Written by Alden Tan
I wrote to Ryan Holiday, one of my favorite authors once about how to balance doing what you love, creating art and doing work with money. Or to put it another way, how do you stop worrying about making money when you’re trying to do your best work.
He replied that it’s important to remember that money is merely a means to an end.
Now here lies the problem: Most people today treat money as the end.
That is why rich people are still capable of getting depressed. That is why some celebrities have killed themselves, most notably Robin Williams.
Remember, money can only buy pleasure, not joy. Work hard to make that money. Get some pleasure along the way, but remember to do what matters most to you or what you’re passionate about to constantly create new ends. Like for me, as a Bboy, I create joy for myself by consistently creating new movements and routines, while enjoying the music along the way. And we all know music is infinite.
Fame, the philandering partner of money is another pleasurable means that is understandably seductive.
You’ve fans who adore you. You’ve companies who want to pay you. You also get tons of free shit.
I am not famous, but I dare say that they come with side effects, such as toxic friends who start to use you, shallow relationships which refuse to weather the storm or immense stress from trying to stay relevant.
Face it, fame comes and go. Someone is only going to replace you and they’re probably younger.
Dig deep instead to do shit you love for yourself, not for others. That is the only way you’re only going to better yourself.
3) A job
Working is important, especially if you need to support those dependant on you.
But at the end of the day, your job does not identify you.
You’re more than the work you do on your desk, your paycheck, your boss’s comments or the promotion you just got.
There’re many amazing things you can do outside of your job. You just need to explore and apply yourself.
(If you love your job, good for you. But remember ultimately that you’re susceptible to it and not in full control. You may lose it one day.)
You went viral? Great!
But the work doesn’t stop there. Your supposed status of being an overnight sensation only means you’re going to wake up tomorrow and enjoy just a few moments of fame.
In today’s day and age, something or someone is going to replace you, and they don’t even have to try that hard because the stupidest shit can go viral for no apparent reason.
So whatever your goal is, continue to put in the work for consistency’s sake after you’ve capitalized on your viral thing.
5) Traveling the world
Meet all the cool people you want. Absorb the different cultures. Take up different lifestyles. Hell, show off to your friends how many stamps you’ve gotten on your passport.
It’s a cool deal, but eventually you’re going to have to settle down somewhere. Your body isn’t made out of rockets.
So where are you going to choose? And what are you going to do there for the rest of your life?
6) Partying and getting drunk
It’s an awesome feeling to get intoxicated and even high as you indulge in spontaneous happenings, but it simply does not last.
You’re going to realize the people you met at parties don’t all translate into meaningful relationships. You’re going to get tired from the noise and constant hangovers. Or worse, you may get addicted to alcohol or some shit.
Partying is the easiest way to have fun. You only need booze and money. But easy is never fulfilling. It is only when you push yourself and challenge yourself that you’ll feel a sense of achievement; that you’ll cherish what you gain.
7) Netflix and other dopamine-inducing activities
It’s sad, but how often have people simply concluded that they’ve had a falsely productive day because of these activities?
“I stayed in and watched Netflix the whole day.”
“How was my trip? I got a high a lot bro.”
“I laid in bed all day playing mobile games.”
And so on.
These should only be treated as breaks from doing actual work or forms of art. It’s absolutely not a life at all to want to constantly chill, relax or get high. That’s escaping from something.
As I wrote here, self-love is not self-indulgence. It’s a discipline. You discipline yourself with wholesome activities and shit.
Your life only ends when you die. To think that you’re all that or that you’re satisfied with one mere thing is only deluding yourself. Life changes, and so will you. Evolve and adapt.