The Benefits Of Hitting Rock Bottom
Last year when I was living in Thailand I was in a pretty bad place. I was broke and even though I stayed positive I was really stressed out about it. I stayed up all night trying to get a business started but it wasn’t working. Sleep deprived and unable to even buy food, it wasn’t fun. It was an adventure, but it was stressful too.
Now I’m in Florida. I’m not broke. I’m actually able to make a solid amount of money on my own time, when I need it.
I’m partnering with a few business mentors here and if things go well it should be a really, really successful relationship.
But I haven’t forgotten those old days in Thailand. They still have an effect on me.
Some of those effects are clearly positive. Here are a few reasons that even though I didn’t enjoy being broke and worrying about rent and food, I don’t think I would take back the experience if I could.
1. Outside Circumstances Affect Your Confidence Less
In grade school I remember lots of kids who’s self-image was heavily tied to their grades. They typically got straight A’s, but then if they got a B they’d practically burst into tears crying. They couldn’t even think about bringing an F home.
This behavior isn’t limited to kids. Lots of ‘successful’ people are terrified of losing their power, prestige, position and money. The thought leaves them terrified just like those kids who are scared of getting a B. It would crush them.
My time in Thailand was the equivalent of getting straight F’s for months, and I actually did have a business that was a financial nightmare. But now that that’s happened, I’m not afraid of it any more. I don’t want it to happen again, but if it does I’m ok.
Now, living in Florida I’ve got a real big opportunity that might be the biggest of my life so far.
That said, it may also not be. It may totally fail. I may screw it up. I may find myself once again, broke, alone and hungry.
In that case I will be down but I won’t be out. I’ve already been there and I know I can handle it. My confidence won’t be shattered. My ego won’t be crushed. I won’t curse and blame the guys I worked for who ‘lied’ about a false opportunity. I’ll just get up, brush off the dirt, be grateful for what I learned, and keep moving forward.
Sure, my confidence may be hit a little bit, but I won’t be heartbroken like a little kid receiving his first F and I won’t jump out a window like a stock trader in 1929.
2. You Take Opportunities More Seriously
When I was broke I lived off of white noodles. A big bowl that would fill my stomach cost about 33 cents. I saw the value of 33 cents. They were really valuable. They tasted good and kept me from going hungry.
Then I finally started working for my old company again earning $2,000 per month as a location independent contractor. I saw that income as a golden ticket. It was enough to keep me fed and gave me lots of extra capital to put into my business and build something that could revolutionize my life.
Having spent months dreaming of what I could do with $2,000, I wasn’t going to waste it on doodads, fancy food, or even a nicer apartment. It was a tool that I could leverage.
Knowing the value of 33 cents, even the prospect of a small growing business was thrilling. $150 profit per week meant I was making enough to live. I could achieve that if I invested that $2,000 well. That motivation was rocket fuel.
My mentors in Florida and I have discussed some pretty large numbers, but even if I reach just 10% of that goal I still know that it’s worth hustling for. I won’t lose interest when things prove more challenging than I expected.
3. You’re Not Afraid Of Taking A Risk
If you’ve never had to ration your money to buy food or ask a stranger if you can sleep in their house for the night then you may be deathly afraid of running out of money. You won’t swing for the fences. You won’t roll the dice.
I’ve made many, many business investments that set me back to having less than I was comfortable with in the bank. Some of them lead to dead ends. Others made a massive difference in my business.
Here’s the thing. I can take those risks and I’m not afraid to do so. If a product order costs $2,000 and I have $2,3000 in the bank, I can logically decide if the potential upside is worth the risk. I’m not terrified of what lies ahead with just $300 in the bank so it’s possible to focus on the upside and roll the dice knowing I might win.
4. You Can Get Into The ‘Zen’ Work State
Most people are a little like B.F. Skinner’s mice. They want a treat so they push the button. They want another treat, so they press the button again. If a treat doesn’t come out they stop working all together.
When you’re at rock bottom and things aren’t working you keep pressing the button again and again but nothing seems to make that treat come out. You get no treats! Surprisingly, that’s a beautiful thing. So long as you don’t give up, you train yourself to work for long periods of time without a reward, and that’s one skill you need in order to build a business.
If you took out all profits from your business without reinvesting you wouldn’t grow very quickly. In fact, you wouldn’t grow at all. You need to learn to work while also delaying gratification. It may not be the most comfortable way to learn but running a screwed up business while being broke in South-East Asia certainly taught me to hustle without a reward.
Now in Florida, I feel mentally prepared to put in the time required to give this opportunity a good shot. Even when results aren’t immediate (I don’t expect much for the next few months at least) I can get into the ‘zen’ of completing tasks that lead towards the objective. I won’t be like the mouse, staring dumbfounded at my lab experimenter when I didn’t get my instant gratification cheese.
Whether You’re A Digital Nomad Or Not…
… being down and out helps you put life in perspective so long as you stay positive and don’t let negativity poison your perspective!
It helps you take your blunders less seriously.
It helps you take your ability to overcome hurdles more seriously.
Importantly, it helps you mature. It helps you grow up and take responsibility.
I wouldn’t wish for you to go broke. It’s a stressful time. It’s not fun…
That said, and I’m playing devils advocate here, lots of things that are good for you aren’t fun. If you’re looking for a wakeup call, perhaps hitting rock bottom may be a beneficial experience.