How to Avoid A Mental Breakdown From Working At Home
Dear Internet, Print Me Some Money
Workaholism: How To Self Destruct Completely

How to Avoid A Mental Breakdown From Working At Home

Do you remember what happened to Jack Torrance when he tried to ‘work from home’ in The Shining?

Jack thought a little peace and quiet would be nice. What better way to finish his writing than to migrate to a remote hotel with nothing but time and his rocking shadow to fill the void? Unfortunately, that particular ‘home’ turned out to be harbouring some sinister spirits.

Believe it or not, Internet Marketers and Jack Torrance have something in common. No, not haunted mansions. But rather, we have to deal with the psychological effect of isolation. We have to win the battle that goes on inside our heads.

Disconnecting from the world and working from home is some people’s idea of paradise. Well, if you’re not careful, it could turn in to your idea of Hell. And before you know it…

Here's Johnny

Well shit, Sherlock. I guess that 9-5 doesn’t look so bad, after all.

We Are All Creatures of Habit

From the age of about 5, we are indoctrinated with a system of routines. A system that – for many people – lasts all the way through to retirement.

There are 8760 hours in a year, and not many people have the power and responsibility to decide how they spend every last one of them.

I’ve spoken to many Internet Marketers like myself, and a recurring theme is the difficulty in striking a work-life-play balance.

Even though I had less freedom, I look back on my stint working for a London agency as one of the easiest times of my life. The days and weeks were laid out for me. You turn up at 9am, leave the office at 6pm, and whatever hours left in the day are yours to spunk however you see fit. There was a beautiful simplicity to life, albeit a restricting schedule that often left me chewing a large Mocha to get through the mornings.

I won’t lie. Working from home will always be my preferred arrangement. But it comes at the price of isolation. Do you ever feel that the rest of the world is racing on by without you?

The effect was magnified during my 8 months living in Thailand. There were periods of mild depression where I felt so isolated from other 24 year olds that I lost complete direction and control over my life. I came back to London thinking it would reignite me somehow. I was excited just to be able to communicate in English with whoever was serving me coffee. It was a luxury. But now having settled back in to the suburbs, the same restlessness has returned with a vengeance.

I come from the small town of Ruislip in North West London. It’s a nice town, but it rarely sets my pulse racing. The last time I got excited was when Boris Johnson rolled up outside Budgens seeking London Mayoral votes. You know you’ve got problems when the presence of Boris makes your day.

Despite being just 40 minutes from the hub of Central London, life here is slow. It’s really slow. There are times where I forget that human life exists outside my window, until I hear the trundle of a granny mowing down the street on her scooter. Then I realise, Jesus Christ, if she doesn’t slow down, some poor sod is about to get his arse extinguished by her four wheeled killing machine. That’s when I feel alive.

From my home office window, on a particularly exciting day, I may glimpse next-door’s cat getting in to a fight with a pigeon. But that’s about it. There are times where for all of the freedom and comfort that comes from working at home, I do question my future sanity. I’m 24 years old and most of my conversation throughout the day comes from two extremely lively dogs barking at me for food. Is this really all there is to Internet Marketing?

I think a lot of want-to-be-work-at-homers underestimate how quickly total freedom can spiral in to a blur of inactivity. There are times where ‘rudderless ship’ has summed me up perfectly.

Working from home creates a huge vacancy of time. Pretending that such a void can be filled with work, television and coffee is quite possibly one of the biggest lifestyle fuck-ups you can make.

Everybody needs to feel alive socially, and much of the natural gravitation behind that pursuit is stripped away when you decide to work from home. You have to make the effort, on a personal level, to ensure that your sense of camaraderie and belonging doesn’t dissipate from the moment you leave the office for the final time. Working at home is not the answer to anybody’s true sense of paradise. It’s just a contributing factor.

When you have more hours at your disposal than everybody else, you need to find more ways to pass the idle time. You need hobbies and social routines. Activities that snap you away from your screen and inject purpose beyond making money from so-and-so.

A day built around wealth generation is completely wasted when you think about it. Why aren’t you enjoying what you already have? I’ve had to answer that question many times for myself and it represents my biggest struggle of the last 3 years.

We are all creatures of habit. For most of us, those habits are defined through systems that are implemented from childhood. But when you step outside the system, isolation and poor planning can unleash a truly ugly creature.

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Dear Internet, Print Me Some Money

Internet Marketing is littered with enough false promises to make your eyes water. Ever since the turn of the millennium when Internet stocks created fortunes and lost them twice as fast, our industry has been riddled with high expectations, a circumspect grounding in reality, and far too much bullshit to keep a tab on.

My work has revolved around the Internet for my entire professional career. I advanced from designing websites, to assembling the code behind them, to selling ad space on them. Along the way, I’ve developed a keen eye for spotting opportunities on other websites. From primitive arbitrage, to site flipping opportunities, to abusing loopholes in ways that the webmaster never intended.

I’ve seen many moneymaking strategies crash and burn, whilst others have evolved with time. SEO, for example, requires a conservative and professional approach in 2012, with an ever-increasing number of bullets to dodge. It used to be easy. Why? Because nobody else was doing it.

Fast forward to 2008. Affiliate marketing had become perhaps the greatest wealth generator for idiots the digital landscape has ever known. Life was so simple. Find an offer to promote, upload an ad to Facebook, wait for approval, and bank the rich returns. Inevitably, the rest of the world caught on. And here we are now. Prices have never been higher, and so the degree of creativity necessary to succeed has risen. Thousands of novices want to become affiliate marketers, and yet the task gets harder with every passing day. They’re 4 years late to the party.

Affiliate marketers who made their millions in the big boom have been fast-tracked as experts on a subject that has detoured dramatically from its original path. Novices may look up to those experts, but the painted picture from the top is rarely anything but smoke and mirrors.

Nature has a time-honoured method of punishing good moneymaking strategies once they reach the public domain. If the strategy becomes common knowledge, or too exposed to unskilled buffoons, any benefit to be gained from the opportunity is lost. Of course, the strategy lives on in the imagination of the baying crowd. Many will happily pay to hear about the next magic button, the next get rich quick scheme, blissfully ignorant to the reality. As soon as lucrative information becomes public knowledge, it loses its value.

As an Internet Marketer, I see this happening time and time again. Legitimate moneymaking opportunities are born, profited from, and then swiftly rendered useless as a ‘guru’ leaks the techniques to the masses.

These gurus are rarely true exponents of the techniques they talk about. They are poorly skilled at making money with genuine enterprise, so they choose to sell the concept instead. Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. Their decision to teach ruins the opportunity for the true exponents, and it creates a glorious pipe dream for everybody else. Market law dictates that when a lucrative strategy becomes too easy and too popular, it fails.

In the stock market, wise investors know that a bull market is riddled with danger when Average Joe can be seen throwing his money at it – especially if he’s offering the same ‘hot tips’ to his neighbours and friends.

The same applies to just about every ‘easy’ strategy in Internet Marketing. Unless you’re the innovator, the strategy is guaranteed to be anything but easy by the time you’ve read about it in a PDF.

99% of information products are bullshit on this basis. The grander the promises, the further detached from reality they become.

One of the golden rules you have to ask before considering any information product is simply, “Why is the author giving this information away?

The bizopp market is constructed around some of the most illogical consumer decisions of all time.

If you honestly believe that a multi-millionaire is going to give you access to the blueprints of his success for $19.95, you’ve lost your bloody marbles. Why do people not ask “Why?

1. Why would a millionaire need to sell his blueprints?
2. How effective can those blueprints be if they’re on sale for $19.95?
3. If he really wanted to give back to help others, why charge at all?

Honestly, there are no exceptions. You will not find a single moneymaking strategy in the world that ticks all three boxes of easy, sustainable and profitable.

There are easy and profitable strategies… but they don’t last, and often require leaving your integrity at the door. If you’re an affiliate marketer, slinging acai berries to half of America was easy and profitable. But sustainable? Not with an FTC lawsuit wedged firmly up your arse.

Likewise, you’ll find plenty of easy and sustainable strategies… although I haven’t yet seen one that made anybody rich. Extreme couponing is an easy and sustainable strategy, but only if you value your time at close to nothing. Maybe a nuclear blast will bring profitability to your giant stash of Frosted Flakes, but failing that; good luck.

And then there’s the smart choice: profitable and sustainable strategies… the blueprint of all great businesses. Average Joe might not like to hear it, sitting at home in his underpants with $19.95 to invest, but these strategies are several galaxies detached from being easy. They require the creation of real-world value. And there you’ll find the only blueprint of wealth generation with a proven track record: adding value to the world.

If you can’t create value for somebody, somewhere; you don’t deserve your early retirement. That’s a contrasting view with the many ‘magic button’ infomercials; those that prosper when your sense of entitlement grows. They insist that success is your God given right; that the world is doing you wrong if it fails to deliver a Pina Colada on a crystal sandy beach.

Whatever your personal beliefs, or your own sense of entitlement, the market will not change. Anything that you can buy for $19.95 is readily available for the rest of the world to buy too. If you intend to become richer than the market average, you have to do more with the information than most of your neighbours and friends. Or better yet, blaze a completely new trail for others to copy.

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Workaholism: How To Self Destruct Completely

Maintaining a healthy balance between work and home life is something that you can only truly monitor through the reactions of those who have to deal with you every day.

If you’re being asked to repeat your name to your confused children, the alarm bells should be ringing. If your wife reacts violently to the latest admission that you’ll be spending a night in the office, maybe it’s not her that’s being unreasonable.

Maybe workaholism has you by the balls.

These are warning signs and nothing less. Entrepreneurs are often praised with the positive attributes of being passionate, determined and willing to go the extra mile. Our greatest fault is that somewhere in the thick of it, our personal identity becomes so intertwined with the projects we’re working on that to be separated fuels resentment and a shitty attitude towards those who remember the more care-free caricatures we used to be.

It doesn’t matter how many times you explain the stressful nature of your work, it will always seem like a weak argument.

Most people judge stress by the battle for oxygen on a cramped morning commute, or the constant uncertainty of how a moody boss is going to lash out at them.

To see us sitting in our home offices, Spotify blaring to the max, makes it very difficult to understand how we can’t afford ourselves a simple Off switch. The ability to snap and morph in to the infinitely cooler husband, father or friend who reaps the rewards of his split personality’s sheer grit, rather than drowns in the magnitude of how much is yet to be achieved.

This type of in-fighting can prove more than destructive to a small business. Just because your home office is lacking the small red button marked “Self Destruct Completely”, don’t assume the same effect can’t be achieved through negligence and tunnel-vision.

It can, and in my case, it almost has.

One of the buzz words you will often hear mentioned alongside running a business is accountability. Without accountability, it’s impossible to drive a business forward. You won’t find a single entrepreneur in the world who doesn’t advocate the importance of discipline.

Unfortunately, discipline and accountability are double-edged swords.

If you start holding yourself accountable for the failure to realise long term goals, on a short term basis, your private life is going to suffer a body blow as you take this frustration out on everybody else. Not directly, but by allowing the workaholic in you to prosper and grow. It becomes the dominant personality.

It’s a great balancing act to be able to hold yourself accountable for short term failures, while still appreciating that when you work your bollocks off and the lucky break doesn’t materialise, patience is in order.

Self-destruction is almost guaranteed if you can’t differentiate between those elements of blame. The workaholic will grab any opportunity to dominate your life, but it’s an attitude that will never subside – even in the face of great success. It has to be controlled.

You have to hold yourself accountable for keeping the workaholic on a leash, not just exercising it regularly. Anything less and you have a wild untamed beast on your hands. Unfortunately, that beast is yourself.

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