The Beginner’s Guide to Meaningful Work: Act Now
I quit my job just over one year ago. Want to know a secret? I was only there two months.
Everyone told me:
“You have to stay a full year for it to look good on your resume. Quitting your job after two months is career suicide!”
Everyone said I should stay.
But waiting around for a resume-booster just wasn’t an option. Guess why?
I have a mission to fulfill & I can’t waste time.
In searching for meaningful work, every moment counts. Every project we take matters. Every small action adds up to something bigger — a life truly worth living.
I couldn’t just sit around doing nothing. I had to do something about it. I had to start my quest.
This is where most people trip up. This is where most people let plans fall away. This is where the biggest opportunities get squandered.
We won’t let that happen. It’s time for the final step. It’s time to take action.
Step 3: What actions do you need to take?
There is no doubt in my mind that creating meaningful work is the number one goal of every single person reading this blog. That phrase is in the emails, tweets, and Facebook messages I receive. It’s also what I hear during in-person conversations.
If you are reading this right now, chances are that you are yearning for work that means something — because you want happiness and peace. Most of all though, you want to feel significant.
We all want to make a change.
There’s just one problem…
Taking action doesn’t come naturally to us.
We have all the best intentions — but how do we get it done?
Learn Enough To Jump
At every step in our lives, we’ve learned how to make the next move. Crawling prepared us for walking, which prepared us for running, and so on. The same goes for creating meaningful work in your life.
Learning is crucial to making this next jump a successful one.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear stories about online entrepreneurs that are incredibly profitable or a guy who makes millions selling wine online, I think to myself:
I can do this, too. I just need to learn how.
The number one resource for learning is reading. For years, I’ve been reading books and articles on how to make my own business work. I can’t tell you how many blog posts I’ve read over the years.
Learn these topics and you can’t go wrong:
- Breaking free from the cubicle — Escape From Cubicle Nation by Pam Slim
- Getting new awesome clients — Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
- Running a great business — Tim Ferriss’s blog
- Building healthy habits — Zen Habits blog
- Being financially responsible — I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
- Growing an audience — Think Traffic
All of these granted me the knowledge I needed to get me started. Did they solve all my problems? No — but they got me started. Now, I’m ready and willing to jump in headfirst.
The books and resources you’ll need to read may be different — but I suggest you start making a list right now. When you enjoy your quest, reading this stuff will feel awesome. Trust me.
Not sure where to started? Ask someone for their “must reads.”
(Disclaimer: Some mistakes you will have to make on your own. Shit happens — but The Quest to Awesome community is meant to help you skip as many mistakes as possible. Read more at the bottom of this post.)
Get It Done — With The Right Tools
Every time I meet with a new client, I always tell them about my favorite online tools — just to make their lives and work easier. I can’t tell you how many excited emails I receive after they start using them.
The right tools can change your life.
I hope I can do the same for you. Below are the tools that have shaped my quest and made the ride a pleasant one.
Creating Your Awesome Project
Brainstorming is fun. It’s an incredibly exhilarating experience. Thinking about all the possibilities out there can be freeing. Jotting down all the possibilities, thinking up new ideas, mapping out a project calendar, and more… I can’t think of a better way to spend a my day, with a whiteboard and a cup of coffee.
But it’s not always a bed of roses. For some people, brainstorming can feel scary. It can be paralyzing if you don’t know where to start.
Here are my favorite tips (and tools) to get any project started — for those who love it and those who don’t:
- Scrap perfectionism: My number one rule in creativity is to never be afraid of getting it wrong. I start writing or brainstorming without thinking too critically about the quality of my ideas. Creativity is squandered when we left the mind filter stuff out too early, so I let things flow as they come and then edit later.
- Map ideas: Setting down ideas in a visual way helps me organize what the heck I want to create. I use Mindmeister for this. It helps me chunk pieces of my ideas together and eliminate stuff that doesn’t fit with the rest.
- Sketch ideas: I use an app called Balsamiq to sketch my ideas without actually drawing anything. It’s a drag-and-drop solution to see my ideas on the screen. I use it for planning out websites, designs, and apps — but I also use it for drawing sales funnels.
- Organize thoughts: There’s a wonderful free web app called Workflowy that I use for making lists. It’s ultra-simple and clean, keeping my ideas and mind as clean as the app’s interface. The list format helps me go deeper into each and every nested sub-idea without losing track of my position.
- Researching tools: When I decide to dive into anything, I read up on must-read resources. The more I learn, the better I execute the project. Also, the more I read, the better results I see in less time.
Creating is as fun as you let it be. Chances are you already know what you want to create (kind of), but you just need some help with the final touches (or mostly everything).
If you want to do meaningful work, the creative process is where the passion comes through. Hold onto it.
Being Productive As Possible
As they say, the years are short, but the days are long. Getting more out of each day means being as productive as possible within our time awake. For example, I sometimes read while working out — see the picture of me squatting while catching up on my favorite blogs?
Finding little “hacks” like this help me to get more done each day — while still feeling light and stress-free. Here are my favorites:
- Personal to-do lists are key. I keep mine in Things for Mac and iOS.
- Online tools for collaboration keep my team in constant contact with little email involved. We use a mashup of Basecamp, Trello, and Dispatch.
- Keeping notes helps me never miss an idea. I use a mix of Workflowy, nvALT, Evernote, Dropbox, DayOne, and my Moleskin for jotting down ideas.
I love tools that add life to my days. With the right tools, you can have better results with less work.
If there are any you find useful, share them in the comments!
Keeping Your Moneys Awesome
Keeping track of the financials is probably the toughest part of launching a new project on your own. Creating meaningful work is about passion — and money doesn’t feel very inspiring, does it?
Making your work sustainable is critical. Putting in the time may not feel fun at first, but gaining control over your finances is extremely freeing.
- Simple spreadsheets without complex calculations help keep things clear. I use a simple spreadsheet to keep track of my personal income. It’s useful to just keep a list with a monthly graph. If you’d like a copy of my spreadsheet to use yourself, let me know and I will send you a blank copy for you to start filling in. Watch that graph go up, up, up…
- Quickbooks or other accounting software can be used to keep track of any company’s moneys. Losing my fear of Quickbooks (which took months) means I now save hundreds of dollars per month.
- Stay involved no matter how complex it seems. I have tried to keep my small business finances as lean as possible, so I actually write and track every single invoice and sales receipt that comes in and goes out. I have a team, but nobody knows my company better than I do.
In the future, this may change. Any project that scales means delegating some tasks, but I already learned the hard way — keeping tabs is crucial.
Tell Everyone You Know (And Those You Don’t)
The majority of the lovely adventurers who read this blog are not from my home country of Nicaragua. The majority of you haven’t met me in person. I hope we do meet one day, but this blog permits us to connect and share ideas despite our locations and networks.
Writing and sharing my work helps me get the word out. I give information to anyone who will listen.
When I gave my TEDx talk in Managua, I knew it would be a great platform to help tell lots of people around the world that living every single day awesomely is a worthwhile possibility. (See picture on the right.)
Of all the tools out there, here are my favorites:
- Social media is all the rage, and it’s helped me connect with a global audience. I love using Buffer to schedule my posts.
- Email marketing is still the most efficient way to keep followers in the loop. I use Mailchimp.
- Building a website is like having a headquarters to keep referring to. I use Bluehost to keep my sites in order.
In telling people about your mission and your work, there are few things that peak interest:
- Ask how you can help them and their life.
- Keep the conversation focused on being useful to your audience (not yourself).
- Frame your projects in terms of meeting people’s needs.
- When possible, help people make valuable connections to others. Introductions are gold!
Sharing your quest is never bragging.
Some people perceive this step as being gloating, but it’s really the opposite. When you are striving to do meaningful work, there is no bragging involved. You are trying to create meaning for others — not yourself.
If it ever feels awkward to share your quest, go back to the meaning behind your actions. Share away.
How to Get Started
I’ve been where you are right now. I’ve dealt with all those questions burning your courage away… I dealt with the following:
- What happens if I quit my job?
- Will I make enough money?
- Is there really a market for my dream project?
- What will my friends and family think if I fail?
I don’t have it all figured out yet. But I can assure you that my number one goal is to help you skip all the mistakes I made along the way.
It’s difficult and so empowering.
Throughout the past year, I’ve picked up lots of stuff along the way.
- How to start a new company
- Digging deep into why and how a project should be built
- Hiring (and firing) a team
- Keeping the finances (and your stress) in order
- Making decisions that are aligned with your true passions
It’s all possible. It’s all in your hands. I’m here to help.
Over the past year, I’ve made incredible progress in making my life awesome. I wake up early to write, workout, and do work that I care about (and pays well). Pinch me, is this real?
If you are willing, I invite you to do the same.
Start your quest to an awesome life — now.
If you need some help creating meaningful work for yourself, consider joining The Quest of Awesome. I’ll give you the accountability and reminders you need, along with guidance each month, and you can create an awesome life with meaningful work along with everyone else in the program.
The Quest of Awesome will start next month. Sign up below to gain access: