It’s not you, it’s me

That was the message I delivered to my realtor yesterday.

In truth, I knew all along that right now was a bad time to start looking to buy a home. But I was tempted by the promise of “building equity” in a property instead of flushing my rent payments down the toilet, and so I started the search.

What was I thinking? The housing market in Seattle right now is insane, and prices are being bid up to ridiculous levels. Furthermore, I have no idea where we are going to be in two years. I don’t have any reason to believe I will stay in my current job long-term, and buying a house would only reduce my flexibility if I wanted to look for something else.

But you know, it was a good distraction from the important things in my life that I don’t want to face. I could spend hours poring over listings and building spreadsheets to calculate the ROI of owning versus renting.

It played into my scarcity mindset perfectly: “If you just stop renting and start building equity, you can save thousands of dollars a year! It’s practically free money!” Never mind that the whole process of purchasing a home consumes countless hours of my precious time, and after that I will have the privilege of handling all of the upkeep and maintenance myself.

Do I want to own a home eventually? Yes, absolutely. Just not now.

The funny thing is that it only took a couple weeks for me to realize that I had made a mistake, that now was not the time to buy. And yet… the realtor would send me a couple listings each week, and I inevitably opened that email just to take a look. What’s the harm, right?

Even after I had already convinced myself that I was going to stop looking for a house, I would immediately forget my decision once I opened one of those emails. I’d spend another few hours obsessing over the details of the neighborhood and the financing. How far is my commute? Is there a nearby park within walking distance? What about schools? What would the monthly payment be?

I didn’t really make the decision to stop looking until I broke up with my realtor yesterday.

It was on good terms, of course. I assured him that when we are ready to start looking again, he will be the first person we call.

This whole episode got me thinking about the other sources of distraction in my life. This morning I opened my email inbox and had messages from Ramit Sethi, Sean Ogle, Chandler Bolt, and Ian Pribyl.

All four of them are excellent at crafting emails that get opened, and I am a sucker for it. And what happens once I open an email? I inevitably end up looking at a few articles, which leads me to a few more, and then two hours later I’m considering a new online business idea that I hadn’t seen before.

I think it’s time to break up with all the mailing lists that I have signed up for. They haven’t gotten me any closer to creating a business, but they have provided plenty of distraction in the meantime.

I know that I need to say no to everything except the one project that I’m pursuing right now. But as long as I keep opening those emails just to see what’s inside then I haven’t really made this decision.

If my business idea was a girlfriend, then I am basically telling her that we should be exclusive but then using Tinder behind her back. I know we are right for one another and should spend the time to develop the relationship, but… you know, I want to keep my options open, right?

I’m such a shitty boyfriend wannabe entrepreneur.


4 thoughts on “It’s not you, it’s me

  1. I’m sorry I added to your distractions more than adding value that brought you closer to success:/ I work really hard to put out incredibly high quality, helpful content and it breaks my heart to see my name mentioned in this context. If you have any suggestions on what I can do to improve or make my free training more valuable to you, I’m 100% open to them.


    1. Ian, first of all, I’m amazed that you would find my reference to your site buried in a blog that (presently) gets nearly zero traffic, so that’s pretty cool. I’d like to clarify that I don’t find your emails useless–in fact, your free material on how to build an SEO business is outstanding. I read all of the emails and, if I ever found myself in a position where I wanted to start an SEO business, I would look no further.

      The problem is that I don’t really want to start an SEO business… at least, I don’t think I do. I feel like a dog chasing cars right now, and every single car that drives by looks shinier than the last one. So, as the headline states, it’s not you Ian, it’s me.

      I think I’m actually beginning to understand these words from Nassim Taleb, one of my intellectual role models: “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” Especially when your monthly salary is higher than you think you deserve. It eats away that hunger, the drive to take risks and try something new even with no guarantee of a good outcome.


      1. Thanks so much for the clarification, Jim 🙂 That makes me feel a bit better, and it was a nice boost to my ego (heh) that you think my titles make people open things – I actually am pretty insecure about my copywriting skills overall. But with years of practice comes a lot of growth.

        I know exactly what you mean. I’ve never worked harder in my life than when I was just out of college, had a job that I hated and totally took advantage of all my talents/drive, and spent every waking moment in the morning, in the evening, and on weekends working on my business. I’ve never had better motivation than having a job I hated.

        I can also relate to your feelings regarding the SEO business. It’s not my favorite stream of revenue, as affiliate marketing (in time after A LOT of really hard groundwork) can become much more passive and “hand-offable” than running your own SEO agency. With a lot of travel coming up for my wife and I in about a year, I’m much more tuned into making my business as passive as possible over the next 12-14 months, and affiliate marketing lends itself better to passive income (again, in time) than anything else I’ve built over the years.

        Thanks again for the quick reply, and keep writing great content. You might consider optimizing it better for keywords or choosing your keywords better, though! You have a great writing style, but as long as you’re not paying really close attention to you’re keywords and *at least* on-page SEO, it’ll be hard to break through, even given a lot of time.

        If you’re ever stuck anywhere as you continue on this very difficult journey, don’t hesitate to reach out. And of course, best of luck!


      2. HOLY MOLY, Jim. I ended up here by way of the ZTL private Facebook page. I was reading along…“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary…”, and then this zinged me right between the eyes: …”Especially when your monthly salary is higher than you think you deserve.” Without going into a long story about ZTL, how long I’ve wanted to build a passive income, my current job, etc., I just wanted you to know your words got past The 7 Circles of Rationalization and went right to the core of helping me understand why I don’t press harder on what I tell myself that I want. *Thanks*.


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