Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Articles → What if you didn’t need money or attention?

You know that feeling you have after a big meal? Where you’re so full that you really actively don’t want anything more?

Ever wonder what that would feel like in other parts of your life?

We do so many things for the attention, to feel important or praised. But what if you had so much attention and so much praise that you couldn’t possibly want any more? What would you do then? What would you stop doing?

We do so many things for the money. It’s so deeply built into our culture that it takes a real effort to realize it’s the reason behind so many of our actions. But what if you had so much money that you couldn’t possibly want any more? What would you do then? What would you stop doing?

And then…

If you stopped doing all these things you’re just doing for the money, or the attention, what’s left? Who are you, if you don’t do these things?

Many of my friends are touring musicians. One has been quite unhappy with it lately. She realized it was once a dream, but now she’s just doing it for the fear of being forgotten. But if she stops, what’s left? She’s defined herself by this pursuit for so long.

Many of my friends are entrepreneurs. A few have mentioned this deep hollow conflicted feeling. Their business ideas are not things the world wants. They’re following the current tech entrepreneur stereotype, building social apps and pursuing investors. They’re hating it, and having to admit they’re doing it only for the jackpot. But if they stop, what’s left?

If you were completely satiated, then what?

After an understandable period of relaxing, what would you pursue?

Not just “sit around and do nothing”, because that’s still just relaxing. I mean after that, when you’re ready to be useful to others again.

What would you do then, if you didn’t need the money, and didn’t need the attention?

Yes, we need money to live. We need attention to live, too.

But I find it healthy to make sure they are just side effects of doing good work, or living a good life.

(Photo by ZeroOne).