My Dream and the Truth About Coffee Shop Millionaires

By Jonathan Goodman | Follow Him on Twitter

“How many hours a week do you work?”

I sat for a minute before responding.

“Do I give the short or long answer to his simple question?” I thought. This past week I moved and, as a result, worked a total of 5hrs. Everything got done, 426 new email subscribers were added, thePTDC Facebook page reached 100s of thousands of people, books were sold, and more than enough money was made.

So on one hand I could work 5hrs every week. My jobs would be:

  • Touching base with my social media manager, administrative assistants, and content manager.
  • Formatting two articles and setting emails to go.
  • Email response.

The reality is quite different.

I could work 5hrs/wk but I don’t. I freakin’ love working. The truth is that I was miserable this week because I couldn’t find the time to work.

I should start by admitting that I am not a millionaire. I’ve created a life of personal and financial freedom and my businesses grow each month but I’m not putting on my swim trunks and flippy floppies just yet.

But Didn’t You Go to Hawaii for 6 Months? Wasn’t That Chill?

Yes. Many of you know that I recently returned from Hawaii. I was there for 6 months working remotely. What few people know is the reason why I decided to go.

I wasn’t happy.

Shutting off from the World and becoming a vagabond in tropical locations was never my goal. I didn’t start a website because I wanted to quit my job, make people jealous, or give a giant FU to “the man”. I did it simply because I felt like it and It appealed to me.

But as the website grew I became obsessed and, in that process, a jerk. I didn’t become a jerk in my online persona. I become a jerk to my friends and family. Suddenly everything was about me, my business, my success, and my interests. I forgot how to interact with others or support and make time for people I cared about and caused irreparable harm to relationships I held dear.

So I ran away because it was the only option.

In order to take back control of my personal and professional life that had spiraled out of control I isolated myself. Purposely I took myself to a remote region of Oahu and shut off contact from the rest of the World. In my notepad while listening to the waves I wrote everything down. It took 2.5 months for me to dump every thought out of my head onto paper. I had one rule: Everything had to be written down.

Before long I learned what was important to me and what wasn’t. There’s so much bullshit in our World that can be ignored but in order to do so you must train yourself. Like everything else worth having, this takes concentrated effort, hard work, and sacrifice. Nobody else can influence you in your decisions to be honest with yourself and, for me, the only way to make sense of what I really thought was to run away.
coffee shop millionaire

I know it sounds exotic. A single 27 year old guy sitting with a notepad writing down his thoughts on the beach, but it wasn’t. For 6 months I had no social or romantic life. Have you ever gone 5 days without speaking to another person? It’s petrifying. But silence is special, silence allows one to be honest with oneself; moments of silence ———————— are part of the music.

“Silence is special, silence allows one to be honest with oneself; moments of silence ———————— are part of the music.” – Click to Tweet

The first 5 days of silence were horrible, the second was bad, third was manageable, and the fourth was a life-changing experience.

Now, let me be honest and tell you why I do what I do and why I’m Just Now living My Dream

Oratory is empty if it has not been field-tested on the battlefield of experience. And I have little use for those who write beautifully and live sordidly; or those who withdraw from the world and issue instructions for how to live in it[…] – Robert Fulgum

Get rich quick schemes only make the person selling the scheme get rich. Building a life of freedom, abudance, and fulfillment takes significant work and consistency.

My dream was never to quit my job–I loved personal training. I cried when I quit.

My dream was never to move to Hawaii–I love the sun and hate the cold but the real reason was to isolate myself so that I could finally focus, gain perspective, and have some serious introspection.

My dream was never to make a lot of money.

My dream was to create the life where I had the freedom to read and write all day

There have been ups and downs and, although I would have never admitted it at the time, I teetered on bankruptcy for months. Maybe this isn’t true about everybody in my position, but my dream was to create a life where I could read and write 10hrs/day. Without interruption, I wanted to be able to explore whatever crazy idea enters my mind before it has a chance to leave.

That’s the dream that I’m living. It’s not full of lavish vacations, sports cars, and multitudes of women. Maybe that’s a dream for you, but me, I’m happy with what I’ve got.

I don’t always read grown up books though :)

What’s Your Dream?

Let’s talk. Let me know what your dream is on Facebook below:



  1. Wow, you just described me! Well, add “and to run” into the dream life, and you’ve described me ;)

    I decided to not continue onto grad school, and instead join a new & small (but growing) shoe company. The pay is not great right now (easily gobbled up by school loans), but I get to write, read, and run as much as I want!

  2. Your social media managers are the BEST around!!! Just sayin…

    My dream: Hmm…Be a success doing what I LOVE to do.

  3. They’re pretty awesome, I agree.

  4. Wow, very inspiring. I can definitely relate to this article, as I sometimes shut out my friends and family in favor of working on my website or other work-related activities. It’s really eye-opening to see it happen to someone else, and I’m glad you’re sharing your experiences because there are so many going through the same problems.

    I feel you on wanting to read and write all day. Those are my two passions, and I hope to one day work my way up to the point where I can do both as much as possible.

    Again, thanks so much for sharing your experiences, keep up the outstanding work and keep inspiring.

    Jake Johnson

  5. Great article, Jon!

    You asked us to tell you what our dreams are.
    My dream is to make a good living through the combination of working for a fitness/nutrition company, fitness blogging, hosting running clinics for other people and personal training. :) That would be amazing!


  6. Yes, I have spent 5 days alone. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but I admire you for going there.

  7. One of the best articles you have written, Jon. I really appreciate the authenticity.

    My dream is to start an online physical therapy practice and make enough money to start and run an orphanage with my wife.

  8. A truly inspiring post that illustrates why honesty is the best policy.

  9. I love personal training my clients, but gets tough after a long day teaching middle school kids and possibly coaching as well, depending on the season. During the spring, I typically leave my apartment at 7am, and return sometimes after 10 pm.

    I enjoy all three, but know I can’t continue working at this pace for much longer. Trading time for money is something that I need to get away from.

    My dream would be to make a passive income online with (who doesn’t?) while training a few times per day in my own home garage gym. My niche is helping younger guys put on muscle and is the area in strength training/fitness that I am most passionate about.

    Making a significant amount of money to not live pay check to pay check and to pay off debt is my first financial goal that is helping to drive me right now.

    I know if I want to really build up my online presence and personal training business, I need to drop one or two of my professional responsibilities. I don’t have enough time to work on my personal brand/business, because I am always working at one of my three jobs. Kind of a catch-22 in a sense.

    I always think about guys like Bret Contreras or Zach Evan-Esh who gave up teaching to pursue their passion in strength training. I’m not quite there yet mentally, but I get the impression I would have to go this route if I really wanted to pursue this full-time and become successful.

    Jon, I enjoyed your honesty and reflection in this article and hopefully added to it with some of my own introspection.


  10. I love this article Jon, thanks for having the courage to write it. My dream is to be completely present with my kids whenever I want to be. And to spend the rest of my hours reading, and finding new and better ways to help others live their dream. I’m really close.

  11. Awesome! So great you’re really close. What’s left to do?

  12. Hmm…my dream? To be able to write and create content full-time that I enjoy but also helps other people better themselves whether they’re a trainer, student, or full-time working mom.

    You prove it can be done!

  13. Thanks for this Brad. Bret’s a good friend of mine and we’ve had a lot of chats about his decision to leave teaching. Whenever you decide to take the plunge it won’t be easy and the Catch-22 is a nasty one. What’s holding you back now?

  14. Thank you Glynis.

  15. Cool, thank you Matt. What spurned on the desire to start the orphanage? I’m curious.

  16. I would recommend it to everybody because I feel that shutting off all external noise and impulses is imperative to one’s development–but yeah, it sucks.

  17. Running huh? You run? Just kidding. Thank you and I’m super excited for your crazy upcoming run.

  18. Thanks Jake. What’s holding you back from making more of a transition now?

  19. Running is definitely not in my dream ;) Lifting heavy stuff and putting it back down is though. What type of running do you do?

  20. Conveniently you’re good at all of those things…

  21. May sound strange, but my dream is to leave this country and see the world. And no, it’s not just an idea of lazy girl who is searching for shortcuts. I realized that I’m in “wrong place” when I was may be 12 or so.
    Many young (and not so young) people in Russia don’t like life here. But some of them don’t even want to move, even if they have opportunities. They think life in Europe is “boring”. Another have a dream to move, not a goal. I’m neither with first nor with second. I spent too much time doing things I thought I have to do versus what I really love to do. So I can’t afford to waste my time anymore. People are most interesting part of any country. I really want to see them, meet them, make friends with them and possibly help them, if I can.

  22. As Always: Interesting, inspiring and thought-provoking.
    However, weird; a ‘complete opposite'; 1) young, 2) male, 3) far-out/on-the-other-side-of-the-globe living MY dream; reading and writing all day long.
    Fortunately (due to hard work within my dream field of fitness, lecturing about fitness and writing books about fitness) I have been able to live my/that dream most of the time. Now I am also dreaming of seeing more of the world, while reading and writing: Have smashed my piggy bank (all savings gone) and have started travelling more – until funds run dry.
    What happens then will be interesting!

  23. Jon, great post as usual. My dream is to eat well (healthy and yummy), experience the world for a while, communicate well, be relevant, love and be loved.

    “It means you get to decide what good is.” That’s how Seth Godin described “a good life” in an interview and I couldn’t stop thinking about it since.

    Here’s the link if you want to watch the whole interview

  24. Where would you go first Alyona?

  25. Haha, I love the thinking “What happens then will be interesting!”

    The stars have a funny way of aligning when they need to for those who follow their intuition, you’ll be good.

  26. As much of Seth’s stuff that I’ve seen/read, I must have missed that one. Thanks for the link. Maybe I’ll take a break later on today and check it out.

  27. I enjoy teaching, and the benefits and security obviously. I am hesitant to give that up without enough capital for my own facility, or enough clients to sustain business early on.

  28. Clement says:

    My dream is to set up my very own online personal training business and personal training studio. To do that, I know I first need to pay my dues and learn from the best in the industry. I know that if I work hard and stay patient, I can make my dreams a reality.

    The only thing standing in my way is a lack of business knowledge and overwillingness to help people out for free (my parents say I’m getting cheated by people).

  29. As long as you’re learning something from each experience and they’re willing to provide you ample feedback, you’re gaining from it. Thanks for the comment man!

  30. To be honest, I believe God has put the desire in my heart to pursue starting an orphanage.

  31. Jon, great honest piece. Thanks for sharing.

    What’s your plan for repairing relationships?


  32. I errr, uhhh, have no idea what you’re talking about…

  33. To Scandinavia. Contrary to many people, I love winter, seas and lakes and rough nature.

  34. Just so you know, I don’t receive your replies when I comment on your site even though the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” is ticked. Sad because I do want to be notified.

  35. I always thought I had a clear vision of what my dream is Jon but it is always a work in progress. I commend you for just being still and silent and clearing things up for yourself. Thanks for sharing!

    I’m gonna be doing 4 years of grad studies and Im pretty scared but this is a small step towards my dream.

    I want to run a facility that incorporates the health/wellness continuum from diseaseperformance and helping as much people as possible enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life. I guess teaching is part of this dream too :)

    Thanks again for the honesty!

  36. I’m refocusing my business so I can help more people in better ways. This is a good thing for all, but it is requiring me to work harder than I’d like to right now. Fortunately, I love my work!

  37. My please Ace and thanks for your story.

  38. The first thing I want to accomplish is this: the ability to take a vacation with my family for a week and not lose money! In fact, I’d like to make money while on vacation. Add to this that I also want to be able to be home with my family every night instead of training people.

    My dream office is in my yard watching my kids play :)

  39. I like that dream office!

  40. Thank you for your honesty. I love reading everything that you write, and it is apparent that you have grown very much in the last few months (it’s very evident in your writing). Kudos for being authentic.

    My dream is to create a blog that shows stroke survivors that they aren’t finished with their recovery when insurance says they’re done. I love watching a survivor realize they just moved their fingers again, even if it was only half an inch…it’s progress, and it happened months or years after they may have thought they were done getting better. I’m in the process of making this blog and building my business so I have a bridge between Physical Therapy and my business. I’d love to have my own private gym for clients but with this population, as most can’t drive when I work with them, I’ll have to either postpone or delay that dream!

    You are correct when you say it’s only by hard work and dedication that you succeed at your dream! It also helps to have someone support you regardless of how well your dreams are succeeding at the moment. :)

    Keep up the great work on both your blogs and whatever else you have up your sleeve.