Cater To The Market Or Focus On Meaning Within

For a whole year, I’ve been busy exploiting an opportunity that had opened up. I was able to make a living by teaching dance, and looking back at it now it seems almost like a distant memory. 

It’s not that I can no longer remember. Rather the idea has lost a lot of its allure. II’m unable to say exactly what’s missing from it, why it does not longer catch my imagination.

The only thing I do know is that teaching dance no longer appears meaningful to me in the same way it did in the beginning.

When I started out, it was only natural to teach that which I loved doing myself. Being a dance teacher was an extension of myself. But now it seems like the self I constructed the business on has shifted, so the profession has lost its base. 

When Passion Is Lost

In other words, the meaning I had previously attached to dance it has started to disappear along with the identity I had built around dance.

As the obsession has started to wane, so did my interest. That loss of interest, to me, often comes with a loss of perceived meaning.

But we don’t know how things will turn out to be in the future, yet.

After all, my identity as a dancer might undergo a revival once social dancing becomes possible again. I need to remind myself not to burn the boats too early.

But my attention is already going elsewhere, and I’m going to let it.

Searching For Meaningful Work

These days, my thoughts center around the idea of meaning in relation to business.

In a nutshell, I’m looking for a new outlet, something that has the potential to become valuable for my work in the future. I’m looking for a new place to direct my energy to.

It wouldn’t be difficult for me to focus exclusively on reading, which comes to me effortlessly. 

I can easily read several hours per day, feel high productive and deeply satisfied with my life.

In that sense, reading can and should make up the foundation of my time. It feels meaningful, and it also appears to me that reading is taking me into the right direction. Reading-time is never wasted. 

It’s Work Only If Others Get To Participate

The problem with reading is that it cannot be the only thing that I do.

The fact that I’ve found something that seems meaningful to me is a great start. But it cannot stop there.

I love knowledge and it makes me happy, but me reading doesn’t provide any value to others directly.

Value, as we all know, is what the market pays for. 

This is why I’m gravitating towards different outlets through which I can share that which I’m learning. Once I share the ideas I generate through reading, I’m creating value.

It’s not unlikely that the meaning I derive from information myself may even grow once I start sharing with others.

I want to get into the habit of being a content creator–even if I currently don’t have have specific plan for my efforts.

What’s crucial is that I share, and that I become better at communicating my ideas. Even though it scares me, I need to expose myself to criticism–the earlier the better. 

You Don’t Need To Know The Whole Story, Yet

I don’t need to know exactly where my content will take me in the future. Maybe the certainty that putting my thoughts into words, be it in writing, on video, or through a podcast will benefit me is sufficient for now.

I was surprised to notice that neither my first attempts at writing articles, nor video or podcasts where as good as I expected them to be.

Because my ideas tend to make a lot of sense in my head, I also expected them to sound good when they came out. But that wasn’t really the case. 

Sure, I managed to make my point. But I’m not nearly as good at communicating ideas as I would like to be.

I know I can do better. I know I need to be better if I want to make sure I message has value.

The solution is practice, of course. That’s why it’s great that I’m figuring these things out now. The alternative would be to find out in three years, when I’ve read another two hundred books—but my communication skills have stagnated. 

Now I can read these two hundred books, process the information more deeply by sharing, and also learn how write and talk better.

Reading a lot and writing about it is to scratch my own itch. It’s what I love to do, and what I could easily do forever. 

Approaching Content As A Marketer

I’ve been eye-balling the internet through the lens of a marketer’s perspective for a few weeks now. 

I’ve been looking at other content creators, comparing myself with them–suffering as a result. I watched people be scammy and superficial, secretly feeling jealous, yet analyzing their means with contempt.  

I want their results, but I despise how they get them. I can see myself having their lifestyle, but when I picture myself doing what they do, I’m inevitably met with a sense of aversion. 

Some days I think that the solution to the problem is to get over it and start making three-step-success-videos myself. If I could only ignore the fact that I feel slightly nauseous when I consume their content, I could trick myself into copying their methods.

‘Maybe not wanting to be that person is just my the resistance,’ I think on these days. ‘Maybe I’m just afraid to make an Instagram account that portrays my lifestyle?’

And maybe I am afraid

But I’m not just afraid of the challenge. I’m also afraid of my conscious. I’m afraid of what becoming a a living motivational-poster might do to myself…

I’m a private person, so the thought of living for others like that doesn’t tempt me a lot. Yet, there’s a voice inside of me who thinks that I should go for it. And I should go for it, if I want money and influence.

I want both, but maybe there’s another way?

Approaching Content As A Human being

The other half of the time I’m thinking more in terms of my own values and what I find important.

Then, I picture myself focusing more on growing and learning–instead of portraying and promoting. This other mode of thinking is characterized by humility.

I can see myself build something for the long-term, with less initial hype and more work. I usually feel better when I look at it from this perspective. 

From that mode of thinking, comparisons to other content creators fade into the background. I don’t have to worry so much about the competition. It feels more like home, like there’s room in it for myself.

I can focus on actually becoming smarter and I don’t have to build up a personal brand surrounding somebody I’m not (or at least somebody that I will be only temporarily). 

This mode of thinking is best described as process-oriented.

Either Way, You Will Move Forward

In the end of the day, you will promote myself and do the best you can to get exposure either way.

But there are some differences in the approach, the motivation, and simply the state of mind behind either of the two modes I described.

  • Maybe the former is more about self-promotion and the latter more about actually being of service
  • Maybe the former is more about money and the latter more about meaning
  • Maybe the former is about who you think you should be and the latter on who you actually are.

And maybe allowing yourself to get lured into a fast-track-approach to content creation (and life, really) would be a huge mistake. Patience is a virtue.

But perhaps I got it completely wrong.  

What if the the former is the way to go and the latter is playing it safe?

What is the former is what’s going to make you successful, while the latter will fizzle out because it turns into just another time-intensive hobby?

When we look at it like that, it really comes down to a question of values.

How do you want your life to be? Who do you want to be? What do you stand for? What will make you proud? What will make your mum proud? 

What will allow you to tell other people about what I do without being ashamed? 

Will This Make You Proud?

This last question literally send a shiver through my entire body, which tells me it’s an important question to ask.

Even though I pretend that I don’t, I like people’s approval. I want to be loved and respected. 

So let’s imagine that I was single, and I met a highly-attractive girl. What would make me proud to name as my work?

If I met a person that I looked up to, somebody who is really smart–someone like Tim Ferris, Jordan Peterson, Naval Ravikant or Charlie Munger– what work would I feel good about showing? What kind of work would make me ashamed?

Who are the people that you look up to? What are these people doing that marketers are not? What would you be proud to do?

It also comes down to trust.

Do you trust in the process and your faculties? Do you really believe that if you’ll stay with it for several years, you can turn this into a success?

Do you trust that things will work out?

What I could really identify with would be an artist or a psychologist. If I could tell that super-attractive woman that I’m a writer or a psychologist, I would be thrilled–very pleased with myself.

These are professions which create actual value—at least as I see it. I would be proud to call myself either of them.

Here’s the good thing: I will be a psychologist in about three years, and I’m a writer simply because I’m writing regularly.

So I’m already what I want to be.

Perhaps I should focus my existing path, honoring the past decisions that have led me to this point.

Maybe it’s sufficient to apply additional leverage to what I’m already doing— and go public with what I currently know. 

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