One reason I have achieved so much in my own career is that I’ve taken shortcuts. For example, I played professional beach volleyball without learning how to play indoor sixes very well—I can really only play doubles, which is what people play on the sand. But it allowed me to skip a lot of years of indoor volleyball training and still play pro.
I’m always fascinated by people who find shortcuts. Tim Ferriss is a shortcut taker, but he totally annoys me because he pretends his shortcuts don’t mean he still had to do hard work. One of the reasons I was initially attracted to the Farmer is that he is good at knowing what shortcuts to take and he values hard work.
Just last week, in fact, he moved his pigs to a new barn, where they will be able to mix with the cattle herd. It’s not something anyone in our area does, but he had a hunch it would work, and now he manages one herd instead of two. I love that I’m learning the rules of farming by watching the Farmer cut corners.
In lists of the most common New Year’s resolutions, most are career-related. So I thought I’d take a look at the most common things people tell me they want to do, and I’d tell you shortcuts to getting to that goal. Because I’m pretty good at learning the rules and then figuring out how to work around them. This still means you have to do some hard work, of course, but it’s a smarter way to spend your energy and still get to what you want.
Goal: Get a book deal
First of all, I’m not convinced that people need to get a book deal. That said, if you want to get a book published, don’t write the book until you write the proposal. That’s how you get a book deal — from a ten-page proposal, not an actual book. So here’s what you should do: Write a proposal and if you don’t get a book deal from it, write another. It’s a lot easier to write ten proposals to get one book deal than to write a book that no one bids on. And, if you don’t invest tons of time in one, single proposal then you won’t feel bad if you find out the proposal sucks. Because you’ve got another in the hopper. Here are tips from my agent on how to get a six-figure book deal.
Goal: Sell your company
You don’t actually need to have a big exit. You just need to build something and then, well, sort of give it away. Because the idea of “selling a company” is actually just the idea that you build something that someone else wanted. Sure, $10 million would be great. But so few people get that much money for their company. It’s much more common to get somewhere around $100,000 when all is said and done.
And yes, that’s a lot of money, but you’d probably still work after that size exit, and you’d probably change very little in your life. The value would be that you built something that someone wanted. So sell your company by finding someone who can use what you’ve built and will give you a small, token fee ($10) but a good job at the company. You can use that staff position as a break while you figure out what company to do next. And maybe you’ll start a company and sell it all over again.
Goal: Change careers
You’re going to need to show you’ve done the new job before you can get the new job. It’s not fair, I know. But it’s how the world works. So just make up a job, do it, and then put it on your resume. You don’t need pay or permission to do the job you want. Just start doing it. And if you already have the job you want on your resume, you’re much more likely to get hired for the job you want.
Are you worried about being exposed as a fake in an interview? First of all, there’s not a law that says you can’t have unpaid jobs on your resume. And you can have freelance jobs. So that’s what a made-up job is: freelance, for free. And then keep at it so that when an interviewer wants to talk about this job and what you gained from doing it, you will look great. Because you’ll say you made the job up, to get yourself experience, and here’s what you did, and here’s what you learned, and you’ll look like a self-starter and a results-oriented super-performer. Because only that sort of someone would make up a job and then do it to gain experience.
Goal: Skip entry-level drudgery
Start a blog. Think of a blog like a high-end resume. Most peoples’ resumes are a list of the jobs they’ve done that never show how you bring great ideas wherever you go. A blog, on the other hand, is a list of your ideas. You tell the world your opinions regarding your industry or interest. If you have good ideas, people will start listening. But you have to keep writing, to keep trying to find your niche and the audience for your niche. When you get the influencers in your industry to read you, then you become a respected voice in the arena. And that’s your ticket to a beyond-entry-level job because people who listen to you will also be willing to help you get a job. (Want to get a jump-start on your blog? Try Blogging Bootcamp.)
Goal: Launch a consumer product
Don’t sell the product direct to consumers. That’s the hard route because you have to build your own sales channel. Instead just make a prototype and sell it to retail buyers. Those buyers have a lot more power than a single consumer. And if your core-competency is product design, then you don’t want to spend all your time marketing to consumers. So get the prototype done and if you have no bites, then make another prototype and try again.
This will make your failure cycle go fast, which is one of the key factors in finding huge success. It’s rare to have a big win on your first try. But it’s universal that the way to get through failure is to keep trying when other people would stop.
Goal: Become a writer
People ask me about this goal more than any other. And here’s my advice: Just write. No one can write more than three hours a day. And most of us can find an extra three hours to do what we love. You are already a writer. No one has to give you permission to do what you love.
Of course, this is the problem with most New Year’s resolutions – that the only thing between us and our goals is self-discipline.