You Will Never Have it Figured Out and That’s Okay

I keep hearing people around me being scared of their next steps in life. They’re waiting for the moment when they have it figured out.

Do you feel like that?

I have good news for you: you don’t have to figure everything out before jumping to action. Because the truth is, no one has it figured out. Some people talk to me or send me messages, telling me: “it’s easy for you, you have it all figured out.”

It couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’m working on figuring it out on a daily basis, and you know what? That actually makes life enjoyable!

I read a lot of biographies because I find them so uplifting. In them, you read that the people you think are on top of the world really have never figured it out. They all did their best and made tons of mistakes along the way. In fact, that’s probably the only pattern I could identify between everyone I’ve read about:

They all make tons of mistakes but never give up.

Not the greatest discovery I know, but as humans, even though we know that, we don’t follow that timeless advice. As a starter, I’ve been guilty of giving up too early on so many occasions.

A prime example of a moment I didn’t give up even though all signs pointed that I should stop is with my writing on Medium. I started off quite successful and maintained that success for three and a half months. During that time, I was a top writer in 12 categories, including top #1 in Travel. I kept that title for three months.

But mid-March of last year, my statistics dropped by 90%! And it stayed that way until October. I went from being a “prolific” writer to a “nobody” basically overnight. Somehow I never gave up, even though it was insanely demoralizing. I guess I took comfort in the fact that other top writers I respected saw the same thing happen to them, so it wasn’t entirely my fault.

I pushed through the tough 6–7 months and finally got my mojo back. I started publishing less frequently, but higher quality content. That caught Medium’s and the readers’ attention. My stories started reaching over 100K views, making me over $2,000 each. From then on, I was able to make a living writing only one hour a day on Medium.

One of my “early” successes

One of my “early” successes

So you think I have it all figured out?

Far from it. I still write articles that make me basically no money, even though I spend a good amount of time on them. On top of that, it’s not like the personal brand I built around this is making me tons of money, even though to some it may look like I’m very successful.

Heck, last year I made less than $4,000 in revenues from the brand and the writing. Things have picked up near the end of the year and this year as well and I can now make a living in many countries around the world but it’s far from luxury.

I am constantly brainstorming new ideas on how to improve the brand, write better articles and vary my revenue sources in case Medium dies on me again. It is, after all, mostly out of my control. I currently have over nine sources of revenues, working on three more. It’s a lot of work to maintain it all.

I experiment all the time. I start projects using my 1–50 rule and hope for the best. My motto is:

If you don’t try, you don’t get.

I currently have 12 active projects:

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And these projects come and go. I constantly have to figure out where I should be spending my time for maximum happiness and return on investment (ROI). I built myself a tool to get some awareness on that:

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I change the scales and numbers almost on a weekly basis.

Anyway, all that to say that it’s completely normal that you haven’t figured it out. You never really will. People far more successful than me have not figured it out either.

Being successful is not a matter of having a clear path, it’s a matter of slowly chipping at it, especially when the times are rough.

That being said, you still have to be smart about it and realize when you’re chipping at the wrong tree. Seth Godin touches on that in his book, The Dip.

So stop focusing on the fact that you don’t know if it’s going to work and just give it a try. One of my favourite quotes is this one:

“Think things through, then follow through” — Eddie Rickenbacker

Don’t be an over-thinker or under-thinker, become a “smart practitioner”. Forego the notion that you have to figure it out and get to it!

You can do this!