Why the 'Steady Job' Is a Myth

Some of the psychological insights I've discovered around earning money are fascinating. For example, most people believe their No. 1 barrier is "not having an idea." But if you dig in, you'll find several other, deeper psychological barriers -- some of which are truly crippling. For example, I could give them 10 viable ideas, and they would still do nothing. And they would continue to insist they need an idea.Clearly, something is going on.Let's look first at the psychological influence of the people around you: your friends and family. No matter how strong we are, we're influenced by people close to us. For instance, I'd be far more affected by one of my friends saying something negative about a blog post than 100 negative comments from random people. I'm affected. You're affected. We all are.

So when it comes to earning money, if you start experimenting with ideas, you might hear things like this:

  • "Why are you wasting time on this? Go work for a stable company with a guaranteed job to offer you."
  • "You already have a steady job with Company X. Shouldn't you just focus on that instead of this weird side thing?"
  • "I knew someone who freelanced once and they [insert mistake you'll never make because you're smarter than the average person and on my mailing list.] What happens when you face this?"

Can you spot the invisible scripts behind these complaints? I'll give you the two most obvious ones:

  • "A job with a well-known company, simply because it's with a well-known company, is automatically more secure than anything you could do on your own."
  • "Earning more, because little old you is in charge, is inherently dangerous, likely to fail, and there's little (if anything) you can do to boost your odds of succeeding."

Importantly, these people have never earned money from a side gig in their lives. In fact, they've never even seriously thought about it -- they simply assumed they couldn't do it because (insert excuses here).

The thing that infuriates me about whiners like this is that they're not just holding themselves back -- they're holding back others around them too.

If you dig deeper, you'll find that these people are not making well-reasoned, logical arguments. How could they? They've never done it. Instead, they're speaking from ignorance and a status quo bias, not experience. Ignorance of how people make money on-the-side is not "proof" that people don't or can't make money.

  • When all you hear are these criticisms, it's easy to believe them and never try (when, really, you probably do possess the talent and ability to succeed)
  • Earning more isn't some mysterious thing that randomly works or doesn't work. Each step along the way is something you can fix and perfect until everything works and you're making steady side income.
  • My students in my Earn1K course -- the ones who make money from side gigs -- arguably have more job security than employees. That's because the employer is the employee's single source of income.  And would you ever invest in just one area? Of course not. You'd diversify.
  • Many people who thought they had "steady jobs" were rudely awakened in the form of massive layoffs since 2008.

This is why, when I have a question about growing my business, I don't just go ask random people in my grocery store how they'd scale a web-based business. "Huh?" they'd say."Did you say mayonnaise?"

Bottom line: Don't argue with people who don't know what they're talking about. Instead, seek out real-world advice from people who have actually done this before.

Ramit Sethi runs a blog on money management tips where he covers automation, psychology, and earning more.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business's development and growth.

About Ramit Sethi

Ramit Sethi, the New York Times best-selling author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, shows regular people how to live a rich life by spending extravagantly on the things they love -- and cutting costs mercilessly on the things they don't.

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