Project Yourself – Productive Past-times For Fun and Profit

by Adam on January 19, 2011

The following post is a guest post by my friend Andrew Knight, who as a a guest writer of several articles for this blog wanted to share with you part of his personal philosophy. Take it away, Andrew.

Do you swing?

Saving money for the sake of saving will never work – few people get real enjoyment from seeing a bunch of zeroes get bigger with no aim. Spending all your money without thought will never lead to happiness for when you need money in an emergency you’ll be left without.

People rarely sit happily between these two extremes and often find themselves swinging from one to the other without consistency, very few remain wholly one or the other. My belief and my experience show that I’ve been a financial swinger. It took me many years to figure out why but in the end the answer was simple.

With no structure and no personal goals other than those thrust upon me by work and home life I found myself scrabbling selfishly for things ‘for me’.

From purchasing too many games, to paying for holidays I couldn’t really afford I was the worst of the swing-spenders. Conversely when at a financial low I’d have an amazing ability to save thousands in only a few months; but at the cost of my quality of life.

I had, and still have, many long-term financial goals, from owning land to paying off my mortgage before I’m thirty-five but concentrating only on long-term goals caused short-term confusion. No-one can only live for the future.

Structure your life

The answer to my problem was simple. I created a cheap, almost free, structure to my life around something I found fun. Having always believed in my creative side and a desire to see whether I could do it, I got busy and started writing a book.

If I wanted to have something ‘for me’ I spent some time writing, discovering the characters and forming the plot. I enjoyed sharing chapters with friends as I wrote them as it gave me an objective point of view enabling me to hone my skills.

One hundred and fifteen thousand words later and the book is almost complete, trapped in the final editing phase. A sci-fi epic which may never see the light of day; but that was never the point. I’d set myself a project which kept me entertained, challenged me and gave some enjoyment to my friends and family.

Even though I’m not completely finished I’m already planning my next ‘for me’ project; taking my self-taught guitar skills to another level, writing lyrics, learning to sing and doing a one-off never-to-be-repeated ‘set’ at some lonely and quiet venue. For many this wouldn’t seem like a big step, for me it would be a giant leap beyond my comfort zone.

Perhaps the best example of what I’m trying to get at is what you’re reading now. The creator of this website, Magical Penny,  set his own personal goal which required little financial outlay and now when he desires he can keep returning to his project and life structure he’s created.

What about you? There is no reason why you can’t try and turn your project into a revenue-generating venture. For me, making money was never the aim and any revenue down the line would be an unexpected bonus. But the life-structure it brings and enjoyment projects gives, that is enough for me.

Editor’s note: Andrew’s right -revenue is fun but getting intrinsic value from how you spend your time is the most fulfilling thing you can do.

In Summary

Someone once said ‘Idle hands are the devils playthings’. If you have no plan and no controllable structure to your life but you have a disposable income how can you expect to keep the cash and not let it fritter away and disappear on the slightest whim?

Give yourself some credit and give the subject of finding a project of your own some thought. What is your project? And have you started it yet?

Andrew’s past articles for Magical Penny include ‘Why Being Bad can be Good’ and ‘Me? Oh, I HATE Money!’

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Broke by Choice

I am starting a business this year and trying a video workout.

I think you made a great point in your article. People should do things for themselves. In a recent discussion with a friend we talked about people who only live for the extra zeros. He had asked me how I would spend $1M and when I told him i would pay off debt, fill my eFund (to quit my job), max out 401K and Roth IRA, set money aside for my nieces college fund, put money towards my mom’s house and invest the rest, he was almost appalled at the ideas. He said I should invest the whole $1M. My response to him was “I want to live my life now, not 25 years later when the money grows to multi millions.”

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