a week, Chuck in some just-eat delivery and some weeks I’d managed £900 a week.

Working all the time meant I saved money and because I chose my schedule I could afford to take time off work when I wanted and have a great summer with my girl and friends. I never felt more free.

After working with a friend on the side for a over a year, I managed to get involved in something that earned me a decent stack of cash, but not something i would ever continue because of risks involved.

My partner and I managed to get ourselves ina position where we could get a mortgage for a house, which we wanted to do because who wants to live with their mum in law at 26 ?

Now, we couldn’t get A mortgage as self employed because we didn’t have a long enough work history. So we decided F*ck it, let’s get a job and we can get a house with 3 months payslips.

(Desert again)
we only expected to be in our jobs for 6 Months max (getting payslips and finding a house) before we could quit again and focus on starting our own businesses but it’s been closer to a year.

A very very tough year for my girlfriend, who went back to her old job to make this happen, while I went to a new work place. She has come close to a mental breakdown so many times but I’ve done whatever I could to convince her that it’s going to be worth it.

(An oasis)
We’re on the cusp of getting our house now.
I’ve started pressure washing after taking inspiration from various people in the group about offline service business and discovered I can make £400 for 8 hours worth of work. (Never made that much ever)

(Going to ramp this up, as only done 2 jobs, but it’s a F*cking start)

I’m now trying to focus on this 1 thing and see where I can take it but I know for a fact the desert is about come again.

(The next desert)
Once we’re in the house, we’ll have less money, we’ll have to find a balance between being employed and self employed, then make the full jump to self employed.

We’ll have to work real hard on our relationship because that will be strained too.

We’ll then have to contend with the idea that my business or her own might not be worth and to try something else.

Just gotta remind yourself of when you see that desert that If you decide to give up You’ll stay there forever.

your story has been tragic and you’ve made a questionable decision regarding crypto currency but hey ho! I spent like £1500 on a forex trading course twice lol and basically got scammed.

Seems like you’re next port of call should be getting some money behind you and move out to change your environment and A quick way to do that is get a “normal job”.
As long as you remind yourself that you’re using these rat race mechanisms to get to the next level then hopefully you stay on the journey.

Best of luck to you and well done for started a what will be a fantastic thread, I’ll look forward to ready the rest when I get my next desert


Bronze Contributor
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Speedway Pass
Aug 16, 2012
Los Alamitos
While I appreciate the feedback of those who posted their own desert moments to this thread, this post was not intended to be focused on me. The intention of spilling my desert moment timeline was to give a model so that others could see my example of how I got to this point, and with the goal of hearing others' stories and creating a thread where people suffering through that situation could actually find some of the shared stories helpful, even if it was just to not feel so isolated and alone. There aren't any threads covering this topic and I felt it would be useful to the community if something like this existed on here.


Platinum Contributor
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Jan 10, 2012
San Diego, CA
My desert of desertion was when I was 23 years old. I started my first real business after college. Before I used to just hustle selling on ebay and at the swap meet. I accumulated $30k in credit card debt. I had fights with my parents about debt collectors and getting a job. Not to mention I was in the process of getting a nephrectomy. The business failed. It was a time where everytime I fell asleep I hoped I never woke up.
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Dec 1, 2019
Northern Germany
I am still in the desert (providing for a familiy, learning and hustling to help others), and I think the worst moment will always be right before you leave it, since the feeling will get worse every day, until the odds finally make it so that you leave the desert. Since we are manipulating these odds, the point someday will be there, but up until then you are in the desert and it feels keep getting worse and worse.

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