“What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first step to something better.” – Bruce Lee
What should you do if you have no idea what to do in life.
You may be in a job you hate, or out of a job and now wondering what’s next.
You want to do something that you’ll love and make money from. You want to find something that excites you every day.
The biggest problem is you have no idea what to do! Where should you begin?
That’s how I felt for the better part of the last 10 years.
Took me until I was 34 to find something that I enjoy doing, make money from it, and willing to work hard for.
It hasn’t been a smooth road to get to this point. Lots of rough times. Lots of self doubt. Many sad nights.
I always felt like there was something that I could do that’d make me happy. Making money is important to me also. I don’t want a job just for the paycheck. If I’m going to be working, I want to enjoy it. No amount of money will make me happy at a miserable job.
I was always envious at the people who knew what they wanted. Maybe they realized at an early age, during college, or got a great first job out of college.
They could spend more time doing what they enjoy, instead of wondering.
Not me and not many others as well.
If I could go back and talk to my younger self who had no idea what he wanted to do in life, I’d tell him to take more risks. Try different things. Don’t worry about getting it wrong. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
Don’t be afraid to fail.
Trying something and realizing I didn’t like it eliminated that from my mind so I could focus on the next thing I was interested in.
But I thought I knew what I was going to do after college.
My Unused College Major
Raise your hand if you majored in something that is completely unrelated to what you’re doing now? I bet the majority of you.
I majored in sports management in college. Yeah I know you might be thinking, “What?”
I had no idea what I wanted to major in. I was a sophomore and finally had to decide. I figured I love sports so I’ll pick that. Maybe I can do something with sports after college.
My last year of college, I did a summer internship with the Tampa Bay Mutiny of Major League Soccer. I love soccer so I enjoyed that summer. But no permanent job was available afterwards.
Living in Jacksonville, Florida, opportunities were limited if I wanted to do something related to professional sports.
I kept trying to get an internship with the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars. During college and after college. No luck.
So I started to work at the family restaurant. I thought I would work there temporarily while I figured out what I wanted to do.
I enjoyed it at the beginning. I was making money.
I ended up buying a car and a house because that was the typical next stage in life after getting a job.
Needed a change in life, but to what?
After about five years on the job, I started to hate it. I dreaded going to work. I’d feel sick. But what else could I do?
I looked online, but all the jobs sounded so boring to me. I didn’t want to work in some office answering phones. I didn’t want to be selling cell phones. I didn’t want to work at a local sporting goods store where I could work my way up to manager.
What about making money online? I read success stories (not sure how many were true or fake now), but it sounded great to me.
I tried though, but failed at any online efforts.
It took another five years of trial and error to finally figure out what it was that I was good at that I enjoyed.
Five years of being lost, stuck, and miserable feels so much longer! It makes life feel like it’s not worth living at times.
But here I am a survivor of that time in my life and optimistic about my future.
It wasn’t all pretty though. It was like dating a bunch of girls. At first they seemed interesting, but turned out weird and lost my interest. I had to keep trying until I found a great one.
My attempts at a career change
— Sometime around five years ago, I can’t remember exactly, I responded to an ad on Monster.com about a marketing position. I remember it mentioned I could be my own boss in a couple years. I forgot what else it said, but intrigued me enough to apply.
And not much online ever caught my attention. I think I was pretty desperate for something different.
I showed up for an interview in a temporary looking office. There were a couple other people interviewing. I guessed my interview went well because they told me to come back the next day to go into the field.
The next day I went out with two guys about the same age as me. I had to dress up, which meant wearing a tie.
We were going to go door to door selling phone and cable packages. They would ask them what they were paying and offer to help them save money. It was a commission based job.
By lunch time, I already hated it. I had never sold door to door before, but quickly realized I’d rather kick my own ass than do this. But I still had to survive the afternoon. One of the longest days ever.
They liked me enough to offer me a job the next day. I declined of course.
What I learned: I hate door to door selling and don’t like forcing people to buy stuff. I don’t like doing the same thing every day at work.
— A couple years ago I got a part time job that sounded pretty cool at first. I found it online of course. I worked for a company that helped Canon check their printers in all the Best Buys in my area. I had to make sure they were displayed correctly, working correctly, check the stock, and compare competitors’ prices. It seemed cool at first. It was just part time and only took one or two days every two weeks.
So every two weeks I would have to drive to five of the local Best Buys to do this check. At home, I’d submit the info online.
It wasn’t hard at all. At the beginning, I liked it. It was fun to hang out at Best Buy. They sent a free wireless printer with lots of supplies for me to use. I also got a digital camera to take pictures during my visits.
After a few months of it, I started to dread the week I needed to go into Best Buy. That initial excitement quickly wore off. It got to be monotonous. I’d go in, do the same thing and then leave as soon as possible.
Around this time, the company was planning a conference in Los Angeles to talk about all the upcoming new Canon products. It’d be only for representatives around the country like me.
It would be an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles. Sounded awesome, but I didn’t want to go. I knew already i wasn’t going to be at this job for much longer.
I finally decided to quit when I was told they wanted reps in this area to start going to Best Buy before it opened and train their employees how to use Canon products. That would have been even worse.
At the beginning, talking electronics and getting paid for it sounded great to me. But I had enough of it. It wasn’t for me.
So I quit.
Unfortunately, I had to return the printer and digital camera.
What I learned: I don’t like doing a job where I feel like a robot. Just like above, I don’t like doing the same thing every time.
— I applied for another job a long time ago I found online to organize semi-truck shipments. I don’t remember what drew me in. Whatever it was, I sent in my resume and even had a telephone interview.
I didn’t get the job, but now I’m glad I didn’t. I probably would have grew tired of it very quickly.
What I learned: I was really desperate and therefore blocked all rational thinking.
Making Money Online
I’ve always been interested in making money online.
Back in 2005, I created a sports blog where I wrote about my opinion on different sports topics. It was something I loved to do. I didn’t create it to make money, but I did get advertisers, like gambling and ticket companies, wanting to put text links on my blog.
That more than paid for my web hosting and then some. I ran that for a couple years, but grew bored it of it.
That’s where I got my first taste of making money online.
Around 2007, when I read “The 4 Hour Work” week, I got the desire again to make money online again so I could have the financial freedom I wanted with a location independent business.
I probably looked through all the get rich quick schemes online.
Here are some of my embarrassing attempts:
— I tried buying Google ads to drive traffic to my websites. What kind of websites? One was basic website where users answered a poll question. Either answer would send them to a page where it asked for their email address to enter them in a contest for a gift card. I got paid for each email submitted.
I created a bunch of these websites because there was a guy online who was teaching this. Create a bunch poll questions, buy traffic, get email addresses, and be rich.
One website asked a question about Twilight. The movie just came out and I tried to capitalize on the popularity. Another website asked a question about football and one was about Jennifer Aniston. I don’t remember why I chose her. I think she was in the news a lot that time.
I ended up spending as much money in Google ads as I was making or maybe I was slowly losing money. Either way, it ended up not being interesting enough to keep trying.
What I learned: Doing something just to make money isn’t for me. It wouldn’t motivate me enough to work hard.
— My next great money making idea was creating niche websites. I would create a website around one type of product and make a commission when someone bought using my referral link.
One was to promote a way for Nintendo DS users to download unlimited free games. I created a website talking about the product, despite never using it. I got traffic by buying Google ads.
I wasn’t doing too bad, but that just means making a couple hundred dollars a month in profit.
I had competition cause there was another website promoting the product and I believe it was converting well.
After awhile, it was harder and harder to get my Google ad to be seen. I also felt sleazy promoting this product. I had never even used it. I didn’t even own a DS.
Finally the offer got pulled, or my traffic died cause my ads weren’t showing anymore. My memory is kinda hazy.
What was even worse about this was I had no idea how the product worked. I just wanted to promote it to make money. I wrote as if it were a great product, but that was a lie.
Later on when the iPad first came out, I remember seeing a product very similar to the DS one. It promised unlimited books and movies. I bought it and it was a rip off! It just gave links to a bunch of websites, which can be easily found in Google.
I imagined that’s what this DS product was like.
What I learned: If I’m promoting or selling, I have to believe in the product. Selling something just to make money doesn’t make me feel good. Again, I was just focused on making money.
– I created a website about baby strollers. Definitely not one of my better ideas. I thought every family needs a baby stroller so parents would go online to read reviews. They would find my site and buy a stroller though my link. Cha-ching!
I knew nothing about baby strollers. I just thought it was a great idea. I spent time creating a website that looked good. For traffic, I bought Google Ads.
One day, I noticed my first sale! I forgot how much I made, but it was less than $50 for sure. Still I was happy about it.
I kept waiting and waiting for that next sale. It never came.
After a month or two, it wasn’t worth the money nor the effort and I stopped. It was stupid to pick baby strollers, but I guess I didn’t learn.
Other websites I tried selling one type of products were eye creams (don’t know what I was thinking) and identity theft protection.
What I learned: Again too focused on making money. Didn’t do market research. Maybe parents don’t like to buy strollers online.
— In early 2011, I decided to try niche sites. Websites around one particular topic. This time I would be making money from users clicking on Google Adsense ads.
I joined a course that would teach me how to make a bunch of these niche websites quickly, automatically update with content every day, send easy Google traffic, and make me lots of passive income!
Of course it sounded great.
I went through the course and created one site.
Like everything else I had tried, I soon lost interest in this one. After I made the first one, I didn’t want to do the work to make another one.
It wouldn’t be satisfying to me to be making money this way.
What I learned: I shouldn’t fall for get rich quick products.
Just wasn’t for me
I sucked at making money online these ways, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there doing very well in the examples above.
It just wasn’t right for me. I wasn’t willing enough to learn more about it and keep trying. I couldn’t imagine being excited putting in the time and effort needed.
I don’t see them as failures now. At the time, I really wanted do it so I did. I tried it out and found out first hand, that I didn’t like it.
Since I had no idea what I wanted to do, trying different things was the best for me. Looking back now, I would have tried even more things.
There is no success without failure
Even when I started this blog and developing my first iPhone app, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out.
As you can see, I’ve tried and stopped so many different times. So this was just another attempt, but this time I felt different. Maybe cause I was determined to not stop taking action until I reached my goals.
It turned out to be beyond my wildest dreams. Photo 365 made a little over $30,000 in its first month. The blog has grown and has a really great community of readers.
What if I didn’t even try? What if I thought about my failures before?
I wouldn’t be here right now writing you this.
It took long time to get to this point. It sucks to feel lost and without a purpose.
Finally I found work I enjoy doing, but it took a long road of trying different things.
Knowing me, my interests will change. I will want to keep challenging myself and work on interesting projects. I’ll probably screw up along the way too. There’s no shame in failing. It’s worse to do nothing.
But for now, I’m loving what I’m doing.
If you’re stuck right now, and you want to make a change but don’t know where to start, I’d say start with what interests you. Just pick something.
Don’t try and do everything at once though. You’ll spread yourself too thin and feel overwhelmed. Give your attention to one thing that could have the most potential impact at this moment.
If you want to start your own business or make money online, but don’t know where to begin, just pick something.
You may end up not liking it, but you won’t be wasting your time.
You’ll waste more time sitting around thinking about what you want to do, then actually doing something.