We covered steps 1 & 2 for moving in the direction of starting a meaningful project and getting paid to make a difference.
Step 1 was all about getting on your feet financially. This is a critical step for launching a meaningful project that can make a difference in the world. When you have a steady flow of income and the bills are covered, there is much less pressure around making your big idea work.
Step 2 was about embracing simplicity and setting priorities around what’s really most important. When we begin to remove the fluff from our lives, it opens up room for those things and experiences that make us feel most vibrant and alive. And then it becomes easier to focus on what really matters most.
Step 3 for Getting Paid to Make a Difference: Create Room for Expansion (so that you can create something brilliant)
Step 3 is all about expanding your life in the direction that is most inspiring to you. I’m not just talking about pursuing the things that give you fleeting moments of pleasure. I’m talking about making room to experiment with your biggest and brightest ideas.
See, once you are on your feet financially, the next step is to get a little playful and creative about ways that you can use your skills, talents and experiences to offer big value to the world.
This is the phase where you begin to wonder ‘what if?’
And then begin experimenting with finding ways to blend your meaning with ways to make a living. Finding a comfortable meeting ground for your meaning and your money is going to require a fair amount of experimentation. And experimentation takes time and it takes money. And it takes room to fall and to fail.
Having the financial stability gained in Step 1 makes it a lot easier to start taking some measured risks in your life. For example, I had a job in the software industry while I started creating The Startup Sessions. Outside of my day job I use mornings and weekends to write this blog, start a web show and begin coaching.
Did I have all the steps in place or know how everything would turn out?
Am I excited about this project?
The point is that I was using some of my discretionary time and income to follow my desire and create something meaningful that brings value to people. This is an experiment that I’m passionate about because I’m fascinated with creative entrepreneurs and I am genuinely interested in the steps that it takes to create a dream lifestyle that pays for itself.
Another example is my wife, Jill. She worked in financial services while she began developing her yoga teaching skills. She began experimenting by taking a yoga teacher training program while she still worked full time in financial services. Fast forward a few years and she is happily teaching yoga, leading yoga retreats to tropical locations, and now has her own yoga mentorship program for new yoga teachers. See how all this all unfolds?
It’s just so different – and better – figuring out how to make a difference in the world and find meaning in your life when your bills are covered and you have a secure roof over your head. Its way less stressful than trying to do it when you feel pressure to make money. And once the hurdle of supporting yourself is achieved, you’ll be much less likely to go down a path that leads to financial burden or stress.
Now, one problem that you may encounter once you’re financially stable is that the time it takes to create that financial stability in your life is so great, there’s nothing left for anything but your job. This is where Step 3 comes in.
Freeing up time and space
You will need to free up time and space for experimenting with innovation, creativity, making a difference, and finding meaning. One of the ways that I ensured I had creative time for myself was to get up earlier and get one thing done towards my meaningful project.
While I was working full time, I got up every morning at 6:00a so that I could have quiet, uninterrupted time to think, write, research and create. I determined the single most important task that would move my idea forward and I spent at least an hour engaged on that task.
I tend to have more creative energy in the morning so this is when I make time to work on the most important aspects of my project. I often spend some time in the evenings as well, but the point is to set aside time to experiment with your ideas and stick to it. Do you realize that if you did this for an hour in the morning for a year, you will have accumulated over 350 hours of experience towards learning something new or creating something meaningful?
What if I work a demanding corporate gig?
If you’re working 70 hours a week at a corporate job, there will be very little space left for anything else.
In this case, you should begin looking for creative ways to pursue flextime, working at home, telecommuting, and working from your laptop. These ideas just aren’t that foreign anymore. At the tech company I worked for, over 70% of the employees had home offices and spent at least a couple of days a week working from home.
One of the requirements that I had set when looking for my last job was to have a flexible schedule and to be able to work from home. When I was networking to find that job, I told people that these requirements were non-negotiable and that I am most productive and effective in that arrangement. And you know what? I got just exactly that! And I was exceptionally productive and very good at what I did.
I’m not here to say that you storm into your boss’ office on Monday and demand that you be allowed to work from home. What I am saying is that there’s really no excuse for not creating some flexibility in your workday if you want it. The only excuse might be your own fear and lack of imagination – and those just aren’t good enough!
- Decide when you will set aside time to pursue your meaningful project. This could be anytime but make sure it's during a time when you have the most energy. For me that’s first thing in the morning but for others it may be 11:00 at night. Just make the space and then we’ll talk about what to do with it next week.
- Extra credit. While you’re at it, make space for exercise or movement. There is no single better way for me to feel physically, mentally, and emotionally balanced than going for a run, doing yoga, or even going for a walk. Make time for this every day and it will change your life!
Create room for expansion in your day and pretty soon you’ll be filling that time with brilliant experiments that will move you closer to a life of meaning and money.