A Beautiful Frustum In Your Thirties

Seth Godin, one of my favorite business bloggers, recently wrote a blog about pyramids without a top. In geometry, these types of shapes are called frustums.

We spend our career lives trying to get to the top of our pyramid- we want to be the career elite, the famous, the special, the 1%. And why not? Fantastic career success is a big and beautiful possibility.

However, with the advent of the digital age, more and more of us will find it easier than ever to get our work out there in some form, but harder and harder to gain the fame and well-known 1% type of success (because everyone else is getting their work out too). For example, it’s easier than ever for anyone to publish a book all by themselves, but now there are more books available than ever before. Instead of waiting to get a book published, you can publish your book and sell it on Amazon or multiple other internet sources completely free. You can do the same with music and web tv (webisodes)- you can quickly and easily get your music or webseries online and direct to users all by yourself and for almost no cost.

Will you be the next Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga? The next Stephen King or Tina Fey? Maybe. Maybe not. But can you be a success and make good money and have a powerful, impactful, positive life without being a headliner like the above names? Absolutely.

The hard part isn’t in being in a frustum of an industry- where there’s no real peak, just more and more opportunity for entry- the hard part is in accepting the frustum and knowing you can still make a great life. There’s lots of room in frustums for lots of people to be successes- it’s just a different kind of success.

Even when you’re not well-known or at what you think is the peak of your career pyramid, you can still be a pretty damn good school teacher or time-share seller or yoga instructor or animal shelter manager. You can write amazingly good books or make insanely gorgeous music and get it all out into the world easier than ever because the base of the frustum is wider than ever. If you can accept this shapeshifted new world change, you may just realize that you’re more successful (and happier) than you ever dreamed you could be.

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Should I Play the Lottery In My Thirties?

Last week the Powerball jackpot was 1.5 billion dollars. A bunch of my friends bought tickets and a few of them even won…four whole dollars.

When one of my friends first told me he went and bought a bunch of tickets, I’ll be honest, I was little upset with the idea. He asked me if I was going to buy any myself, and I replied with a haughty, ‘no, I think I’m going to invest my money and save it, thank you very much.’

I kinda felt amazingly proud of myself- the lottery (and gambling in general) are things that I can easily control my response to and I value that about myself. I have insane self-control when it comes to spending money on things that I consider wasteful. I don’t know if I’ve ever purchased a lottery ticket- maybe I bought some for an ex many years ago.

However, something about my own response bugged me- was it really so bad to buy lotto tickets? That same week, I received an email newsletter from a writer I love, Ramit Sethi. He was talking about how silly it is to discourage people from buying lotto tickets, because, in a way, you’re discouraging them from dreaming. Ironically, he was actually writing in response to bloggers who scoffed at people who bought lotto tickets. He said:

Their articles [finance bloggers] reflect a total lack of understanding about WHY people buy lottery tickets. Hint: People who buy lottery tickets don’t really expect to win. People know the odds are astronomically, cosmically against them. So why would they do it?

The answer: They’re buying permission to dream about winning it.

If you think about it, $2 for a dream is well worth it. If you live a life where you’re counting pennies, isn’t it worth paying $2 for the dream of becoming fabulously wealthy — even if just for an hour? Hell, if you live a humdrum life of $60,000/year with 2% annual raises and one 2-day vacation a year, you can see why people would crave an escape.

By the way, there are a LOT of other ways we pay for an escape: Movies, fancy clothes, and so many more things. Isn’t it funny how lottery tickets cost less, but incur more wrath from judgmental people? It’s fun. It makes you feel good, and that’s a great reason to spend $2. OF COURSE lottery tickets are mathematically stupid. So is going to a bar to meet someone…but we do it anyway.

I never really thought about lotto tickets that way, but they’re a tiny price to pay to dream about something way bigger and more exciting in your life. Sure, we can all visualize and meditate and dream for free, but any tool that helps you feel happier and more passionate about life, is harmless, and only costs a couple of dollars, is absolutely, totally worth it. Use the tools that you discover- little indulgences here and there can help you feel better and dream exponentially bigger. Make the ‘silly’ choice sometimes.

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