What Getting Sober Has Taught Me About Entrepreneurship & Life

Having an addictive personality fucking sucks. Majority of people go through life being able to deal with things in moderation. That’s not me. Whether it’s gambling or drinking, ever since I hit 18 I’ve always had trouble dealing with these addictions. I mean, I’ve even written about it before in a blog post called “How Making Money Online Lost Me to Gambling”; a recount of how I lost tens of thousands of dollars gambling whilst I was still a teenager. You would have thought that would have been a wake up call to get my shit together but in a classic example of history repeating itself, I’m writing about it again. So last month I decided to finally get my shit together.

I had my last drink on Sunday, 7th of August, 2016. I didn’t know beforehand that it was going to be the last, it was just the next morning when I felt completely overwhelmed with everything in my life and knew that in order to get my life together I would need to cut out alcohol. For the past 3 years my life has been a bit of a mess with the last 18 months being the absolute worst in my life. I don’t know exactly how my life went down this road but I do know that I was out of control and needed to make a change. I was destroying my body, my relationships, my projects & my bank account. To give you an idea of how bad things have gotten:

  • There were weekdays I was passed out before midday. I would start a bottle of bourbon in the morning, pass out before 1pm, wake up at 8pm & do it all over again.
  • There were days I would be coming home early in the morning from a big night out and stopping at the liquor store just as they opened. I mixed up the liquor stores I went to to prevent seeing the same people everyday.
  • When I was drinking I would always feel like shit which would persuade me to do some random acts of kindess; whether it was jumping on the Reddit /r/assistance subreddit and buying random people thousands of dollars worth of crap, or sending people I’ve hired in the past hundreds of dollars via PayPal for no specific reason.
  • I was a really bad drunk messenger which has destroyed a lot of my relationships. It was only recently that I was told that someone no longer talked to me because I was always fucked up. That brings up the constant apologies the next day for whatever I said. The absolute worst however was recently being told by somebody I really liked that they “were used to” my drunk, sometimes abusive messages. They’re just 2 examples however I could fill up this entire blog post with more examples. Fucked up right?
  • After too many drinks I would feel like I was wasting time, but would feel better if I was still making money which lead me back down to gambling. Gambling was something I thought I could do to earn quick money without doing any sort of work. In the past 3 years I wouldn’t hesitate to say I’ve lost over $100,000 gambling.

My benders would go on for days & I would eventually learn that I can’t do moderation; I’ve found that I have an all or nothing type personality. Good for some things, terrible for others. So I made the decision to stop & here is what I’ve learnt so far.

 

You can’t rush forward.

 

In August, 2015, Dan & I launched Random Useful Websites. The website went somewhat viral receiving over 500,000 clicks in the first 24 hours. It was popular on Reddit having gained over 2,700 upvotes and was also very popular on Product Hunt getting over 850 upvotes and topping Product Hunt for the day. It sounds like a dream launch however looking back at the project; it shouldn’t have been rushed. From beginning to launch, it took us maybe 2 days. That involved the extremely simple design & development, finding the useful websites & getting everything organised. Had we put the launch off, had the website properly designed & developed, added a few other features and went in with a plan the website could have been a lot bigger. We’re working on doing that now, but every day that passes the less relevant the site is becoming. We rushed and made mistakes, it’s that simple.

It’s the same situation for dealing with sobriety, the steps have to be slow and precise. I’m not sure how I’ll react just yet in social settings so I’ve avoided large social gatherings & places where alcohol is going to be consumed. It was only the first weekend of being sober that I was invited out with a group of friends & I was getting ready to leave I talked myself out of it, I didn’t think I would have the self-restraint to not drink. I can’t rush this part of my life.

 

You don’t get 2nd chances.

 

If you follow me on Twitter or even read Sofa Moolah, you’ll know that during the entire Ship Your Enemies Glitter saga I was pretty much intoxicated the entire time which ruined a lot of opportunities for me. For example:

  • Being too drunk to realize that once removing the order form we should have added a subscription form. With a background in marketing & lead generation, this should have been my first thought. 3 days after the website went viral one finally went up & by the time the website sold had amassed over 10,000 email subscribers. Had I added this feature sooner, that number could have easily been past the 50,000 mark and the selling price could have been a lot higher.
  • Turning down pretty much every media opportunity that wasn’t an email interview. Not only would this have increased traffic, sales & probably even the final selling price, it could have helped increase my own exposure that I could leverage for future projects.

Now this isn’t mean regretting the experience, it’s just reflection on something I would have done differently if I was thinking clearly.

I mean, this also applies to relationships that I thought would always be there & that I took for granted. There’s only so much a person can take from someone that is constantly intoxicated & it eventually gets too much & they rightly flee. This has happened way too many times for me; good people that I got along with fucking off because I was always fucked up. I wish I could go back in time and fix these things but I can’t; there are no 2nd chances here.

 

Time disappears very quickly.

 

I’m happiest when I’m working on a fun idea. Whether that’s something simple like a website that opens up a shitload of cat GIFs that eventually cause your browser to crash or a bigger project such as Where’s MH370 my self-published search & find activity book. In Where’s MH370’s case, the project was somewhat time sensitive. When I was working on the book it felt as if I had a deadline that was approaching extremely fast, the search was heating up and debris was starting to be found. The idea of the plane being found and the book not being launched put a lot of pressure on my shoulders and instead of focusing and getting shit done, I resorted to drinking to ease the stress. It’s such a stupid idea looking back at it however my head wasn’t in a good place and that’s how it went down.

When you head down this road time disappears extremely quickly. Drinking on a Monday destroys any progress for that day and erases basically any productivity for the next day, what with dealing with the hangover and motivating yourself to get out of bed and work on shit. What I’ve learnt the past month is how much more time I’ve had during the days to just get shit done. My productivity has gone through the roof, ideas are starting to come back naturally and I’m excited to be working on new projects.

 

Quick advice for other entrepreneurs struggling with addiction.

 

Having your back against the wall is something an entrepreneur has to deal with everyday. Addiction is just another brick wall we have to break down to move forward however you do have to acknowledge that it is a wall and it is something that needs to go. Without acknowledgement you’re going to keep running into it and eventually that wall will fall down on you. If you need help, hit me up.

 

Mat

1 Comment

HC

about 2 years ago

Congratulations on facing your demons Mat and for sharing your story! You are an incredible man

Reply

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