A place where I control all the laws

“The key point is that I wasn’t trying to make a big business. I was just daydreaming about how one little thing would look in a perfect world.
When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws. This is your utopia.”

​These words are from Derek Sivers’ Anything You Want. It tells the story of how Sivers created CD Baby, which went on to sell for $22 million.

I’m not an entrepreneur. I have no intentions of starting a company in the near future. But that doesn’t mean I don’t read and learn about entrepreneurship. Because entrepreneurship is a mindset more than a skillset. It’s a way of seeing the surrounding landscape and assessing it for risk and opportunity. And that mindset applies to more than building a company. It is applicable to your life and your career as well. While you may not be a founder of a company, you are the head decision maker in your own life. It’s up to you to determine the direction, create strategies, allocate resources and make the moves. 

This week, I moved into a new place. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about it. Except one thing which is remarkable to me. We have a spare room. 

Most spare rooms double as storage containers. They’re deposits for junk. Overflow areas for clothes and possessions. Sometimes there’s a spare bed too. Not this spare room. This spare room is my study. I’m sat in it right now. Above my desk I have my whiteboard. There’s notecards hung off of it with important ideas. Behind me is a wall of bookshelves. And a window-sill-of-honor for some of my classics.

Some of our friends think this is over the top. “Why does Matt get an entire room all to himself?” They think it’s unreasonable. I, naturally, think it’s completely reasonable. 

Ryan Holiday wrote this great piece about his pet goats. Consider the following passage:

“It’s sad. You realize most of the things that people want are very much within their reach…excepting the psychological and personal barriers they put up to block themselves. They live in cities that make them miserable, they date or hook up when really what they want is a relationship, they claim to want to be an ________ yet they’re a ______ for a living instead, they say they love animals but set up a life where they don’t have any. I don’t get it. Life is short. Doing ridiculous things is good–but most of what people want to do isn’t even ridiculous. They’re more than entitled to want/have/live it but they don’t. Because they are afraid.”

That’s how I feel when people ask about the study. Or comment on the fact that we use our garage as a gym. And as a space for practising Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Confused. Concerned. I want to scream that it isn’t unreasonable or overly demanding.

The study and the garage may not be a business, but they are my utopia. They are, in Derek Sivers’ terms, my little universe. A place where I control all the laws. They’re aren’t extravagant or world bending. They’re small, simple things that provide a disproportionate benefit to my life. 

To get them, I did two things. I identified what I wanted, and asked whether it was possible. It was. So when we were choosing a house, we made sure we got it.

It really is as simple as that.