Everybody thinks hard work is hard.
But hard work isn't hard if you are passionate about it and inspired to do it. On the flip side of that, even easy work is hard when you hate what you are doing.
How do I know?
Just a few months ago, I started hating what I was doing. Fifty hours of zoom calls a week. I would speak on average, and was needed, for maybe five minutes of each hour of meeting. Imagine being on fifty hours of calls a week, and you are needed for fifty minutes out of the fifty hours! On paper that level of effort sounds easy, but it became excruciating. Spending that much time on synchronous calls, unable to do anything else, will drain any human.
No one person is to blame for that (except maybe me for putting up with it for so long); the pandemic created that situation. The people around me were amazing. I had a great relationship with my bosses and my reports. And yet, what used to be easy was now hard. The passion for my work was gone and all I wanted to do was find it again.
Six months later, I am doing more than I'd ever imagined I'd be doing, yet I feel great. I feel free. I do what I do because I want to and not because someone makes me. And so, I chase things I am passionate about. Don't get me wrong, every once in a while, I might still need to put up with something I don't fully believe in, especially when collaborating with others, or that I am not passionate about to make a little money, but it's far less than I ever had to before.
But in aggregate, I am working harder than I've worked before. When measured by pure output, there is no question this is the most I have ever output in my life. And my inputs are high too.
I put far more than fifty hours a week into the following things (You can skip this list and get to the end of the essay if you get bored):
- My new app, ThreadX, I soft-launched on this newsletter last weekend, is now up to 77 users. It lets people write and schedule Twitter threads and, most importantly, get feedback on those threads before publishing so they can perform better. So far, several threads written with it have gone viral.
- I am still adding features to tapeX when people ask. I am still building nines.
- I just finished mentoring The Minimalist Entrepreneur, and that was a six-week commitment to help others get started with entrepreneurship. Sahil Lavingia sent us off with a powerful reminder that just like the fundamentals of engineering never change, we can build anything with those; the same goes for the fundamentals of entrepreneurship.
- I am also a mentor in Write of Passage, and we are midway through the cohort. In this, I am helping those just getting started writing online; how to write consistently, how to get readers. Just last week, I taught the students the fundamentals of this internet game. This week, I will teach them how to take more risks with their writing and how to write great Twitter threads.
- I tweet every day, and I don't miss days. I engage my friends on there as often as I can add value; that's what makes it enjoyable. I also see how valuable having an audience is to entrepreneurship. To bounce ideas around, to get better ideas. But I am passionate about it; I love doing it.
- I write this newsletter every week because I love sending you updates, hoping they may help some of you on this journey. Or that it motivates the others who may be contemplating this journey.
- I make time regularly to jump on calls with interesting people I meet on Twitter and in these communities—something I never used to do with random strangers because I was drained.
- I am recording a ten-episode podcast series with four other great engineering leaders. Strangers I met on the internet that work at great companies and have achieved big things.
- I have added several chapters to my course Timeless Career Advice for Engineers, and will probably add more in the future.
- I am building a live cohort-based course on getting started on the internet with newsletters. I am building it with a friend I met on the internet, Chris Wong.
- I am very active in several online communities of creators and entrepreneurs. Communities like Small Bets, where I continue to learn, and try to contribute in regularly even with everything I have going on.
- I go on regular nature walks and think a lot. And this list is not exhaustive of all of the things I am currently doing, it is just what's top of mind.
- I have two kids and a wife I spend my most enjoyable time with. And shockingly we spend more time together than we ever did before. Tonight the weather was beautiful; we went for a walk with the kids and got ice cream after dinner.
Maybe you think I am telling you all of this to brag. I am not.
I am telling you this to prove a point.
You can do so much more than you think if you are inspired, passionate, and love what you are doing.
So my hope for you is that you find the courage to pursue your passions instead of pursuing things that drain you. Because if you can pursue that, you will never need a productivity hack again.