Dear Financial Samurais,
Kate Spade’s suicide was a shock. Here’s a woman who seemingly had it all: fame, fortune, and family. Yet she still ended her life at the age of 55. She had been fighting depression for many years.
Her suicide is the first time I’ve been able to relate because as an entrepreneur it’s common to struggle with anxiety and doubt on a daily basis. The greater your success, the higher your anxiety due to greater expectations.
She and her husband also sold their business when they had their first child, just like how we sold our SF rental house when our son was born to make more time for him.
On post days, I naturally wake up 1-3 hours earlier than my normal 6am because I’m worried I have a typo, a link error, or might receive some sort of backlash. Such anxiety is one of the reasons why I’m considering removing the comments section and making my posts more bland going forward.
It’s also extremely painful to spend hours, days, months, and sometimes years creating something new and have nobody appreciate your work.
The reason why I waited three years to start Financial Samurai was because I was embarrassed by my writing. What if nobody reads? It was a very lonely endeavor the first six months. Even my dad, who is my editor ’til this day, tears up my content every week. That’s his job, but sometimes, it would be nice to hear an “attaboy.”
The reason why I waited a year to publish the Cutie Baby lullaby page is because I was embarrassed by my voice and lyrics. What if nobody listens? Not even my wife listened to my podcast with the song a couple hours after I asked her a second time that morning. She was too busy taking care of our son, who is the reason why I podcast and created the song in the first place. No matter, I plan to continue podcasting for the remainder of the year because that’s what I said I’d do.
A Glimpse Into My Anxiety
Below is a snapshot of how many revisions I made last year while creating my how to copyright a song post. Then I had a eight month gap and made another 20+ revisions before finally pressing publish.
Many of my posts have 20+ revisions because of the desire to produce good content, but also due to anxiety. I’m always worried that I’ll have some error that I missed, which is often. Every post is better a week after it’s published because I go back and edit it even more.
So when people ask me how I’m able to publish 3X a week for years, the only thing I can say is to have an unwavering focus to keep on going despite all the pain and worry.
And months later, here’s a bunch of new edits eight months after the last, before pressing publish.
Take The Pain And Keep On Fighting
It’s much, much easier not to take any risks. You will get to lead a safe, but mundane life if you keep within the confines of society’s expectations. But I will say it is much more rewarding to create something of your own. You must take the pain and keep on going. If you last long enough, eventually, something good will happen to you.
Financial Samurai’s break came when The LA Times picked up a post about the importance of getting an umbrella policy if you have a teenager in 2010. It was a random post about my encounter with a teenager who flicked me off during a road rage incident. I had been toiling away for six months to no avail.
The next time someone criticizes your work, ask them to share something unique they’ve done. Chances are high they haven’t done a thing. With this knowledge, hopefully you can feel better knowing that at least you tried.
The truth of the matter is, NOBODY will care more about your work than you. Everybody is too busy living their own lives to care about yours. This is why creators always set themselves up for disappointment.
Whatever we think is good enough to put out there will likely not be received as enthusiastically by others. It’s like seeing all the beauty in your child and none of his or her “imperfections.” Once reality hits, you can’t help but take things personally.
Find Help Beyond Family
Andy, Kate’s husband said, “We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling.”
It was then that I realized relying on family for mental support is not enough. The people closest to us are used to our idiosyncrasies. They often can’t see the pain we go through because they naturally take us for granted. We also take their support for granted. It’s often too embarrassing for those of us in pain to open up to siblings, a spouse, or parents when we need help. We don’t want to feel like a burden.
This is why we need outside support.
For those of you who are suffering through anxiety and depression, I hear you loud and clear. Sadly, your loved ones simply are not enough. Find your tribe of individuals who are going through what you’re going through. The support of a stranger can make all the difference.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please consider the following:
1) Visit the suicide resources page where you don’t have to talk to anyone. Sometimes you just want to listen, read, and text chat.
2) Reduce the pain by reducing the amount of risk you are taking. No risk is worth death. Instead of constantly putting yourself out there, take a long break. Be a regular person. Take a vacation. Meditate. Go on very long walks where you enjoy the present.
3) Delegate more tasks to others. As an entrepreneur or primary breadwinner, it often feels like the weight of the world is always on your shoulders. It’s easy to drive ourselves crazy trying to do everything. Instead, give more work to colleagues, friends, and spouses and directly ask them to take charge.
4) Think about the people who need you.
About the Author: Sam began investing his own money ever since he opened an online brokerage account in 1995. Sam loved investing so much that he decided to make a career out of investing by spending the next 13 years after college working at two of the leading financial service firms in the world. During this time, Sam received his MBA from UC Berkeley with a focus on finance and real estate. He also became Series 7 and Series 63 registered. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $200,000 a year in passive income. He spends time playing tennis, hanging out with family, consulting for leading fintech companies and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom.
FinancialSamurai.com was started in 2009 and is one of the most trusted personal finance sites today with over 1.5 million organic pageviews a month. Financial Samurai has been featured in top publications such as the LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal.