On rejecting delusion, accepting reality, and stepping into freedom
I didn’t expect to publish a post here today, but as I worked on The Forest this morning, this post about making hard tradeoffs emerged, and seemed like a good fit to share. So here we are. Hope you enjoy this lil excerpt from The Forest! 🌲
Any path you take through the world of creative entrepreneurship will come with difficult tradeoffs. For our purposes in The Forest, let's consider two broad paths you might take towards 1,000 true fans, and the tradeoffs likely to come with each.
Play the short game, and prioritize certainty and control, and you trade off your sense of long-term aliveness and creative fulfillment.
Play the long game, and prioritize aliveness, and you trade off certainty and control, especially when it comes to short-term financial outcomes.
Most of us end up on the first path, playing the short game, by default. It's the cultural story we're handed, and we all have a desire for control baked into our psyche. Problems arise when we don't expect the tradeoffs inherent in that path. For instance, creator culture tells us that niching down will get us everything we've ever wanted. So we do, and when the aliveness disappears and we feel creatively trapped, it feels like we've failed, like it's us that's broken instead of the story. This is perhaps the greatest source of suffering in the creator world. Being sold a specific story about how things should be—a story that doesn't mention the tradeoffs—and then being disappointed when our expectations don't align with reality.
Ungated exists, and looks like it does, because I've played the short game a lot, and I learned about its tradeoffs the hard way. At this point, I know I'm not willing to operate that way anymore with my own creative work and business. The long game is the more resonant path for me, even though I'm trading off some things that would be nice to have. Believe me, I would love to feel a sense of control and certainty in my work. Persistent ambiguity is fucking obnoxious. But I've accepted it, because I'm no longer willing to pay the price required to feel maximally in control.
This is my path, and my choice. But remember, The Forest isn't about me telling you what to do. It's about you, walking your own path, and making your own empowered decisions. Only you know what you value most in this moment. And only you get to choose which tradeoffs you're most willing to accept in pursuit of your own definition of a flourishing life.
As you continue navigating through The Forest, I'd like to invite you to make empowered decisions at each new crossroads. An empowered decision is one where you understand and accept the tradeoffs inherent in each choice in front of you, and choose the path that feels most resonant and alive, knowing that it won't be perfect.
The thing about tradeoffs is they're emotionally difficult to make. Expect it to be hard. But more than that, expect [[Emotional Avoidance]]1 to wreak havoc if you ignore those tradeoffs, or try to cleverly maneuver around them. When we build our lives around avoiding uncomfortable truths and emotions, nobody wins, least of all us. So no matter the path you're choosing, make sure to seek out and acknowledge potential tradeoffs. Welcome these tradeoffs into your reality, and feel your way through them. Really feel the loss, the helplessness, the sacrifice, in your body and soul. Until you've internalized and felt a tradeoff, you haven't truly accepted it. It'll be uncomfortable, but rest assured that on the other side of acceptance is freedom.
Rob’s Daily Invitation
This post is an excerpt from The Forest, which will be subtitled “the missing instruction manual for 1,000 true fans.” If you couldn’t tell, this won’t be your average book or course about internet marketing. We’re gonna get into the deeper, soul-level emotional alchemy required to do creative work that brings you alive, and build a flourishing, connected life around it. You game?
When I use [[Double Brackets]] like this, it means I’m referencing another page in The Forest. This is primarily how you will navigate through The Forest, by jumping from page to page based on what feels most alive and resonant for you. Gonna be a pretty cool experiment in non-linear education.