Just Follow Your Heart (and other stupid advice you may hear in 2020)
Looking for a warm chocolatey spoonful of stupid advice for 2020?
Well, you’re in the wrong place.
You can find bad advice all over the interwebz…
I’m here to give you a sweet, gooey dose of the real shit.
The knowledge you need to make the next year (or five) f-ing awesome as a possum on Blossom.
Without further ado, here’s my response to some of the stupid advice you’ll probably be hearing soon. (And what you can do instead.)
We’ll start with some of the worst advice anyone could give you…
Just follow your heart
This one’s super common.
Also known as: never give up on your dream.
I’m dreaming of chocolate donuts that’ll make me lose weight.
Fantasizing about the day that someone will send me a check and say “You know what? Don’t even bother working for this… I just want you to sit on the sofa drinking wine and watching South Park.”
I’m imagining a day when gingers move to the top of everyone’s sexiness hierarchy and…
Well, you get the idea. I could go on, but it’d get pretty porno pretty quick.
And anyway, while following your heart sounds nice, I’ve got something that actually works.
Find a market and fill a need.
Is your dream to make experimental theater or to write sonnets in a garret in Paris?
Well then you’d better have someone willing to pay you top dollar for your scribblings – or else you’re gonna be broke forever. (And what is experimental theater, anyway?)
You can scream at the sky, and say it’s unfair that the average salary for poets isn’t higher.
Or you can do something useful for humanity.
My advice: keep your impractical dreams around as hobbies. Enjoy them. But make sure you’ve got something you can do that’s actually useful and necessary also.
(Useful, necessary, or entertaining. Entertainment is a big industry too.)
Ok. Time for some real talk.
At one point you were a baby. You pooped your pants every day for years.
That was just who you were.
When you reached a certain age, your parents decided you shouldn’t be pooping your pants anymore.
They didn’t tell you to “be yourself” about it. They told you: “here’s where you’d better take a dump from now on, junior.”
Clearly, if you were going to be authentic, you would have resisted all attempts to potty-train you. You never would have sold out like that.
“This is the real me“, you would’ve said. “I spend half the day screaming, I suck my mom’s nipples when I’m hungry, and I poop my pants whenever the urge strikes me. That’s just who I am!”
Luckily for everyone (except your mom, who could really use a little nipple-sucking these days) you got over that version of you, and became a better version…
A “you” that can control basic bodily functions long enough to find a toilet.
Soon after that, you were a teenager. You rebelled in absurd ways and could be thrown into fits of hormonal lust by the sight of a bra strap.
Eventually you got over your teenage rebellion (hopefully) and started feeling a little less lustful about Katie in your chemistry class.
And then, you stopped growing up.
You decided, “Okay, okay… this is who I am. This version of me is the real one. Finally! No more pants-pooping, no more getting wood every time I see a bra strap. Just this.”
And you settled into a routine.
Nothing wrong with routine. But guess what: life’s gonna keep throwing changes at you till the day you die. You’d better roll with the punches…
Or your ass is toast.
I’ll toss this one over to Ben Franklin, who said “Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.”
In any case, “be yourself” it’s also bad advice because when people say it, what they usually mean is “Just keep sucking at life exactly like you do now, and eventually you’ll find someone who admires you for it.”
(Well, okay, it’s occasionally true. But the people you attract into your life by sucking aren’t much fun.)
(Fine. Depends on the type of sucking.)
Anyway, this new year, let’s improve on “be yourself”. How about: be the best version of yourself. Improve yourself daily.
Okay, here’s the last one for today…
Real Estate is Always a Good Investment
I particularly hate this one.
Now that Spain is coming out of the 10-year economic sinkhole, I’ve got this 18 year old with a bright green tie knocking on my door twice a month. If you live in Madrid, you probably know the type: Tecnocasa.
“Considering buying a house?” he asks. “Real estate’s the best investment, you know…”
I’m tempted to ask him about his own real estate portfolio.
But instead I politely shut the door on him.
Anyway, no offense to real estate.
But let’s talk about the two big rules of investing.
- Really understand what you’re getting into.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – in other words, diversify.
How many people who buy a house thinking it’s a great investment take the time to read A SINGLE BOOK about real estate investing? How many of them take the time to look into the historical trends in home prices around their city, state or country and make an educated decision?
I’m guessing less than 10% – and even that’s probably way too optimistic.
How many of these “investors” are actually putting their money into a variety of other things at the same time they’re buying a home?
Probably a few more, but not a large number. If you only have one investment, or your “portfolio” is 90% tied up in the theoretical value of your house, you’re not diversified.
And you’re breaking the two big rules of investing.
For more info on why housing is a shitty investment, check out this article by Morgan Housel.
And Paula Pant is an actual real estate investor. Check out her spreadsheets for the math behind real estate investing, or read her discussion of the “Renting is just throwing away your money” hypothesis here.
In any case, the upshot is that your feelings about your “dream home” don’t make it a good investment.
Because data is data.
And your feelings are probably informed by bad advice you got from your mom or from your priest orr from Bob at the gym.
Sorry. But it’s true.
In conclusion (or some other trite phrase)
I’m really not sure what the point of this article is – it’s just some stuff I wanted to get off my chest.
The “be useful” part was largely inspired by Ryan Holiday’s new book, Perennial Seller, which is a great read for anyone who’s in business for themselves.
Freelancers or “creatives” as the kids are calling them these days.
As a creative myself, my main takeaway has been this: I’ve gotta step it up. Do bigger, bolder work.
And then market the living shit out of it.
It’s gonna be a great 2020.
Keep it real, y’all.
Mr Chorizo AKA Mr Daniel.
P.S. What’s your favorite piece of stupid advice you hear all the time? I was tempted to put “going to college is great idea, no matter how much it costs” in there. But that’s a story for another day.