Growth February 12, 2020

One piece of advice, please.

Konrad Dunski @Kdun

Imagine a 30yo human, who wasted last 10 years working a job he hates, because of "convenience". Knows HTML, CSS, bit of Wordpress, bit of sales, level 14 knowledge of "Mean Girls" on QuizUp, witty, speaks mostly sarcasm. Close your eyes and imagine that person.

What one piece of advice, an ACTIONABLE piece of advice, no matter how small, would you give this person? (learn "this", speak to "this", kind of thing)

Asking for a friend.

  1. 11

    If you want to be happier, find a way to surround yourself with people doing worse than you. If you want to be more successful, find a way to surround yourself with people doing better than you.

    I've found this to be good base-level advice that really compounds over time if you follow it. It also doesn't take much effort, because it just becomes kind of a passive reality once you're on your preferred track.

    1. 2

      @csallen Wait what? No! By that definition you'll become a successful unhappy person, isn't?

      I understand the rationale of the advise but there's probably a better way to formulate it without implying your own happiness depends on other people.

      For the successful part, definitely!

      Hm what about a win + win formulation:

      "If you want to be happier do things that you like, If you want to be more successful, find a way to surround yourself with people doing better than you"

      I'm still your fan regardless Courtland :)

      1. 3

        I actually do believe that happiness depends on other people. "Doing things you like" is important, yes, but it's not enough on its own.

        We evolved to be social creatures, and our well being is strongly affected by our peer groups, what they value, what their norms are, and how we fit into that equation: the number and quality and hierarchy of our relationships. It would probably take an immense amount of mental training/meditation for any individual to overpower our built-in social focus.

        But it's important to note that what any tribe considers "successful" is different. There is no single worldwide definition. If you hang out with indie hackers all day, you'll probably desire to grow your company. If you go to Yale, you might feel a strange pull to get good grades and join a prestigious law firm. If you move to my suburban hometown in Georgia, you might feel bad about yourself unless you settle down and start a family. Etc.

        The good thing is that it's relatively easy to change your tribe nowadays, and find one whose values align with yours, so you can feel supported doing the things that appeal to you most. And within that tribe, there will likely be people you look up to who push you to "do better," as well as people who look up to you and make you feel like you've made it. Personally, I'd advocate hanging out with a mix of the two.

        Overall, the point isn't so much to put your happiness in others' hands. Rather, it's to use the default social programming in our brains as a tool you can leverage to help you with your goals. Rather than fighting against who we are, I think it's better to go with the flow… to take a page out of judo's book and try to redirect our built-in nature toward positive outcomes.

    2. 1

      Love this Courtland.

    3. 1

      Interesting take Courtland, thank you. I'm not a big fan of the idea of defining my happiness, nor success by the people I'm surrounding myself with, but I get how it'd help in changing that initial mindset. Also it kind of sounds like you can't have it both ways, which you definitely can, seeing that's what most of your interviewees are enjoying.

      Also I'm actually generally happy with my life. I just messed up my professional life, by making a lot of bad choices and being apathetic.

      I've done more to improve my life in last 6 months, than I have in last 10 years prior to that. I know I'm only on a start of a path. I'm just looking for any useful advice that'll help me go in the right direction.

      Your first paragraph should definitely be a quote from a book you'll inevitably write one day. I'd add "If you want both, avoid most people altogether" though, the cynic that I am.

  2. 4

    One thing I have learnt in my life is that you do not need to please anyone.

    I lost my mum recently to suicide and I was the one to drag her out of a freezing cold river. Something I never wish upon anyone. An image i'll never be able to get over or get out of my head.

    I knew she was hurting hard and going through a bad time and I've came to terms that she is in a better place now.

    Whats my point? My point is, after this had happened... Everyone i felt that weren't bringing value to my life, to my goals, people who maybe acted negatively around me or didn't support a goal of mine or looked down on me because I was trying to better myself... I cut them out completely of my life. This included friends of 8, 9 years + who just weren't bringing anything to my life but negativity and doubt. It also included changing job role from a Data Expert / Data Migration expert with some front end / web development (Full stack) into full blown Mobile Lead Developer, leading my own team where I'm currently building a custom mobile framework for building apps for the company i'm in. Something i didn't think was possible, but I was able to speak up and change things and make it happen.

    I'm much happier in my life with 2-3 close friends who I KNOW are real friends, support me, support my partner in her business, support my situation, are there for me when I need them, and in a job role I had been thinking about for a long time, among a lot of other things that i'll not get into.

    Keep your circle small with like-minded people (this could mean lots of things e.g. the same if not more (as @csallen has touched on) drive and passion as you for their hobby / interest / work. Motivation, commitment - It all comes in to it. If someone / something is causing you pain / negativity / self-doubt...Change it. Absolutely cut it out of your life and change it. That's my advice.

    1. 2

      Dude I’m so sorry to hear that. For you to be open about this and show your vulnerabilities is a show of true strength.

      Your advice is priceless and I fully agree. I’m lucky to have a lot smarter and more ambitious partner, who always keeps me motivated too.

      Thanks a lot bro and well done on all your progress man, well on you!

      1. 1

        Thanks man I really appreciate that.

  3. 3

    Stop trying to succeed, and start trying to be happy. Do a job you love. If that means starting at the bottom and working your way up, then thats what you got to do! Maybe do some freelance freelance frontend stuff to sub your pay, but stop working a job you hate.

    1. 1

      Leaving my current workplace is high on the agenda, that’s for sure.

  4. 2

    Discipline is freedom.

    1. 1

      I read this in the book Extreme Ownership: How Navy Seals lead and Win teams. Last chapter: Discipline = Freedom.

      Discipline yourself and you get more time, more energy, more strength in anything you do.

      1. 1


  5. 2

    Invest in yourself.

    Figure out what you want, what you like, and more importantly - what you don't like and what you don't want (you've already got some answers there).

    You've done things for the sake of doing them, no real motivation, no real enjoyment, they just...were. And it seems you've hit a wall and in the process became a bit numb. So it's time to shake things up, see what you're about and do those things.

    Actionable part - try out different hobbies, different programming stacks, different products, find the things that excite you and you can't quite wait to do them again. I hope this helps a bit, and good luck.

    1. 1

      Numb is defo the right word. I’m polish, we’re the resilient “get-on-with-it” type of people haha

      1. 1

        Holy Shit! Bardzo relatable!

  6. 2

    Set up automatic withdrawals and save aggressively :D

  7. 1

    My first job lasted 10y before we split. I asked my self often when did things go downhill for me and if I should just change job after 6y. The answer was yes and no.
    See if I wouldn't stay for 10y I would probably not get an offer from abroad for my next job. But the experience also tought me a good lesson that next time when things don't feel right anymore to just quit and find new challanges.
    Which is what I did in April of 2018 and started working as a remote developer for my own company. Atm money is not as good as in 9to5 job, but I'm still supper happy to be working on projects I really enjoy. And as a bonus some of them should turn into more profit over next few years :)

  8. 1

    do something

  9. 1

    Imagine the following, really take the time to imagine it.

    Imagine you have no friends, no family, no relationships. Imagine you have no skills or perspectives, education, or experiences. But you also have no limits. Now, once you are in that place, if you could do anything with your life, what would you do?

    Take the answer you get from that and go do it.

  10. 1

    Find something you like to do and do it as often as you can.

  11. 1

    Stop doing "fun" things and start only working on your side projects.

  12. 1

    30 years old is when my career started. I had no strong experience or network. The right opportunity and a few years of hard work changed things.

    I'd suggest finding a job with great people in a space you can be interested in. Focus on the team & mentorship rather than the job. It will build a network and you can have a good time working with people you like.

    No rush. Take your time and find the right spot.

  13. 1

    Step out from your comfort zone. Redefine your self and stop thinking about your self that you are a guy that knows a little bit of HTML CSS etc.. because I think you frame your self into the box, escape that small box. It's difficult to step out of the comfort zone alone, sometimes is easier if you find the job that requires from you 100% attention and new skills.

  14. 1

    I feel very similar to this. I'd say shake things up and get uncomfortable as a first step. It could be working on a side project (but do it in public, that's probably the uncomfortable bit). Or go to the gym at 6am tomorrow morning, or sign up to a tough mudder or a marathon or something that you are not sure whether you can actually do or not.
    Again, if you're anything like me, karaoke is probably your idea of hell and you'll dread going, but when you realise you're still alive the next day maybe it will encourage you to make bigger steps in the future (changing jobs, starting your own business etc.). As others have said, its far easier to give advice than follow it, so I need to do more of this myself!

    1. 2

      Alright I’m down. I’ll start a blog documenting trying to get a small web design business off the ground. Weekly episodes, if I fail maybe someone else will at least learn from it.

      1. 1

        awesome, message me when its up so i can follow it!

  15. 1

    If you feel you have wasted the last 10 years then there must be something you feel you have missed out on. What is it?

    1. 1

      Good pay, job satisfaction, positive impact on the world, freedom, you name it.

  16. 1

    Can you find 30-60 minutes a day to work on your web design business? When? In the morning before work? After work (many people are tired after work)? Put it on your calendar. If you have a physical calendar on your wall, mark days when you've worked on your business with a big checkmark or a big X. You will probably miss days, that's fine. Even 4/7 days of 1 hour effort are a good start.

    Do this.

    1. 2

      Essentially implement #100daysofcode but call it #100daysofgettingmylifesorted.

      I like that.

      1. 1

        Yes. Find the time in your schedule and go.

  17. 1

    You said that you wasted your time. This means that you wished you did different. Can you tell us what is that?

    What would you consider worth doing? based on your current perception.

    1. 1

      Yes, I originally moved to UK from Poland to study Computer Science at King’s College, got in, didn’t go for various reasons. Rinse and repeat for 4 years running, each year I got in and didn’t bother.

      Hurts to even type it.

      1. 1

        Do you regret the "various reasons" or studying CS?

        Because, if it's the former and that can't happen anymore then go finish what you started. Key being the "various reasons" are a something in the past and cannot repeat.

        After so many years of CS, even failing it, I think you underestimate yourself, I think, there is a good chance that you know more than you described. Look into yourself and the past years from a learning perspective. What did you study (again, no matter you failed the exams), what did you find about yourself, about people, about tech?

        Make an objective list about what your knowledge. Pick what you like and follow that. There is no wrong or good, as long you do what you like (* illegal is not considered). Some people have difficulties to find what they like.

        If you like CS, go and meet and talk with people (you already started here, and that's great). Find what they do, how they do the things they do. Try the things that "clicked" for you. You may enjoy the community or the thing itself, ideally to find both. Go and explore.

        Again, there is no good or wrong choices as long as you do what you like, in the end that's what counts. (Should pay a closer attention when going for extremities though)

        Hope it helps.

        1. 1

          Sorry, I must’ve worded it poorly. I got in to King’s College 4 years in a row, but I never went is what I meant.

          I’ll take on board all the rest though of course. Recurring theme seems to be go and meet people who are doing what you envision yourself doing.

  18. 1

    Start doing something you are passionate about. I think this feeling of having wasted 10 years comes mostly from doing something one did not want to do. Sure, when following a passion one might still face problems and setbacks but it wouldn't feel like wasted time. Because what's better than doing something one actually enjoys?

    (This can really be anything from writing, programming, drawing etc.)

    1. 1

      That's what I've been trying to do. It's just hard to implement when you're working 50h+ a week, just to stay afloat financially. Currently I'm trying my hands at starting a small web design business, just in order to cut my hours and hopefully find more time to study and build things.

      1. 1

        I seriously doubt this will work out. Big clients will go to established players. Small clients have no money. The time it will take to find clients will kill your business.

        1. 1

          Way to bring the mood down.

          I’ve got a list of about 50 small local businesses, including hair salons, tattoo parlours, restaurants etc. who all either need a website or currently have a shitty non-responsive website and that’s just by looking up businesses I drive past on the bus. I just haven’t got a portfolio to go with which I guess should be the first thing I’ll start on.

          I don’t need it to make millions. I need it to buy more time off work so I can work towards leaving altogether.

          1. 1

            Just my opinion. Offered in good faith. Prove me wrong and I would happily read about your successes in your blog.

            It is easy in a forum like this for anyone to say "Yeah man. Great. Go for it" as it is zero risk for them.

            Why not approach 10 of the 50 before creating your portfolio. You could ask them what they would like and how much they would pay.

            Best of luck.

            1. 1

              Challenge accepted. Cold email being drafted as we speak.

              For real though, I appreciate it and understand where you’re coming from. I’m a pessimist by nature, that’s exactly what I’m trying to overcome.

              1. 1

                How's it working out?

                1. 2

                  Last few weeks I had a jaw infection so my head ain’t been in it.

                  Domain and hosting is set up, sent out some feelers with 3 leads so far being interested. That’ll be enough for a small portfolio, they’ll probably agree to a small maintenance plan with email and hosting so I’ve got some recurring money coming in.

                  Also setting up a blog to document everything I do. You’ll be the first to know as soon as I’ve got something ready, I promise.

                  Thanks for checking in though!

  19. 1

    Having gone through significant trauma and learned a bunch about reframing, I'd suggest reframing the past 10 years to "hard lessons learned, bills paid, positive experiences, etc". A person's outlook on life shows through any facial expression or words and the description above sounds quite negative and unhappy to me. Granted, I'm terrible in life and on social media in following my own advice. It's an area I'm working hard on.

    Essentially, you'll be defined by your negative experiences or positive experiences, the choice is yours.

    1. 1

      Thanks, I'm sad to hear you've gone through rough times yourself. I guess reframing it as "it made you stronger" kind of experience is definitely the right move there too.

      As I said to Courtland I'm actually happy in life. Just not with the way I pay my bills.

      Dw most people never follow their own advice. I know I sure as hell haven't in the past.

      1. 1

        Really glad to hear you're happy.

        When 50% of our waking time is spent at work enjoying our work is pretty critical, IMO. So, 8f you want to make changes there, ask people in other areas, especially within your company, if you can job shadow them to see what it's all about. You can also look at if you more enjoy:

        • communication - consider scrum master, agile PM, or software product management arras.
        • technical - consider back-end code, database work, OS-level work, etc.
        • design/creativity - consider front-end, UI, marketing, or PR work.

        I'm happy to provide more insights/thoughts but we can't avoid suggesting the work you already do without knowing a bit more about what you currently do it enjoy doing. What is it about your job that you hate? What do you do for fun? Who do you respect and why?

        1. 1

          Sorry, I've now seen other people have asked similar questions. Don't worry about repeating yourself.

          1. 1

            If the same questions are asked it might mean that’s where my problems nad next steps lie.

            1. 1

              Another thought, there's so many tutorial videos on YouTube and locally we get free access to (LinkedIn). Those are good options to experiment and figure out what truly fires you up day in and day out.

  20. 0

    Great,thanks for advice