Live by design

My fascination with entrepreneurship began when I was a little girl. My dad ran his own businesses, mainly retail. He had spaza shops (small convenience stores in the township) and supermarkets. He sold clothes from the boot of his car and at some point had taxis.

I used to be that child in the store helping at the till, then in the late afternoons I’d count the daily takings and go with him to deposit them at the bank.

In school, I sold cake slices, then samosas, then fat cakes with mince in winter. As a young adult I made and sold T-shirts for a while then together with a friend started a women’s network.

What I’m getting at is, this entrepreneurship thing is mystical at times yet it appears so many of us are curious about it and earnestly want to pursue it. Wouldn’t it be better if from primary school, children were taught how to become entrepreneurs? Imagine the mind shift in our society.

Timothy Ferris a serial entrepreneur and author of the 4hour work week, states in his book that there is a new subculture of people in the world who have figured out that the 9-5 grindstone doesn’t really fire up their imaginations to any great degree. Instead, he says, they organize their lives and follow a set of uncommon rules which typically allow them to work less than four hours a week but earn more in a month than most people do in a year.

This is incredible! I’m certain many would immediately redirect the course of their lives if they knew better. If we all could just tap into this new subculture.

In essence he’s supposing that one should live by design. Meaning we have been taught one model or structure of living and that is; going to school and then getting work thereafter. At work we work studiously and in time get a promotion. At the end of your tenure, you receive a ring or watch to thank you for the time that you have invested in company XYZ. Then you finally get to doing the things you’ve always wanted to do.

Living by design says don’t postpone the life you want to live, instead of living by default and constantly reacting to life. For me, entrepreneurship provides that opportunity.

According to Timothy Ferris the 10 basic rules of pursuing the lifestyle of this new subculture are:

1. Think of retirement as a worst-case scenario – and not the goal of your entire career. By all means plan for your retirement as a fall-back position but plan on living life to the full in the meantime.

2. Remember interest and energy are cyclical – so you should break periods of intense commercial activity with “mini-retirements” where you go off and recharge your batteries. Work only when you’ll be most effective, not when you’re jaded and washed out.

3. It’s not lazy to do less work – if you’re focusing on doing the most productive things. Find workable ways to spend less time in the office but actually achieve more. Focus more effort on being productive and less on being busy.

4. The timing is never right to quit your job and start working for yourself – so plunge into it now rather than waiting until the planets are aligned. Replace “someday” with “today”.

5. It’s always much more fun to ask for forgiveness rather than asking for permission – so plunge into things with enthusiasm. Get good at being a troublemaker but be prepared to say sorry if you really screw things up.

6. Find ways to emphasize your strengths – rather than trying to fix your weaknesses. Focus on using your best tools wisely rather than attempting to repair what doesn’t work.

7. Remember it’s possible to have too much of a good thing – so plan on using your free time wisely rather than sitting around and doing nothing. Do what you want to do as opposed to doing what you feel obligated to do.

8. Remember money alone is rarely the solution – so never use it as a scapegoat. Instead of saying “I’d do that if I had more money”, create a life of enjoyment right now. Pursuing more and more money just for the sake of having more becomes a pointless illusion at some stage. Live the life you want.

9. Learn how to differentiate between “absolute” and “relative” income – and focus on making more money for each hour you choose to work. Absolute income is the number of dollars involved. Relative income combines how much you earn with how long it takes you to earn that money. As long as you have enough absolute income to cover your expenses, always think in terms of increasing your relative income. The only way to achieve that is to make more for each hour you choose to work rather than working more hours.

10. Take advantage of “positive stress” or eustress – the kind of stress which acts as a stimulus for worthwhile growth. While negative stress can be destructive and cause health problems, positive stress to realize your dreams can be helpful and beneficial. Since you won’t make progress without it, the more eustress you create, the better. One way to do this is to focus on emulating role models who epitomize what you’re trying to achieve yourself.

Go out there and live the life that’s enjoyable to you and that moves you to action at every moment.

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