Words of Wisdom

A wise man learns by the mistakes of others, a fool by his own. --Latin Proverb

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Pre-Mother's Day Analogy

Picasso: Woman With a Flower (1932)

With Mother's Day quickly approaching, here's a festive analogy for everyone.  When you were a kid, how many of you would make a card for your mom from scratch? I'm talking construction paper, Elmer's Glue, confetti, elbow macaroni and all...  Chances are, most of us have done this at one point or another.  Now, when you got a little bit older and thought you were too big or too cool to be a Picasso anymore, how many of you bought cards for your moms?  Yep... me too.  I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that, while my mom appreciated the store-bought sentiment, she cherished those things that I made with my hands the most.  I could take you to her house right now and there would be several items that look terrible, may be broken, but are proudly displayed where everyone can see them.  It's the clay necklace I made in kindergarten, or the jewelery box I made out of popsicle sticks.  What you won't find out in the open are those Hallmark cards I bought in my later years.  This brings me to the analogy. 

Hallmark Cards : Clay Necklaces :: Active Income : Passive Income
(For those of you who were born after me and aren't so sure what an analogy is due to the fact that they have been removed from all standardized tests, it's read: "Hallmark Cards are to Clay Necklaces as Active Income is to Passive Income")

If I lost anyone with Passive/Active income click here to catch up, and remember, you can find a list of every post published to date on the Archives Page.  Anyway, simply put, while Hallmark cards are a Mother's Day gift, and they get the job done, it's the clay necklace or the macaroni card that gets displayed and cherished for as long as it's poor construction will allow it to survive.  So, if a self-made gift from the heart can be seen as more "valuable" than a gift from the store, then why can't a self-made income from your heart be more "valuable" than an income from the office?  Aha! There IS a method to my ramblings... 

But let me say one last thing about Mother's Day before I change subject on you.  While macaroni cards and playdough don't hold quite the same appeal to your mother coming from you as an adult, it's still a good mindset to carry with you this Sunday.  Sure, mom's like to be pampered and showered with gifts.  But, I intend to spend some quality time with my mom this year. I know that when we look back, much more will have been gained from our meaningful conversations, advice to each other and our laughs than from a memory of a shopping spree.  With that said, let's talk money!

I've been preaching since the beginning of this blog that passive income is they way to go.  The question is, how can you make a passive income?  The answer is that I can't tell you exactly.  There is no "one-size-fits-all" here.  Only you know the answer, and that's the beauty of it.  What I mean is that by making you're own money, you are free to pursue the things that really interest you.  Yes, money is an interest, but above that, what are you passionate about?  Do you paint?  Do you love to write?  Is you're cell phone full of photos that you pulled over on the side of the road to get?  

What you don't want to do is pick something only on the idea that it will make you money.  When you do this, it's almost certain that you won't make any.  It's our passions that should push us, not the payout.  I've been researching this topic for years and I've found that when you are doing something that you truly want to do, something that you enjoy, the dollars usually aren't far behind. 

After you've found that thing that you would jump out of bed excited to do, it's time to start thinking about it in a different way.  How can you turn your interest into something that others would find valuable.  What do they get out of it?  Sometimes this is easy, sometimes, not so much.  Let's say you're like me and really enjoy writing; it's easier for me to talk about my interest because I've gone through this thought process before.  So, what value do people get out of my writing?  What's in it for them?  Well, this certainly depends on what and how I write.  I could try to write a book.  I could try to write articles for a newspaper or magazine.  I could write greeting cards.  I could write damn near anything... it seems this needs to be narrowed down significantly.

Ok, so let's start with writing a book.  Shouldn't be too hard.  I've had plenty of life experiences that I'm sure people would like to hear.  So, I actually tried this.  Then I realized something.  It's hard to write about yourself, especially when you have had some unpleasantness in your past.  Every time I got a few pages in, my writing would get dark.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, plenty of people enjoy this type of story.  So I carried on until I found myself in a depression.  That's when I stopped.  If what you are doing causes bad things to happen it's defeating it's purpose.

Then I tried fiction.  I could write the next Harry Potter or Twilight Series, right?  So I got back to work.  I thought it was going rather well until I finished the first few chapters and started rereading it.  What I had in my hands wasn't the next Harry Potter or Twilight.  It was Harry Potter or Twilight.  Make sure your content is original.  If the work you are producing isn't original, there isn't much value in it, not to mention copyright infringement, blah, blah...

How about articles for a newspaper or magazine.  This already has red flags.  The word "deadline" comes to mind.  This causes another little word to come to mind; "stress".  This is already sounding like job.  If you factor in the reality that to write for any notable publication you need education, experience, and references you can talk yourself out of this one before you even get started.  Don't turn your passion into a job that you don't like.  It's unnecessary; you already have one of those.

Greeting cards sound fun and easy.  There's a card for everything now.  I could write about being happy, sad, funny, ugly, pretty, sexy, fat, skinny... the list goes on forever.  Cards are usually no more than a few lines long... this is sounding better and better.  Time again for another reality check!  What is the purpose of a greeting card?  Why would people buy my greeting cards over other people's?  The truth is, they wouldn't.  No matter how great my cards were, the big thing about cards is how accessible they are.  You can pick them up at the grocery store, the gas station, the drug store.. pretty much anywhere.  There is no reason that someone would buy my cards over Hallmark's or the cheapy generic ones that are everywhere.  Stay aware of the world around you.

Damn!  Looks like I'm back to the drawing board... and just in time because it's getting late.  6:45 comes early and I need some time to wind down for the night.  Next time I'm going to talk about where to go next once you've talked yourself out of all your great ideas.  I wish you all a fantastic Friday and I give you this to think about... Just because you're feet are on the ground doesn't mean that your head can't be in the clouds.  It just requires a little stretching.

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