2019 is the last year of a tough decade for me. And it is coming to an end.
I finished my mandatory service for the Israeli army on December 31st, 2008. My debt grew even before then as I was trying to build a life on about 100 dollars a month — the salary for mandatory service during my time. I was not allowed to work in a regular job, and I got a credit card from my bank with a very high limit — a recipe for disaster.
As the years passed, I accumulated more and more debt for making remarkable things happen. Paying for my degree in three different academic institutes, trying to start an online business, wasting money on ads that brought fake followers, website hosting, and the list goes on and on. Needless to say, I always had a lot of motivation to start things.
Somewhere by half of this decade, I understood that time is not on my side. My parents are not getting any younger; I’m not married, I don’t own property, I don’t have any savings. I’m basically a nobody. Not only was I a nobody, but I was also a nobody that owed money to the bank — the worst kind of a nobody.
So I started working towards fixing it. The last few years have been crazy tough. Even my initial reason for writing on Medium was the money. I was not aware of how much the community I found here would change my life.
Lately, as I struggled with health issues that I’m sure are related to my self-induced stress like sleep-deprivation, dark circles under my eyes, and a lot of mental fatigue, I realized I’m destroying my life. That was not happening in reaction to some outside force — that was me doing it with my bare hands.
I had to stop this. There had to be a better way to change my life than hustling every day like I’m the latest victim of a pyramid scheme trying my best to succeed — and failing.
The last few weeks had been instrumental in teaching me how to change that. I’ll explain what happened and how you can use that.
Let’s dive in.
I have always believed that Writing and perhaps Blogging will save my financial future. This thought isn’t the same as authors getting peanuts for their book sales. People like Shaunta Grimes, Shannon Ashley, Tom Kuegler, and Ayodeji Awosika (who are all great writers you should definitely read), probably make more than your average author that has a couple of books on Amazon. A lot more.
Successful creators have an engaged following today. It’s not enough to put your book on Amazon or Book Depository and forget about it. A successful creator knows marketing, perhaps some ads, copywriting, email lists, and the required skills list goes on.
I was ready to do all that and failed.
My latest rinse-and-repeat was actually Medium. When the changes to how earnings are calculated were introduced and also Curation became harder to reach, I knew that Medium was off the table. It was time to find a new project.
But I didn’t want that. I love this place. There were many pieces I wrote because I needed to write not because of money. That release was something I never had. An actual stage to talk freely about anything I wanted. The payment was just a bonus.
A lightbulb exploded in my mind.
I enjoy writing here. The only way to keep it pure is to detach it from my financial endeavors. How do I do it? By fixing my financial problems at their core. My creative endeavors are not a solution to my debt problems. They represent the joy of expression — my expression.
The next question to appear in my mind was the most important one.
How to Allow Myself to Create In Peace?
Do you see the focus change? Instead of asking myself how to use creativity to amend my financial situation, I now ask the opposite: How to alter my financial situation to enjoy my creativity.
I work as a Software Engineer. After spending five years on getting a degree in Computer Science, I now write code for a living, and that comes with a pretty good salary. The problem was that I was still in the mindset of the rest of this decade — you work in a student job, and you will never get ahead, try to make up for it from the internet.
Up until two years ago, I was earning less than the minimum wage.
But I didn’t see it until I realized that writing should be done for the joy of expression as Brennan once told me in an interview I had with him. I didn’t even think about the money — I felt so privileged to interview one of my favorite actors and creators on the planet.
That was when I felt best about writing and creating — when I didn’t have to think about debt. Now I had to find a permanent solution to this problem.
What Works For Me Won’t Work For Everybody
I decided to completely detach any earnings from Medium or wherever I create from my bank account.
For me, these earnings are locked away and do not exist anymore.
Then, the inevitable next step is to budget according to my salary. If I want to finish my debt quick, I also need to create more income streams. This decision is where I got confused last time.
I will not include my writing as a potential income stream here. I can, however, include things like ghostwritten books that I can sell on amazon, courses I create, email lists that link to potential products to buy, etc.
The options are limitless and do not involve sacrificing what I love for the cause.
Perhaps for you, it’s different? Maybe you don’t need to create extra income streams. Maybe a raise may suffice for some of you to get that extra cash you need to breathe life into an old dream?
Whatever your dreams, don’t get confused like I was. Get out there and recover your joy by making sure your dreams do not become a sacrifice for your debt.
Your debt is a lesson, and this is part of it. Do your homework and change your life.