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I Wrote 500,000 Words In 2016, But No Book. Here’s Why.

500,000. That’s how many words I wrote in 2016. 1,370 per day. 450,000 of those went into summaries and content on Four Minute Books.

Add to that 12,000 words on this blog, another 15,000 words for Time 2 Read, Medium articles, a few long guest posts, work for clients, copy for landing pages, etc. and the half a million mark falls faster than you can say writer’s block.

Up to a million books are published each year in the US alone, half or more self-published by independent authors. When I first saw how much I’d written last year, I wanted to punch myself.

“Why didn’t you write a book, you idiot? Or 2? Or 5?”

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Comfortably Creative: How Folding Laundry Will Make You More Original

“Geez, these all look the same! How am I supposed to sort these?”

Every time I fold my laundry, I spend more time trying to tell apart my socks from one another than actually folding. They’re barely distinguishable.

Comfortably Creative Socks

(see what I’m dealing with here?)

Not too long ago, during a particularly tedious case of color-matching, a thought struck me:

“I wonder if my creative projects should be the same?”

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Optimism: Definition, Explanation & The Ultimate Guide to Go From Being a Pessimist to Becoming an Optimist

Right this second, someone is recording a Youtube video, grinning from ear to ear, trying to sell you on the idea that if you’re not happy, there’s something wrong with you. Even worse, there’s probably also someone writing an article claiming they can show you how to fix it in seven easy steps.

First off, there is nothing wrong with you. If you don’t want to run around the streets naked right now or aren’t at the verge of a positivity-induced ecstatic breakdown, that’s just fine. What’s not fine is that there is a massive storm of fake happiness going on out there, and it leads to the kind of bad advice and “just be happy” bullying I just mentioned.

Today, you and I will identify, criticize, and debunk fake happiness. You will learn why people confuse happiness and something else, namely optimism. You will understand the true meaning and definition of optimism.

We will also learn how science defines optimism, which traits make a person optimistic, and how you can develop those traits in yourself, no matter whether you are an optimist or a pessimist right now. Let’s start by looking at 200 million pieces of terrible advice.

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Why You Don’t Have the Life You Want


In a world of Amazon, McDonalds, Netflix, Spotify, AirBnB, Uber and Tinder, nobody wants to do things the hard way.

Nobody’s willing to give up comfort now for greatness later. Everything in life has to be cheap, fast and easy.

Cheap, fast, easy.

Nothing worth having comes easy.

Nothing worth having comes fast.

Nothing worth having comes cheap.

  • If you’re not willing to walk, you’ll never run a marathon.
  • If you’re not willing to write, you’ll never publish a book.
  • If you’re not willing to sit on the floor, you’ll never have an office.
  • If you’re not willing to cook, you’ll never eat healthily.
  • If you’re not willing to get up, you’ll never make your dreams a reality.
  • If you’re not willing to go to the gym, you’ll never be fit.
  • If you’re not willing to turn off the TV, you’ll never read.
  • If you’re not willing to go on an actual date, you’ll never find love.
  • If you’re not willing to press publish, you’ll never know if you’re any good.
  • If you’re not willing to show yourself on camera, you’ll never become a Youtuber.
  • If you’re not willing to wear old shoes, you’ll never have new ones.
  • If you’re not willing to practice the piano, you’ll never give a concert.
  • If you’re not willing to save money, you’ll never have peace of mind.
  • If you’re not willing to travel, you’ll never go places.
  • If you’re not willing to invest, you’ll never be rich.
  • If you’re not willing to work, you’ll never make money the way you want to.

If you’re not willing to be uncomfortable, you’ll never have the life you want.

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Why “For Example” Is A Bad Way Of Explaining Things

When our math teacher in high school introduced a new topic, what happened next would always follow the same pattern:

  1. She explains the Pythagorean theorem.
  2. Nobody gets it.
  3. She makes an example.
  4. Some people get it.
  5. The rest of the class goes “Can you make another example? Pleeeeeeeaaaaase?”

Steps 3-5 of the pattern would then repeat until the majority of the class understood the new concept and the “More examples!” screams slowly died down. Then we moved on.

Since I was often part of the group who got the gist the first go around, I’d be bored for the remainder of the lesson, waiting for everyone else to get the joke so we could continue. In the meantime, instead of listening, I tried to come up with more of my own examples.

I didn’t know it back then, but as it turns out, I was doing something right.

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The No Game: How To Figure Out What You Want

Being 25 is hard. When you look at the big truths that roll around the quarter century mark, it becomes easy to see why ‘quarter-life crisis’ has become a thing: Your happy, careless, worry-free, post-teenage phase is definitely over at this point. You’ve already spent 90% of the time you’ll ever spent with your parents and closest family.

However, you still have the majority of your own life ahead of you…but no idea what to do with it.

The land of opportunity has never been this big. If you own a laptop with an internet connection, you have more production power than a 200-person company had in 1970. This power is so great that it paralyzes us.

Petrified by the paradox of choice, we can’t decide whether we want to become a freelance Facebook ad designer, surf novel writer, or start a cupcake business – because we know all of it is possible, we think we want each choice equally as much. Like Buridan’s donkey, we’re just as hungry as we are thirsty, stuck between hay and water.

Or are we?

You Don’t Really Want Everything Equally

In a candy store, everything looks good. Plus, it’s all right in front of you. The licorice is just as easy to grab as the chocolate.

When it comes to our careers, the candy store is an illusion. It’s a picture the media paint for us. All we see are the end results achieved by hard-working people — those who’ve survived and came out on top.

Everything seems easy to grab, but it’s not. We know that in theory, but until our brain computes this on an elementary level, let’s turn to a better indicator of what we want: Fear.

Picking in a candy store is hard. What’s easier? Telling the waiter to take back the pizza because he brought you mushrooms instead of pepperoni. “No!” That’s not what you wanted.

Fear often hinders us because it keeps us from doing things. In the case of choosing a career, however, we can use it to systematically eliminate what we don’t want and then work with the elements that are left.

Instead of running towards something we don’t know, we can run away from what terrifies us.

Introducing: The No Game

As I’m trying to figure out what I want for myself, I’ve recently started playing a game. I call it “The No Game.” The goal of the game is to ask yourself questions about what you want, shooting for a no each time. Start with all the things you’ve done before. Use this template:

Do I want to [insert an activity you’ve done before]?

Here are some examples:

Do I want to be a freelancer? No.
Do I want to be a consultant? Maybe sometimes, but not full-time.
Do I want to work at a big company? No.
Do I want to work at an SME? No.
Do I want to work 1-on-1 with people? Sometimes, but not always.

Answer honestly, and if you have some conditions or exceptions, include them. For example, I like to consult with people, but not all the time, so it’s nothing I’d want to do as my main gig.

After you’ve run through everything you have done, start thinking about the things you could potentially do but haven’t tried. Use this template:

Do I want to [insert an activity you haven’t done]?

Here are some more personal examples:

Do I want to give talks to large groups? No.
Do I want to have a Youtube channel? Not if I have to film it.
Do I want to build a company? No, unless I can hire all my friends.
Do I want people to remember me for just one thing? Not necessarily.
Do I want to be a celebrity? No.

If something doesn’t excite you when you fantasize about it, reality will only be an even bigger disappointment. Think about it: Your imagination knows no limits in designing the experience, yet you still don’t like the thought of, for example, being recognized by everyone on the street — that’s a good signal pursuing celebrity status isn’t for you.

After you’ve played the No Game for a while, you’ll slowly realize only certain criteria and elements are left. Those will be the attributes of a career you can imagine yourself living with for a long time. Then and only then can you switch to playing the Yes Game, where you ask similar questions but now shoot for “Yes” as your desired answer, thus moving in the right direction.

Here are some Yes Game examples from me:

Do I want to create things? Yes.
Do I want to document my journey? Yes.
Do I want to keep switching projects? Yes.
Do I want people to remember me? Yes, but probably only the people I care about.
Do I want to write? Yes.
Do I want to write books? Maybe, I don’t know yet.

How To Figure Out What You Want

I love wrapping up my posts with a conclusion and saying “go do that!”

Unfortunately, in this case, I can’t – because I don’t know where the No Game will ultimately lead to. I only know it helps, and it helps me more the longer I play it.

Looking at my answers, it seems I should try being a writer. But that’s the thing: Unless I put some candy in the bag, wield the power of my laptop, and commit to it, I won’t know. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll be comfortable enough to do that. Until then, I’ll keep playing the No Game.

Right now, all I know is this: For me, being a writer is not a “No.” Therefore, I’ll just keep writing, whatever the format. That feels like it’s worth something. Maybe it’s worth even more than a “Yes.”

Try the No Game. It won’t be the last word, but it can be a useful tool in figuring out what you want.

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On Being Vulnerable: What If You Didn’t Numb It?

Stories from the metaphorical operating table…

The other day I summarized a book called Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, which is about vulnerability. It’s been stuck in my head for days, so today, I want to share this idea with you.

Here’s what Google tells you when you ask it to “define vulnerable”:

exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

Therefore, by definition, being vulnerable is dangerous. It’s unsafe, uncertain and uncomfortable. So naturally, we don’t like it and we try to escape this state as soon as possible.

When we feel exposed, endangered or on the spot, our usual reaction is to numb that feeling.

Today I want to ask you: what if you didn’t?

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Average Is for Losers: How to Be the Best in the World

You know the feeling. You’re watching a Youtube video or reading a book, and in a sudden moment of clarity, you realize you just heard the truth.

Of course you agree, but it also forces you to admit something, because it’s not just any truth – it’s an ugly truth.

Not ugly in general. Ugly for you, because you’re not living in alignment with it. Over the past few days, I’ve had plenty of these moments.

Most of them came from reading The Dip by Seth Godin. If I could recommend just one book for you to read, this would be it. That means something, coming from someone who’s written over 365 book summaries in 2016.

His words are still ringing in my ears.

“Mediocrity is for losers.”

And then he explained how to be the best in the world.

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