Personal Motivation Through Austrian Economics
by Todd Steinberg
time studying the basics of Austrian economics, I would often help
friends out in a fix by telling them to think of it in the way an
Austrian would, and they’d thank me for the advice. So when my talented
character designer and storyboard artist confessed to possibly sliding
into a bout of depression brought on by artist’s block, I took it
upon myself to write a letter unleashing everything I knew about
Austrian economics to lift him out of his funk.
All six billion
of us on this planet have equal access to the one finite commodity
of infinite value – time. You can do whatever you want with
your time and what we do with our time will determine our
ultimate happiness or misery. Key to this is our ability to
manage our time. If someone offered you permanent billionaire
status, but in exchange you had to work from sun up to sundown with
no weekends or vacations, and with only enough free time in a day
to eat a meal and get four hours sleep, you'd turn it down, because
no amount of money is worth all your time. However,
if the same person offered you billionaire status for 10 hours of
work a day, five days a week, you'd listen, because giving some
of your time now for future gain is beneficial
to our long-term happiness. Unless you are a slave, what you
do with your time is a voluntary transaction that is done deliberately
and with your prior consent. That is to say, we actually do
have free will; our time is our property and what we decide to do
with it is nobody's choice but our own.
our access to time as a commodity is choosing what we do with it.
Like all great accomplishments, they are preceded by great actions,
and great actions are preceded by plans. So by listing your
goals in life, or for the next ten years, or even one year, you've
just taken your first step towards using your time to create a better
life for yourself. If you have no plans, then your actions
have no deliberate long-term value. At that point, you are
living only for the day and you can expect no change in your life
as a result from the voluntary use of your time. I have my
life's goals listed on my MySpace page, with the current goal's
steps listed in my electronic to-do list. Some people have
it in a diary, posted on a wall near their bed, etched on their
skin as a tattoo, whatever. It doesn't matter how you make
your goals, but actually having goals rather than not
having them is what counts. Planned goals lead to relevant
actions, which lead to completed goals. Completed goals are
accomplishments and having many accomplished goals under your belt
leads to a purposeful and fulfilling life.
relative: We don't have to make plans to enact world peace, feed
the poor, save the rainforest, etc. in order to be truly happy.
Each person assigns his own subjective value as to what makes him
happy. For Mother Teresa, she would be despondent if she could
not have devoted her life to serving the poor. Whereas if
a Wall Street tycoon was forced to live the rest of his life comforting
lepers in Calcutta, he would find himself miserable. So if
someone comes to you and says, "we know what would make you happy..."
they are probably wrong since you are the ultimate determiner of
what makes you happy. Some people want a big house; others
would rather have a small house so they can save the money to travel
around the world. Some people enjoy using their hands to make
a living; others would rather get a degree so they can work in an
office. If devoting your life to collecting porcelain Hummel
figurines brings you fulfillment and happiness, then so be it.
You wouldn’t be "wasting your time" even if the rest of the world
feels that Hummel figurines are ugly and not worth the ceramic they're
crafted from. Your happiness is completely contingent on what
you value, not your neighbor, not society; nobody has
the power to determine your happiness.
art is what brings you sublime happiness, then that has more value
than a life spent acquiring fleets of private jets and yachts.
If someone came to me and said, "Todd, forget your TV show, here's
a few million dollars... now go on and do something worthwhile."
I'd reply, "Sir, thank your for your offer, but eventuating my show
is completely necessary to my long-term happiness and sense of accomplishment.
I am not out to become a millionaire as a result of the cartoon...
my art and the ability to share that with millions of others is
the goal, not to acquire material wealth. I would be a miserable
millionaire if I could not produce my art and share my stories and
life with others."
act but make no plans, some people plan but take no actions, but
some people make plans and take action towards those plans.
Those are the people we should strive to emulate. At the end
of the day, your actions are a result of what you prefer to do.
Here is a common lie: "I'd prefer to do X, but for now I
have to do Y." Your actions are what your prefer
to do. You can't say, "I want to go to school, so I can earn
a degree, so I can become a corporate executive, so I can stop mopping
floors," if for years you've never so much as filled out a single
college application. At this point, your actions have determined
that you prefer to mop floors than to take the steps necessary to
get your career in corporate America. In other words, you've
proven yourself to be full of it.
you told me how you would often fall into a rut and it depresses
you, which leads you into long stretches of nonproductivity.
We all have a monkey on our back in one respect or another.
Everyone conquers this differently, but I bet if you take it one
day at time, it will be easier if for one day you falter. So in
your case, try thinking of each day as a new day filled with a fresh
24 hours that you can use to apply yourself productively.
In your mind, by deciding to make each day independent of the other,
the non-accomplishments of one day won't bleed into the next day
or the next week and so on.
as you know, the creation of this show is very important to me.
When I signed you up and paid you money, it was because I valued
your services more than I valued the money and likewise you chose
to accept the money because you valued that more than you what you
could have alternatively done with your time. When I saw your
initial sketches and storyboards, I realized that I had picked the
right person, someone who had talent but was under-utilized.
In other words, I had faith that you're right guy for the job.
Now faith is the essence of things hoped for and the evidence of
things unseen. When you make a plan, you put faith into accomplishing
it since you have no visible proof that you can actually make it
happen. However, once you take actions to fulfill that plan,
you are proving your faith, if you will.
So I have faith
that you will soon be able to masterfully balance work, family,
and your leisure time so that you can adequately devote the time
and energy to our project. You are doing fine now, and as
we progress, we'll no doubt be putting more time into it.
Surely, as we work together, our fruits will inspire us to create
more, so I feel it will mentally become easier as we further realize
the project. Ultimately, it's up to us making sound choices
and decisions to allow us to cooperate more efficiently and effectively.
Like I said before though, this is a day-by-day thing, and for every
hour of work we put in, we can see the results. However, my
biggest inspiration is knowing that this idea is our best chance
to become successful artists in our own right and to springboard
into other creative avenues.
people believe that comics and cartoons are trivial at best or wasteful
at worst, but you and I know the power of words and pictures and
its ability to change the hearts of men. We are not out to
please them, but to please our future fans and ourselves.
Our art is beyond work, it's beyond "making a living,"
it's about making a little bit of yourself known in the world and
perhaps changing it for the better in our own small way.
[send him mail] works with
his family at a wholesale teddy bear company in Dallas. In his spare
time he is furiously working on his cartoon, "Don’t Tell My
Wife I’m a Cult Leader," which he plans to unleash on the Internet
and beyond in 2008.
© 2008 LewRockwell.com