Imagine, for a moment, that you’re walking down the street and see a sign for Free Tattoos.
You’ve been pinning tattoos for months and you have so many ideas for a new tattoo! You really want one and this person is giving them away for FREE!
So you go and get it, right?
Because free beats not free, right?
We both know you don’t take a free tattoo because um, lives-on-your-body-forever equals I-want-to-pay-for-expertise-and-artistry, thank you very much.
We’re incredibly careful about what we put on our bodies if we know it’s going to stick around forever.
Most of us are even careful about what we put into our bodies. (I’m assuming you don’t live exclusively on Diet Coke and Doritos, thus indicating some level of careful-ness.)
But what about we put into our minds?
All of the things we consume — social media feeds, movies, books, TV shows, online ephemera, music, podcasts, classes, videos, and courses — become part of our hearts and minds.
We pretend that consuming violence or the latest dystopian series doesn’t lead to nightmares, and we convince ourselves that consuming exclusively mopey sad stuff doesn’t lead to our own sadness.
We even pretend Facebook is a happy, shiny place that makes our lives better! (Or at least, I pretended all those things for a long time! This is what happened when I quit.)
Further. We download endless (shitty, shitty) free stuff and hope it will turn our business/life/marriage/relationship/soul around.
It took me a good solid five years of being in business to get a handle on the Downloading of ALL the Free.
I wish someone had said this to me:
You’re allowed to get pickier.
I was raised in a family where cleaning your plate was a cardinal virtue. Read: override your body’s signal that you’re full.
I shopped exclusively in thrift stores until I got a job of my own at age 15, so I was also raised to deal with too-short sleeves and much-too-big clothing that made me feel ‘meh’ on the daily. Read: override the desire to wear clothing on the outside that matches your insides.
Free always beat not-free — the family picnic table was garbage-picked and lasted from age 7 until I went to college — and that lesson went all the way to my core.
Free beat cheap, and cheap always beat ‘wasting money’ on anything expensive.
Getting pickier (or picky, of any kind, nevermind the -ier) has been extremely difficult for me.
It has taken years to learn to try a piece of clothing on first, see if it fits and if I love it, and then to check the price tag.
It’s taken even longer to ask, ‘Would I pay twice as much for this?’ before I’m willing to take it out of the store.
Being picky is how to build a wardrobe you adore.
Being picky is, of course, how to build a business you adore, too.
When you listen to the advice of everyone and their brother because they have an X-figure business, or because you ‘should’ learn about a topic, or because he, she, or they are really popular right now, you’re not being picky.
You’re allowing your brain to be influenced by people you don’t adore. (YUP I’m using the word *adore* on purpose.)
Adoration makes it easy to answer these questions:
⚡️ If every free thing you downloaded was going to be tattooed on your arm, how much would you consume?
⚡️ If every podcast jingle you heard or guest you listened to was going to live in your dreams for the next seven nights in a row, how many episodes would you listen in on?
⚡️ If every free report, PDF, or video promising some kind of silver bullet was going to be streamed straight to the ears of everyone you adore, how much would you listen to before having mercy on their ears?
⚡️ If every free online course, PDF, book, video, e-mail drip, or webinar you’ve ever downloaded zapped $20 out of your bank account right now, would you be instantly broke?
My guess is that you’d be down about $2,480 and out at least two full work weeks of time. Do you feel that you’ve gotten $2,480 worth of value from all those downloads? Can you remember a single one that changed your business or your being? (Not including all the wonders you get in the Fuck Yah Club, of course? ;))
You’re allowed to get pickier.
Instead of consuming the voices (and downloads and classes and ALL THE THINGS) of ten to fifty people you sort of like, listen in on a handful of people you absolutely adore. Pay close attention to them *and only them* for a few months.
Pay attention to the changes that come about when you get pickier.
See if the way you feel about the world shifts when you narrow your consumption of mental stimuli from everything ever to a few trusted voices and a handful of their best (read: paid) materials. Related: how to quit Facebook and Reclaim your energy, become a quitter.
See if you use and value that which you pay for any more than that which you nab for free.
And see if you can begin to be even pickier with your preferences.
See if it helps to unfollow her, and unsubscribe from him, and stop paying any attention to Oprah’s SuperSoul 100 just because they made it onto that list.
If someone doesn’t make you vibrate with truth to the core of your being, stop listening to them.
If *I* don’t make you vibrate with truth to the core of your being, stop listening to me!
I want to talk to and reach and work with and help only those people who trust me with nothing less than their freaking souls — and if some part of you doesn’t trust me all the way down to your core, it’s okay to stop giving me any attention.
I dare you to curate your social media feeds, your downloads, your podcasts, your e-mail lists, and your book selections as consciously as you curate your groceries, your beauty products, your clothing choices, and your household items.
We deserve better than an endless stream of free reports and $x,000-making silver bullets.
We deserve soul and wonder, awe and delight.
We deserve to do our work in the world with as much joy as possible, and we deserve to do it with people who bring out the best in us.
TL; DR The ‘Free is Better’ belief is untrue. My best work is incredibly intimate and costs money because (I run a business and) it takes a huge portion of my time and energy to create.
Your best work isn’t free, either.
P.S. This is an episode of the That’s What She Said podcast, and I’ll read the whole dealio to you right here:
If you’d like to listen to another podcast like this one, I recommend Input and getting way more done.