I don’t want to do this work

So, where to start?

A couple weeks ago, or maybe more, I had this midnight epiphany. I was laying in bed, my wife sound asleep, and all of the sudden I had an insight.

I got up and went straight to my office. I had to scribble down this thought or it would be lost by morning.

So I wrote in big scrawly cursive for a few pages, getting the gist of my insight down.

Now, I won’t go into the details of the insight but suffice it to say it was an idea for my business, and more specifically, an insight into how I could reframe my offerings in a way that might be perfect for a broader market than my current consulting business.


For the next two weeks I took that idea and ran with it. I revised aspects of my website, set up marketing automations, and even ran a Facebook ad campaign to start attracting my new-ish target.

One aspect of this effort was that I’d need to reorient my video content on YouTube to attract the right audience. I made an editorial calendar and just a few days ago started researching for the first video on my list.

A couple hours in and I had this sinking feeling.

It started dawning on me that I didn’t really care about this market, and even though the business opportunity was excellent, and even though I stood to make a lot of money, I just didn’t have the desire to do it.

A couple more hours pushing through—I had been so excited for weeks and had put so much energy into it, after all—I talked to my advisor1.

I shared my situation, namely that I went all in on this direction and now that I’m digging in it feels very wrong. After an hour of talking it over I walked away a free man.

What do I mean?

I walked away free from the idea that I should pursue a business that’s both uninteresting to me and that doesn’t put my gifts to proper use. Also, I walked away free to pursue work that is more important and does use my gifts, even if there is no clear path to material wealth2.

In essence, I am free to do my best work3, and that is exactly what I will be endeavoring to do.

And that insight? I revisited it yesterday and, interestingly, it is still good. It seems I had a great insight and then later jumped from that to specific ideas on a target market. It was how the target market re-contextualized my insight that was the kiss of death.

Lesson learned.

  1. That’s my wife, Lydia. She’s always honest and knows my true north better than I do at times.
  2. I do know that great work produces diverse opportunities and that my focus needs to be the work and not the income. But, still. As a marketing guy by training, I’d feel a lot better if there were some sort of monetization model associated with “great work”.
  3. What is my best work? I want to go deep writing essays and creating videos on the topics that I find interesting and important. More to come on that, but essentially I’ll be writing and producing more. Stay tuned.