Millennials, Digital Natives, & The Unstoppable Human Spirit: Part II

Last post, I talked about what the “entrepreneurial spirit” means to me, and how it’s not just about owning a business. It’s so much more than that, and honestly, it’s so much cooler than just that.

See, I love entrepreneurs. I love the mindset, and the outlook. I think it’s a fantastic way to be, and I think the increase in entrepreneurial individuals in our world is the sign of a global shift, a change in awareness and a change in our direction as a species. A good one!

If you’ve resonated at all with what I’ve written here, it’s very possible you have an entrepreneurial spirit, even if yours is, as of yet, underdeveloped.

Here are some characteristics of entrepreneurs:

  • Easily bored by routine
  • Rebellious
  • Eager to learn (but completely unwilling to do tasks that don’t light them up)
  • Stubborn
  • Curious
  • Prone to depression, frustration, and emotional distress when feeling trapped and powerless
  • Wants to do things their own way (even if sometimes it’s harder)
  • Has a strong desire to contribute something meaningful to the world
  • Possesses a great sense of purpose (even if that purpose is completely unclear to them)
  • Incredibly creative in areas where they have interest
  • Often diagnosed with things like ADD or ADHD

(This is not to say that just because you’re moody and rebellious that you’re an entrepreneur. I dislike when people use high intellect or unique personalities to excuse rudeness or actual laziness—there are some genuinely lazy people who don’t contribute to the world, and that’s not where you want to be.)

Though I might or might not be guilty of this…

Though I might or might not be guilty of this…

It took me until I was in my twenties to realize that I was an entrepreneur, even though, when I looked back, it was painfully obvious that I’d always done things my own way.

Entrepreneurs want different things from life than most others. “Freedom” has a different definition for them, and they’ll brave all manner of unusual and uncomfortable circumstances to get what they want.

They’ll work incredibly hard on what they believe in.

They’ll go without things others wouldn’t dream of going without if it’s in service of their dreams.

They’ll make sacrifices that seem impossible to others, because they know what they want.

An entrepreneur who isn’t in touch with their passions and desires suffers. They can be morose, lost, and unfocused. This often looks like flakiness, lack of motivation, lack of goals, and general patheticness.

This was me for a few years. After college, I just kind of hung around for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I worked hard. I just felt like I was stuck in the mud, spinning my tires at full throttle, but going nowhere. I was working non-stop, but I found I had nothing to show for it, and I was quickly sinking into depression and a general disdain toward life.

I felt like this dog.

I felt like this dog.

 

I knew who and what I wanted to be, but getting there felt impossible. Even starting felt impossible. I’m a big picture person, so while I can see things from a detached perspective and keep my goal in sight, I also have a bad habit of becoming overwhelmed by everything I need to do. This can be paralyzing, and for a few years, I was. I let fear and doubt keep me frozen in place, not knowing how to even begin.

The good thing about that time was that, while I didn’t feel like I was moving forward, I was still trying things. I wrote books, I freelanced, I read and read and read, devouring everything I could about making money, or publishing, or spirituality and finding inner peace, or even things like inventing and law. I read and watched and learned everything I could find that struck a chord with that hollow place inside of me that was eating me alive.

And I hate to disappoint you, but I don’t have one of those stories where I had a big “AHA!” moment that fixed my whole life in one fell swoop. I certainly did have a lot of “aha!” and “Oooh, I GET IT!” moments over the years, and I continue to have them now, but those kinds of things don’t change your life alone. It’s everything together that alters the trajectory of your future.

I used to seek out those defining moments, those singular days that would stand as a turning point for my entire existence.

But the truth, for me, at least, is that life is just a collection of ordinary, run-of-the-mill Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays, spiced up by a few Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

We have to take out the trash and clean the kitchen. We have to do laundry and finish assignments. We have to run errands and write emails, and it’s all awfully boring.

And we have to work really, really hard. A lot. Sometimes for a very, very long time with virtually no return on our overwhelming investment whatsoever.

We have to do all this, all this Normal Life and Dream Life stuff, all mixed together, while being told over and over by people on all sides, whether they live in our house or in our screens, that we can’t ever do it.

They tell us we can’t have what we want. We can’t be that person. We can’t do those things. We can’t change this life. We’re stuck. They’re stuck. Everyone’s stuck. They tell us to give up and live a Normal Life full time, and let the Dream Life be just that—a dream. They tell us that’s normal and healthy and right.

And the only real difference between the entrepreneurial spirit and the ordinary soul is this: The little voice, sometimes so quiet we can barely hear it, that whispers, “But I want this.”

It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. And for people with a dream, with a purpose, there’s really no other option.

There will be big moments, but they’re rarely game changers all on their own. Much more powerful and important are the millions upon millions of little moments. Little, ordinary moments, where you choose to be big and extraordinary. Start adding those up, and you’ll start to see some remarkable results.

Everyone has this potential in them, but not everyone listens to the little voice. Not everyone holds fast to those dreams. Most people let life steer them, rather than steering their lives.

And the truth is that it’s not actually harder or easier to do it one way or another. Life is hard, period. It’s just a matter of what kind of “difficult” you’re willing to put up with: Working hard to get what you want, or regretting your decisions and wishing you had more.

So if you know what you want, don’t ever let it go. I’m going to talk a lot more about this in the future, so stick around. There’s a lot to cover on this topic.

If you don’t know what you want, still stick around. One of the purposes of my life is to ensure that others find their passion, so I’m going to be talking a lot about that, too.

But more than anything, keep being you. You can improve you, and be the best you, but make sure that no matter what, you’re always you. As they say: Everyone else is taken.

 

So, would you classify yourself as an entrepreneurial spirit? You can be broke, businessless, and completely at a loss for what you want to do in life—that doesn’t mean you aren’t an entrepreneur!

Millennials, Digital Natives, & The Unstoppable Human Spirit: Part I

While it’s pretty clear that the world is nowhere near perfect, the fact of the matter is we’re basically living in the best time period in recorded history. Nostalgia aside, there has never been a time (that we know of) where there was so much possibility, and while that “possibility” might be “annihilation of the human race” it might also be “awesome good things that don’t end up blowing us all up.”

:D

“Yay, we didn’t kill everyone!”

Even with all our faults and imperfections, we’re still more open-minded, accepting of others, compassionate, conscious of our actions, connected with life (human and otherwise), and motivated toward freedom than ever before.

I’m not talking a little improvement, either. We are light years ahead of where we were just a century ago. It’s amazing how drastically or cultural, societal, and personal beliefs and outlooks have changed over the last hundred years, even the last fifty years. Attitudes towards people of different races, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, and other personal distinctions is unrecognizable if you go back just a few decades. Most of us today can’t even comprehend the disdain for others based on what, to us, seems like completely irrelevant details.

There’s much, much more to do, yes, but I have to say that I’m pretty impressed by how far humanity has come. It gives me hope that we can make it so much further, and do so much better, probably within just a few more decades.

I’m discussing this today because we’re living in such interesting times right now. We’re connected to one another, able to share knowledge and insights instantaneously with people all around the world, and I want to talk about what that means, both for the individual and for humanity as a whole.

This is the era or the independent spirit.

This is the time of questions and wonderment.

This is the generation of the entrepreneur.

You might see the word “entrepreneur” and think, “Yeah, I’m no business owner.” But I am taking to you.

Being an entrepreneur is about so much more than owning a business. In fact, owing a business is actually just a side effect of entrepreneurship; it’s not the cause.

Because when you’re an entrepreneur, you HAVE to own your own business, or do your own thing, or work for yourself in some capacity. It’s a mindset. It’s a lifestyle. And it’s more common than ever in today’s world.

This shift, which to me is a wonderful blessing, is not being met with such enthusiasm elsewhere, though.

Many call the most recent generations “lazy” or “entitled”, and I’ll admit that these behaviours do run rampant in some people. However, I’ve noticed that “lazy” and “entitled” are often misattributed, slapped onto the wrong group, who simply get caught in the wake of the more disappointing members of their age group.

Because a lot of us are really smart. We’re hard workers. We’re passionate and driven and eager to contribute.

But…we’re not sure how.

I’m from the Millennial generation. Some of you probably are, too. A lot of you likely fall into the next group, which I like to call “Digital Natives” (I didn’t come up with that on my own—I got that term from my friend, Dawn Elyzabeth). The lines aren’t exactly perfectly defined, though this little graphic from Dawn’s site explains it pretty well:

Generational-Workforce-Graphic

Dawn is awesome. You should say hi.

These younger generations—preceded by the also-rebellious Gen X—are…well…a little different. We’re finding that a lot of us don’t belong behind desks, pushing paper and doing mindless busywork. We’ve seen the consequences of working at a job you hate to support a lifestyle you feel no desire for, and we’ve responded with a resounding, “HELL no.”

And the generations who came before us—and even a few of our own who believe in that method—the ones who built the world we’re currently living in, well, they dislike that. They want us to accept the way they think, but, well…

*heads off to blow something up*

We don’t.

So there’s friction. Our outlook makes no sense to them, so they respond by labeling it in a way that does make sense to them: They say that we’re lazy, entitled, self-obsessed, oversized children who were spoiled when we were young and elect to continue being spoiled as adults.

Now, before we go on, I want to clarify that there’s nothing wrong with wanting a desk job. Working in an office isn’t abject torture to some. To me, it is, but I’m fully aware that it’s quite enjoyable to others, and I don’t begrudge them that, nor do I judge them for their choices. The world is full of different kinds of people, and that’s not an accident. We need every type, so if you fall into the, “I like having a 9-5 job,” category, then enjoy it! It’s by no means an invalid way to live.

I ask only that people who fit comfortably with the more “accepted” life choices recognize that there is more than one way to be a mature, useful, productive, contributing member of society.

The entrepreneurial spirit has always existed. It’s an integral part of humanity, and while it’s gotten us into plenty of trouble in the past, it’s given us out greatest advancements. We owe or current lifestyle to entrepreneurs and their passion.

We’re seeing an influx of this tendency in the younger generations, in large part because it’s easier than ever to tap into that energy. Anyone can start a website, write a book, record an album, share their knowledge, or work on scientific breakthroughs from the comfort of their own homes.

To some, this is a problem. To me, it’s our greatest blessing.

And THAT is what I’m going to be talking about in my next post.

Free Creative Resources: Tools, Programs, & Other Cool Stuff

Let’s hear it for free stuff!

Behold the majestic Cyberbird.

Behold the majestic Cyberbird.

Whatever you’re doing, you probably need some resources and tools to help you get it done. I know I use a ton of stuff for podcasting, making videos, blogging, and writing books.

The problem with all of this stuff is that it can be pretty expensive. And for most of us, at least when we’re starting out, there’s not a ton of disposable income lying around for buying fancy equipment and cool programs.

So here are a few of the resources I utilize (or have utilized in the past until I could afford the paid versions) to do my work. Keep in mind that, while there are always programs you can buy, some of these free options are so good that I’ve never felt the need to upgrade—maybe someday my needs will be great enough, but for now, I’m really happy with all of these free (or really reasonable) programs that I use.

Almost all of them are free, but the ones that you have to pay for will be marked with a * so you can quickly identify them. They’re not expensive, and I’m not getting anything for recommending them to you—I only make recommendations based on things I use, know, and love!

Blog Stuff

WordPress

If you look up at the URL, you’ll see that this site is simply “hijackhighschool.com”. This is a paid domain. However, I know a lot of people who’ve had great success using the free version of WordPress. The only real difference is some minute limitations in what you can do (nothing at all that will stop you from doing great work and having an awesome blog!), and the only noticeable difference is the URL—if mine were free, for instance, it would just be “hijackhighschool.wordpress.com”. It’s not a big deal and it won’t hinder your credibility for having that there. Allie of Hyperbole and a Half still uses here hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com URL, and that sure hasn’t stopped her from being awesome.

There are plenty of free, and stunning, WordPress themes to choose from, and many are highly customizable. You can have a pretty amazing site or blog just by using the free tools available.

Writing Stuff

Google Drive

You can also use Microsoft’s One Drive, it’s much the same as Google Drive. The point is, these will give you a good word processor, as well as a safe place to house all your documents. I swear by this, because I have had computers crash. Heck, Scarlett’s (my beloved Alienware) hard drive crashed on me last year, and I had to install a completely new one. Thank GOD all of my books, notes, and business files were in the cloud. I’d probably have had a nervous breakdown if I hadn’t had everything backed up to infinity and accessible online.

Evernote

A quick way to keep track of bookmarks, interesting sites, and your own personal notes is Evernote. Half of my blogs for this site are written on my phone at 2am on my Evernote app. I use it to save pages that intrigue me, make notes, write lists about what I need to remember, and jot down quick story or business note when I’m on the go. It’s free (there’s a paid version, but I have yet to try it and find the free version more than enough for me) and you can install and sync it across all your devices, so your information goes wherever you do.

*Scrivener

Not a free program, but Scrivener only sells for about $40 (and there are always sales—I got mine half-off simply for completing NaNoWriMo one year). If you’re working on big writing projects, like books, huge reports, a thesis for school, screenplays, or any kind of lengthy research project, Scrivener is where it’s at.

Graphic Design Stuff

Adobe Photoshop

No, I’m not kidding. There is a way you can legally have Photoshop completely free. Sure, it’s a seven-year-old version of the program, but that’s what I use to do all my graphic design, and it works great. The best part is that Adobe has released it themselves, so this isn’t some sketchy site dominated by ads in languages you can’t read—it’s totally legitimate and very easy. You can get it here, toward the bottom.

This version of Photoshop works great. I remember wanting it so badly when I was a teenager, and hating the $500 price tag. I know the art I saw others creating with it blew me away, and so I’m perfectly happy to keep working with that version, even now.

GIMP

Another great, free program is GIMP. I actually have both GIMP and Photoshop—sometimes I feel like using one platform over another (and also, half my graphics were already made in GIMP, so all my files were there already before, and it’s just easier to keep working on those same files.

In fact, I only really got Photoshop because I had some old files in that format, too. It’s really just a matter of what file types I had and what made it easiest to work on each of them—all in all, GIMP is a great program and can easily be your one-stop spot for photo editing.

Audio Editing Stuff

If you’re using a Mac, you might already have a program that’s great and easy to use. If not, or if you want something different, check out my recommendation.

Audacity

Making music, or just recording audio tracks? Audacity has you covered. Free, powerful, and full of features, Audacity can do what most paid audio editors could do (I know, I had a few professional ones before finding Audacity).

Video Editing Stuff

Like the audio editing programs, most computers (especially Macs) come with some sort of basic “movie making” software, so if that’s enough for you and you’re comfortable with it, keep using it.

Adobe Premiere Pro

You can get this from the same spot you got Adobe Photoshop (here, in case you don’t feel like scrolling)—it’s the last program on the list. This is the whole package—tons of features, very powerful, and all-around awesome. There are tons of free tutorials online, and you can do just about anything using this program.

VideoPad Video Editor

Another, simpler program is VideoPad. It’s free as long as you aren’t using it for commercial business, but you can do some great free and promotional content, as well as fun, just-for-you stuff. It’s a great starter program, but it’s plenty powerful enough for you to use all through your video-making days.

Stock Photography

FreeImages

Check out FreeImages, which provides you with a ton of free photography you can use in blog posts, videos, presentations, or whatever else. Some can be used freely, others request notification and an attribution (this is as simple as putting the link to the uploader’s profile as a little watermark on the bottom of the picture and leaving a comment on the picture’s page telling the uploader that you’re using it).

 

I’ll update this list as I go, and if you have any suggestions, please do share in the comments! You’ll get credit, and if you’d like to share your experiences with the program, I’ll add those to the post as well.

Channeling Energy Where You Want It To Go

There are a lot of times when you’re going to have to channel energy into something else. We often find ourselves angry, depressed, antsy, or even happy with no real way to express it. Or maybe there are some ways we can think of expressing it, but they could get us in trouble…or in jail.

So. What to do.

When the energy needs to be expressed physically, it’s a little easier. You can exercise—go for a walk or a run, play a little basketball, whatever. I run around my house sporadically, much like a cat.

BAM! Ow...

A Day in the Life of Eve: Exhibit A

However, this isn’t necessarily the most productive way to spend that energy. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it, but sometimes, there’s an actually useful or important thing you want to get done. Even if it’s just important to you, like learning a musical instrument or learning to code or writing a book. (Basically things I “wasted time” on as a teen and am now using to earn a living. So yeah, enjoy those “frivolous” pursuits, kids!)

There are a few good ways to handle this:

Meditate

Daily meditation is actually one of the best things you can do for yourself. You’ve probably already heard that, but it seriously is.

There’s no “right or wrong” with meditation, especially if you’re new to the practice. You can start with just five minutes a day. There are lots of guided meditations on YouTube, or available as free downloads online—here are a few. If you can’t do five minutes, do one. Just breathe, and don’t worry about “clearing your mind” (that’s actually VERY rare and usually only achieved by highly trained monks who’ve been practicing meditation for hours a day every day for years). Just let your thoughts kind of drift by, like leaves on a river, and try not to focus on any one too strongly. Really, it’s just about taking a few moments for yourself, to get away from everything, even just mentally.

Meditation gives you greater control over your mind, your emotions, and your energy, thus making channeling energy a natural, simple thing.

Get Some Space (Or Get Away)

Sometimes, you just need to be alone for a while. A little distance, a little solitude, can do a lot to focus the mind. If you can, lock yourself in your room, put on some music, get away from distracting sites (Twitter is my weakness, personally), and get to work. Do whatever you need to do to get yourself away from the needs and demands and updates of others, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes. This will help you channel that energy in one direction—the direction of your choosing—rather than scattering it all over the place.

For me, one of the best things I can do is go to a coffee shop. This works for me because the environment suits writing, which is my primary creative pursuit. It’s also pretty good for drawing or learning a new skill online. With music, I have fewer options, but I find ways. When everyone is out of the house (which is rare, living with four other people), or when they’re all watching a movie or something, and I can slip away into my room and carve out some quiet time with my guitar. Whatever your personal circumstances are, I know you can find a way to make it work.

Make A Plan

A plan makes you think consciously about whatever it is you want to do, and accomplish. When you make a plan, you sit down and make decisions in a very deliberate and focused manner.

The plan is not something that necessarily dictate exactly what’s going to happen next—things rarely go according to plan. The important thing is to have a plan, so that you have direction. Be prepared to grow with the plan, and to reorient it if the need arises, but also do what you can to stick to your plan.

The objective is to get motivated, to get direction, and to get moving.

A word of caution: Don’t do what I used to do and get stuck in “planning mode”. I’d plan and plan and plan and never execute, which is just as useful as doing nothing at all. Planning is good. Action is better. Plan first, but then attack!

If you have your own methods, that’s even better! Do what works for you, do what feels right, and play with other stuff until you find your perfect method for directing energy into projects you want to accomplish.

Directing the flow of energy is a vital and useful skill that you’ll value for your entire life, so I’d highly recommend making it a priority—that energy in you can be wasted, or it can be used to do something that will have meaning to you years from now, and the cool thing is that’s entirely up to you. :)

 

P.S.

If you have any ways to focus and direct energy that I haven’t mentioned, I would love to hear them! Let me know if the comments and I’ll add them to this post and credit you for the idea!